Category: Leadership (page 4 of 30)

12 tips for pastors, Twitter style

Part of the reason I love Twitter is that I can scan it so quickly. Since it’s short, 140 character-max text-only updates, it’s easy to scan and get the highlights. It tends to be just the type and length content I’m looking for many days.

And from a writing standpoint, I love that Twitter forces you to distill what you want to say into 140 characters. You’ve got to cull down the content that you could unpack for 3 pages…into a sentence or two.

So I thought I’d share a few things I have been stewing on. Some of these I’ve found myself needing to stew on because I need to change…others I’ve noticed in others and hope I never see in myself.

These truths could each be pages long, with lots of references to research and theology. But I don’t want to bore you with all of that. 🙂

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12 tips for pastors. Twitter style.

  • Your family is your primary ministry calling. Other people come and go, but your family sticks around…for better or worse. #PastorTips
  • Quit complaining about people. It makes others wonder when you’ll complain about them. #PastorTips
  • Leading with a heavy hand will leave you with few people to actually lead. #PastorTips
  • Having a seminary degree doesn’t make you a good pastor any more than having a set of clubs makes you a good golfer. Love people. #PastorTips
  • The day you quit recruiting volunteers is the day you should start looking for another job. #PastorTips
  • If you ‘don’t have time for a small group’ then you will ‘have time to look like a hypocrite’ when you lead people to join one. #PastorTips
  • Put the theology book down and read a book on leadership. Your staff will thank you. #PastorTips
  • Work with the door open way more than you work with it closed. People need YOU, not just your ability to study. #PastorTips
  • Little steps in the wrong direction lead to bigger ones. Guard your heart NOW. #PastorTips
  • Encouragement begins when you help people see God at work in them when they don’t see it in themselves. #PastorTips
  • If you’re not leading people towards small group, your view of their spiritual growth is too short-sighted. #PastorTips
  • Quit letting ‘comfort’ drive your decisions. Let faith punch your comfort in the throat. #PastorTips

 Any Twitter-length tips you’d add?


8 Ways to Ensure Your Kids Won’t Hate Church

My son gets to hang out in my office quite often. I love that he loves it. Maybe his love is rooted in the toys and candy I keep in the bottom drawer, just for him. But maybe it’s because he just genuinely loves me. I’m banking solely on #1 at this point in his life.

This week, though, my wife was out of town, and Rex had to go to work with me all day.

I had to jump on a conference call, and the movie he was watching was a little loud. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind putting some headphones on. Then he gave me this look.

He’s got the sass of his mama. 🙂


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One of my goals of fatherhood is to raise a son that doesn’t hate church. It’s not a given reality that my son will grow up loving the Church. As a pastor’s kid, he’s got an uphill battle ahead, especially considering the pastor’s kids I knew growing up. Right now, he’s loving Longhollow, where I’m on staff. But we’ve got a lot of years ahead of us, and I’ve got a lot of work to do to keep us on this path.

My child loving the church his whole life isn’t a given…and neither is it for yours.

Should you ‘force’ your kids to go to church? Or let them choose?

Should you let them go to the main worship service with you when they want? Or put them in the kids area?

Let them wear what they want? Or dress them to the nines?

Here are some intentional actions I’m taking to keep my son from growing up to hate the Church.

8 Ways to Ensure Your Kids Won’t Hate Church

1. Make small group a priority in your life.

Every week, my wife and I go to small group. We help Rex understand how important it is for mommy and daddy to do this, and that through it, we become better parents.

2. Go to churches with amazing children’s ministries.

Check (Grace Community Church) and check (Long Hollow). Without ministries intentionally investing truth, and fun, into my child’s life, why would I expect him to want to come back?

3. Give your family your best time, not just your leftover time.

I don’t want to always come home tired and frustrated and burned out. It’s easy in the church world to give others your best consistently, and forget that your family is your priority. Whether you’re a volunteer or on staff, giving others your best is easy to give your best to others, because they “need” you and constantly affirm you. When you give others your best, you create resentment in your family.

4. Don’t make church attendance an option for your kids.

Our son never has the option of ‘bargaining’ his way out of going to church. Just like he never bargains his way out of going to bed at night or buckling up in his car seat. It’s not that we ‘force’ anything. We just never give him another option. “How dare you force your kids to go to church?!?” Really? Don’t you ‘force’ your kids to go to school? To go to bed? To eat dinner? To go to the doctor?

5. When I’m home, I’m home.

I don’t want him to think that daddy has to “work” all of the time. I want him to know that when I’m home, I’m really home, not just distracted by work. If you don’t work in a church, it might be different for you, but the principle is the same. Don’t be so distracted by ministry that you neglect the ministry right in front of you.

6. Live out your faith at home and at church.

I’m nowhere near perfect in my life, but my faith is real and active at home and at church. We talk about spiritual things at home, read our Bibles, and pray together consistently.

7. Make prayer a regular part of your public, and private, life.

We don’t just pray at church, or when other people are watching us. We pray together as a family even when it’s not what we ‘have’ to do. When all you do is pray at church, and for others to see, you create an unhealthy, hypocritical dynamic for your children.

8. Don’t rip your pastor in front of your kids.

I don’t try to hold our local church, or any, on a pedestal of perfection…but I also guard my words carefully so that my son doesn’t grow up with a jaded view of the bride for whom Christ died. I don’t want him thinking everybody is perfect, but I also don’t want him growing up not trusting anyone.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Do your kids enjoy church? What about you? What did your parents do to help you not hate church?





How to wreck your ministry…it’s easier than you think

Nobody wants to wreck their ministry. Nobody.

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image credit: CreationSwap user Boaz Crawford

Everybody wants to be a part of a church (or non-profit) that is flourishing. Everybody that steps into ministry wants to be a part of an organization that helps others grow, and take courageous steps of faith. I’ve never met someone who said, “Gee, I’d sure like to ruin some innocent people’s lives today at my church. Let’s get after it!”

But the truth is that wrecking your ministry, and the ministry of others, is easier than you think. Typically, through a series of poor decisions (or a lack of intentionality), a slippery slope leads you quickly to a rocky, muddy ditch.

The good news, though, is that with intentionality, flourishing in ministry is possible.

How to wreck your ministry


  • Have an affair
  • Kill someone
  • Quit praying
  • Develop an illegal addiction

Not so obvious:

Anything you’d add?


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image via Amber Sprung, CreationSwap, quote mine

Just the other day, someone was trying to give me a compliment. I think.

It’s great you are able to do ministry like this at such a young age, and be able to learn so much. You’re doing a great job for your age in life.

I smiled and cordially thanked him. My mind racing as he walked away. I kept thinking, “Was that an encouragement? A rebuke? A compliment? A slap in the face?”

A backhanded slap feels a little better when it’s couched with something nice, right? Especially if you can somehow mix God, ministry, theology, and “spiritual growth” all together. It’s kinda like being slapped by a sweet old grandma, while she gives you a kiss on the cheek. It’s kinda sweet. And kinda mean. And you don’t know whether to smile, be angry, run and hide, stand and fight, or curl up in the fetal position.

A few weeks ago, I was told, “For the task you’ve got in front of you, you’re doing well.” Again, I smiled and said thanks, but thought, “What does that even mean? If it were easier, would I not be doing well? If it were harder, would I be an abysmal failure?”

This is probably a reflection of my broken, depraved mind.

But I started thinking if there were other ways of encouraging someone…and backhanding them all at the same time. I came up with a few that we use in the Christian world. I call them “RebukEncouragements.” See what I did there? I brought together two biblical words and…well, you get it.


  • You’re doing a great job for your age.
  • For the task in front of you, you’re doing well.
  • I’m glad God isn’t done with you yet.
  • If God can save you he can save anyone.
  • To pastors: Most pastors aren’t as normal as you are.
  • To pastors: It must be nice having a job where you only have to work one day/week.
  • To pastors: For all of the extra “ministry stuff” you had to do this week, it’s amazing you could have pulled together a sermon at all. I’m glad you at least preached something.
  • God can love someone even as difficult as you.
  • It must be exciting for you that you still have so much to learn.
  • God has used you in my life to teach me patience.
  • Without you I wouldn’t know how to deal with difficult people.
  • I can’t even imagine how God’s going to use you when you grow in maturity.

Anything you’ve heard/said before that is a RebukEncouragement?



7 Leadership Lessons Pastors Can Learn from Building a House


My wife and I are building a house for the first time. It’s the 2nd home we’ve owned, and instead of buying an existing house, we decided to build. People told us we were stupid for doing this. We were moving cities, changing churches, changing jobs, and starting all new relationships. And building meant we’d be living with my in-laws for a season throughout all of this change. (let it be known…my in-laws are saints for putting up with us for this long!)

This has been a fun journey, building our house. And I have learned a few leadership principles along the way. (if you’re a pastor, before you’re critical of me for devaluing theology to leadership, read my thoughts on what I wish seminary had taught me. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed, and its sustainability rests well on the back of good, solid, God-honoring leadership.)

7 Leadership Lessons Pastors Can Learn from Building a House

1. Trust, but don’t abandon.

I trust my builder to do the job right…but that doesn’t mean I just abandon him. I check in, almost daily. Not because I want to micromanage, but to make sure that we’re tracking in the same direction. To make sure that the extra plug we wanted has been put in. To make sure that the trim work was done up to par. The builder is great, but he’s just one person, and we’re in on this project together. Two eyes are better than one.

Pastoral leadership trust doesn’t mean you don’t give accountability, oversight, and direction. Management is essential in leadership.

2. Keep a constant stream of communication.

Working on our house, we have a developer, a builder, electricians, roofers, landscapers, other subcontractors, and various paid laborers. On top of that, we’re working on securing our loan, and there are 3 different people I’m working with there. Lots of streams of work are happening. Without a constant dripping of communication from me, things would quickly get off track, off schedule, and way out of whack.

Good leadership keeps open, active lines of communication moving. When communication seems to dry up, leaders drip water back in.

3. Document where you were so you can celebrate where you’ve been.

Along the way, we’ve taken pictures. We’ve got pictures of our empty lot, the slab, the frame, the guys on the roof, a skid-steer moving dirt in our front yard, and the concrete guys pouring our driveway.

Good pastors help people see where they, and the church as a whole, has been…and where you’re headed. It’s hard to celebrate what you don’t remember.

4. Always keep the end in mind.

Along the way, we’ve had to continually remind ourselves that this process will end in us moving into our home. If we didn’t have that end in mind, I’d go crazy. All of the checking in, the communication, and the pickiness would be worthless if we weren’t actually going to move in one day. I need that reminder!

Leaders help others see what the end goal is. In your church, that may be an increased community engagement, more small groups, an upcoming event, a new building, or student camp. Paint a picture and point people to it often.

5. Be picky when the goal isn’t exactly what you wanted.

Most of the time, the builder has hit exactly the mark we want. But on occasion, he’s missed it. Just the other day, I had to make a correction in our bathroom because something was out of place.

Don’t settle for less-than-perfect when it comes to your overall goal. There will be compromises that you have to make along the way, but at the end of the day, make sure you actually do accomplish the goal you set out for. 

6. A little incentive never hurt.

I dropped the workers a little cash, and they helped me out with a little project in my garage. Happily.

As a leader, celebrate with people! Celebrate steps of faith. Celebrate God’s work in their lives. Because what you celebrate gets replicated. Thank, encourage, and…buy people a gift every once-in-a-while.

7. Don’t give up before the project’s done.

It would have been easy at times to just throw our hands up in the air because this project was taking too long, was too detail-intensive, and was too frustrating. With us being this close to the finish line, I’m thrilled we didn’t give up.

There may be times when you need to give up on certain portions of a project or an event, certain timings, and certain details along the way. But seeing a project to completion is the only real way you can learn what needs to be done better next time. 


The Ben Nevis


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Over spring break my junior year in college, I took a trip with a few buddies to Edinburgh, Scotland. We had a buddy who was studying there for the semester, and it made for a good excuse to travel halfway around the world to a country none of us had ever visited.

We saw the sites in London, stayed in hostels, visited the most famous golf course in the world, and climbed the highest mountain in the UK, the Ben Nevis. Standing a glorious 4,409 feet high, we knew we were going to dominate this mountain. When you’re a college student from Tennessee, that’s what you do.

My hiking attire:

  • A gray GAP, lightweight hoodie
  • Jeans
  • Tennis shoes

Between the 5 of us hiking that day, we brought 3 bottles of water, 4 energy bars, fruit we’d taken from the hostel where we’d just stayed, and a couple of handfuls of granola.

We weren’t really clued in to our unpreparedness, even though the hostel owner gave us that look, and said, “You’re going to climb the Ben in that?” Dumb, not-scared-of-anything college students, we pressed on.

About an hour into our ascent, I remember passing this couple who looked very “official.” They were decked out in North Face gear, rugged-looking boots, backpacks that could withstand a hurricane, and canteens of water that kept their water at just the perfect temperature for days. And they matched.

“You guys making it ok?” with the same look that the lady at the hostel had given us over breakfast. Apparently our “gear” gave us away. We all glanced at each other as if to say, “Don’t you say a word about how dumb we feel.”

“Yep! Ship shape!” I said. “We almost there?”

They gave a chuckle and continued trudging downwards past us.

When we finally made it to the top, we looked even more out of place. There were guys with ice picks. People donning full-face masks to keep out the cold. And guys with gloves so thick it warmed my hands just to look at them. I cinched my hoodie a little tighter around my face, and drank in the most beautiful site my eyes had ever beheld. Everywhere I turned, making sure not to slip off of the snowy ledge, I saw beautiful Scotland countryside. Mountain after mountain, separated by green valleys, sheep grazing to their heart’s content. Turns out, we crested the top on the only day that entire month where the clouds broke. It was as if God was smiling on our little ragtag crew.

All we could stand was ~30 minutes. We were all freezing. The snow had melted into my shoes, and I could feel the blisters pulsating. Time to head down. Most people gingerly and carefully made their way down the first 200 feet, which was covered with snow. Not our crew, though. We dropped to a sitting position and slid down. What took most people 10 minutes took us less than 15 seconds. I had to dig my heels in to keep from careening off of the side of the mountain (that’s no joke…I really thought I was going to be with Jesus in that moment), but we’d started our journey back.

I was miserable, but I tried to not let that show in my face.

Every person I passed, I’d give them a smile, and a quick,

  • “Hey, you’re almost there!”
  • “It’s worth the climb!”
  • “Don’t quit now!”
  • “Trust me, you’ll be glad you did this!”
  • “Just a few more bends and you’ll get the most beautiful view you’ve ever seen!”

With almost every person I spoke this to (minus the one guy that gave me the sink eye), I saw their face brighten a bit. I saw their shoulders straighten ever so slightly. They would stand up a little straighter. For some, the corners of their lips would curl in a tiny smile.

That’s what encouragement does. It speaks hope and life into places where death would love to take control. It breathes steps for someone else, and releases unknown burdens. It says,

  • This fight is worth it.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Your family needs you!
  • Your faith is worth it!
  • The prize is coming! 
  • Not much further!
  • Now is not the time to quit!
  • I’ve been where you’re going…don’t stop now!

Somebody you know needs encouragement. Right now. They’re on the mountain, and they’re about to quit. They’ve stopped for a break, and they’re not going to start going again until they hear from you. They don’t know that, just ahead, the clouds are breaking. Only you know that it’s just a few more cut backs before they reach the top. Only you know the view ahead is breathtaking.

You may not be a mountain climber. I’m sure not. But a timely word of encouragement can change someone’s life.

Who can you encourage today?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13



A leader’s focus

Drops of dirty road water hurled themselves at the hem of my gym shorts as I rounded the corner. It was a chilly February afternoon, and I was almost halfway through with my jog. It happened to be my long run for the week, the final installment that week for my 13.1 mile training plan.


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As I rounded the corner, I started down a longer, straight stretch, a slight downhill section that cut its way between a row of houses, cold rainwater zipping across the road as I splashed my way down.

I looked up, and in the distance I saw the next corner I had to round. It was over a half-mile ahead. For the next minute, that’s all I focused on, and as I did, I felt myself slowing down, physically and mentally, frustrated I wasn’t further down the road. Anxious about how far I still needed to pound. My legs were ready to quit, and my mind was nodding its head in agreement. Until I looked down.

I dropped my eyes for a moment and focused on the wet pavement in front of me, putting one foot in front of the other. Looking at the pavement, then at the next puddle, then at the next mailbox, I pressed onwards until, before I knew it, the corner I’d dreaded was already behind me. The music in my ears echoed on as I focused on the next step.

The focus of a leader

There are times when leaders need to look way ahead, dream big dreams, and help paint a massive, far-off-in-the-distance picture of the bigger-than-what-we-can-even-imagine future that’s coming.

But there are also times when we need to put our heads down, and help others see that next step. Forget “the big picture.” Forget “the dream.” Forget “where we’re headed.” Just help people take that next step. Help them to not lose focus on what’s in front of them, and celebrate small wins. To look too far into the future can be paralyzing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing.

Even a small step of faith in the right direction is worth celebrating. We’re all in process. Don’t paralyze people by the scope of the road you point them down.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Jesus, Matthew 6:34






Being called out from the pulpit

It’s one thing to be “called out” in a general way because you’re convicted by Truth. That’s the work of the Spirit, and it’s a great thing (though in the moment we don’t always think so).

It’s another thing entirely when you’re specifically “called out” from stage, the sermon stopped, and you’re told “I hope if you’re going to be a preacher that everybody in the audience talks when you preach. You’ll reap what you sow.”

Ouch. (you’ll see that in the video below)

I was called out once for using an electronic Bible. That was fun.

Check out this clip.

Is it ever appropriate to call out somebody publicly, from the pulpit?


(HT: Todd Rhoades)


The curator

Confession: I am an information junkie.

I follow over 100 blogs. Follow over 13,000 people on Twitter. Over 2,000 people on Facebook.

I read books. Listen to podcasts. And consume vast amounts of media.

Not to be lazy and sit around clicking on my computer, but because I enjoy it. I enjoy new ideas, different perspectives, and stretching my mind.

But it’s a bit overwhelming, and there are days when I just throw up my hands, close my laptop, and stop. It’s just too much to take in. Especially when so much of what people are sharing isn’t worth reading. My official records show that over 90% of blogs aren’t worth your time.

Enter the curator. The person who distills the best of the best and serves it up for you on a platter.

Todd Rhoades (Twitter, Facebook, blog) has been doing this for years. I have loved getting the best of the best content from Todd in his Monday Morning Insights. He does the hard work of crunching more information than you can shake a stick at (for those of you who shake your sticks at information) and putting a post together.

I saw Todd at a conference recently, and encouraged him that the art of curation is something that the blogosphere needs. As a pastor, I love that there’s a guy that I can trust that’s snagging content that I wouldn’t have normally read and putting it together. Doesn’t everybody want to be the guy who finds the coolest stories. The funniest videos. The latest breaking news?

Todd (along with Matt Steen) have just started publishing an ebook. His goal is for this to be a monthly resource, curating a month’s worth of news, covering areas such as:

  • Children’s Ministry
  • Church Administration
  • Church Planting
  • Communication
  • Discipleship & Small Groups
  • Family & Personal Life
  • Church Humor
  • Innovation & Ideas
  • Megachurch
  • Multisite
  • Outreach & Evangelism
  • Preaching
  • Productivity & Time Management
  • Social Media
  • Staffing & Personnel
  • Student Ministry
  • Technology
  • Theology
  • Trends
  • Vision & Mission
  • Volunteers
  • Worship Resources

I’ve read through this month’s and it’s really well done. Some of the articles I’d read already, but many I hadn’t. I found it easy to navigate, easy to download, and full of great content. It’ll cost you a few bucks, but it’s worth it. And it’ll cost you a few bucks less if you use the code BENREED.

Just pick up your copy HERE.



7 reasons your team desperately needs your public support

The way you speak about your team publicly will set the stage for how you are able to lead privately. Whether “publicly” for you means from stage, in conversations, in emails, or in feigned heart-wrenching prayer requests, public criticism is more important than you might think. George Washington knew this.


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Washington was a man of exceptional, almost excessive self-command, rarely permitting himself any show of discouragement or despair, but in the privacy of his correspondence with Joseph Reed, he began now to reveal how very low and bitter he felt, if the truth were known. Never had he seen “such a dearth of public spirit and want of virtue” as among the Yankee soldiers, he confided in a letter to Reed of November 28. “These people” were still beyond his comprehension. A “dirty, mercenary spirit pervades the whole,” he wrote. (from David McCullough’s 1776)

Washington had a clear, accurate view of the people he was leading. But he chose not to rake them over the coals publicly, and in this showed incredible self-restraint and wisdom. It would’ve been easy for him to slough off the fact that he and the rebels were losing the battle against the British onto the people. To paint the colonists as a bunch of sloppy, ill-fitted, cowardly bunch. But he chose the honorable route of honoring them publicly.

You’re probably not the commanding general of the US Army, but this restraint is wise in relationships like

  • Pastor –> associate pastor
  • Small group leader –> small group member
  • Husband –> wife
  • Boss –> co-worker
  • church staff member –> church staff member
  • deacon –> pastor
  • volunteer –> executive director
  • student –> teacher

When someone speaks negatively of your team, it’s often easier to just shake your head in flaccid approval. Or join in, making you look better and them look worse. Whether you’re a leader in your church, in your community, or in your home, public support is vital.

7 reasons your team desperately needs your public support

1. Public praise builds respect.

Very few things will earn someone else’s respect of you more than them knowing you have their back no matter what. Even when you don’t fully agree with the decision they’ve made, and would’ve yourself made a different decision.

With public criticism, you rip others apart and cause them to disrespect you.

2. Public praise nips negative attitudes in the bud.

When you don’t give critics the satisfaction of dragging your team through the mud, you paint a vivid picture of a united team.

Public criticism breeds public and private criticism.

3. Public praise promotes creativity.

Instead of spiraling downwards into backbiting and complaining, public praise keeps the focus on what’s good, and where improvement and innovation can happen.

Public criticism squelches creativity because it causes you to lose focus on the problem, and spiral into negativity.

4. Public praise gives you a real chance for influence.

If you publicly criticize others, you have no chance of leading them behind closed doors. They won’t give you a chance, because you’ve ripped their confidence and trust.

Public criticism closes the door for private leadership.

5. Public praise for someone else brings public praise on you, too.

What goes around comes around, both positively and negatively. If someone is criticizing one of your team members now, they’ll criticize you later. Mark my words.

Private criticism permeates a team culture.

6. Public praise builds team.

Public praise helps show others that you are on a team, and that you are all headed in the same direction. It builds the confidence of those you are leading as they see they are being served by a team, not just one person out to criticize everyone else.

Public criticism deteriorates the health of a team.

7. Public praise shifts your heart to love.

Love hopes all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7) Your heart shifts towards love when you act lovingly, even when your feelings aren’t there yet. Try hoping the best for the people you serve with, even when you’re not 100% sure of the motives. Because that’s what love does.

With public criticism, your heart can grow cold to those you are serving with.

There is a time and a place for critically evaluating ideas, decisions, and character issues. But those hard questions are better asked in private than waved publicly for others to join in the gossip and negativity.

Next time someone tries to throw a fellow team member under the bus, yank them out before they get run over. It’ll be better for you, your team, and the hater you’re talking with.

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. – Paul, Ephesians 4:2-3
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