Archive for the 'Leadership' Category

Contagion

By drewJanuary 25th, 2012Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments

“This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.”

Luke 22:20 (MSG)

I recently watched a movie called Contagion.  It was pretty much a horror flick. Not in the classic sense set in a campground or on Halloween, and there were no monsters or crazy creatures – “only” a disease. What made it so scary weren’t visual effects or crazy costumes and make up design. It was the fact that the plot of this story could actually happen in real life.  The “monster” as it were, was a highly contagious disease contracted through the air and by touch.  Every angle and colorization of this film made you feel infected.  I found myself washing my hands excessively for days after this movie. Between that film and a recent stomach bug my family endured, I’ve thought a lot about germs, infection, cleanliness and cures.  If you’ve ever suffered through a bad flu or virus of some kind you know what I’m talking about. As the parent of two little girls both under 5, my wife and I are cleaning, disinfecting and gagging quite a bit.

I watched this movie with a parallel in mind. I couldn’t help but think about the disease you and I are both victims of. In fact, every human being contracted this illness from our mother and father – our original mother and father, Adam and Eve. Eden must have been an amazing place, no concerns, no illness, no fear, and only one rule. Adam and Eve disobey God, breaking that rule, and in the time it takes to compromise and bite into a temptation, they become sick, they feel confused, ashamed, and aware of their need to be covered. They were infected with Sin, this wasn’t the first case of the outbreak, it originated in Heaven. Lucifer sinned in his heart against God and suffered the consequence of being cast out of Heaven to later show up in our story as the influencer, the “pusher” of this forbidden fruit.  Since then the disease has been passed down in our very DNA. It is a part of the human condition. Our diagnosis is even scarier than that of the disease in Contagion because it’s not a matter of if we’ll get it or when, but that we’ve had it from even before we were born and the consequences are that of eternal death not just this temporal one. We didn’t contract it through germs or a bad meal. Instead, it’s lurking within us and affects everything we do and everything we are. We work to “disinfect” our lives, and think if we’ll follow certain rules we won’t meet the same fate as that of our disobedient ancestors.  In hopeful moments of the awareness for our own need to be covered, God in His grace shows us that there’s nothing we can do to fix the problem.  No ritual or work, no meds or therapy will reverse our eternally terminal illness. But He made a way, provided a cure and offers us life instead of our certain death without Him. That vaccine, that remedy, is the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing else will do, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Do you have the vaccine? Are you working towards the rescue of those who don’t know of this cure? Let’s tell the world of this breaking news, this antidote!

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For Further Study on this topic:

Matt 26:26 / Rom. 5:9 / Eph. 1:7 / Eph. 4:14 / Col. 1:18 / Heb. 9:11 / Heb 10:19 / Ps. 51 / Is 64:4

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Rebuild

By drewJanuary 12th, 2012Blog, Featured, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The ChurchNo Comments
Modlay - Small

Hands And Feet (Haiti Tribute – Click to Play Song)

Today is the second anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated Haiti.  I woke up with the overwhelming thought, “what was that moment like when the whole world came crashing down?”.  I began to think about all those beautiful people who survived that event.  Does this day bring memories of loss and brokenness or hope and healing?  They say time heals all wounds, but wounds leave scars and scars remind us of pain and struggle. My prayer for that country is that their scars can also remind them of life and restoration, of God’s presence in the storm and be The Light that leads them out of the darkness.

I’m convinced that God allows tragedy and pain in our lives because of the change it can bring about in us.  In moments when I’ve been so full of confusion, broken-hearted and alone, I’m reminded that my only hope is in the Lord, not in who I am, what I’ve done or some delusional thought of what I can become. It’s not in my family or in my friends, not in what I have or want, not in anything but Jesus. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in those moments is that we don’t really understand or know what faith is until we really need it – have to have it. Growing up in church my entire life has afforded me the blessing of a foundation of faith in God, in my community, in my self.  But until we truly have no idea where the next paycheck is coming from, if the Lord will heal that disease, that broken heart, or relationship, we have to completely leave it at the feet of Jesus. No conditions, no expectations – just faith. Faith to truly believe that God is good, even when life is not. Faith to believe that He can use our story, no matter how tragic and confusing it seems to be in the moment of our pain. Faith to hope for days of peace and joy while walking through ones of darkness and depression.

Our God is a faithful friend, strong to walk with us, as together we rebuild what life has broken down. He provides all we need, and we work with the faith that at some point what looks like ground zero will be a place of unbelievable beauty – in His time.  We don’t remove our scars, we don’t hide those experiences, we paint around them, they provide context for the depth in our walk with Jesus and compassion for those around us surviving their own earthquakes.

What unexpected disaster has fallen down around you or someone you know?  Don’t act like it’s not there, that somehow no conversation is better than a word, a prayer, a supporting look or held hand.  Let’s run to those in pain, not with some lack of awareness that we can fix it or help in some way, but instead to just be present, just to stand with, just to listen.  God can and will heal and undergird our greatest life fractures, but let’s not let it just be a chapter in our story, but a building block toward something better, more beautiful, more dependent on our great God. He will rebuild and restore.

Job 22:21 (MSG)

“Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do; take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.”

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

* This picture is one I took of my dear little friend Modlay. He’s just one of the beautiful reasons to support the amazing work of Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti.  This little guy was born so small he almost didn’t make it.  He struggled with medical issues for the first part of his life, but you’d never know it by that smile.

* I wrote this song “Hands And Feet” just after the earthquake in 2010.  The proceeds from the sale of this song will go to help Modlay and his brothers and sisters at Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti. It will be one of the tracks on my upcoming project “I Am Becoming”.


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Becoming

By drewJanuary 4th, 2012Art, Blog, Leadership, Music Biz, WorshipNo Comments

Like life, art is both beautiful and hideous, happy and sad, light and dark.  In my opinion, the only good art is that which is true.  If art makes us feel something deep in the core of our souls, it’s because of truth, something reflected in paint, or stone, photograph or music that resonates within us is reminding us of our dreams, our love, our fear, and our pain.  When we as artists create at a level that moves people, we’ve earned the highest honor of creativity, a true reflection of Imago Dei (the Image of God).  In my experience, the most powerful expressions of art are those that come from context.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul”

Horatio Spafford penned these lyrics as his ship neared the tragic location where his 4 daughters perished only weeks before in a shipwreck. For nearly 150 years this hymn has reminded the church that in the middle of pain and brokenness, God is still there, giving us His peace that passes all understanding. I can’t imagine the loss and pain that Spafford was dealing with, but I’m glad he shared his pain and hope with us. It’s at these pivotal moments that we too should write and express our pain, questions and struggles through music or art.  As songwriters and storytellers we have to give full disclosure in what we’re walking through. As we lament or celebrate different seasons in life, we should faithfully translate the condition of our souls into tangible expressions that not only connect us to the lives and experiences of others, but helps us to heal and grow in the process.

Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock once said: “Every good painter, paints what he is”. In other words, the finest and most sincere form of art is one that reflects who we really are, where we’ve been, or what we hope to become. The problem with much of our “Christian” music is that we’ve been too afraid to be that honest or open about who we really are and what we’re really wrestling with.  So instead of free handing the truth of our lives, we’ve begun to trace over what seems to work in our genre and sell in our bookstores or play on our radio stations.  It’s easy to fall into that trap, but my prayer for us is that we dare to create from the raw places of who we are, what God has allowed in our lives and the beauty of redemption in the gospel of Jesus. That story is worthy of nothing less than originality, risk and passion. God will use the ups and downs of the day to day to chip away at who we’ve been until He only sees who we can be.

Hebrews 6:1 (MSG) So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.

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Trust-Worthy Worship

By drewApril 20th, 2011Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
Trust Worthy Worship Pic

I started in ministry as a youth pastor, not so much because I was trained in it or prepared for it, but mainly because I was a student myself.  My first job in ministry was the summer of my freshman year in college.  I was 18, optimistic and clueless, but loved kids and loved Jesus. At the time it didn’t seem like it would be that hard to imagine introducing them to each other and caring for them for a summer.  I’ll never forget in those earlier years of youth ministry trying to teach on trust.  I had my whole group of kids at a “ropes course” and we were about to do the trust fall.  I’d seen this done in my own youth group and remembered it being a powerful way to teach kids how to care for each other and to build trust in our group.  Thinking this would be a great lesson for our kids, I was standing toward the back waiting for the learning to begin when the guide says “Drew why don’t you come up and be first to fall and show these kids there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I was terrified, but had no choice.  I began to climb a ladder against a tree that led to an 8 or 9 foot platform.  He told me to cross my arms and to wait for the signal to fall backwards into the arms of my group.  I remember turning around to see the kids and noticing that the group was made up of mostly Junior High girls.  I was 6’3” and 250, and my faith in this exercise was waning by the minute.  The guide had the kids shout “Do you trust us?” and I shouted back, “I trust you!”. Without thinking too much more I let my weigh fall back and my heart race. In that moment my action proved my words, that I really did trust those kids.  They caught me, though they took me to the ground.  One by one they couldn’t wait to climb the ladder and fall themselves.

Our lives of worship are much the same.  It’s imperative that we not just say words, we must follow through with the fall, we have to trust God in the action as well. To worship and not trust, is to not worship at all.  When we live our lives as offerings to God, giving Him all that we are and believing He will use our mountain tops as well as our valleys, we’re trusting His sovereignty.  It’s one thing to stand and sing of God’s faithfulness, yet quite another to experience it.  It’s easy to form words and even muster passion in our hearts about what we believe and our commitment to Christ but still so much more to live lives of action, sacrifice, and obedience. God is more pleased when we obey Him over our liturgy as we “serve” him. (I Sam. 15:22).  God is blessed with our promise of trust, but we’re not trusting until we actually exercise it. Our songs and service to God are good but it’s not until we put our hands to the serving of those who are in need or put our feet to the journey of sharing Jesus with the world that our words, songs and worship have the substance of meaning, the proof in the pudding as it were. Missionaries worship as they build relationships and serve the poor, pastors worship as they shepherd the sick, families worship as they eat dinner together, reminded of God’s provision. The broken heart is full of worship as it hopes in the Lord, mourns authentically, yet trusts completely. Is your worship grounded in trust.  Don’t just yell out “God I trust you” without being willing to fall.

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Surrender

By drewJanuary 28th, 2011Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Music Biz, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Luke 22:42

42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Surrender.  It’s an interesting word.  It’s most commonly used in a military setting, meaning you give up the fight, to declare to an opponent that they have won, or to relinquish control because of force.  It could also mean to abandon or give up an idea or intention, or to lay down your rights. When I think about the word surrender, I picture a bloody field complete with soldiers muddy and exhausted.  I picture faces completely resigned to the fact that they can’t go on, that any further attempt to fight would be futile.  They throw down their weapons and their hands shoot up in the air to show their commitment to the loss.  Depending on which side you’re on is the difference in victory or defeat, joy or fear, life or death.

However, when we surrender our lives to Christ we don’t die, we live, we’re not defeated and instead WE are victorious.  The battle field with which you’ve wrestled with God my be bloodied by your stubbornness or arrogance, but when you come to the realization that it’s futile to fight with the One who loves you most, you too will resign all efforts to oppose His will for your life.  You’ll throw down every weapon or excuse and your hands will shoot up in the sky to show your commitment to Christ and His leadership in your life.  Jesus perfectly models surrender for us in this passage from Luke 22 and I think to remain committed to a life of surrender, it’s something we do every single day.

Father, accept my bowed head, and broken and contrite heart. My eyes closed and hands raised in surrender to You and Your will.  Forgive me for ever fighting or wrestling with You over my plans versus Yours for me.  I know You want the best for me and I lay my life down for You to do with what You want.  I relinquish my rights, and declare You Lord of my life and I pray as You did Lord Jesus, ‘not my will, but yours be done’.

For Further Study:

Matthew 10:39:

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

* The Picture above is one I took of a woman worshipping at the Temple ruins at Capernaum (Peter’s hometown) near the sea of Galilee.  Click on the image for the full image.

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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

By drewJanuary 13th, 2011Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
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This past Christmas season I was so overwhelmed with the joy of family, the warmth of nostalgia, and even the perfect “white” Christmas.  We didn’t see a lot of snow, but it was enough to make Norman Rockwell feel inspired.  I am a blessed man, that was the thought that kept playing in my mind as tears rolled down my face after watching my favorite movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  My heart recounted a list of all the things wonderful in my life.  At the top were my beautiful little girls, my loving wife, my amazing family, my church and all the community around us.  Just as I was having this moment “counting my blessings” as it were, I heard myself sobbing and realized that there was more to my tears than thankfulness.  Deep in my soul I was weeping for all the children around the world without a warm place to lay, a meal to eat, a family to love or a God to plead to.  My wife asked me if I was ok, noticing that I had gone from a simple crooked smile and occasional tear to out right water works.  In one split second I went from thankfulness to brokenness for those in need.  I felt convicted that because of all the blessings God had given us, I had been blinded to the great need around the world.  Only a few months back I had spent 10 days in Haiti, surrounded by beautiful children, some orphans with joy in their hearts because of the hope they’d been given by their caretakers and others with a vacant stare of numb loss.  My heart had made a quick leap from my two girls to all of those children.  These weren’t kids on a charity card or fundraising television broadcast, but faces and names and personalities I’d been blessed to hold, play with, and care for.  It’s amazingly sad how quickly we can forget the world of need around us, or at least put it out of our minds and return to our American nirvana.

As I type, as you read, children, men and women eek out meager lives of survival.  Even in booming economies or bustling international cities, people of all nations seek to survive.  If not physically from malnutrition or the crisis of natural disaster, from the emptiness of life without a Savior.  I found myself weeping over their needs physical and spiritual – feeling hopeless my sadness changed to prayers for them and giving them to the only One who can truly meet those needs.  As much as I loved being with those children and caring for them, it is nothing to the love that God has for them, for me.  It’s not enough to pray, we must go, we must do all that we can, but our mission doesn’t begin looking at a map, instead it may be weeping over their need and seeking the Father for next steps.  This Christmas season, I wept and remembered those in need. Next year I may be there in person, don’t know. My prayer however, is that I remember that Jesus came to be “God with us” and until the world has heard of his life, death and resurrection, and we as believers have loved the least of these as “unto Christ”, I’ll continue to weep for those in need and obey the Lord’s command to “go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of Jesus and teaching them all that He has taught us”.

* The photo above is one I took in the Sister’s Of Mercy Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.  She never smiled or showed any reaction or emotion at all. Her perfect face and lack of response made me think she looked like a little baby doll.  I can’t look at this picture without feeling the weight of that place and the needs so great every where you look.

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Transparent Leadership

By drewJanuary 7th, 2011Art, Blog, Featured, Leadership, The Church1 Comment
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Romans 7:17-20 (Message)

17 -20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

I’ve always loved this scripture because it makes me not feel so bad about myself.  If Paul can be this candid and blunt – totally transparent about how he struggles with his sin, than I can too.  It’s always been comforting knowing that this amazing saint was such a screw up .  Why is it then that we pastors so often come across like we know everything, like we’ve figured out this faith, and we can ‘answer any question you’d like to ask’? Whether you know it or not the world looks at us pastors and thinks we’re fake.  According to a new study on what non-Christians think about us, overwhelmingly, they think our lives and words are empty, so much so this study ended up as a book called “UnChristian”.  How did this “perfect” posture become our example to lead people in their faith journeys?  If Paul could openly write this honest confession to those he was trying to mentor in church leadership, why can’t we be transparent about who we are and how we struggle?  The world doesn’t have a problem with the fact that we make mistakes and are human, they have a problem with how we deal with those mistakes, how we hide from truth instead of humbly embracing it and dealing with our sin honestly.  Perhaps that’s how Paul was able to attract and reach so many, because he wasn’t the haughty, perfect, pious Pharisee he used to be, but instead just a broken sinner with a loving and forgiving God.

We so often live and worship as though we’re pleading with God to come near with one hand and holding Him off with the other, what’s our problem? Why is this Christian life so hard to live? Why do we sometimes feel like Paul, going crazy in the cycle of faith and fear or living holy or heathen?  Only Jesus was able to walk this line of humanity and holiness perfectly and that’s why we need Him so desperately.  He gives us the grace to own our failures and the truth to help us change. 

You may not see the inconsistency that we as Christians can so often portray but the world does, in fact if you’re a pastor – your church does. Many business books talk about leading strong, making decisions and staying the course, even if you’ve made a bad decision or regret how you’ve led, don’t show weakness, but keep your head up and keep going in the same direction. That’s not good leadership, that’s arrogance and a HUGE lack of awareness – in fact it’s sin.  People may be littered in your wake as you’ve forged ahead in your decisions to succeed, but souls lay casualties in your path from your calloused heart to the Spirit and insatiable ego to do more – Please STOP! Don’t forget that people, are your mission, not your strategy to grow or come across as in control.  And for the love, please admit your mistakes and brokenness before those you lead.  It’s what Paul did, He didn’t seem to have a problem owning his mistakes and talking about them, airing them and apologizing for them.  Let’s not try to come off as perfect or like we’ve figured out every mystery of life and the universe, but instead open our eyes and be honest about our struggles or mistakes and, like Paul, talk about it, lead with humility and transparency – brokenness, only then will the world, and your church, see the beauty and redemption in our God.

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Layers

By drewDecember 22nd, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Pic - Layers

Remember the line from Shrek, “I’m like an onion, lots of layers?” I think that’s true for all of us.  I’ve been thinking recently about how as children we’re free – free to dance, laugh, play, trust – you name it, but each and everyday of our lives as we grow into adulthood we begin to add layers to our hearts.  I don’t think we do it intentionally, instead I think those layers begin to grow on their own to protect us in some way and before you know it, what hurt us before doesn’t hurt as badly the next time, what wounded us before comes against a tougher exterior now and we find ways to survive.  Seems like a natural way to evolve as a person, right?  Wrong! Adam and Eve started this whole layering process when they hid from God.  They ran and played and danced innocent and whole with Creator God until they bought into a lie and then they began to layer, to hide.

This is huge! This is who we are, how we respond, how we live and interact with God and everyone else.  How people experience us is based on how we’ve layered crap over our souls. God’s desire is that we “un-layer”, become pliable and transparent.  For me, I’m watching God dismantle layers over my heart, false beliefs and lies I’ve bought into, attachments even.  I long for the day that I can find my innocence again, the laughter and dance and trust of a child.  To find my relationship with Jesus like that of early Adam, walking in relationship with God – heart uncovered, vulnerable and free. It all starts with awareness.  Seeing the truth about who you are, who you’ve become and finding community with people who will help you change, people who will forcefully assist in pulling down the strongholds and back the curtain the enemy has so skillfully placed over you and the eyes of your heart.

Look for your soul, the childlike you, it’s in there behind all the years of survival, all the lies, all the scars. If you’re like me, you’re tired of settling for something less than Eden.  Jesus restores all things, and makes all things new. Now if I can just learn to dance!

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Light Bulb Moment

By drewDecember 16th, 2010Blog, Leadership, Music Biz, The Church, Worship1 Comment
Pic-Light Bulb

I love it when the Lord gives me an “A HA” moment.  You know what I’m talking about?  One of those sudden realizations that something you’ve heard before but didn’t quite understand, now makes sense.  It could be something that you thought you understood or something you’ve heard all your life but all at once if feels like the “light bulb” pops up above your head like you’re the star of a comic book strip, and you finally ‘get it’.

I’ll never forget one of those moments I had early on in collage.  I had listened to Christian music off and on for a while and specifically to this one song several times, but for some reason one day driving in my car, the message of this one song jumped out at me like the bright light of Jesus on Paul’s road to Damascus.  WOW!  This wasn’t just some song and melody, there was a major message that it was conveying and I just got it!  It floored me.  I remember having to pull the car over to the side of the road and just weep.  God used those songwriters so powerfully that I was undone for a moment. What happened in that moment is a major factor in why I do what I do today. Not only was what they said an awesome truth of God, it was something that I personally needed to hear for that specific moment in my walk. Only God could orchestrate that kind of moment and to this day I’m thankful for it.

I believe those times are essential to faith as well as ministry.  People have to come to a place in their lives where the Lord opens their eyes or draws their hearts to see truth.  We can’t do it ourselves.  We can’t wake up one day and just say, “Ok, today I’m going to think of God, or remember His goodness.  I believe every moment we experience that draws us to the Father is due to the Father drawing us.  Our God pursues us so passionately and sometimes even then, we pat ourselves on the back for having a bible study or making a godly decision, but God and God alone is responsible for our being drawn.  It is however our decision to do it – that’s free will.

Every person that comes to know Jesus has to realize our savior is not just the key figure of the Christmas story or the topic of Sunday School, but a real God who became a real man.  He died on a real cross, and shed real blood for each of us.  Only then can God become real to us.  Even in ministry, we each have to come to the place of realizing that our lives can mean more than taking home a paycheck or being the “star” worship guy.  Instead, God has given us a platform that is not for us, but for others.

What is it that the Lord wants you to finally “get”?  What truth have you allowed to cruise over your head and not enter your heart?  Take a moment and ask the Father to draw you, to open your eyes to what “A HA” moment you need right now to bring you to your knees or a tear of conviction to your eyes.

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Good To Grace

By drewDecember 13th, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Worship3 Comments
Good To Grace pic

I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve been around business quite a bit and admired those who have succeeded at it.  I’ve racked my brain at times trying to think of the next “Facebook” or “Walmart” and though I’ve come up with some ideas, nothing ever seems to be significant enough for me to find the will or drive to just make money.  I’ve blamed it on lack of business savvy or right opportunity, but the reality is, that though I have an entrepreneurial spirit, God has set me apart to be a leader in the church, to rethink systems and motives and strategies, sometimes to simplify, sometimes to build structure, but one thing is for sure – the church is not a business, we shouldn’t lead it like one!

I love learning about leadership and being mentored by great men and women whether personally or through books but something that seems a common mistake of late is that pastors or church leaders can sometimes confuse the mission of the church, or how they lead the church, with that of some business or leadership book.  They are NOT the same.  I do believe, with all my heart, that we can glean and learn from great books not specifically written for the ecclesiastical application but we must be careful to not be misled about how to lovingly lead this bride of Christ, one book is sufficient for that, it’s His word.  As pastors we must remain accountable to godly counsel and healthy debate so that our agendas and sinful nature don’t wander into the family God has placed us in responsibility of.

The business book “Good To Great” by Jim Collins, is a great book about leadership, business, winning, and excelling in competition, standing out among so many other businesses or organizations.  There are some amazing nuggets of wisdom for church leaders in this book like this one:

“If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types. The twentieth century was a century of greatness, but we face the very real prospect that the next century will see very few enduring great institutions.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

This is a great quote for church leaders to be reminded that Jesus is the Chief Elder according to scripture, that this position of leadership is not for us or about us and we should be militant to fight the desire within us to surround ourselves with people who only agree with us. Instead, we’re called to serve and model this life in Christ.  Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” If you’ve ever seen this sharpening process you would agree that it’s not a quiet or uneventful one, but that the sparks fly and that it takes great heat and pressure to turn ordinary iron into that of a beautiful, functioning tool.  In the same way, if you as a church leader never see sparks fly or the heat turned up in loving discussion, then you will remain a safe, protected, useless lump of metal.  Be intentional to surround yourself with people who have a different world view than you, different approach to life or ministry.  Their input for your leadership will be invaluable. If they are loving in their approach and kind in their debate, yet truthful and honest, you can trust that what they’re saying is real, and being said to better and strengthen, not tear down or hurt.

(Prov. 27:6)

Pastors, have you created a culture where your input is valued more than the rest, or have you sought to lead through serving, offering your opinion as one of many, seeking God’s agenda and not your own?  If you’re serving more than being served and listening more than you speak, than you’re on the right track to lead as Jesus did.

“Good To Great” talks about ‘level 5 leaders’, these are people with an “unwavering will and commitment to do what is necessary to drive the organization to the top”.

That’s a fine and right approach for business but how does that translate for the church? I know a lot of pastors that would translate it to ‘unwavering will to serve the church over our own relationships in Christ or devotion to our families, driving the organization ‘to the top’ while driving our souls in the opposite direction. Is it the Kingdom way to shoot for the top? And what is the top in church leadership?  Have we really looked at our motives as church leaders recently?  This is where the agenda of “Good To Great” gets quite screwy when applied to the stewardship of the family of God. 

One of the most recognizable theories from “Good To Great” is the one about making sure you have the right team.

“Get the right people on the bus – that has to happen before the “what” decisions are taken. That can change if you have the right people, but the wrong people will certainly make the enterprise fail.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

I agree with Collins that you have to have the right group of people serving with you to accomplish your goals, and think his idea here is best if you’re building a team from the ground up.  However, once you’ve built that team or if you’ve found yourself coming into an existing team, this theory has to be tweaked a bit. You’re now called as a leader of a church to love and care for people, for their hearts, and for their families.  These are not just “seats on a bus” but family, each of them children of God with a unique design and imprint from the Spirit of God.  How you care for them or mistreat them shows more about the condition of your heart than what your words may so eloquently portray. We are called to love, to communicate clearly, and to lead with grace over greatness.  Matthew 18 is known well for Jesus’ directive to approach someone in sin but interestingly enough the chapter begins with the disciples arguing over who is the greatest among them. Not unlike what so many churches seem to be doing competing with each other in buildings, budgets and programs, instead of investing in people, making disciples and loving the least.  Jesus, pulls a child to His side and reminds the followers of the simplicity of the Kingdom of God and the warning to all leaders to keep our priorities straight, not misleading the body by doing all we can, to go from good to great.  Obviously I’m not saying that we can’t learn from this and other business books on leadership, but more that when our decisions begin to take on the strategy of Collins instead of the character of Christ, we’ve begun to be misled, all the while misleading those who follow us.  That seems to be the progression for many churches today. Working so hard to grow in number or to come across so perfect in performance that they’ve not only lost heart but the priority to be about changing them, developing them or caring for them.

Another lesson from Matthew 18 can teach us so much about the heart of God and practice of a great pastor.

Vs 10-14

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? and if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Does reading this change how you think God feels about your “seat on a bus”?  Obviously we as leaders have to assemble, manage and care for those on our teams but more so, we are called of God to treat them as family, with grace and a tenacity to love them in their coming in or their going out.

The Greek word for church is Ekklesia.  It is most closely translated family of God, not organization, not business, not board, committee, or denomination.  It’s time we as leaders, lead more like fathers not presidents, more like brothers not CEO’s.  In a family every one has a voice that is valued and though we sometimes drive each other crazy, we can’t run away from tension, we learn to navigate in the struggle and love with humility, forgiving seventy times seven, serving more than securing and trusting our chief pastor Jesus to shape us into something useable and beautiful together.

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