This is Dr. Donald E. Ross – one of Nelson’s Advanced Coaching Alumni, Renegade Pastor and Lead Pastor of Creekside Church in the Seattle, Washington Area – and I want to share with you some thoughts about an issue each of us faces in leadership… ambiguity:
Every leader wants clarity, and so do those following him when launching a new ministry initiative. The truth is, nothing new ever starts out with complete clarity. We all lead in ambiguity and confusion, at least initially. New initiatives start out “formless” as you’ll read below.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light…” Gen. 1:1-3
Even God’s initiatives start in ambiguity. If God starts something new, and it’s formless, why would we think we could start a new ministry or outreach and have perfect clarity?
Everything new starts out messy, confusing and with high degrees of ambiguity. As a leader, we’re just going to have to get comfortable with that idea, or never start anything new.
I’m not saying we should leave a ministry in ambiguity or without direction, just that it starts that way. We then need to do all we can to move from ambiguity to clarity, as God does in Genesis 1.
The reason being willing to start messy and without complete clarity is so important, is many leaders won’t launch an initiative without a precise process and outcome in mind. This means nothing new happens, vision is not articulated and fear rules the day.
A follow up principle is that action forward will bring clarity. Joshua 3 tells us the story of the priests carrying the ark and moving into the water of Jordan before it separated for Israel to cross.
Simply starting with your idea or initiative will give you some degree of precision. Just get started and move forward and watch something new emerge as you solve problems and move towards your goal.
There is another kind of leader too, the kind who is always starting something new and moving forward without the fortitude to finish the process. This leader leaves a host of unfinished projects in their wake, and other become reluctant to follow them.
That kind of leader is just as dangerous to a church as the kind who will never start anything new until every detail is worked out. Jesus talks to us in Luke 14 about counting the cost of a new project in advance, and deciding to follow through.
So there is a clear balance to leading a church into a new initiative. Plan as much as you can, but don’t wait until every detail is clearly worked out. Get the big picture and get comfortable with initial ambiguity; knowing clarity will come as you move forward.
Of course, all this presupposes you have actually talked with Jesus about your intuitive, so I guess the first question is simply, “Is this your idea or His?” If you can’t answer that question, that’s a clue to the source of your lack of clarity… I’m just saying.
For information on the Turn-Around Church Coaching Network, see www.turnaroundchurch.org
Regardless of your church’s denomination, style or size, there’s one thing that you and I have in common…
Every one of us deals with criticism from time to time.
Criticism is a reality for those of us called into church leadership.
You may have had 50 compliments about Sunday’s message, but that ONE critical comment is the only one you remember come Monday morning (can I get an Amen?).
If you’re not careful, criticism will bring damaging effects to you, your ministry and all the key relationships in your life (with God, your spouse & family, and those who call your church home).
Download my BRAND NEW “How to Face Criticism” Mini-Book ($23.95 value) Yours FREE through Thursday:
I hope you’ll go ahead and download your copy today and print it out to read this week, because we all fit into one of these three categories of leaders…
- Those who have faced criticism in the past.
- Those who are currently facing criticism.
- Those who will face criticism soon.
The point is – grab it ASAP because I can only make this mini-book available for free ’til Thursday.
I know that God will use it to help you process critical feedback in a healthy way and focus on what He’s called you to do.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Your partner in ministry,
P.S. If you find this mini-book helpful (or think you will), please post this link on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or blog - as long as your friends get it thru my link, its free:
Grab your FREE “How to Face Criticism” Mini-Book here:
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”
- Jim Rohn, American Entrepreneur, Author and Motivational Speaker
I was sad to hear that Howard Hendricks, legendary professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and prolific Christian author, passed away on Wednesday, February 20, at the age of 88.
After authoring 18 books and preaching around the world in more than 80 countries, Hendricks was also well known for his influence on other Christian leaders, as several count him as their mentor, including the likes of:
- Chuck Swindoll
- Tony Evans
- Bruce Wilkinson
- Erwin Lutzer
- David Jeremiah
Not to mention all those who he mentored from a distance with his teaching and writing.
Hendricks is a fine example of someone who gave his life to serving Christ, and the profound influence that God can have through that.
He once said, “Once a believer really gets to see what the Lord can do through him or her, at whatever stage in life, they’re going to get excited about getting out there in the battle. It’s all about being a servant of Christ.”
To honor this faithful servant of Christ, here are my top 3 Howard Hendricks’ books:
Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive
Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible
As Iron Sharpens Iron: Building Character in a Mentoring Relationship
Hendricks will also be remembered for his humility. In a 2009 interview, he said:
“I’m not what everybody in the world says is great. I’m just a servant of Christ, that’s all.”
And for that, he’ll leave a great legacy!
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”
– Max De Pree, American Businessman and Writer
Today I’d like to share a truth that may (and should) challenge you in your role as a church leader…
A leader who will not stare reality dead in the face has no real faith.
Here’s how it worked for Abraham (the father of faith):
“Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” – Heb. 11:19-20
I find it personally challenging that Abraham “faced the fact” that Sarah’s womb was dead and his body was “as good as dead.” I wonder how Abraham feels having his physique described in scripture for all eternity (because the Word of God is eternal) with the phrase “as good as dead?”
Without faith it is impossible to please God. But without facing the facts it is impossible to have faith.
Here’s what I mean:
- You face the fact that your church has not grown as you had hoped.
- You face the fact that someone close to you has let you down.
- You face the fact that you that there is conflict among your staff
And then you face the promise of God. Find a promise in God’s word that specifically addresses the fact that is troubling you.
What am I going to put in the space between the fact I faced and the promise I found?
I get to choose.
If I dwell on “the fact,” the space is filled with unbelief and worry and God is dishonored. If I dwell on the promise, then the space is filled with strength and confidence in God, and God is pleased with my faith.
If you’re a leader you won’t survive long in denial.
So I encourage you to…
- Face the facts.
- Find a promise.
- Focus on the promise.
- Grow in faith.
- Please God.
- Roy Mansfield
“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”
– William Butler Yeats, Noble Prize-winning Irish poet
I’ve asked Don Ross - Advanced Coaching Alum, Renegade Pastor and Lead Pastor of Creekside Church in the Seattle, Washington Area – to share with you today about a powerful way to mobilize the power of prayer in your ministry:
I first become aware of the concept of a personal prayer team while listening to C. Peter Wagner teach on prayer and he used John Maxwell as an example. He told how John traveled extensively and his prayer team always knew his schedule and prayed for his physical, spiritual, moral and emotional safety. I never forgot the idea, but didn’t put it into practice until years later.
As our church began to turnaround and grow, recovering from an 80% decline, I felt the pressure of resistance from the enemy. I often felt depressed, sometimes angry and hopeless, even though we were growing again.
I hit a breaking point when we grew past the 500 mark, and one day I became extremely angry for little or no reason. I knew I needed help.
Now I know what you’re thinking. There are many reasons for depression, anger and feeling hopeless, and you’re right. But I also knew that I didn’t have the prayer backing I needed, so I began to pray about prayer. That is where I started.
I formed a group of about 8-10 people I trusted and we met weekly for prayer at 6:00 am. At first I was reluctant to ask them to make me the prayer focus. It seemed very selfish, but as I looked back over the last two years, God had done some amazing things.
I knew as a church we were attracting attention spiritually from the enemy and as the pastor, I was a prime target.
It has now been about six months since forming this prayer team. I share with them hopes, dreams, frustrations, ministry plans and discouragements. They share the load… and the victories.
About a year ago I connected our churches larger prayer ministry to my coaching network. This year I’m coaching 31 churches and each church has two prayer partners from our church praying for them. The results have been incredible!
We have had pastors take a weekend off and come see how we do church, but their main focus was to meet these people who are praying for them, and share results first-hand.
We now have a plan of enlarging our church prayer team of over 200 members who will pray 10 minutes a day in a focused effort. This will give us nearly 20,000 hours of prayer this year! As the times grow darker for the gospel, each carrier of the light must become brighter.
I am convinced that the more we pray, the less we understand how prayer works, but the more we understand that prayer works.
Since forming my personal prayer team, I have been able to focus more, cast vision and solve problems more easily and there is a sense that we really are overcoming. Now each of my staff have a personal prayer team as well. We all need the “cover fire” of other’s prayer.
Pastor, you can’t do this alone. Consider forming a personal prayer team.
It will not solve immediate issues, but the long-term systemic value is awesome. I’m praying you’ll act on this.
For information on the Turn-Around Church Coaching Network, see www.turnaroundchurch.org
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