We live in an age where there is more information available to us than ever before. When I was a kid I did my research papers using encyclopedias, studied using a concordance. If you are under the age of 30 and are reading this you have no idea what I am talking about. Here is where our world has change for the better and for the worse, we no longer need those study methods because we have the internet. The problem with the internet is that even though you can get lots of good information you can also allow your thoughts and ideas to be diluted and even confused by the diversity of thoughts and ideas available online. One of the ways I try to overcome this is by passing thoughts and information through a series of questions. If you are a bible story-teller for kids church, a youth pastor or on an adult preaching team these questions will apply.
5 Questions every communicator must ask before they preach
1. Could I preach this message in a synagogue or in a Mormon Tabernacle? If so it’s not the gospel. –
2. Am I being faithful to the text? Am I allowing the text to speak or am I trying to get the text to say what I want it to say?
3. Do I have any practical application?
4. Does my application leave people with a sense that “if I do this then….” or does my application leave people with a sense “That if I do this and trust Jesus then….”
5. What’s my motivation? Will at the end of the message will I have been thought of as a brilliant communicator or will I point those in attendance (myself included) to their daily need for a brilliant savior.
6. Will the end result of this message be the worship and glorification of Christ?
Let me start with this disclaimer. I love Harvard Business Review and have read many books on business and leadership. I also believe that pastors should be good leaders they should strengthen that muscle because leadership matters. How you lead matters.
Here is where I get frustrated. I have talked to many pastors and the lion share of books they read are leadership/business books. I think there is a danger here. I know because I have seen it in myself far more often than I wish. The problem is our goal is not a bottom line that has to be maintained no matter what. The goal of pastoral ministry in my mind is two-fold 1. To train those we lead to do the work of the ministry 2. To make Jesus beautiful to everyone we encounter and grow His kingdom not ours.
When we have an unhealthy obsession with CEO’s we treat people we are called to pastor and lay our lives down for as though they were objects to be used and discarded. When we are CEO obsessed we are more concerned with building our own kingdom at massive cost to Christ’s kingdom. How can we as pastors lead without being led by the holy spirit into a passionate pursuit of knowing Jesus? When things become our treasure we do whatever we can to guard that treasure and people suffer. Tim Keller says it so well when he defines idolatry as being so often “Good things we make ultimate things.” When Christ is our treasure we live for the glory of Jesus. As a pastor, if your reading of books outside of scripture don’t reflect a passion to know Christ, crucified and risen than something is wrong.
We cheapen the gospel by trying to market it and not allowing it to change and transform us. A pastor who has been transformed by the gospel will be driven to know Jesus. As I type this I mourn the years I thought being known by others would bring the fulfillment that can only be found by being hidden in Christ. In 1 Timothy Paul reminds us that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Pastor you are not called to be a brilliant CEO but a broken follower redeemed by grace who longs for eternity, not for the streets of gold but for the joy of sinless worship before a sinless Savior. The thing about the gospel is it will compel you to do things a CEO would never do. The gospel tells me gain comes through loss. If want to keep my life I must lose it. The gospel will demand things of you that defy logic in human terms.
1 Corinthians 1:18
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Leading sideways – This is perhaps the most difficult and least talked about form of leadership. Leading your peers. This challenges your vision. You can succeed departmentally and fail organizationally. Silo’s are created from a lack of intentional sideways leadership.
By far the least talked about direction of our leadership is sideways leadership. Leading sideways is difficult because you don’t have the leverage you have with leading up and leading down. You also have less personal insensitive. The scariest thing with leading sideways is you can be successful with in the organization you are apart of and that organization suffers because you are so departmentally focused you fail to build the organization. It’s very easy to just put your head down and work hard. When you do that you suffer you team suffers and ultimately the organization suffers.
Here are some questions to ask yourself you suspect you are leading sideways.
1. Am I more loyal to the team I am apart of or the team I lead?
2. Do I share willing my best ideas with my team?
3. Do I share the credit even when I don’t need to?
4. Do I say we more than me?
5. How many times have I gone to someone else’s office/cubical just to talk?
6. Do I believe the best in my peers?
7. Do I find my significance in always being right?
Directional Leadership: Leading Up
As a support staff member you will no doubt have to learn the art of leading up. You church needs you to lead up. You are a family, youth, worship pastor because you have been gifted and have the grace to lead where you lead. You must lead up.
Leading up will challenge you because you have to question your own motives. You have been given influence in your organization how are you going to leverage and steward that influence. As a leader who leads others and pastors others you need to keep those people in forefront of your mind as you lead up. The temptation in terms of leading up is using that influence to grow your particular ministry
What is leading up? It is a term that has been around for a while and it speaks of using your influence in the organization to make changes by influencing those above you in the org chart to act based on your advice. You are not making the final decision but are helping to shape the decision that will be made by those you report to.
There have been many books and articles written on the subject. I thought I would add to the conversation by providing some questions to ask yourself that will act a check on your motivation when leading up.
Questions to ask when leading up.
1. Have I prayed about this?
2. Who will directly benefit from what I am proposing to my boss?
3. Am I speaking truth in love or telling my boss what he wants to hear?
4. Is what I am proposing founded in a desire to glorify God or bring glory to myself?
5. If my boss takes credit for my idea am I ok with that? If not than why?
6. Will my idea make the team or organization better?
7. If what I am proposing will help only my department will it also help the church?
8. Is my attitude in the right place? Am I saying something out of concern or frustration?