Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ ”

What makes a person give up everything in order to follow Christ?

What motivates a lifetime of obedience and service?

What makes men into real men, spiritual men, dedicated men, godly men, and what makes women into women of substance?

Well, let’s see what the Bible says about that.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Leader You Know You Can Be

Rachel Zegler on the version of Snow White in Disney’s latest remake of a classic:

“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she will not be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader that she knows she can be.”

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the leader of them all”? Meh. I wouldn’t have been lining up to see it in any case. If I spend another second in my entire life watching strong, independent women self-actualize onscreen, it will be several decades too much.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Mastering the Pastor Disaster

Her voice on the end of the phone was shaky. Clearly she was very, very upset about something. But she couldn’t bring herself to tell me what. Her words came out in a kind of extended groan that seemed to swell up from inside the depths of her heart, but could only leak past her lips. Something very bad had happened.

As our conversation continued, I gently drew more details out of her broken responses, and it became clearer. Not only she, but all her friends and her church, had been betrayed. A leader in their circle, much loved and widely admired, had turned the corner of a disastrous course. The first of the news had just broken; and she had called me less to tell me than to seek some kind of soothing for her aching soul.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Pastor of Disaster

Andrew sat back and stirred his tea. “What kind of church are you in?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “I was in a conservative evangelical group, but it seems perhaps I’ve been kind of bumped out.”

“What do you mean?”

“We were in one kind of church, but we had to leave; now we’re sort of in-between, looking for what the Lord would have us do.”

“I will tell you why you left.” His voice was even and certain. He leaned forward. “It was because of … that man.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Limitations of Godly Leadership

Yesterday we looked at the unnecessary death of Josiah, Israel’s last great king. Today, I’d like to look briefly at four complementary passages concerned with the period of time during which Josiah reigned over Judah. I’m hoping these may help to refine our thoughts about the relationship between leaders and the led.

We often bemoan a lack of godly leadership in our day. That is not always our real problem.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Anonymous Asks (232)

“Are home churches biblical?”

The first church in Jerusalem was made up of many smaller home gatherings. The Jewish believers displayed their new Spirit-empowered unity by “attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes”. Some commentators suggest the words “breaking bread” in Acts 2 simply refer to sharing an ordinary meal in common. It is certainly possible to construe them that way; however, breaking up into smaller groups gathering in private homes to remember the Lord Jesus would simply have been good strategy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Statsman Cometh Again

I haven’t done one of these statistics-based posts since 2017, an exercise in self-control unprecedented for yours truly. So if you hate minutiae, come back tomorrow. Today is trivia time, along with maybe one or two observations along the way that are not completely insignificant.

Some people are more fun to know via the Internet than to put up with in real time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Uneasy Lies the Head

Queen Elizabeth’s death last year set me to thinking about the lifespans of monarchs as I have been reading my way through Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Let’s just say none of the kings in our Old Testament ever came remotely close to her longevity, let alone the number of years she ruled.

It’s hard to miss the fact that for most of the kings of Israel and Judah, the privilege of leadership went hand-in-hand with a relatively short lifespan.

Now that raises some interesting questions.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: The Role of a Senior Pastor

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

A website with plenty of other, more helpful posts also contains this gem:

“Question: What does the Bible say about the role of a senior pastor?”

Tom: Oh, you’re going to make ME pull the pin on this one? Fine, fine.

The question is phrased this way: “What does the Bible say?”, which might lead one to naively conclude that the answer will have something to do with the teaching of the Bible. Which it sort of does ... until you read the first sentence.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Who’s Running This Place Anyway?

Churches today need leaders — badly. And biblically speaking, that means they need elders.

“Elder” doesn’t necessarily mean old but it does mean spiritually mature, so some age and experience are required, of course.

Unfortunately, spiritually mature people are in short supply these days. I fear that the majority of my generation, the currently middle-aged, didn’t spend much of their youth reading the Bible or seeking spiritual growth opportunities. Consequently, those now in the best age group to be selected as elders to lead the churches are not quite up to the task.

But churches still need leadership.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Why Your Pastor Won’t Help You Now

Michael O’Fallon, host of the very worthwhile Sovereign Nations podcast, says he’s perplexed.

Some time ago he discovered a very nasty kind of false teaching was creeping into the churches in his denomination, a false teaching prepared in the fires of Marxism but now channeled by respected evangelical sources. It seemed obvious to O’Fallon that the first people who would be concerned and who would have a stake in understanding the danger would be those charged with maintaining sound doctrine on behalf of the church.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

It Ain’t Personal

Spiritual leadership is not easy.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason so few Christians seem to seek it, especially these days. But unless we opt out of family life and church life entirely, most of us are faced with a certain amount of responsibility, like it or not.

Elders are leaders. And in fact every Bible teacher, formal or otherwise, leads too. The act of writing down or publicly giving voice to a spiritual conviction is invariably an act of leadership that declares, “This way, not that way” or at least “This means X, it doesn’t mean Y”, no matter how delicately or deferentially one chooses to formulate one’s opinion. In addition, all mothers and fathers lead their children, or else their lives quickly devolve into an endless series of rather potent miseries.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Leadership: It’s a Dog’s Life

It seems everybody today is complaining about the lack of leadership in the local church. Those appointed to lead are not leading at all, or they’re leading too much. Either the whole church is failing to stand for anything, or else arbitrary and inflexible leadership is killing off the life of the church by strangling it with tradition, routine and rules. No one likes how things are running, but no one is terribly sure what a better style of leadership would look like.

Oh, there’s no end of advice out there.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: No-Fault Separation

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Immanuel Can: I’ve got something on my mind this morning, Tom.

I was reading this article. Now, this is an old and still-debated topic, and I don’t deny that the author probably has some good points. But what struck me about this article were several things.

The author asks why it is that people leave a church, and then he goes on to suggest three reasons. In order, they are: (a) our subculture (by which he actually seems to mean the larger, secular culture of consumerism); (b) expectations (and he emphasizes in particular the tendency to forget that the church is a “family”); and (c) the “fatal assumption” … that newer is better (which, by some sort of path, “leads the average church goer to hold the opinion that it is better to be served than to serve.”)

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Tyrants and Pushovers

Nobody likes a tyrant. I don’t imagine anyone ever did even when, as is so often claimed today, tyranny was the defining feature of patriarchal leadership in the secular world, in church government, and even sometimes within families. At least this is what we are led to believe.

I have no doubt a significant number of the horror stories about the abusive leadership of times past are perfectly true, and should serve us well as cautionary tales. But I very much doubt all of them are.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Acting Like Men

“Act like men.”

Yesterday I watched a few seconds of video from the recent attempted mass shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. It’s all up there on YouTube, of course. The church was livestreaming its service when the incident occurred.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Point of the Exercise

It is God who confers authority, but he doesn’t do it for its own sake.

Sure, a position of authority often comes with side helpings: popularity, riches, dignity, power, a (usually temporary) legacy ... and (in Old Testament times at least) a bunch of wives. But these are baubles. They are not the point of the exercise. Other things come with authority too: abuse, rebellion, heckling and a horrible, frequently harrowing level of responsibility — but let’s not get into those.

My point is that it is always and only the WORK that matters to God, not the status or other benefits that authority confers.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mastering the Pastor Disaster

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Pastor of Disaster

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: A Lack of Leadership

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Is a good man always hard to find?
Immanuel Can: Tom, we need a new generation of spiritual leaders in our congregations. But they don’t seem to be appearing in most places, and not nearly fast enough for the rising need.

What can we do?

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Should Elders Give Orders?

Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity is a vitally important — even radical — reassessment of the church that attempts to encourage evangelicals out of clericalism and into something much more like what was taught by the apostles and practiced in the first century. Several summers ago, I examined it here, here and here.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Noble Man, Noble Plan

“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.”
— Milton Friedman

I’ve liked that quote for a while now. In our current political climate it seems apropos.

It can certainly be read optimistically: If you can’t get people of good character into positions of responsibility, at least there’s a chance that a determined populace might motivate the bad characters with real power to dance to the tune of public opinion.

Perhaps there’s some hope in that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dueling Diotrephes

“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”

John’s third epistle is thought to date from around AD65, and to be one of the last books of the Bible written. When the beloved apostle wrote it, local churches had been planted all over the Roman empire, had named elders or had them named for them, and many of these had had a decade or more to mature and to benefit from and share significant portions of what we now call the New Testament.

That’s when the wolves started coming out in force.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Leaders and the Led

What does biblical leadership look like?

The answer in many quarters these days is “servanthood”. The term “servant leadership” is said to have been coined by Robert Greenleaf in a 1970 essay, allegedly after reading a story by Hermann Hesse. Greenleaf’s concept has since been promoted by numerous evangelicals, including John Piper and the Acts 29 network of churches, of which ubiquitous YouTube presence Matt Chandler is president.

At one level, who can argue? “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

Pretty unambiguous, really.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Seems Good to Me

Elders haven’t got the easiest job in the world.

The average local church requires answers to a hundred different questions in the course of a year. Some are of an obvious and urgent spiritual nature. Others appear innocuous and procedural, though even these may be chock-a-block with hidden spiritual landmines.

Sure, deacons handle many of the day-to-day administrative details in gatherings where New Testament principles of operation are given priority, but that still leaves an awful lot of territory to be talked over, prayed through and hashed out between busy men just trying to do the best possible job of shepherding the people of God, often while caring for their own families and leading busy lives.

The most careful, prayerful, diligent and confident leader must still occasionally ask himself “Are we getting this right?” Or if he doesn’t, he should.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Leadership: It’s a Dog’s Life

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

A Late New Year’s Thought

I’ve always been kind of a non-conformist. Can’t post a New Year’s thought on New Year’s. Almost didn’t post one at all. You may have noticed IC usually writes almost all the seasonal posts here. If something’s expected, I have real difficulty delivering.

I just don’t much like marching in lockstep or following the crowd. If I find myself surrounded on my way from Point A to Point B, my first question is “Where are we going and why are we going there?” My second question is “Who’s leading us?” by which I really mean, “Does this person have even the foggiest notion what he’s doing?”

That wariness is a product of having followed a bunch of people who, well … didn’t.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Spam for the Clergy

Ooh look, a free e-book!

I generally ignore spam in my inbox, but this is graphically well-packaged spam disguised as free Christian reading sent to a guy who takes his best shot at posting five times a week, so why not? It’s entitled Toxic Leadership: 5 People Churches Should Never Hire, and it purports to offer evangelical clergymen their chance to avoid one or more of those “fatal church hiring mistakes”.

Who could pass that up?

Also, I love the word “toxic” ...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Who’s Running This Place Anyway?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Fragile Basket

Jamin Goggin says when today’s celebrity pastors get caught sinning, churches collapse, whole conferences evaporate and large numbers of Christians are deeply wounded.

And Goggin maintains the real problem is us:

“The church has embraced a form of power that is antithetical to the way of Jesus, and her pastors stand on the front line of this destructive reality.”

Now, he’s not wrong here. Perhaps he doesn’t go far enough, but I think he’s on to something.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Nice Getting to Know You ...

Embarrassing story of father-failure. Brace yourselves.

My youngest son was fired not too long ago. Well, “fired” is a harsh word for something that was actually done with unusual politeness. The Asian manager of the donut store where he’d been working for three weeks let him know at the end of his shift that, “Uh, it was really nice getting to know you, but you don’t need to come back next week.”

Hmm. Okay then.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: The Role of a Senior Pastor

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, March 06, 2017

To Jezreel By Chariot

Jehu-style leadership is not always a bad thing.

Both Jehu and David were anointed king of Israel at God’s command. David chose to serve King Saul faithfully until forced to flee for his life, then served God and country as he was able while on the run until Saul met his end in battle. It took approximately 32 years to establish David’s kingdom.

Jehu, on the other hand, sniffed the political winds, discovered his fellow commanders all had his back, then promptly drove his chariot to Jezreel at speed and killed not just the king of Israel and his entire family, his friends, his priests and his inner circle, but the visiting king of Judah to boot. His kingdom was established in a matter of hours.

The similarities end with the anointing oil.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Blind Spot

What happens when your church is riddled with false teaching and nobody in charge knows it?

If that seems an unlikely scenario, don’t laugh. It can absolutely happen.

It’s next-to-impossible to miss when a speaker goes off the rails doctrinally from the pulpit at 11:30 on a Sunday morning. Whether it’s a pastor, a local Bible teacher or visiting preacher, a public pronouncement that is wildly at odds with a church’s statement of faith will almost always generate serious discussion and immediate blowback. If there’s any question as to what was actually said, your soundman has probably got digital backup or even video. One way or another, error that’s visible and audible to all usually gets addressed.

But modern churches have a huge doctrinal blind spot.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Getting What We Deserve

Poor leaders. First we put them on pedestals. Then we have a go at the pedestals with sledgehammers.

Leaders ride waves of popularity and drown in waves of rejection. Often the trends of public opinion are neither predictable nor rational. I know of exactly three people who, months beforehand, accurately forecast the rise of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. Everybody else just hoped — or much more frequently, snickered.

But when things go wrong, it is not always just bad leadership that is to blame.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Point of the Exercise

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mastering the Pastor Disaster

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Pastor of Disaster

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dial It Back A Notch

Marketing is an appalling thing.

My favorite sales technique is something called puffery, which is just what it sounds like: a whole lot of hot air. Okay, maybe “favorite” is the wrong word: it’s merely the technique easiest to identify, the one that, even to the uninitiated, screams ‘Marketing!’ at the top of its wheezy, overinflated little lungs. Once stung by the puffery-fish, you recognize it forever by any name.

Sadly, marketing to Christians has become just as fishy as marketing to secular rubes.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Leadership: It’s a Dog’s Life

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

It Ain’t Personal

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Inbox: A New Year’s Challenge to Elders Everywhere

My partner in crime Immanuel Can is, like many other masked men, currently vacationing in Parts Unknown.

But in the interest of giving you all a break from another day of … well … me, I offer IC’s rather thought provoking list from last week which may have gone unremarked in the comments section of a previous post.

I consider this not so much a general rebuke to elders as what seems to me to be a fairly useful checklist. IC and I both know elders who do the job wonderfully.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: A Lack of Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: The Role of a Senior Pastor

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Who’s Running This Place Anyway?

The most recent version of this post is available here.