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5 Church Leadership Lessons I Learned from Moses’ Father-in-Law

I know that’s not a very intriguing or sexy title…no clickbait there. However, to this day, the best leadership book I’ve ever read is the Bible (and like you, I’ve read a lot of leadership books). One of the most interesting leadership interactions I’ve ever read about is out of Exodus chapter 18.

Moses is actually pretty early in his personal leadership development and along comes Exodus chapter 18, which turns out to be a crucible moment for Moses. It’s one of those moments where Moses’ leadership grows exponentially. Exponential leadership growth, or crucible moments, are usually a result of pain in our lives, and in Exodus 18 Moses is experiencing all kinds of leadership pain. In fact, it was so painful it affected his family so badly that his father-in-law had to step in. Not a great moment for a son-in-law.

Usually we are the lid to our own leadership

“The next day Moses sat to judge the people and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening.” Exodus 18:13

Moses was his own worst enemy, and the worst part is he didn’t even see it. He had led himself into a corner. Every decision had to go through him. He chose control over growth. He could control everything if it came through him, but by doing so he stunted his own personal leadership growth and prevented himself from being what the Israelites needed him to be. At first, for a new young leader that may make you feel important and valuable. But like Moses you’ll quickly learn that when you’re running from sunup to sundown, that kind of approach can lead to some very unhealthy behaviors in your life and actually hurt the Church.

We all have blind spots

“When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this that you are doing for the people?’” Exodus 18:14a

Moses had a blind spot. He was doing something that wasn’t good for himself and it wasn’t good for the people he was supposed to be leading. And by the way, it also wasn’t good for his family…that’s probably why his father-in-law butted in. We all need people to butt-in from time to time and hold up a mirror to help us see things that we just can’t see on our own. When people hold up a mirror to your leadership is your first inclination to listen and ponder or fight and offer excuses?

You don’t have to lead alone

“’Why do you sit alone, and all of the people stand around you from morning till evening?’” Exodus 18:14b

Leadership by its very nature is exclusive. After all, how many CEO’s of Amazon are there? How many CEO’s of Apple are there? I think you get my point. However, just because leadership is exclusive doesn’t mean it needs to be lonely. Those are two different things. While it’s true that the leader has decision making power and carries weight that others in the organization don’t, it doesn’t mean they need to do that in isolation. It’s never good to sit alone in leadership like Moses was. Bad things happen when leaders become lonely.

You’re not the only one who can do it

“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good.’” Exodus 18:17

When church leaders buy into the lie that says, “no one can do it as good as me,” all kinds of bad things happen. You suffer, everyone around you suffers, and the mission of Jesus suffers, You suffer because you carry more than you are called and designed to carry. People around you suffer because they carry less than they are called and designed to carry. The mission of Jesus suffers because less people are involved in the mission and as a result the reach of the Gospel is diminished. Are you carrying out your calling, or have you picked up things that it’s time to let go of?

The help you need is probably right under your nose

“So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” Exodus 18:24-25

Often, we can’t see the solutions God is providing us because we’re more focused on being a victim and find a solution. Moses had become a bit self-absorbed and had a bit of a “woe-is-me” attitude. As soon as Moses started looking around to see what kind of solution and resources God had provided him and got his eyes off of himself things started working for Israel and for Moses. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and playing the part of a martyr, take a different approach and find a solution.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Why I Took a Month Off from Social Media

It’s become a new normal for our family. For the past couple of years, each July, we take a step away from screens for the month. I don’t blog, we’re not on social media, the T.V. stays turned off, and my teenage daughters stay off their phones. They may not like it…at least for the first week or two, but they do it. And while this kind of move may not be for everyone, I’ve never regretted it. Here’s a couple of reasons why:

Distraction Free Family Time:

Instead of binge watching Netfilx or spending time on phones or tablets we actually interacted face to face with each other over family dinners, playing board games, going on walks, and other fun stuff on the family summer bucket list.

Turn down the Noise:

Screens can create a lot of added noise in our lives. Social media, texting, and video sound bites create a non-stop flurry of distractions and noise in our lives. Turning down that noise can help refocus our attention on things that have a higher priority in our lives.

Intentionality:

It’s a simple step/action that our family has decided to take each year to be intentional and place a stake in the ground, so to speak, about what’s important to us. We’ve learned that if we don’t take simple intentional steps like this we’ll end up just running through the motions and get lost in the business of 4 kids schedules.

I’m still not Convinced 24-7 Access to Screens is a good thing for my kids…

Yes, I’m that dad who has drug his feet as long as he could on getting his kids cell phones. Even though they have them (at least my High School daughters) I’m still not there. We have a consistent approach with it. No phones after dad gets home (I can’t stand phones at the dinner table) and no phones in rooms at night time. I may be a little old school, but I keep seeing articles on studies connecting cell phones to teen depression etc. I want my kids to grow up using technology not getting addicted to it.

…and if you want to know the real brains behind the idea, it was Lisa, not me who made the call on this a few years ago…glad God put her in my life…makes me a much better parent!


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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11 Questions to Ask yourself about Soul Care and Personal Fulfillment

People perform at their best when they are in a role that plays to their personality and gifting. They have more fun, experience greater fulfillment, and produce better results. The soul is actually at greater rest when it finds the rhythm it was designed for.

But it requires a tremendous amount of sober-mindedness. That is, knowing who you are, knowing who you’re not and doing what’s best for the whole. This means, among other things, being willing to play the part you were designed to play instead of striving for the top spot on the team.

So how do you get a healthy dose of sober-mindedness in your life without experiencing a bunch of pain? Honestly taking a few moments to answer the following questions is a great start!

  1. What gives you Energy? What fills you up? I’m not talking about sitting around and binge watching Netfilx. What do you do that really fills you up?
  2. What do you need More of in your Life? We’re not talking about a winning lottery ticket here. But it may mean more rest, vacation, a greater challenge at work, more investment in your most meaningful relationships, or something else.
  3. What do you need Less of in your Life? Debt, relational drama, pressure, conflict, etc.
  4. What must Change in your Life? There may be some habits or behaviors that need to change, or you may need to change the way you approach your schedule.
  5. What Must you do? What do you have to do? What is it you were created to do? It would actually be a personal value violation if you didn’t do it?
  6. What Could you do? Are there things you could do because of your capacity, experience, and talent but aren’t the best things for you or the team for you to do?
  7. What Should you do? You may not be doing it now, but you know you should. You may even have been putting it off for some time.
  8. What must you Not do? If you’re really honest what are you doing that you shouldn’t be? You’re not the best at it, or by doing it your preventing (enabling) someone else from doing what they’re created to do.
  9. What do you Care about? What do you really care about, what really matters to you?
  10. What do you Dream about? What are your hopes and dreams that are worth chasing after?
  11. What do you want your Legacy to be? At the end of the day what do you want to leave behind and be known for? What do you want to start that outlives you?

If you want to build some accountability into this you could share this list with a friend, the two of you work on it separately and then share the results with each other.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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See you After Sabbatical!

There are a lot of reasons that I love working at Sun Valley Community Church. It’s the best staff culture I’ve ever experienced on a church staff team, every week there are incredible stories of life change, over the past 6 years we’ve opened 4 new locations and there have literally been 1,000’s of people baptized. It’s a really special place to be a part of.

It’s also a place that values and takes care of the staff team. In fact, after 7 years, full-time Director level staff (and up) qualify for a paid sabbatical. It’s a great way to invest in, value, reward, and incentivize longevity with our team. Each person builds a written plan and budget that focus on three key areas that are submitted for approval.

Professional Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in your career?
What skills, training, or development do you need in order to get better at your craft? Is there a class you need to take, a church or organization you need to visit to learn from, or some kind of process certification you need to complete that will resource you to improve your professional capacity?

Personal Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in yourself?
What about you? It’s a question most people in ministry rarely ask. Ministry Staff Members typically spend the majority of their time and energy serving other people. What do you need to do for you that brings you energy? I don’t mean just sitting on the couch vegging out and watching Netflix but doing something that fills you up.

Family Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in your family?
Why don’t you ditch the kids over sabbatical and go do something with just you and your spouse? But then again, plan something with just the kids too, you’ve got the time. What kind of experiences and memories do you want to build with your family?

Over the summer I’ve got a plan to do all three of these things, and I’m grateful to serve at a church that values their staff in this way. So, at the risk of not being very consistent here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real or on social media you’re going to notice that I’ll be around a lot less this summer on these digital platforms. So, I’ll see you after sabbatical!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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20 Helpful Metrics for Measuring Church Health

Our team at the Unstuck Group is passionate about providing resources for church leaders to help them succeed.

Everyone has opinions, speculations and ideas around the current trends and why they are happening. But, it’s tough to defy numbers. When deciding to publish The Unstuck Church Report a few months back, our team felt strongly about taking common questions and producing an objective resource that church leaders can apply to their ministry. We find this so critical to church growth and health and we are excited to share the data we collect to give church leaders a snapshot of up-to-date church health trends.

The third edition of The Unstuck Church Report: Benchmarks & Trends in U.S. Churches is out! From attendance to leadership to giving, this report gives church leaders insight into the key metrics of church health, including Ministry ReachStaffing and LeadershipConnection, and Finances.

The Q2 2018 edition is available today. This 4-page PDF reviews 20 updated metrics in key areas of church health, with Tony Morgan sharing his take on the numbers.

Download your copy today. It’s free:

Get the Report

Here are a few insights you can expect to find:

  • One in five churches has gone multisite. Of the churches surveyed, 80% are in one location and 20% have committed to a multisite strategy and are meeting in multiple locations. That’s an increase from previous reporting periods of churches that are using a multisite strategy.
  • About 3 of every 5 adults and students participate in some kind of small group. Churches are seeing 58% of their adults and students participate in a group.
  • Giving is increasing for churches. The per capita giving was $46 per week. That’s up from $42 in prior reporting. To calculate this number, children’s attendance is removed so that per capita giving is measured against adult and student attendance.

Click to download the most up-to-date edition and opt-in to get each quarterly update for free.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation
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