Leaders create Opportunities

Smart, hard working people make good money and put their families in a good financial position. But leaders create and run organizations and businesses and benefit many people by creating jobs and opportunities.

This dichotomy is quite unique because it reveals two different types of people. Both are good, honest, hard working citizens who are important to their families. Their families are important to them and they find it their priority to care for them.

But leaders stand out from the rest. Their focus is much broader than the rest. They’re capable of accomodating many types of people. Their broad mindedness allows them to accept people with a variety of flaws, attitudes, mindsets, habits, and personalities. Obviously! They’re leaders.

The greatest trait these people have is the ability to look beyond themselves and see a vision that is for reaching. They live out that vision with passion as they benefit a great number of people.

How about you? Will you step up and lead?

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Why do some church plants fail? (10)

Learn from criticism

Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to learn from criticism.

Criticism has always been unpleasant. But we’ve got to accept it as a part of life. Someone said that there is some truth in every word of criticism. Look for that grain of truth within the hurtful words you hear.

When you’re newly planting in a community, the pastors of churches that are already there my not respond favorably. In fact, some will misunderstand you and may be ruthless in their approach. Their words will hurt deeply, but you need to stand firm and be kind to such people.

God will use those experiences to build you up to be the person he wants you to be. But to become that person, it will take time and lots of pain.

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Why do some church plants fail? (9)

Leave a trail of influences

Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to leave a trail of influences in our community.

We minister in a fairly small community of about 30,000 people. Once while traveling through town with my daughter, I was waving and saying hello to several people on the street. As the waving and hello’s continued, my daughter, in a frustrated tone, said to me “Daddy, you can’t possibly know all these people. You seem to be greeting just about everyone.” All I said to her was: “Sort of…”

No, we don’t know everyone in our town. But at various levels, we have been able to touch the lives of many people in our community. It’s difficult to give an exact number, but out of that, only a few have actually become followers of Jesus.

There are numerous stories of healing, and the miraculous intervention of God in the lives of people throughout our town. But for some reason, they are not ready for a commitment to Jesus. Maybe they’ll do that one day. But it’s their choice and it’s obvious that the day has not come.

All these people are a part of the trail of influences that we’ve been leaving behind. It’s all for the glory of God. But in the future, more of them will turn to Jesus.

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Don’t respond until the “venting” is over

Otherwise the conversation and emotions will get sidetracked. Then you’ll be headed in a direction that was never intended.

This human “venting” process is similar to the pressure cooker letting out steam. The steam is only a byproduct of the processing that’s going on inside. The boiling water processes the food inside. The boiling of the water inside the pressure cooker coupled with the nature of the vessel produces pressure. The steam that is under pressure is released through the opening on the top. Thus the pressure cooker is “venting” the steam.

Don’t give too much focus to the steam. The “venting” is only an external indication of a lot of internal processing going on. Allow it to do its work. The real product is on the inside. What you see on the outside is only steam.

Wait for the venting to subside. Don’t make any decisions or plans during the venting phase. Wait. Afterward, use the internal, processed product to make decisions.

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Why do some church plants fail? (8)

Ask questions

Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to ask questions of others.

It was in 1992 that we ventured out for our second church plant (in the first one, we were not the church planters but were on the planting team and helped with evangelism and small groups). Just out of seminary, I had a degree, but very little confidence.

At that time I enjoyed the privilege of phone conversations with a seasoned church planter who had successfully planted several churches by that time. Before the call, I would take out a notepad and make a long list of questions.

By the end of our conversation, I filled several pages of notes and scribbles. Those were fodder for me to tweak what I did. This habit has remained with me through the years. I continue to ask questions about outreach, leadership, preaching, and numerous other factors that are important for leadership.

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Sorry, but your great knowledge is giving me a headache

You impress me but you don’t inspire me. The whole emphasis of the conversation is focused on your great knowledge. That’s great, but for the rest of us common people, your knowledge means nothing.

Instead, tell me your vision. What do you see in the future? How can we work together for a better future? What part can I play, and how can you help me for that?

By the way, would you please stop talking? I’ve heard enough of your great knowledge. You don’t need to dominate. Allow others to walk together with you. Don’t leave everyone else in the dust. Take us along with you.

Please. Don’t impress. Inspire. Envision. Lead.

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Why do some church plants fail? (7)

Become a voracious reader.

Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to become a voracious reader.

My focus for reading was centered on church planting, evangelism, church growth, leadership, management, marketing, and a variety of general topics as well. I don’t believe that this reading gave me all the answers I needed. But this constant reading would regularly force me to rethink what I do and how I do things in ministry.

Methods, practices, and systems were constantly tweaked on the basis of my readings. After all, it’s an ongoing learning process. I’ve never told anyone that I had no clue as to what I am doing, or that I am learning as I go. Let that be a secret.

Being bi-vocational throughout all my years of ministry, I’ve always been pressed for time. So, I would place a few books in different rooms in the house. In one sitting I may only be able to read two or three pages. This means it took me several months to finish one book. But eventually I would finish. Kindle books were another means that helped to use any spare time while traveling or waiting.

The slower pace of reading also helped me to process the information and apply them to the ministry and life.

         Always looking forward to the next book.

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Why pastors have such an easy job

Like most anointed men of God, I woke up at 6am, grabbed a cup of coffee and read the newspaper in our veranda. What a beautiful morning! By 6:30am, someone drove up and began thanking me for the healing they received as a result of my prayer. They also handed me a thick envelope with cash as a gesture of their thankfulness. After opening the envelope I quickly informed them that the amount was too small for such a great man of God. They quickly doubled the amount without hesitation, apologizing profusely.

At about 9am I opened a devotional app and listened to the audio while checking my calendar to see the entire spread of invitations to speak at prominent events. By then, someone drove up with a brand new car and handed me the keys, expressing their gratitude for my ministry. They told me that a man with such a high level of anointing ought to drive a new car each year. I was delighted that they recognized my stature and impeccable record of ministry.

These are just a few examples of the good life of a minister of the Gospel with such anointing. Must I say more about the fancy dinners, cruises, vacations to exotic places, and all the delightful experiences? A great man of God deserves nothing less than the best.

(if you believe what you just read, please check the meaning of the word satire, then read Hebrews 11).

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Why do some church plants fail? (6)

Seek out fellowship

Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to constantly seek out fellowship for me and for my family.

Like-minded individuals connect at deeper levels for more meaningful relationships. This is not only for the sake of convenience but it is a vital aspect of healthy families during the church planting stages.

Although we made a conscious effort, we could not build meaningful relationships with other pastors in our area. Either they were suspicious of us or they felt that we were not up to their level of expectations.

This forced us to seek out relationships with like-minded pastors in other areas. But the initiative was mostly on our part. We had to initiate the contact and work to develop the connections. I don’t recall anyone making the effort toward us.

We could not wait for others to initiate the relationships. We were in desperate need to connect. Looking back, those relationships were often a significant source of strength for us.

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Fear, power, control, anger, and retaliation in relationships

Fear will stifle and control the “atmosphere” of the relationship. Fear of losing the relationship or at least there might be a fear that one will lose favor, or that the peace might me disturbed. (Tweet this)

The attempt to gain power and control may come from fear. If fear does not have the upper hand, then the relationship can go on with mutual love and respect. Then there would be no issue of control. (Tweet this)

Anger results from frustration over unfulfilled expectations. Unresolved issues from the past may also be a key factor in producing anger. Learn to forgive, release and lower expectations. Anger as an emotion may not be wrong, but the expression needs to be healthy.

Retaliation is childish. No need of this in a mature relationship. Forgive. Release. Accept. That is the best way. Maybe, that’s the only sensible way.

Jesus is our best example. Although we falter in our relationship with him, he continues to love us. He gave up his life as a result of that love. He asks us to do the same for others.

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