Tag Archive - follow


Leadership can’t be Taught in a Classroom

I’ve never worked with a church that said they didn’t need more leaders. No, many churches, even healthy growing churches I’ve worked with mention two big hurdles that they feel are holding them back from accomplishing the vision God has given them; leaders and money. In fact I’ve been surprised to hear in recent conversations the amount of churches searching for an off the shelf solution that they can plug and play in their church in a hope that they will develop more leaders.

There is probably more accessible, solid leadership content available to the church leaders today than ever before. But even with the wealth of legitimately excellent leadership content available at their fingertips, it doesn’t seem like churches are producing any more leaders than they have before. One reason that is the case is that churches continue to buy into a couple of fundamental flaws when it comes to thinking about leadership development.

Leadership isn’t Information

Leadership isn’t learned in a classroom, by reading books, or by sitting around drinking coffee or whatever your beverage of choice is and pontificating about leadership ideas and principles or worse, arm chair quarterbacking other leaders. Leadership is learned by leading. It’s something you simply can’t understand until you do it, you have to exercise that muscle to develop and strengthen it. The Bible teaches us that, “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). If information was the same thing as maturity then the most mature people walking around when Jesus was walking the Earth were the Pharisees. They knew more about the Scriptures than anyone and they ended up having Jesus crucified. Not very mature huh? Leadership is a lot like love. You can’t say you love someone and not act on it…it has to show up at some point. Or you don’t love them.

Leadership isn’t a Program

Leadership can’t be developed using an off the shelf curriculum or program that you plug and play at your church. You are the leadership development program at your church. Leaders don’t build followers they build leaders. Stop using leadership programs as a crutch and excuse because you don’t have time to do this. If you’re the leader then lead…and build other leaders.

Leadership Skills can be Acquired

Even if you don’t have a leadership gift you can develop, practice, and perfect leadership skills. You can acquire new skills…even leadership skills.

A Leadership Gift can be Developed

According to the Bible, leadership is actually a spiritual gift (Romans 12:6-8). A gift not given to everyone, and to those it is given to, it’s not given in equal measure. But that gift no matter how great or small can be developed and grown.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing


How to get People to Follow You

Leadership can be a funny thing. It’s more than just influence. And while anyone can learn leadership principles the Bible teaches us that leadership is a spiritual gift. The easiest way to tell if you have the spiritual gift of leadership is to look and see if people are following you. But how do you get people to follow you?

Moral Authority

Church leaders can’t lead at a very high level very long without leading with moral authority. These leaders are who they say they are and who they appear to be. They don’t ask people to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself.


You might be able to fake it for a while, but eventually your level of competency will catch up to you. If you want people to follow you then you’ve got to actually be able to do your job. You have to know what you’re doing. You have to deliver. And as your level of responsibility and authority goes up your capacity to learn has to go up as well.


Trust is the fuel that leadership runs on. When trust is high there is an environment for momentum, wins are celebrated, and people follow leadership because they believe in the leader and where the leader is taking them. When trust is low skepticism runs high, progress comes to a screeching halt, and the tenure of the leader is short-lived. 


Relationships are built up close and over time. But they can be destroyed in a moment. People follow people who love them, listen to them, are vulnerable with them and exercise authentic humility. Lead out of your weakness and you’ll never run out of material, and people will be able to relate to you.

Posted in Leadership


6 Qualities of a Leader I’ve Followed

Over 18 years of full-time ministry I’ve had the opportunity to work some great leaders and my friend Scott Ridout is one of the best. Scott has recently been appointed to be the next President of Converge Worldwide, the movement of churches that Sun Valley (the church I serve at) is a part of. I don’t single out individual leaders as examples very often, and if you knew Scott, he’d be embarrassed by the fact that I’m even writing this, but I believe the best place to learn leadership is from leaders. And I think there is a lot we can learn from the way Scott has led. So here are 6 qualities of a leader that I’ve personally followed…

1. Humility

When most leaders these days protect, posture, and hang onto their leadership power, Scott consistently shares and gives it away. He isn’t afraid of other strong leaders, rather he recruits them to his team and then frees them to excel and lead in their area of brilliance. Even if that means submitting at times to others where they bring strength to the team. This has allowed him to build and keep a high performing team when they could have gone elsewhere.

2. Courageous

Scott doesn’t shy away from risk. When it became apparent that Sun Valley Gilbert, the original Sun Valley Campus, would eventually max out on attendance due to property, parking and facility constraints Scott had the courage to lead the Board to consider not just planting new churches (which he has led the church to plant more than 20 churches in his time as Sr. Pastor), but take the risk of going multisite. When the opportunity to adopt a church to be a Sun Valley Campus came up, Scott took the risk to leave the original campus to build the Sun Valley culture at the new location. Leadership always requires risk, growth, and loss; and Scott courageously embraces them all.

3. Shepherding

Unlike many high profile leaders Scott is consistently available. He makes it a priority to get to know his staff and their families. Even intentionally scheduling time to take them out to dinner to invest in those relationships outside the context of work. If you’ve ever served on a team that Scott has led you knew that your leader cared deeply for you, not just the performance that he could get out of you.

4. Resolute

Years ago when Scott became the Sr. Pastor of Sun Valley he successfully grew the church from 400 to 200. A little known fact he jokes about now. But he didn’t give up on the dream that God put in his heart. Scott is disciplined in his daily pursuit of what God has called him to lead the Church to become. Today Sun Valley runs more than 5,000 people in attendance across 3 campuses. Much of that is due to the fact that Scott didn’t give up even when things got difficult.

5. Coach

Scott is a coach at heart. He loves seeing others get better and he loves helping them get better. He’s a trainer and has built a culture on his teams of insentient tinkering and improvement. He himself has taken on the posture of a learner and in doing so encourages a culture of learning.

6. Moral Authority

Scott leads with moral authority. If he expects his team to be in a small group, he’s going to be in a small group. What you see on stage, is what you get in person. He is the same person, all the time. His public life, personal life, and private life align.

Photo Credit: Kay Gaensler via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation


4 Ways Spiritual Leaders Violate the Trust of the Church

Trust is the fuel that leadership runs on, especially in church-world. When trust is high there is an environment for momentum, wins are celebrated, and people follow leadership because they believe in the leader and where the leader is taking them. When trust is low skepticism runs high, progress comes to a screeching halt, and the tenure of the leader is short-lived. Below are four ways leadership of church leaders is commonly eroded.

1. Follow Through

The easiest way for church leaders to build trust is to follow through on, and do what they say they’re going to do. Unfortunately this is also the easiest way to lose trust. This kind of trust can be won or lost at a very low level. For instance, if people in the church body leave voice-mails, send emails, and turn in communication cards from the weekend services that aren’t followed up on in a timely manner you can lose trust in a heartbeat. This kind of behavior in the organization is ultimately an indictment on your leadership as the pastor, because you’re the one leading. And by the way, “timely manner” in the market place is much different than “timely manner” in church world.

2. Integrity

Integrity is the degree to which your public, private, and personal life, line up. Your public life is the part of your life everyone sees. Your private life is the part of your life only those closest to you see. Your personal life is the part of your life that only you see. When these three areas of your life aren’t in alignment you run into character flaws that can show up in some pretty damaging ways. When this happens church leaders forfeit the trust of their congregations.

3. Moral Authority

Nothing is worse than hearing someone communicate with their actions, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It doesn’t work in parenting, and it doesn’t work in leadership. If you want to build trust as a pastor you need to lead with moral authority. That means if you want your church to be authentic then you need to go first and demonstrate authenticity through your teaching and leadership approach. If you want a church of small groups then you need to be in a small group. Leaders who build trust with their congregation go first.

4. Courage

Sometimes leaders can lose trust by moving too fast and not “earning the right to lead,” after all just because you have the title of “pastor” doesn’t mean you’re the leader yet. This is commonplace in churches. However the opposite is true as well. If you have earned the right to lead and you don’t have the courage to cash in the leadership chips you’ve earned you can lose the trust of your congregation. They’re waiting for you to lead, so lean into the trust you’ve built and lead, otherwise you’ll lose it.

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation


The Dark Side of Vision

Many tout the most important aspect of a leader is the ability to paint a clear vision of the future. If you’ve been around church-world for any length of time you’ve probably even heard a sermon or two about it, after all “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18) right?  What many leaders often fail to realize is that there is another side to vision, a downside, that if not understood and artfully led through can derail the vision before it begins.

The Clearer the Vision the Louder the Critics

Many leaders often naively think that everyone is going to automatically love the vision as much as they do. They strongly and clearly cast the vision, and much to their surprise, they are often met with resistance and criticism. The truth is the clearer you articulate the vision the more criticism you will receive. There are always naysayers both inside and outside the organization. Jesus was criticized to the point it ended up costing His life. If you’re the leader and you’re not prepared for criticism, then be careful how clearly you articulate the vision.

The Clearer the Vision the More People Will Leave You

Vision is not only a rallying cry but also a jumping off point. The clearer the vision is articulated not only will people join you, but people will leave you as well. This happened to Jesus Himself when in John chapter 6 He literally goes from 1,000’s of people following him to by the end of the chapter it’s just the twelve. If you’re the leader and you’re not okay with people leaving you, be careful how clearly you articulate the vision.

I’ll be the first guy in line to say that clear vision is needed in any effective organization or church. But clear vision by itself simply isn’t enough.

Posted in Leadership
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