Archives for : Leadership


Are you feeling the weight of making a lot of decisions, being unsure of those decisions, along with their impact?  Are you experiencing some “decision fatigue.”  These uncharted times have made novices out of all of us because, if we are honest, we live with the reality of knowing we are inexperienced in facing pandemics.  How do we stay connected with our people?  What does pastoral care and assimilation look like in our new normal?  When should we re-enter our buildings?  When is it ok to disobey laws (Romans 13:1-6)?  

Carey Nieuwhof says, “It’s easier to find relief from the pace than from the weight.  Pace can be controlled fairly easy…Weight is what you feel.  Weight is the tremendous responsibility many people find impossible to ignore…weight is the stress you feel.”  The apostle Paul mentions this weight in II Corinthians 11 where he lists a multitude of external things that created many difficulties.  Then in verse 28 he says, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.”  The weight of ministry is real.

There is a weight that a shepherd carries and it is something you fell deep within your soul.  The good news is that you do not have to carry this weight alone.  God promised Paul in II Corinthians 12 that, “My grace is sufficient!”  Our strength to carry this weight comes first from the Lord.  Your doing things for Christ must come out of your being with Christ because He is the one who strengthens and sustains you.  Paul continues in II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves.  Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?”    

Paul challenged the Galatians to carry one another’s burdens.  No one should travel alone and everyone needs other people to walk this journey with them.  Pride causes you to think that you can handle anything and places the unrealistic weight on your shoulders that you always have to have the answers and know what to do.  You need an existing support team in place that can encourage you, pray for you, and hold you accountable.  In an emergency on a plane you are told to first put on your oxygen mask (abide in Christ) then help others (bear their burdens).

Here is a testimony from Doug Brewer while attending one of our Activate Pastor Huddles through Zoom.  “I hit a struggle on Monday that I have never had before. It really messed with my head! On Tuesday I took my phone and typed in a phrase: decision drain. When I hit search it popped up with the topic of ‘Decision Fatigue.’  I’m considerably better but even in the times of the tornados (May of 2013) and the bombing of the Murrah Building in 1995 (and we lost three ladies in that) I have never been exactly here before.” 

“I’ve been intrigued by the topic of DECISION FATIGUE. I’ve been helped by talking to a couple of men at the church, a couple of pastors and just being full blown, straight up honest! When we make decisions we have to make the same decision five or six times based on the people it’s going to effect.  It’s easy when you don’t know the people and speak into someone else’s life and say just close the building down.  It’s different when it’s your people and you’ve known some of them since they were born and watched them grow up” 

“Now they’re graduating.  I don’t want to say no! So decisions like: inside, how often; outside?… what do we do, what do we not do?  It started to build on me!  When it came to squeezing the trigger and making decisions I kept thinking of  the 5 other decisions that potentially came with each individual decision.  What got in my head was that I’m in these meetings with Larry and all these other pastors and listening to a couple other groups.  It seems like everybody else has this together but I don’t.”  

“They are telling me their plans and I felt like I was the only sorry leader that doesn’t know plans much past tomorrow.  It gets in your head! My favorite thing to do is pastor! I love pastoring even more than I like preaching!  I LOVE to pastor!  What got in my head was “ you love pastoring, and like preaching, but Doug you’re a miserable leader!  This time calls for leadership.”  

“It all goes to say I’m grateful for some men and I needed to let other people in. The podcast (Healthy Church Podcast) refreshed me.  I have some really good people around me! I had to say  ‘I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you.’  It was an internal head thing, but its like puppy love… Don’t make fun of it because it’s real to the puppy!”  

I am so thankful for authentic and transparent leaders willing to say, “I do not have it all figured out!”  Carey Nieuwhof says, “Only humility will get you out of what pride got you into!”  During these turbulent times may we first lean on Jesus and then lean on one another.  We need to see less pride and more humility.  We need to see more cooperation and compassion and less cynicism and negativity. 


Now that the pandemic has caused us to be isolated longer than most of us expected the spiritual, mental, and emotional challenges have increased.  All of us need to ask ourselves, “How am I doing?” and we need to ask others, “How are you doing and can I help?”  The struggle is real and the spiritual warfare, especially in our minds, should not be ignored or denied.  When discouraged we must strive, and it is not always easy, to know what the Bible says not what we think it says.  We begin believing what we are thinking more than what God is saying. 

Depression causes us to think wrong and believe the lies that the accuser, Satan, is whispering into our ears and he is always lying.  He is working overtime and all the time.  He never seems to takes any breaks.  The scriptures are clear in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

So, let me ask you, “How are you doing?”  The question is not asking if you are reading your Bible, praying, leading, or making sure you are projecting a strong positive image.  The question is meant to probe deeper and ask how you are spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.  The pressure is real because you are expected to have the answers and to know what next steps your church should be taking.  The frustration is genuine because of the social distancing and staying at home.  This is not how we are wired as believers who desire community.

In a recent podcast Pete Scazzero referred to how our emotions are like children on a vacation.  He went on to say that you cannot put them in the truck nor should you allow them in the driver’s seat.  The reality is that the emotions you have are real and just like children you need to listen to them, take care of them, protect them, and place boundaries around them.  Moving past this analogy allow me to say that what we try to do with our emotions many times is bury them alive.  That does not work and you must develop a healthy biblical system to deal with them.

Maybe the first step is admitting how you feel.  In the Psalms you hear David when he is sad, glad, and mad.  While not allowing those emotions to completely control your life (placing them in the driver’s seat) you also must avoid the temptation to totally ignore their reality (lock them in the trunk).  Elmer Towns wrote, “Too much Spirit without the Word will lead you to an emotional blowup.  Too much Word without the Spirit will cause you to dry up.  The right balance between the Word and the Spirit will cause you to grow up.”

The world we are living in has become very negative and cynical.  People now love to sit behind an electronic device and spew out whatever crosses their mind at the moment.  The atmosphere and environment just seems to be toxic in so many arenas.  It is very easy to get sucked into the wrong unbiblical attitudes and become quite discouraged.  This flies directly into the face of Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Jacob Smelzer offers these suggestions to pastors because the burden of the job has intensified ten times over recently for an already lonely position.  He encourages us by saying, “You’re not alone.   You’re not the only one that feels this way.  It’s ok to ask for help.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  You’re doing better than you think you are. You ARE making a difference.  You matter to ME.”  Please know that you are not alone and you matter to me also.  Feel free to contact me and I would love to chat with you and we can spend some time encouraging one another!   

J.D. Payne recently wrote these wise words, “Right now, we are all inexperienced. We have never done it this way before. Yet, could this be a moment when God manifests His power in and through our limitations? Could this be a time when He provides the wisdom needed to see around corners (Jas 1:2-7)? Seek His face. Cry out to Him (Matt 7:7-12). Remember Paul’s words: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

Don’t believe the lies of the Devil.  You are not alone!  There is someone who cares and will listen!  Your feelings and emotions do not mean you are unspiritual but rather they are “common” to man and how God created us.  Do not believe the lie that you not making a difference because in somebody’s life you are a game changer.  You do matter to God, the people in your life, and to me!  Give me a call and maybe we can spend some time laughing and crying together!  


“I miss you!”  That is a statement being made and heard quite often right now.  The value of community is something the church has been built upon and is stressed in the scriptures.  The early church was devoted to fellowship and meeting together…daily.  In a Zoom meeting with some national church planting leaders, Gary Rohrmayer with Converge shared, “No one should travel alone.  We need each other!”  That is so true and never truer than right now.  You can continue to stay connected and you can continue to walk with others through this challenging time.

Then, Doug Paul with Catapult suggested that we create an environment based on that value that promotes and creates space to think.  It is worth repeating, “We are so busy working in the ministry that we very seldom have time to work on the ministry.”  Here are a few things to think on:  How are you responding to this challenge?  Are you the optimist, pessimist, alarmist, or skeptic?  Here is a more important question:  How will you respond to what God is saying and teaching you and your church during this season?

Doug also suggested that you should never forget that it is always appropriate to stop and pray.  One pastor shared with me that every evening they are opening up Zoom for times of prayer.  In studying the scriptures there seems to be three things that always get God’s attention and a heavenly response: prayer, repentance, and fasting.  All planning must be prayerful planning.  Prayer admits that you do not have the answers and you cry out to God in desperation for direction and guidance.  Fasting shows God how serious you really are!

Doug Paul continued to challenge us that as we navigate these challenging times “together” we do not need more content but, rather, more community.  The focus is to have connection over content by walking this road together.  The beauty of our Zoom pastor coaching calls is the opportunity for live trouble-shooting.  It has been awesome to witness one pastor struggling with a particular challenge and another pastor share how they navigated those same waters.  You see coaching and mentoring is not lecturing and information transfer but is iron sharpening iron.

The last thing Doug challenged us with was to make sure you come away with one practical thing to accomplish in the next week.  The Apostle Paul did not say these thousand things I do but rather this one thing I do.  There is a plethora of information, webinars, downloads, and attachments coming from everywhere.  Take a deep breath and consider the advice of Will Mancini from his book, Younique.  Consider what one thing you would like to change or accomplish in the next 30 – 90 days.  Then determine what four things you need begin today to make it happen.

Without next steps for today what you want to accomplish will just be a pipe dream and never a reality. Thom Rainer has a lot to say about the power of focusing on one thing.  He states the following observations.  “Church revitalization doesn’t have to be as complicated as some make it. Just start with one thing.  Trying to do too much too quickly can kill a revitalization effort.  Ministry complexity will drain the leadership of a church.  When you are forced to choose one ministry to focus on in a church, you typically choose the best and most effective ministry.”

Rainer makes it clear, “You have to begin somewhere and complexity leads to confusion and complacency.”  Get together with other leaders in your church and outside your church and begin asking these questions:  What is God trying to teach you during these challenging days?  What do you need to start doing that you were not doing before COVID-19?  What have you started doing during this pandemic that you need to keep doing when it is over?  What do you need to stop doing because you now see it is unnecessary and unproductive?

If we can ever be of any help to you during these challenging times please let us know.  Reach out to us by email at or . Heidi Sorrells is our Pastor’s Advocate for our church health initiative, Activate.   Here is something from her challenging you on asking the right questions, “How has your vision been altered by what God has shown you during this season, and what will you take and make part of your church DNA going forward so you are not just back to business as usual?”

Here is another question you need to ask:  What do you need to spend more time doing and less time doing?  Maybe one thing would be less office time and more community time.  Maybe you need to focus more on leadership development by providing time and space to dream, brainstorm, and white board the things your team believes God is up to and what He wants you to do about it!  May our value be that no one should travel alone because we need each other!   

Engaging When Disconnected

One of the greatest challenges today is how to stay engaged at such a disengaged and disconnected time.  There is so much more to this than how well you are utilizing social media, phone calls, email, and other tools to stay connected with your church family.  It is making sure that you are going a few layers deeper and connecting with one another on a relational level.  The goal is not how many likes you are getting on Facebook live or how many thumbs up you are receiving while live streaming.  How many people are you actually engaging with?   

One of our staff recently called a Christian distributor, Lifeway, and asked about an order our church had placed for resources.  If you have not heard there has been a disruption and delay on many things.  After discussing our order with the customer service representative he asked him, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?”  The man began to weep and said no one had ever asked him that before. Wow, he works for a Christian company and usually talks with Christians, yet, no one had ever asked him how they could pray with him.  How can that actually be?

The word “engage” means to occupy the attention or efforts of someone else.  It requires that the person you are engaging with has your full attention.  It is not a casual greeting and then quickly moving to another person and another greeting.  You are connecting with them to see how they are doing and you genuinely want to know how you can help them and minister to them.  Consider asking three questions in order to connect at a little deeper level.  Each of these questions helps to peel the layers off and engages the person by showing that they have your full attention. 

First, ask them how they are doing.  Actually, this can be a very standard question that many people realize, at face value, is just a question and you really don’t care about the answer.  The key here is to ask it and wait on an answer.  Many will give the standard, status quo response, “Fine!”  Second, ask them if there is anything you can do for them or any way you can help them.  What service could you provide or errand could you run?  Third, ask how you can pray for them.  Do not make the mistake of NOT praying for them right then.  Stop and pray!

Here are some ideas from churches of what they are doing to remain engaged and connected during this disconnected time.  One church in Oklahoma utilized Zoom to enjoy dinner together.  They all prepared their meals at home, sat down to enjoy the meal and then joined the group they had eaten out with many times before.  Imagine the laughter and engagement that occurred through this extra effort to facilitate a time of fellowship within the family of God.  What might you be able to do to connect and engage different groups in your church?

Another church shared how they opened up Zoom, at a prescheduled time, as a venue for different people to get on just to say hi and see one another.  It is almost like how you use your foyer at church where you first engage one another on Sunday mornings.  Engagement is not only looking at a screen while someone preaches at you or teaches a Bible study.  Those times are very important but you should consider how you can facilitate a time where people can see one another and speak to one another.  Remember, one of the big five in Acts 2 is fellowship.

StonePoint church in Cumming, GA shared how they would drive by another member’s house and text them that they were outside in front of the house.  Then you could either come to the window, the door, or step outside to wave and see one another in person.  Yes, you need to follow wise social distancing practices because you care about not endangering someone else, but there are ways you can engage one another on a deeper level than only posting a word of encouragement and/or bible study.  Once again it is not an either or but a both and engagement.

StonePoint also engages people by watching their feed and responding to those who are watching.  It is a great tool for assimilating those who are connecting virtually on how the viewers can take the next steps if they are interested.  They also utilize this tool to take attendance.  It is not so they can count how many they have but so that they can follow-up on those who are becoming more distant and disconnected during this difficult time.  A church in AR also does this and people have reached out wanting more information.              

Please do not forget about phone calls, hand written letters, and cards to engage your people.  Take the time to call and engage in conversation and get others to help.  These times are very draining and very depressing to many.  People need hope and encouragement more than ever.  They need to know that they are not alone and that you are there to love them and your church desires to continue shepherding them. You just might come out of this more connected than you were.

Pastor Huddles!

Pastor and leader, you need a support group that will pray with you, speak into your life, and encourage you.  In a football game a huddle is where the play is given, everyone knows what needs to be done next, and then you leave the huddle ready to execute the plan as best you can. You may think you do not have time to meet with other pastors and leaders but you actually will be more effective by approaching ministry with a keen awareness of your need for other leaders speaking into your life.  Jesus focused on huddling His disciples together.

No one should be a better friend to pastors than other pastors.  Pastor, you understand the battle and the struggle in trying to lead your people to greater levels of spiritual maturity.  You know how your heart aches for your people to thrive in their walk with Christ and to not just go through the motions.  You know the joys and the pains of working with people and desiring more for their spiritual walk than they do.  The joys and challenges you have experienced need to be shared with others so they can rejoice with you and learn from you as well. 

The frenetic pace many leaders are keeping is not sustainable without times for being refreshed and recharged.  A pastor’s huddle can be very revitalizing as you share ideas, dream of better days ahead, and get advice from fellow servants who have already navigated the waters you are going through.  One way to be refreshed is to ask everyone to share something going well in their ministry so all of you can celebrate together.  When you rejoice with others it encourages them, encourages you, and gives you a fresh perspective of a desired future. 

A pastors huddle is meant to be a place of encouragement and a place of safety.  It needs to be a place where you can be completely transparent, honest, and open about your challenges and struggles.  It takes time to build trust but it can be built and is worth the effort in developing an environment of integrity and confidentiality.  II Corinthians 7:6 shows us this dynamic, “But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus.”  Take the time and make the effort to spend time with other pastors to encourage them.  

A pastors huddle is not meant to only focus on ministry strategies, systems, and problem solving.  It is also a place where you can get encouragement for your own personal life, your family, and a host of other issues.  A huddle can even find ways to relax and enjoy one another’s company through a group activity such as golf, fishing, hunting, bowling, or playing paint ball.  Resolving conflicts and problems in your church ministry are important but they need to be secondary to encouragement, prayer, and your own personal soul care. 

A pastors huddle is place where you can share and brainstorm ideas, dream big about your vision for your ministry, and share resources.  Great leaders are readers and this is a great place to share what God has used in your life recently to help you and encourage you.  Great leaders are readers because they have a teachable spirit and are always ready to listen to what others are doing and learn what they can from whom they can.  It has been said that someone out there knows what you need to know and has been through what you are going through.

A pastors huddle is meant to be a mentoring environment where you learn from others who have been where you desire to go and are willing to help you get there.  These fellow servants get it because they have walked in your shoes before or they will walk in your shoes soon.  There is no need or room for guilt in these huddles but hopefully it will be a place for a lot of laughter, patience, and empathy.  It is where you can discuss potential small incremental steps that may help you or another pastor to move forward in a particular area.        

A pastors huddle is a place where there needs to be a lot of flexibility and willingness to adapt.  Sometimes it will be more structured but other times it will be very organic because of someone’s need to be heard, loved on, and encouraged.  Be ready and willing to be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and not driven by an agenda or a lesson plan.  Sometimes you just need a good cup of coffee while hanging out with some good friends that will enable you to recharge and get refreshed because of the camaraderie.

Pastor, you need support and a pastors huddle is a great way to find that support.  These huddles may or may not be connected to our church health Activate process but they do not have to be.  The pastor who attends does not have to be involved in the Activate process at all.  The purpose is to encourage and help every pastor we can because church health must begin with the spiritual health of the pastor.  If you are not in a good place spiritually as the pastor then you cannot expect your church to be in a healthy place either.    

What do we have to offer one another?  We do not have all the answers nor are we the only available tool to help churches but through huddles we can offer friendship, prayers, brotherhood, connections, resources, a place to celebrate, and a willingness to listen.  We offer relationships that network us together as we look to learn from one another and encourage one another to promote love and good works.  We can offer our resources and the experience we have gained over the years as we have tried to faithfully serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.      

Are You Over-Functioning?

 The need to face your limitations openly and honestly cannot be overstated.  Leaders are not spiritual supermen.  You cannot do it all yourself, nor should you because it builds an unhealthy church culture.  You may be carrying the workload of three people but it is not healthy for you nor is it healthy for your church.  You need to consider if you really need that ministry or system if you do not have the necessary leaders to carry the workload.  There will be seasons where your workload will be overwhelming but that cannot be sustained long term.

Over-functioning has been defined as doing for others what they can and should be doing for themselves.  Instead of encouraging and empowering disciples to continue to grow and to step up to the plate, over-functioning leaders enable those around them to slide on their responsibilities.  Under-functioning disciples will continue to under-function as long as over-functioners are willing to do for them what they can and should be doing for themselves.  It is not an easy culture to build and will take a lot of prayerful planning and perseverance. 

  1. You must be willing to say no when you are already at your limit.  The stress of adding more can be debilitating.  It can wear you down physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  The busier you are the more you need your quiet time with the Lord because you cannot give what you do not have.  Your spiritual health and development cannot be rushed and it cannot exist very long on the fumes of your past spiritual disciplines.  It will suck the joy, passion, and strength out of you if you do not protect your daily walk with the Lord.
  2. You need to develop other leaders around you instead of accepting spiritual immaturity in them.  Focus on your team leaders who need you to help them cultivate their own relationships with Jesus.  How are you helping them to grow?  What are you doing intentionally to help them mature spiritually and professionally?  Lead by example in spiritual growth but also share with your team what that looks like practically.  Hold one another accountable with integrity by holding one another accountable in this process.
  3. You need to realize that God builds His church and He actually does not need you.  How blessed believers are that He desires you to be involved and that He allows you to be a part.  The reality is that He runs the world and does not need your help.  Pete Scazzero says, “We cross the line when we try to run the world for God.”  Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches, The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”  He has not called us to produce crowds but to make disciples.
  4. Accept that what we see as of little importance God sees as very important.  God has a unique calling on every believer’s life. Think about how every believer has a role and they need to be fulfilling that role for their spiritual health and for the church’s.  I Corinthians 12: 22-23, “But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation.”  Everyone in invaluable!
  5. Build a culture of integrity where we lovingly challenge others concerning having a team approach.  Be honest with yourself about your limits but also be honest with others that you need their help.  Listen to what Jethro says to his son-in-law Moses who had come to the end of his rope by over-functioning in Exodus 18:17-18, “’What you’re doing is not good,’ Moses’ father-in-law said to him.  ‘You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.’”

Over-functioning not only burns you out as a leader but it begins to destroy the unity and community culture you are working so hard to build.  When you are over-working and over-loaded you can very easily become bitter and angry with others.  

Your perspective becomes, “Look at everything I am doing and no one around here is working as hard as I am.”  You can easily become resentful, negative, and overly focused on how you are the only one really serving the Lord.  You will become overly sensitive and judgmental if you continue down that road. 

Elijah demonstrates this when he thinks he is the only really serving the Lord in I Kings 19:17-18, “He entered a cave there and spent the night.  Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’  

He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.’”  You are not alone and the reality is that there are others ready to serve.  

Don’t accept the mindset of Elijah but ask yourself what the Lord asked Him, “What are you doing here Elijah?”  Get alone with the Lord and allow Him to refresh you and replenish you spiritually.  Maybe you need a break for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks.  

Step away from the over-functioning, which can lead to burnout by slowing down and seeking to be in the Lord’s presence.  Seek solitude and silence and search the scriptures as the Holy Spirit ministers to your soul.  Paul said in II Corinthians 7: 4, “I am overcome with joy in all our afflictions.”

Face Your Limits

There is a leadership principle that I have heard in conferences and read in leadership books that says,  “Lead out of your strengths and forget about your weaknesses.”  There is wisdom in that and this is not meant to dispute that principle completely because of the focus of the teaching when it was said.  We should be challenged though to recognize the truth that we all have limitations, yes we have weaknesses.  Biblically, we are told that God gets the glory through our weaknesses.

Paul in II Corinthians 12:9-10, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.  So I take pleasure in weaknesses…..For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

You are not called to ignore your weaknesses but to surrender them to the One who strengthens you.  The question has to be asked, “How do we bring the most glory to God?  Leading out of our strengths or leading out of our weaknesses?”

A case could be made to lead out of our strengths because the Lord made us and formed us with certain gifts and abilities.  These should be used for His glory and surrendered for His purposes.  It is our limits (weaknesses) that bring Him the most glory and praise because we cannot take any of the credit.  

Maybe your struggle is impatience but as you abide in Christ you can bear the fruit of patience.  We then become keenly aware that it is only because of His working in our lives that we can be patient at all.

Pete Scazzero has really helped me to look closer at embracing my limits so that God’s power could be manifested.  Much of the content in this article comes from his materials and has challenged me to realize that limits are simply God’s gifts in disguise for His grace to show up.  

You realize that even though you are the leader you are in way over your head.  That actually places you right where He wants you to be so that He can show up and show off.  It causes you to look to Him and trust Him. 

  • Moses was limited by slow speech and yet he led 3 million people out of Egypt for 40 years.  
  • Jeremiah was limited with a melancholy disposition and yet his writings have encouraged many people about the heart of God for thousands of years.  
  • John the Baptist was limited by a semi-monastic lifestyle and yet he was the one who was able to clearly see that Jesus was the Son of God.  
  • Gideon was limited by the size of His army and yet he won a victory he could not of won with his own resources.  Our limitations are opportunities for God’s power to show up.

We should not ignore our limits but rather begin looking at them as openings for God to step in and do great and mighty things.  Acknowledging our limits causes us to cry out to Him in desperation, “I cannot do this without you!”  

A biblical example of the wrong kind of leadership is Jacob.  He was unwilling to wait on God’s promised blessing and connived and cheated his brother Esau to secure that blessing.  Jacob was always manipulating those around him instead of trusting God. 

God eventually humbles him by dislocating his hip and he would walk with a limp the rest of his life.  The reality is that we are all Jacobs and we all walk with a limp.  It is much easier to hold on, be anxious, and controlling than to trust God.  We would rather make things happen and grab what we believe God has for us than to wait on Him and His timing.  

  1. We believe that doing something has to be better than doing nothing, right?  We manipulate people and events because it is easier to be our own savior than to be still and know He is God!
  2. Stillness to many of us is like death itself.  You cry out, “No Lord, please let me do something.”  You want to help and you prefer taking matters into your own hands.  Lean into your limitations and know that you do not have to manipulate.  You can trust God knowing He will show you what to do and when to act upon His plan.  
  3. There is a time to be busy and working but there is also a time to sit at Jesus’ feet enjoying His fellowship and listening to His voice.  May our heart’s desire be to be drawn by the Holy Spirit and not driven by our inner compulsions.

Exodus 14:13 spells this truth out clearly, “But Moses said to the people, Don’t be afraid.  Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.”  

As a leader you think you always have to have a clear plan and be able to answer everyone’s questions, doubts, and confusion.  “What kind of leader will they think I am if I don’t have a solution for every situation?”

Pete Scazzero defines a limp as “whatever renders you dependent on God.”   It is where you are powerless and totally dependent upon Him.   Every believer has a limp and every church has a limp.  

Actually, our churches are a community of limpers.  Don’t deny or ignore them but rather realize that God’s grace is sufficient and in our weaknesses His power is made known!

2 Minute Challenge

In football there is what is known as the 2-minute warning.  At the end of each half both teams receive a warning that there is only 2 minutes before the game is over.  Some say this is when the game really begins and quite often the team who has possession of the ball last wins the game.  There can be more action in the last 2 minutes than there was the entire game.  They have practiced and prepared repeatedly for this 2-minute window of time to utilize it for maximum impact and can see great success through precise execution.

What if you utilized this same principle for the spiritual battle you face every day?   It is a way to have maximum concentration by refocusing on who God is and not what He will give you or do for you.  You desire to see Him for the magnificent God that he is in all of His grandeur.  This is different from your quiet time where you get filled up with His word and His presence and also different from interceding on behalf of others.  There is a time and place for those but this is purposely and intentionally, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

The 2-minute challenge is a call to intentionally schedule times throughout your day where you take a minimum of 2 minutes to sit quietly before Him.  This is where you ponder in your heart how wonderful and awesome a God He is just like Mary pondered as she observed Jesus’ ministry.  In Psalm 119 David speaks of setting 7 times a day where he would pray.  Daniel had 3 daily, scheduled times where He would cry out to God and seek to be in His presence.  How will you make sure you build a safe place into you day where you can hear His voice?   

Jesus modeled this for us by going to a solidary place to intentionally step away from the distractions and pressures that were surrounding Him.  Listen to this wisdom, “If it took falling with His face to the ground and great struggle for the Son of God to submit Himself to the will of the Father, how can we expect that it will require any less than us?”  This is a willingness to seek Him purposely and spend time with Him while remembering that you are not doing this to get something but your goal to be with the great Someone! 

It requires slowing down in order to bring silence and solitude for a moment into your life.  It is walking in the rhythms of life He desires for you.  Dallas Willard refers to silence and solitude as, “The 2 most radical disciplines of the Christian life.”  Yet, it is almost impossible to live a healthy spiritual life without them.  Again, if Jesus sought out these times to hear from the Father how much more do we need to implement a plan to do the same?  Reading 2-3 pages from a devotional book or a chapter from the Bible each morning is not enough for what you will face each day.

Think of how your day can become difficult as you strive to remain in Christ.  Fatigue begins to set in through the busyness and activities because worldly pressure tries to conform you but you want to be transformed.  Abiding in Christ means you are remaining in Him so you can bear the fruit of the Spirit in difficult and challenging situations.  If you are not abiding then you are not connected and if you are not connected then you cannot bear fruit!  What you and every follower of Christ needs the most is to sit at the feet of Jesus continually throughout the day!

Think of how a balloon full of air is bouncy and resilient but slowly and surely over time it begins to leak.  Your morning quiet time is where you fill up for the challenges ahead but all day long you are leaking.  The world is great at sucking the spiritual life out of you.  When this happens your tendency and temptation to walk in the flesh and not in the Spirit is amplified.  This is when those triggers that set you off are intensified and temptations increase.  It is when you know the situation should not be bothering as much as it is.  Call out a 2-minute warning! 

The world we live in is constantly trying to squeeze us into their mold and into their worldview.  Listen to Romans 12:2 in the Phillips translation, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”  You may be running on empty and at the end of your rope.  Maybe you need to cry out deep within your soul, “2-minute warning!”            

  1. Find a place, to the best of your ability, where you can sit in silence and solitude.  
  2. Set your timer for 2 minutes knowing you have to start somewhere.  That time can increase as you build this spiritual discipline into your life.  
  3. Focus on God’s grandeur and the awesome God that he is.  This is a time to “be still and know that He is God.”  
  4. Fight the temptation to allow your focus to drift to anything other than His beauty, attributes, mercy, and goodness.  
  5. Remember that He is God and there is no one else like Him! 

Are You Running on Empty?

In my sophomore year at Central Baptist College in Conway, AR I was leading the singing in revival services about 100 miles to the south of our campus.  Money was very tight and as I was driving down for the services one evening my gas gauge began to stare back at me reaching “empty.” 

It was so low that I began praying for God to stretch out what little fuel I had.  Then I covered up the gauge on the dash with a piece of paper so I could not see it any longer.  Fortunately, I made the services, on fumes, and a member filled up my tank after the services.  

Some of you are going full steam ahead while running on empty right now and you are trying to not look at your dashboard that is showing empty.  You cannot give what you do not have and you will come to a screeching halt at some point.

Your focus on ministry, mobilizing your team, and planning your next steps has caused you to begin running on spiritual fumes.  Those times of joy, being full of His presence, along with His daily freshness and vitality in your spiritual walk are only a memory.  What you do is very important but who you are is even more important.  

The danger is real because it is very easy to become so focused on the external issues of getting your ministry where you believe God desires it to be, that you ignore the crucial internal issues of spiritual transformation and health.  

In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro says, “We don’t forget that we are Christians. We forget that we are human, and that one oversight alone can debilitate the potential of our future.”  We all have limits (spiritual, emotional, physical, time, gifts, etc.) and we need to see them as a blessing from the Lord and not a curse.

II Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”  

You may not like admitting your weaknesses or your inabilities but it is wisdom to understand you definitely have limitations and God shows up when we embrace that reality. Your nature may be that you want to go around your limits, conquer limits, deny, and break through them.  Actually, they are a gift from God to protect you!

God gave us limits to serve as guardrails placed in our lives tokeep us from straying outside His will and to continue trusting in Him.  This is actually counterintuitive to us as it goes against our culture that teaches us that we can handle it ourselves and we don’t need anyone’s help.  

Be a self-made leader and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps may be how you were raised.  Don’t depend on anyone else because you can do anything you put your mind to.  You have to reconcile that with what Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing!”  

One of the greatest dangers of leadership is the temptation to rely to heavily on our charisma and competencies while paying too little attention to our character and core identity through our personal walk with Christ.  It is easy to lead without Jesus short term but you will end up paying a very steep price long term.  

Pete Scazzero says, “The reality is that it is easy to live as a Christian doing religious acts and doing Christian things without necessarily being in loving union with Jesus.”  Sometimes we live out the old adage, “fake until you make it!”

  1. Learn to slow down and abide in Christ. Abiding means you remain in Him and you are able to relax in Him.  You cannot live at warp speed without warping your soul!  Think of Mary and Martha.  You may be a Martha who is a doer and what you do is important but who you are is of even greater importance.  Sometimes our doing exceeds our being in Christ and before you know it you are running on empty and getting close to shutting down.
  2. Think about silence and solitude so you can hear God’s voice in your life.  Dallas Willard referred to silence and solitude as the two most radical disciplines of the Christian life. Solitude is finding that quiet space where you intentionally remove yourself from people and things in order to focus 100% on God. Silence is striving to quiet every inner and outer voice to be attentive to the Lord’s direction and presence.  Silence is the Christians number one need while being the hardest to develop.  It is very challenging in this busy and noisy world.  
  3. Wait on the Lord.  King David stressed its importance by saying it twice in Psalm 27:14. Do not wait on the Lord only for what He will do for you or for the results you desire but simply to spend time with Him.                          

David reminds us of this in Psalm 27:4, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.”  You must actually limit what you are doing by focusing on being with Him realizing that He can accomplish so much more than you can!

 Without slowing down, being silent, seeking out solitude, and waiting on the Lord it will be almost impossible to live a healthy spiritual life!  Are you running on empty? 

Direction > Destination

Having grown up in northwest Florida and then pastoring primarily in the north made for some pretty long trips to go visit my parents.  Many of those trips were between 12-16 hours and being a driven person (pun intended) made me focus on getting to our destination as quickly as possible.  If you were to ask my children (whose memories are not real good) they would try to make you believe that I would not stop at a gas station on the opposite side of the highway because it would take too long. 

It does not make any sense to cross over to the other side of the highway anyway when you are convinced there will be a much more convenient place to stop just 5-10 minutes down the road.  Please refrain from judging me because getting to our destination (my parents home) was the primary goal of the mission not enjoying the journey.  It is easy to forget that the journey is as important as where we are headed.  The trip is as much a part of the adventure as the destination. Believer, you are headed to heaven but what you do on the journey is of eternal importance.

The Lord has promised a place for those who have put their faith and trust in Him.  In Matthew 25 Jesus gives two parables to describe this journey until He either returns or you graduate to your heavenly home before He returns.  The first parable (the 10 virgins) reminds us to always be watching and be ready because He could return at any moment.  The second parable (of the talents) teaches us to not just sit idly by but to be industrious and to occupy, serve faithfully, until He returns.  You may know that you have eternal life but what are you doing with this life right now?

Sometimes the destination is clear and other times you have no idea where the Lord is leading.  What church should you join and become a member of?  What ministry should you commit to and participate in?  How will you determine what God’s will is for your life and for your church?  

Adrian Rodgers said, “You do not find God’s will.  God’s will finds you!”  

He pointed out that if you are doing what the Lord has told you to do you cannot help but find His will.   He stressed that if you are not obeying what you know He desires you will never be able to find God’s will!

The direction you are headed in as an individual believer and as a church is the key.  

Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  

If you are not being transformed and changed more and more into His image then you are not truly following Him.  If you are not fishing for men then you are not truly following Him.  Quite often the problem is that the direction you are headed in is not going in the direction Christ desires.  You have to have the determined courage to believe so strongly in His Lordship that you are good with wherever path He may lead you.

Church you may not know exactly what He is up to but you have decided you will still go in His direction.  Believer you may not understand exactly what He is doing in your life but you have chosen to follow Him and go on whatever path He leads you.  That is why the direction you are headed in is of greater importance, right now, than the ultimate destination.  

Are you getting closer and closer to Him everyday or farther and farther away?  

Tony Evans recently posted this on Facebook, “Don’t stay in the boat when God is calling you to walk on water.” 

Dr. Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism describes a disciple as, “A learner who’s following Christ.  You learn by following.  And that means since we are finite and God alone is infinite, there’s never a place in the journey where we stop learning.”  

Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, defines a disciple as  “One being taught by many means intentionally, in a specific direction.” When you look at different definitions they all have particular nuances, but the one common thread that holds them together is movement toward Christ. 

  1. A disciple sets their eyes on Christand continually moves toward Him.  A church must do the same and settle for nothing less.  Every decision, ministry, action, and thought process must be centered on moving closer to Christ or you will drift naturally away.  
  2. The spiritual battle is real and we do not receive any days off.  Church, today, will you get closer to Christ or farther away?  Will you continue on this journey, no matter how difficult or the sacrifice required, or will you sit this one out?  Will you run towards the battle or will you run the other direction?
  3. What direction does Christ have for your church today?  What will you do, today, that will produce the results God desires and wants for tomorrow?  What decision do you need to make that will correct your course and put you back on track with the direction He is leading you? What steps in towards Him do you need to make so your church can flourish again the way He desires?  What personal preferences do you need to sacrifice for the good of the entire body and those who are far from Christ?

The journey is as important as the destination. The direction you are headed in is of greater importance today than the destination you are headed towards!