Recently I noted in my journal seven things that I honestly feel each minister…heck, EACH CHRIST FOLLOWER must be willing to do if we want to have an effective ministry / lead an effective life. 

(I took this out of John 14-16, some of the richest teachings of Jesus…in my opinion!) 

#1 – We Have Got To Be Willing To Serve – John 13:1-5 

I often joke with my people that I do not have the spiritual gift of mercy or compassion; however, that is not an excuse for me to be unmerciful in all that I do. 

There are times when we are called out of our comfort zone…and our gift zone…to serve people in a way we’ve never served them before. We must be willing to be stretched this way by the Holy Spirit and the needs of others. 

If anything is “beneath” us…then we truly are not beneath Christ!

#2 – We Must Be Willing To Love – John 13:34-35

Christians fight too much–period!
Jesus said that the world will know we are His by the love we have for one another. 

When someone doesn’t believe the particular brand of theology we embrace…we need to love them anyway. I am begging God to raise up a generation of leaders who do not feel that everyone needs to be the same…and who are secure enough to learn from people who do not believe exactly like them. 

Jesus didn’t say they will know we are His disciples by the way we blog against one another OR attack one another…but by the love we have for one another. 

As I mature I am learning that I can love a brother or sister in Christ without having to agree with everything they say. 

#3 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Trust – John 14:1
If I could apply this verse my life would be so much better!!! 

We live in a world that is completely out of control…and because of that we often make the mistake of thinking that God has lost control. 

But reality is this (if you are in ministry) – God wants your church to grow more than you want it to! God wants your life to be abundant way more than you do… 

One of the mistakes I have made so often is thinking that if I don’t preach well that the Kingdom of God is in danger…not true. 

One of my sins is that I take myself way to seriously. Sure, I need to spend time studying and preparing for the message…but at the end of the day I’ve got to trust that God is going to do all that I cannot do! 

And so…there needs to come a point where we desperately trust Him…even though we may not be able to see Him! 

The world needs way less of me…WAY more of Him! (John 3:30)

#4 – We’ve Got To Dream Big – John 14:12
Out of all the verses in Scripture that both excite and confuse me–this one takes the cake. 

However, I believe what Jesus said here is true…and so one of the things I always want to be accused of is dreaming big. 

How about you? For some reason the children of the King are the smallest dreamers on the planet. 

And personally..I’ve seen way too many people live for lesser dreams when God has an Ephesians 3:20 life that is merely a prayer away! 

I personally think the church should be outdoing Netflix and Disney! I think we have not only the ability to create…but the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT! Having Him actually empowers us to both dream big and then accomplish the very dreams that He placed inside of us! 

I believe God wants MORE for the church…and I want to see what Jesus was talking about in this verse happen! 

#5 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Stay Connected – John 14:15, John 14:21, John 15:5 

Jesus said if we love Him that we will obey Him…but the only way to do this is by staying connected with Him on a consistent basis. 

I believe that satan doesn’t want to necessarily make us sin…he just wants to get us so busy that we don’t have time to consistently connect with Christ. 

When I travel my computer will often flash up a message, “You are about to lose power–please connect to a power source and recharge your battery before you lose everything.” 

DANG…I think Jesus was saying that same thing in John 15:5! 

One of the biggest temptations of a Christian leader is to become busy. Most of us have cell phones and gadgets strapped around our belt…we don’t look like a Christian leader – we look like flippin’ Batman. I once read, “If I were satan I would invent a device that people carried that made sure their calendar was always in front of them!” 

The enemy can make us so busy that we don’t necessarily sin…we just don’t have the time to live our lives in complete obedience! 

#6 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Play When We Are Hurt – John 15:18 

Life hurts…pastors and Christians are often carrying wounds with them…but–we CAN’T GIVE UP! 

Jesus went to a cross…and took a beating before He went. The least we can do is endure a little criticism and being kicked out of the social club at work and school! 

Leaders: if you are leading then you will be condemned and criticized…move on…play hurt…and talk to God a lot about it. David, a man after God’s own heart, did in the Psalms. He was so honest with God that it scares me just a little. 

Leaders–we need to play when we are hurt. If the devil takes us out it needs to be done in WAY more dramatic fashion that a blogger, and anonymous letter or a church member on his 4th church because “he can’t find one to meet his needs!” 

#7 – We’ve Got To Be Willing To Be Spirit Led – John 16:12-14 

One of the most awesome privileges of following Christ is having Jesus with me every single day through the presence of His Holy Spirit. 

I am NEVER alone…and I do not have to figure life out all by myself. 

I always advise leaders and Christians to take some time to pray…and then LISTEN. I believe that God is ALWAYS speaking…but many times we aren’t listening, thus being the reason that we miss Him at times. 

I have made SO many mistakes in life when I didn’t listen to the Spirit’s leadership! 

Leaders in the Church – Part Three

4> Put others ahead of yourself.

Most times when we are starting as leaders our leadership is very “me” focused. To increase your potential as a leader you need to be focused on others; especially on equipping and empowering others. I want to encourage you to make the shift from me to we. Why? Because these three factors will make you want to change

A> Reality — As the challenge escalates, the need for team work elevates.

Every worthwhile dream is greater than the individual who initially holds it. When we recognize that truth, it motivates us to ask others for help. But we also need to realize that people are most likely to help us after we have helped them in some way. So, we need to put others ahead of ourself. When we equip and empower our team, everyone is able to work together to achieve even the largest dream. 

B> Maturity — With one tiny exception, the world is composed of others.

I define maturity as unselfishness. It’s being able to see things from other people’s perspective because you value them. It means building ladders so that others can climb, not fighting to climb to ladder yourself. Effective leadership can never be all about you, because you are not the only one on your team – you are leading others.

C> Profitability – Measure your success as a leader by what you give, not what you gain

No matter what you do to make a living, you should judge your success by how much you are able to help others. Do this and you will increase your leadership potential. In the end, life is about people. Never forget it. Take care of those you lead instead of taking care of your career and reputation. If you are willing to make “success” about giving rather than gaining, you will find your life to be greatly rewarding. And your leadership potential growing.

So the question to be answered: What do you want your life to stand for?

As you grow old and draw near to the end of your life, what kind of impact do you want to have made on the world? I hope you’ll choose to add value to people. And I hope you’ll choose to become a leader of greater potential and higher capacity. The more influence you develop, the greater the positive impact you’ll be able to make. 

A true story of a singer who saw the potential he could have as a leader and how being a leader could impact and change lives…

Singer Michael Bublé loved his grandfather, Don Demetrio Santaga, who built a house in Vancouver 50 years ago and lived in it until his dying day. Santaga loved his house and hoped it would stay in his family after his death

During the final 8 years of his life, Santaga was unable to live alone, so Bublé hired a Filipina healthcare worker named Minette to care for him

At first Santaga resented having a nurse, but the two quickly became close. Bublé and Santaga came to view Minette as part of the family, and near the end of his life, Santaga shared his final wish with his grandson.

When the older man died, Minette took the opportunity to return to the Philippines to visit her family, whom she had been supporting with her income. While she was gone, Jonathan and Drew Scott, the celebrity “Property Brothers,” came to Vancouver and did extensive renovations on Santaga’s home. It was an amazing makeover.

When Minette returned, she was met with television cameras from the crew of Celebrity IOU. Michael opened the door and ushered her in, saying, “Welcome home.” Minette’s hands flew to her mouth and her eyes filled with tears. “It is so much, really so much,” she said. “I have no words right now. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s beautiful.”

“You can only imagine what it’s going to mean to her,” said Bublé.

A leader who saw an opportunity  to increase his potential.

Leaders in the Church – Part Two

We are looking at how to increase your potential as a leader regardless of where you may be leading – family, friends, work, community, or the local church. Last time we saw:

1> Ask questions and listen to understand and find your people (those willing to follow).

2> Connect with people before asking them to change.

A> Let them know you value them

B> Identify the value they place on themselves.

Self-worth is foundational to belief and change. The moment your belief in yourself goes up, so can your commitment to help yourself and thus change. If the people on your team don’t believe in themselves, as the leader you need to try and help them find that belief. You need to encourage them. You need to speak positive words of affirmation. You need to teach them. And you need to help them put wins under their belts. Does that always work? No. But if their self-worth never rises, neither will they feel comfortable enough to follow your lead and be more willing to believe they can change.

C> Tell them growth is expected and growth means change.

As a leader, you want your people to grow, and you want them to know it on the front end – that growth is expected and that growth means change. If they know you will hold them accountable for growth, the chances of it happening increase dramatically. One of the greatest mistakes leaders make is sharing expectations but failing to later include accountability.

D> Show them change is essential.

It is impossible to get better without making changes. No one has ever stayed the same while at the same time rising to a higher level. Being willing to change is one of the prices we pay to grow. Good leaders increase their potential by helping people recognize and accept that price. You can’t make the changes for them, but you can show them what needs changing, assist them, and encourage them.

E> Keep the connection constant.

When it comes to expectations, leaders can never think, Set it and forget it. People rarely lead themselves forward or correct themselves when they get off track. People want to be empowered. But often what they need most is accountability. Keeping your connection constant and gently nudging them forward provides both encouragement and consistent accountability. 

F> Ask, “Will you help me help you?”

When you ask people if they will help you to help them, you are able to measure their level of participation and commitment. By getting them to declare the ways that they want help to grow and change, you obtain their full buy-in. And if they don’t follow through, you can hold them accountable for what they declared they would do.

3> Demonstrate transparency before challenging people

One of the most valuable things you can do to increase your leadership capacity and potential is to be authentic and transparent with people and to share your story, especially before you challenge them to attempt something difficult.

Too many leaders think they have to project a perfect image to have leadership credibility. They think they always have to put their best foot forward. What they don’t understand is that their best foot is a flawed foot. They miss the power of their own stories of imperfection. A leader’s story of struggle, growth, and improvement can inspire people and change lives. People respect leaders who tell the truth but whop still hold fast to the vision and keep leading people (the team) forward.

Leaders in the Church – Part One

One of the motivational gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 is the gift of leadership.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Leadership by simple definition is influence. And, everyone influences someone. Parents influence their children. Teachers influence their students. Small group leaders influence their members. Church leaders influence their people. Leadership is your ability to lift and lead other people. In many ways, everyone is a leader.

Your leadership ability and potential is not something that is inherent. It is not a given that is built into your character and thus unchangeable. You can grow in your understand of leadership as well as improve your skills and abilities as a leader and thus become a better leader. Your leadership potential is something that can grow and change. Here are some ideas that I work with as a leader as I work to increase my level of influence and thus impact in life and ministry.

1> Ask questions and listen to understand and find your people.

Communication is the language of leadership. Most leaders hold to the illusion that as long as they are talking and giving direction and input, communication is happening. Leaders usually focus on vision and on what they are wanting to accomplish in their leadership. So, their focus is often themselves and what they want. A true leader focuses on others and want to know their people and want their people to know them. Only then can true communication happen.

Questions open up doors and allow us to connect with others. They place value on the other person. And they give us a different perspective. Before we attempt to set things right as leaders, we need to see things right. The highest compliment you can give people is to ask them their opinion. And then to truly listen from your heart.

Asking for a person’s thoughts and opinions does not do much if you don’t really listen. Questions start the conversation, but listening encourages it to continue. Listening shows that I want to understand someone before I try to be understood by them. Questions + Listening = Quality Conversation. Quality Conversation = Quality Leadership.

2> Connect with people before asking them to change.

By its nature, leadership is about creating change. As a leader, you are inviting people to change their focus, change their energy, change their skills, and sometimes even change their direction in life for the sake of the team and the accomplishing of the vision. How do you get people to trust you for so many changes? Trust needs to be built on good relationships, and good relationships start with good connections. 

If you are a task-oriented person, connecting may be something you have to work at to achieve. If you’re a people person, building the relationships may come naturally. But making the transition from relationship building to movement requires what I call a leadershift. That “shift” is the transition from connecting with people to helping them make the changes necessary for the benefit of the team.

One of the keys to helping team members make successful changes is to set expectations for them up front. It increases the odds of positive change later in the relationship. There are six steps that should be followed to set positive expectations. These will help you to connect with people and then invite them to follow you as the leader and enter the process of changing. 

A> Let them know you value them

The greatest gift leaders give team members is their belief in them, letting them know that they are valued. If I as your leader don’t value you, I will try to manipulate you for my advantage instead of investing in you for your advantage.

So in setting expectations for people, I clearly communicate how much I value them as individual people, not just as team members. And that means I care enough for them to confront them. I value them too much to allow them to remain the same. Once they know that my expectations for them are birthed out of how much I value them. The environment has been set for the next step. 

More next time…