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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How to Lead Better

How to Lead Better

December 4, 2017

Leadership is influence, and at some level and in some way, you are a leader. In fact, everyone leads someone, and that's the mystery of influence.

If that's true (that you are indeed a leader), then whether you're a stay-at-home mom or a corporate CEO, what are you learning about leadership? Are you intentional about your leadership growth?

I've made many mistakes and have learned a lot of my leadership lessons the hard way. But here's some good news, you can learn from others. I'm all for "failing forward," but growth through failure is painful and not the only way to develop as a leader.

On a regular basis, I read helpful leadership blogs from guys like Michael HyattSeth GodinCarey Nieuwhof and Brian Dodd (I especially like Brian's because he not only writes about leadership, but he pulls from the best blogs each week).

Smart and effective leaders read. Why? Because they know they don't know everything and believe they can gain knowledge from others.

So, keep reading as I share four leadership lessons I've learned over nearly 40 years of leadership.

Four Practices of a Great Leader:

1. Great leaders do.

Some time ago, it became somewhat popular to say, "We are human beings, not human doings." The idea behind that statement is something I wrote about in my first book, Epic Grace: "We are worth more than the sum of our efforts." Certainly, being matters more than doing, but make no mistake about it, doing matters too.

James challenged us to be doers of the Word, not just hearers. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22 [NIV]).

Jesus modeled servant leadership, and when He saw a need, He met it (like washing the feet of His disciples). Jesus was a doer.

Godly leaders pick up the towel. Christ-like leaders see a need and act. They don't hesitate to do something when faced with a legitimate need. And nothing is beneath them; no task is too menial for a leader who leads like Jesus.

Model greatness by doing what needs to be done.

2. Great leaders press on despite abandonment and betrayal.

One of the most common realities of being a leader is that you will be rejected and hurt. Some of your most vocal supporters now may someday become your most vocal critics.

By nature, humans are fickle. We (and I include me in that we) are too often erratic, unfaithful and unreliable. We are emotional beings often driven by our feelings and expectations. And when people have unmet expectations, they can go from being loyal to being betrayers in a relatively short time. (BTW, unmet expectations are at the root of almost all conflict, but that's another blog.)

Here's my best advice: Guard your heart and don't become cynical.

Many years ago, my pastor at the time, Roy Hicks, was asked at a pastor's gathering, "What do you consider your greatest success?" He was the pastor of a megachurch before there were many megas. He'd also written a worship song that was known worldwide.

I thought he'd point to something amazing. Instead, he said, without hesitation, "My greatest success is that I haven't grown cynical in my leadership."

As a 20-something pastor, I thought that was the dumbest answer ever! As a 60-something pastor today, I get it.

When betrayed as a leader: Love. When wounded: Love. When falsely accused and rejected: Love. When a BFF becomes a WPE (Worst Possible Enemy): Love. When everything in you wants to scream and curse and take somebody out: Love.

It may not change your situation. It may not directly affect your circumstances. It won't be easy. But love nonetheless. Why? Love because love changes you. So press on, stay the course and love people anyway.

3. Great leaders work hard to replace themselves.

Effective leaders understand that even though their personal engagement and efforts do matter, their most important role is to recruit, train and deploy others to replace them.

Jesus made disciples, and he commissioned us to be disciple makers. It's a huge "Duh!" for most of us. But frankly, too often, too many of us get so busy doing that we don't have a clear and intentional transition plan in mind all the time.

With the number of aging boomers who are currently leading large churches in America, one of the more frequent topics of discussion is transition planning?

I was at lunch with a millennial pastor friend not too long ago, and he asked me, "What's your plan for Eastpoint when you retire?" The first thing I said was, "Dude, I'm only 60 and not dead yet!" But then I turned the table on this 30-something pastor and said, "What's your transition plan?" He laughed, but I was serious!

Smart leaders always have a great transition plan. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. If you are a leader, you are in the business of developing and equipping others to replace you. The success and longevity of your business, your church and frankly, even your family, has everything to do with how well you are preparing others to take the helm someday.

At watever level you lead, consistently and intentionally invest in the growth of those in your sphere of influence.

4. Great leaders are great followers.

I wish I would have understood this truth and reality much younger in my life. It seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? But truly great leaders are those who have learned the value of following well.

Our culture tends to make leadership about being in control or being the top dog or having the right to get what we want when we want it!

But Jesus was a great leader because He was a great follower. He always submitted to the Father.

Here's what He said in John 5:19 (NIV), "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."

Jesus made it clear when He said, "I'm a great leader because I always follow the Father."

So, who are you following? Where are you learning to yield to the will of another? Like it or not, and most of us struggle here, we grow best when we learn to submit to our leaders, not when we are making all the calls and always getting our way.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "He that cannot obey, cannot command."

So true.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. – Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)

This article originally appeared here.

Kurt Bubna is the founding and senior pastor of Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley, WA. Bubna published his first book, Epic Grace ~ Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot, with Tyndale Momentum in 2013. He is an author of five other books, an active blogger, itinerate speaker, and a regular radio personality. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for over forty years and have four grown children and eight grandchildren.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

Yes Christian, You Need the Church

Yes Christian, You Need the Church

November 24, 2017

It happens to be one of the more popular traps along the journey of faith—the idea that somewhere along the path of righteousness we somehow outgrow our need for the church. Perhaps you've met someone who was too busy for the church. Maybe you've encouraged someone who thought they were too important for the church. What was once the central aspect of their life has now turned into an occasional hobby. We all need a healthy reminder from time to time that we need the church in all seasons and successes of life.

We Need the Church for Worship—Not Entertainment or Performance

When the early church is pictured in the early pages of Acts (Acts 2:42-47), we see the picture of a worshipping church. Centered around the Word of God, the people responded to God in a life that reverberated with the rhythm of worship. You don't see people searching for their type of music. You don't see people using the church for a performance outlet to satisfy their narcissistic appetite to be seen, heard and to perform. You see a people who are gathered to worship the sovereign God who spoke the universe into existence from nothing and rescued them through the blood of Christ. Oftentimes in my experience of church life and ministry I've found that less is more. More focus on God and less pragmatism is always a much healthier diet for a church.

We Need the Church for Spiritual Development

In the first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul explains the calling of the church to live holy and God-exalting lives (1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:12). It requires the church laboring together in this effort to sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17) and to hold one another accountable. Certainly it must be said that spiritual development in the church also requires a people who are committed to church discipline (see Matthew 18). The Word of God points out that God's will is never for the Christian to develop spiritually in a vacuum or on a lonely island. Through the community of a local church, God's people exercise their spiritual giftedness together and it results in spiritual development. Everyone in the church matters! The church is not a building, it's a people who are called out for God's glory. It's impossible to be a part of God's church without immersing yourself into a local body of Christ followers.

We Need the Church for Christ-Centered Friendship

As we read through Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, we see the need for companionship along the journey of faith. We are not intended to hike our way to the Celestial City alone. Christ has graciously given us fellow pilgrims, and it would be a soul damaging decision to attempt life without Christ-centered friendship. This is true for all members of the church—including the pastors who lead the church. Christian friendship enables us to seek advice, receive accountability, stay grounded in the faith, and spur one another onward to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). If the people in your church don't know you, you're not really a member of the church.

We Need the Church for Biblical Leadership

The self-guided tour of Christianity doesn't exist. It's not an option for the true believer. God has sovereignly designed His church with leaders who are called to faithfully shepherd the church (see 1 Peter 5:1-11 and Hebrews 13:17). Just as it would be utterly foolish for the inexperienced data analyst to leave his cubicle in New York and set out on a self-guided summit of Mount Everest, so it is with those who think they can navigate through this harsh and fallen world without submitting to their pastors. In a day where YouTube and Google serve up whatever recipe or how-to video we can imagine, we must be reminded that God has not called Google or YouTube to serve as our pastors.

We Need the Church for Missions

As Christ was leaving the sod of this earth, He provided some extremely important words to His followers. He said:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Great Commission is not a great suggestion. It's a command given to us by Christ, but we must likewise remember that it cannot be accomplished alone. Even a lone ranger Christian (which is an oxymoron) cannot accomplish the Great Commission by merely utilizing para-church organizations. If a single Christian is to engage properly in the Great Commission, it must be through the context of a local, tangible, New Testament church.

The church is not an option for some Christians, it's a mandate for all Christians. To be a Christian involves participation in the local church. Charles Spurgeon once remarked, "Nobody can do as much damage to the church of God as the man who is within its walls, but not within its life." As we pass through various seasons of life, we must avoid the arrogant and self-dependent ideology of spiritual autonomy. It doesn't end well.

Will you pass this on to your friends?
This article originally appeared here.
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Dr. Josh Buice serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia — just west of Atlanta. He is the founding director of the G3 Conference, the author of a theology blog ( and is passionate about expository preaching, biblical theology, and the local church. Josh studied at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned his M.Div. and D.Min. in expository preaching. With a passion for sound biblical theology and ecclesiology, Pastor Buice spends much of his time preaching, writing, and talking about these important issues. He is married to his wife Kari and together they have four children (Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson). When away from the office, Josh enjoys spending his time with his family, hunting, running, and a good cup of coffee.
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Rebecca Roseanne Caughtry
The people are the Church. The gathering place doesn't matter. The "church's" of today are mostly about smoke machines, lazer lights, the musicians, and million dollar buildings. It serves money and missions only exist for a select few. We are all called to go. We are all called to forsake everything and follow Him. But we instead we are encouraged by the"church" to take on that unbiblical debt called a mortgage, settle down, serve money and give that 10% (more so if our hearts desires). What we need is another reformation. Christ is coming back for a spotless bride not one messing around messing with the whore of Babylon
Like · Reply · 5 · 10 hrs
Donna Reis ·
The Church is the people who believe and you only need a few people of faith and that study the word....the only thing we trying to make people feel guilty for not "joining" institutions...nowhere does it say people must go to the "temple" or "church".... Matthew 18:20 King James Version (KJV)

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Like · Reply · 4 · 11 hrs
Dan Taylor ·
Hey-... The Bible says that we need to fellowship. And I have a broken down Minivan and I am disabled. We have 4000 members + or - in my Church and for the past SIX months I have not been able to get a Ride. The Church does not have a pick up ministry.
Like · Reply · 5 · 12 hrs
Stewart Yon ·
I am so sorry that in a congregation of that magnitude not a single person will give you a ride to church. Can you find another local body who will help you get there?
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Monday, November 20, 2017

Five Common Reasons Church Leaders Stop Leading -

November 20, 2017 2 Comments

Five Common Reasons Church Leaders Stop Leading

I am having an amazing time reading through the book of Joshua. My pastor (who happens to be my son, Jess) is also preaching through the early chapters of the book in our church.

I just can't seem to get enough of Joshua. Among the many reasons Joshua is my favorite biblical character other than Jesus is his uncanny leadership. For example, in Joshua 1, he transitions from becoming Moses' servant to becoming the leader of Israel. It's an amazing thing to read.

Joshua was one incredible leader.

We have many incredible leaders in our churches today. But, perhaps more often than we admit, some church leaders stop leading. I have spoken with hundreds, probably thousands, of them over the years. I hear common themes of why they put their leadership in neutral. Here are the five most common reasons:

  1. They are weary of conflict and criticism. These leaders have died the death of a thousand cuts. They know when they provide real leadership, the critics and naysayers will come out of the woodwork. Some of the leaders have lost their jobs because they led. They thus move into a defensive posture.
  2. They don't know how to lead. Joshua had the mentorship of Moses for a generation. He was instructed. He was prepared. He was ready. Many of our church leaders know their Bible. They know theology. But they have never been trained or mentored to lead.
  3. They overreact to autocratic leadership. We all know examples of when the pastor became a dictator instead of a leader. Sadly, that reality takes place in some churches on a regular basis. So some pastors decide they will never be a dictator. That's good. But some pastors take it to an extreme and fail to exert leadership at all. That's bad.
  4. They don't have people speaking into their lives on a regular basis. Any good leader seeks the counsel and wisdom of others. Unfortunately, pastors can become loners as they live on the islands of their own ministries. A few years ago, I began a ministry called Church Answers that provides a place for pastors and other church leaders to speak into one another's lives in a safe place. It has been transformational for many of them.
  5. They always seek consensus. I want to be careful with my words here. It is wise to see input and counsel. It is a good thing to listen to some outside voices. But every leadership decision ultimately needs a leader deciding. We can't always lead by committees, consensus, or critics. It is cliché to say, "The buck stops here," but the buck does have to stop somewhere.

When leaders fail to lead, a leadership vacuum follows. And any vacuum will be filled. It might be filled with a culture that turns inwardly looking after its own needs. It can be filled by disparate, divergent, and disagreeing voices. The people of Israel certainly went through that period: "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him" (Judges 21:25). Or the vacuum can be filled with individuals or groups who insert themselves for their own power and agenda.

Some church leaders view leadership as an endeavor to be delegated to others. Such is a path toward an inward focus, competing groups, disharmony, muddled direction, and overall frustration.

It's basic. Church leaders must lead.

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  1. Some leaders occasionally get word through back channels that someone who is highly influential wants a proposal nixed. They ensure that it happens regardless of how beneficial it is. This often leads to disgruntled people or worse. It put churches and political parties in the same boat.

  2. I've been in two churches where the church had conflicting expectations from the dictator (tell me what to do) to the suggester (If you want to do something the church must vote on it first). It creates hostility with every action and inaction as someone always feels violated by a decision. It was that way at the pastoral level, and in one case, even the deacons in their meets could not agree as one deacon was one extreme, one deacons was another, and the others had to choose sides.

    From the start, pastors and leaders need to clearly state expectations of which the congregation says "amen." In that way, if there are people who disagree, they disagree in relation to the congregation as a whole and not against "some rouge pastor who wants too much/too little power." So I believe many pastors are trapped between some of your bullet points above. Good things to be aware of before going into the pastorate.

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