Tag: pastor (page 1 of 3)

To be an effective leader, stop wasting your time

This is a flea market. Notice all of the junk. Randomly priced, randomly placed, randomly assorted junk. The highest priced item here: $7.50. (It’s also a picture of my son’t handiwork. “Hey dad…*snicker*…see what I did to that little wooden…*snicker*…mannequin…*snicker*?”)

Below is a picture from the next table over. Seriously, within just a few feet I saw a “Royal Albert China Dinner and Tea Set” for $850. I’m not saying it’s not worth that price tag…I honestly have no idea what, if anything, it’s worth.


Someone kept these for a long time. They spent a lot of money on them. Probably moved with them a time or two. Took extra time and care to store them. And probably rarely (if ever) used them. Now they’re sitting at a flea market, not selling. Because you can’t sell $850 dishes beside a $.28 button.

It’s sad, really. I feel bad for the person that bought them, the one that stored them, the one that didn’t use them, the one that transported them across town to the flea market, and the one that’s (not) selling them now.

Individual leadership

I bet there’s something you’re doing right now that, when you look back on your life in 20 years, is really a waste of time. You’re moving boxes of expensive dishes (your most valuable resource is your time) that you’re going to try to sell later, that nobody wants to buy.

  • There’s a book you’re reading that isn’t helping you. Put it down.
  • There’s a habit you’ve got that leaves you more irritable and less patient with people. Stop it.
  • There’s a relationship you have that is moving you further from who God made you to be. Change it.
  • There’s a side hustle you’re juggling that sucks the life out of you. Time to cut the cord.
  • Your “relaxing” time doesn’t leave you recharged. You can do better.

Life’s too short to protect expensive dishes you don’t want.

Organizational leadership

Church leaders, make sure the “programs” and initiatives you’re starting don’t just appease people’s itching ears, but actually lead them somewhere. Just because people ask for it doesn’t mean you have to do it. And on the flip side, be careful putting your time and energy towards what you think is nice without seeing if people want it.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. – Paul, 2 Timothy 4:3

Know where you’re taking people, understand WHO you’re trying to produce, and relentlessly pursue that. Stop having people do things that simply keep them, and you, busy with activity but don’t actually help them become the Jesus follower you’re trying to lead them to become.

Good pastors don’t just exegete the Scriptures, they exegete their people. In other words, good pastors don’t just spend time trying to know, understand, love, and unpack the truths found in the Bible. They work equally hard to know, understand, love, and unpack the people God’s called them to lead, and the unique vision God’s called their local congregation to. One without the other short-changes both. To love the Scriptures but not people makes you into a Bible-thumper. It also means you’ve not obeyed the most important command in Scripture: love others as yourself.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Jesus, Mark 12:30-31

It’s hard to know when you’re doing this, though, and whether the programs and processes you have in place are working. Maybe try asking a couple of questions of those you’re leading:

  • Because of ____ (program, event, etc.), are you closer to Jesus?
  • Are you growing more patient or more irritable with people, as a result of ___?
  • Are you finding yourself more or less courageous with your faith?
  • Do you find yourself more available emotionally, spiritually, and physically for your family, and those closest to you, because of ___?

People will be honest, especially when it comes to how they spend their time and resources. It may just be that that recreation ministry makes you happy, but isn’t helping your church become more faithful followers of Jesus.

Can we all agree to not become, or continue practices that produce, expensive dishes that nobody wants to buy?



The Leader’s Family

When I was in graduate school, I worked an hourly job as a barista. I loved it, for so many different reasons. The people, the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and the unlimited supply of coffee. I cannot overstate the beauty of that last truth.

A few years later, as I was finishing up school, I took a role on staff at a church. Instead of hourly, I was salaried. No more punching a clock. No more *required* lunch breaks. No more worrying about hitting my *full time* hour mark. A consistent paycheck was a thing of beauty. I wasn’t paid by the hour anymore. Now I was paid regardless of hours. I was paid the same whether I worked 40 hours or 80 hours. I was now being evaluated not based on the time I put in, but by the work I put out. My “grade” was built on the projects I completed. The leaders I recruited. The deadlines I hit. The goals I surpassed.

Being a “doer” by nature, I loved this. I loved tackling new initiatives, writing new curriculums, and building a team to help accomplish it all.

And now I had the flexibility to work from anywhere I chose: the office, a coffee shop, outside, or even my own house. It was amazing.

Until it wasn’t.


Work continued to creep in to family time. What felt like great momentum and progress began to take over my life. I found myself checking emails at any, and all, hours of the night. On my days “off,” I was cranking through writing projects, meeting with leaders, and planning events. And everywhere I turned, I was met with a, “Wow, you’re doing such a great job!”

Encouragement for a job well done is like crack for a “doer’s” soul. It feeds pride, and affirms all of the extra hours devoted, no matter what they cost in the moment.

“Great job!” doesn’t take into consideration the sacrifice that others had to make. It doesn’t factor in the ripple effect that the extra hours during family dinner had. Or the toll that it took when you scheduled a “working lunch” instead of capitalizing on time with your family. “Great job!” feeds the visible, outward-facing side of a completed project. The place where pride loves to hang out.

What I found was that every time I sent an email during family time, I was telling them that work was more important.* I was putting in all kinds of overtime for my job, and slighting the ones I loved the most.

Being in a salaried role, you may not be tracking your hours. But your family is. [Tweet that]

You and your family

I was tired of putting my family second to my job. Even though my “job” is my calling from God, my priorities were out of whack. My family is my primary calling.

God has placed your family under your care. And if you abdicate your role, you are spurning a gift God has given you. A beautiful, precious, and at times fragile gift. One that’s not easily gained, but in a moment can be lost.

Children are a gift from God. A reward. (Psalm 127:3) And a spouse? “Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the LORD can give an understanding wife.” (Proverbs 19:14)

My family is my primary calling. And so is yours. It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-time vocational minister or not. If God’s blessed you with a family, that’s your first calling. And it’s your job to guard your time with them, and treat it as the gift it is intended to be in your life.

Here are 5 ways I intentionally guard my time.

Guarding My Family Time

1. No more emails buzzing my phone.
When I feel my phone buzz, like Pavlov’s dog I have to check. Until I do, I twitch. So I turned off the buzz, and do you know what happened? I stopped twitching.

2. Calendar my Sabbath.
I actually block off time on my calendar for my day off every week. But even this hasn’t always worked. I’d block off the time, but still find a way to squeeze in an hour or two here and there. So in addition to calendaring my day off, I had to actually honor that.

Those are two different, but equally important, tasks.

3. Capture ideas, but don’t act on them.
If you’re like me, inspiration never strikes at the perfect moment. I don’t have the grand idea when I have my computer open. I have it when I’m almost asleep at night. Or when I’m in the middle of a meeting. Or…on my day off.

So I started working out this thing with my wife, where I’d tell her exactly what I’m doing: I’m jotting down an idea so I won’t forget it.

Because if I don’t capture that idea, I’ll be haunted by it, not able to think about anything else until I record it.

Quick. Easy. Done. Back to my family.

4. Take pictures, but don’t post them.
This was a big one. Because I’d take my phone out of my pocket to capture a moment, then when I went to post it to Instagram I’d get sucked in to the web of social media. Then I’d remember that email I had to send. Then I’d text a co-worker. By the time I’d blinked, an hour had passed.

So now I just use my camera app, take the picture, then post later.

It’s an easy step, and one that keeps me engaged with my family.

5. Get up early.
When I need to get extra work done, just like you do, I get up extra early. If a sacrifice has to be made, I’m going to be the one to make it, not my family. I’ll work when it’s inconvenient for me. My wife and kids aren’t naturally up at 4 am.

6. Be present.

When I’m with my family, I work hard to be with my family. It sounds simple, but removing distractions so that I can live life in the moment with those I love communicates loads of value.

I’m still not perfect at this. It’s a work in progress. But I’m continuing to take steps in the right direction. Oftentimes, it’s 2 steps forward, then 1 step backwards. But I’m moving in the right direction.

At least, I think I am. You’re probably better off asking my wife, though.

*There are times when emails and phone calls need to be taken on a day off. I get it. Emergencies happen. I’m talking more about patterns of behavior here, not one-offs.


A tale of 2 pastors

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity… – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I rode in the front seat while he leaned forward in the back of a cab one night in Dallas on our way back to the hotel. We were speaking at a conference together. I was leading a tiny breakout. He was a main-stage ‘rock star’ preacher.

As we talked, he expressed a genuine interest in the ministry I was a part of. About my family. He was concerned for what concerned me. Genuinely interested in being a small part of the solution. Genuinely interested in encouraging me. In listening, learning, and growing.

Someone at some point in some city at some conference told him he was awesome. Gifted. That he was a once-in-a-generation leader. In that moment, and in a thousand moments since, he reminded himself of his utter dependency on God.


Passing him in the hallway of the church he led, I stole a moment to say hey, and build a relationship.

He was insistent that I know how many speaking gigs he had coming up. About his blog. His book. His endorsers. His mentors. The mega churches he has influenced. The conferences he’s led. The people he’s gathered. The miles he’s traveled. The way I could help him.

Someone at some point in some city at some conference told him he was awesome. Gifted. That he was a once-in-a-generation leader. In that moment, and in a thousand moments since, he reminded himself…that they were right.

Which one do you want to be?


Why you should quit listening to your pastor

I’m done listening to my pastor.

D.O.N.E. Done.

All this talk on believing the Gospel. Trusting God through pain. Loving my kids with all of my heart. Believing God’s way is better than my way. I’m done.


Will you join me?

Quit listening to your pastor talk about how much he loves you. About how God has a plan for your life. About how you need to link arms with other people and join a small group.

Quit listening to him when he says that it’s good for your heart to give generously.

Quit listening when he talks about turning your back on your sin. About trusting the God who loves you. About your need to repent.

And when he prays for you…stop listening then, too. Don’t listen when he encourages you to step up and serve others. Or to spend a week this summer at student camp. Or going overseas to share the love and hope of the Gospel.

Stop listening. Please.

Stop listening and start doing something.

Take what your pastor says and start living it. Let it resonate so deeply in your soul that it pushes you to action.

Listening alone is worthless. When the act of hearing Truth doesn’t end in some form of action, it’s not done you any good. As James puts it,

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. – James 1:22

If we listen, and don’t do, we’re a fool. James goes on to compare us to the person who looks in the mirror to make sure everything’s straight…and as soon as they look away, they forget what they looked like. That’s dumb.

So let’s quit wasting our pastor’s time by listening. It’s not doing either of us any good. A storm’s brewing, and we’ve got to be ready. The question is not whether we will have enough knowledge or not. The question will be whether we can do anything about it.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. – Jesus, Luke 6:49

Stop listening to your pastor. And start doing.



Is your life as a follower of Jesus ‘Craveable’?

How about your small group?

How about your church? Is it craveable?

Watch this video, then pick up the new book by my friend Artie Davis.


Pick up your copy HERE!


10 meeting rules every pastor should live by

We pastors have a lot of meetings. A lot.


image credit: flickr user universityymca

I should’ve included “How to lead meetings” in my list of things I wish seminary had taught me. Meetings end up eating the majority of many of my ministry days. Whether I’m meeting with current small group leaders, potential coaches, ministry team members, or random church members, I’m in meetings hours and hours each week.

I love people, which means that I don’t hate meetings. But I also value my time and theirs, and don’t want to waste my days and my life in pointless meetings. Throughout the 7 years or so I’ve been a pastor, I’ve learned a few things about meetings that may help save you some headaches.

10 Meeting Rules Every Pastor Should Live By

1. Always bring a notepad.

If you come without something to write on, it shows that you don’t really care about that meeting. If it were more important, you’d have something to jot notes down on.

2. Buying someone a cup of coffee makes them more likely to agree to lead a small group.

Call this a bit of manipulation if you want, but it works.

3. Always be on time.

I used to try to be early to every meeting, but I found that 10 extra minutes here or there was adding up. And that 10 extra minutes here or there that I recaptured helped me get caught up on email, make that phone call I hadn’t yet, or put the finishing touches on a project made those few minutes valuable to me. Be on time, and don’t shoot to be super early.

4. Make the sale in person.

If you’re going to recruit someone to lead a small group, or some key role, don’t do it over email. Don’t do it over the phone, or by text message. Make the ask in person.

5. Make meetings count.

People’s time is valuable…yours included. If you’re going to meet with someone, plan on recruiting them for something. Or pitching an idea their way. Or invest in them spiritually. Or something. Make a decision at every meeting you lead. Never walk out of a meeting with your only takeaway being “let’s meet again and decide ____.”

6. Don’t go in to a meeting blindly.

If you can help it, always know what you’re walking in to. Get a general understanding before you meet with someone.

7. Never meet alone.

Either bring along a leader you’re investing in and/or meet with multiple leaders at once. Relationships are key to leadership, and when you have more than one person at the table, relationships can be fostered.

8. Keep a to-do list handy at all times.

Don’t use napkins or the backs of receipts. You’ll lose them. Use a to-do list on your phone. I like Wunderlist and Things.

9. Check your email before you leave the house in the morning.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up for an 8:00 meeting, only to realize that they emailed me the night before to tell me they couldn’t meet.

10. Shut it down.

I’ve got to shut things down when I get home. When I began in ministry, it consumed my life and my family. I’m getting better at shutting off, but I’m still a work-in-progress. Meetings and people are important, but so is your family. And so is your personal time. If you don’t recharge, you’ll have nothing to give in meetings.


Do you ever feel like your life is just one meeting after another?



A plea to pastors: be real

I recently wrote a post that got some folks pretty fired up.

I wrote my 7 reasons for why nobody really likes cats. Turns out, that’ll get some people pretty angry. And how I think that “the only good cat is a dead cat.”

I made it clear that it was just a joke post, and that I was just having a bit of fun. I don’t really want to kill cats. If I see one in the road, I swerve to miss it. If I’m at your house and you have a cat, I’ll sneeze and scratch my eyes, but I’ll pet your cat. And I’ll talk to it in that little baby voice we talk to when we communicate with small animals.

I was having a bit of fun with my post. Why?

Because not everything that comes out of my mouth is a Scripture reference and a word of wisdom.

Confession: I am a real person.

Screen Shot 2012-10-22 at 9.24.05 AM

It’s okay for you, too, if everything that comes out of your mouth is not be spiritual. You have my permission. Especially if you’re a pastor.

In fact, I believe that’s one of the reasons why Grace, where I was on staff, was successful: our pastors were real people. That’s one of the reasons why I believe Long Hollow is successful, too: our pastors are real people. With real struggles. Real pain. Real shortcomings. Real victories. Real families. Real hobbies.

When pastors talk in King James and end their every sentence with, “thus saith the Lord,” it gives the appearance that they’re perfect, inadvertently preaching that they have nothing wrong, struggle with nothing, and have every answer to every question ever asked.

Pastors: please be a real person.

The danger of detachment

You have a different calling, with higher responsibilities. There are certain expectations placed on you by God Himself, and God will hold you accountable for the way you taught and led. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon everything in life except your Bible. The more you detach yourself from regular life the more you’ll find yourself detached from the people you’re called to lead. If the people you lead are in to football, you need to be in to football. If they’re in to raising pigs, you need to be in to raising pigs. If they’re in to hiking, you need to be in to hiking. Paul says it like this: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

If you don’t have that thing that you enjoy, you’ll burn out, too. You can’t be a spiritual superhero all of the time. You’ll burn out and break. You need a release, and a chance to unwind. Find a TV show you and your spouse can watch together. Go golfing with the guys. Take your kids to a baseball game. Take off your pastor hat.

The more you share about who you are, even the parts of you that aren’t perfect and polished, the more you’ll be able to show people just how big of a God you serve. If you’re broken, you show people just how much you need Jesus. If you’re a mess, you paint a picture of a King that is full of grace.

It’s easier to relate with a real person that with one who doesn’t encounter regular life issues. It’s easier to connect with a pastor who follows Jesus but admittedly doesn’t have it all figured out. Why?

Because you don’t have it all figured out, either.

There was only one perfect man. And He’s the one I point people towards.

Which doesn’t mean that I don’t like football. Or golf. Or that I’m not going to say something dumb some time.

I’m sorry that I do that. I’m human. I don’t like that I’m still fallen, and still struggle. But offer me some grace.

And laugh at my jokes, even if you don’t think they’re funny. Please? 



What pastors really mean when they say…

We pastors say a lot. Most of the time, we’re straight shooters.

At least as far as you can tell.

Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 8.48.32 AM

image credit: CreationSwap user Bobby Ross, edits mine

Sometimes, though, we don’t really mean what we say. It’s not that we’re speaking an outright lie. There are just subtle, slightly different interpretations that one might make of our words. We’re like a good exercise in hermeneutics…be careful the first time you try to read us. Read us in our grammatico-historical context and it’ll all make sense. Speed-read through an interaction and you miss the fuller context.

Don’t be offended here. Not all pastors mean these things every time. Give us some grace. Allow us the space to love on and minister to our family first. And for crying out loud, quit thinking that paid staff are the only ones to whom the Great Commission was given!

What pastors really mean…

We say: You emailed me? It must have gotten lost in the digital mail.

We mean: I read that thing three days ago. Forgot to respond.

We say: My evenings are booked solid this week.

We mean: I value my family time. Find a way to meet during normal business hours.

We say: Instead of meeting with me, could you meet with one of our small group leaders?

We mean: I’m not the only pastor here!

We say: That’s a great question about amillennialism. What do you think?

We mean: I haven’t thought about that stuff since seminary…help me please, Wayne Grudem!

We say: Saturday morning men’s group? Sorry, my Saturdays are slammed.

We mean: My tee time starts at 8.

We say: Your kid is so cute!

We mean: I love you and your kid, but goodness that kid is not cute… (don’t get offended…if your kid isn’t cute, you know it)

We say: If you want to grow in your faith, you should join a small group.

We mean: If you want to grow in your faith, you should join a small group.

We say: Have you thought about serving?

We mean: Get off your lazy rear end and do something!

We say: I won’t meet with members of the opposite sex alone in private or in public over a meal.

We mean: I value my marriage more than I value meeting with you alone.


Ever heard a pastor say one thing and wonder if they really meant something else?


Small groups pastor opening

Grace Community Church is a rapidly growing church plant that started with 11 couples in September 2005. We have grown to averaging 2500 Sunday morning attendees over 2 campuses. We are a church of small groups, hovering around 100 adult small groups. We also integrate small groups and the concept of healthy, biblical, authentic community at every age level.

We currently meet in two high schools, rented facilities, with plans in the near future to build our own permanent facility on land that we own and have paid off. Our vision for a building is centered around a facility that is not just used on Sunday mornings, but is used consistently by our community throughout the week. From day 1, we want to intentionally build a space that does not sit vacant throughout the week, and is a blessing to our city.

We have a staff culture that is innovative, creative and relaxed. We have high expectations of our team, and set the bar high for the work that we do; however, you will find our environment laid-back, fun, engaging and collaborative.

Clarksville is a growing city of 150,000 people. It is unique in that it is closely tied in with Ft. Campbell, an Army base, and Austin Peay State University, with ~11,000 students enrolled. Clarksville is a short 35-45 minute drive to Nashville.

We are looking to hire a Connections Pastor to lead the charge of spiritual growth and small groups.

What you need to be:

  • Team Player
  • Team Builder
  • Strong communicator (not necessarily a preacher, but this role will involve communicating with leaders regularly)
  • Strategic thinker
  • Strong recruiter/motivator
  • Have a heart for small groups
  • Value creativity and innovation

What the position will include:

  • Developing processes and pathways that allow people to find and pursue their next step of faith
  • Consistently beating the small group drum for our staff and our church
  • Recruiting and developing high capacity leaders

Interested? Think you might be a good fit on our team?


Fill out the form HERE (scroll to the bottom), and we will be in touch soon.



6 Things Pastors Should Never Say to Themselves

There are certain things that pastors should not say out loud. Things that instantly create a damaging culture that’s difficult to recover from.

There are also phrases you should be careful saying to your pastor, and things every pastor wishes they could say.

image credit: Flickr user Pa Gagne

But there are other things that pastors say to themselves that are incredibly damaging. These words point pastors on a dangerous course. In the moment, they seem harmless. They just seem to be the product of a stressful week or a slip of the internal tongue. In time, though, these can shift a pastor’s heart away from authentic, biblical shepherding. Away from their calling. And away from the people they love.

6 Things Pastors should Never Say to Themselves

 1. Should I really preach this difficult text?

Consider carefully what passages from Scripture you’ll preach. Choose with wisdom how you’ll lead your people through Scripture. But don’t let “Is this passage too hard for people to hear?” motivate you to not preach a text. If you feel like the timing isn’t right, bump it a few weeks. But don’t let fear and cowardice keep you from preaching Truth.

2. Because they give so much…

Never start a sentence with this. “Because they give so much…

  • I’ll meet with them.
  • I’ll listen to their idea.
  • I’ll give their idea a shot.
  • I’ll not give up on them.

James 2:2-4 warns

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

3. Preaching is so much more important than ministry throughout the week.

Preaching is important. But don’t grow to the point where you feel your Sunday morning ministry is more important than what you do throughout the week. The way you love people, serve your community, follow up with visitors, shepherd staff, and make key strategic decisions is just as important, and both feeds into and out from, your Sunday morning ministry.

4. Pastoring is more important than my family.

No. No it’s not. If you think this, you’ll end up with no ministry at all.

For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? – 1 Timothy 3:5

 5. Should I really tithe?

Giving is an act of faith. It shows a deep trust that God is in control of money, not you. It also shows that you believe in something or someone. If you give money to a political candidate, you show your support of them. Give money to Habitat for Humanity, you show you believe in them. When you don’t give money to the local church you’re leading, you show a lack of support. On top of that, it’s a bit hypocritical for you to ask people to tithe, while you yourself don’t.

6. I think God is done with me.

Never, never say this. God may be done with you in a certain context. A certain type of ministry, maybe. But your pain, frustration, and disappointments can become, if you’ll let them, your unique voice of hope and grace. God’s not done with you. You still have a ministry. God uses men and women every day who have been crushed by life. Don’t mask your pride by thinking God’s done with you. “Your” ministry is so much bigger than you, anyway.

 Pastor: ever uttered these phrases? Ever heard someone else say them?

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