The Leader’s Prayer Life

As for me, far be it from me tha I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.

1 Samuel 12:23

First off, some background on this verse.

Samuel is getting ready to fade off of the scene; to ride off into the sunset.

As leaders though, what he said here, I think, gives an Old Testament example of Acts 6:4.

In Acts 6:4, the focus for spiritual shepherds is praying for people and sharing God’s Word with people.

1 Samuel 12:23 is clear, Samuel calls failing to pray for people in Israel sin.

Two responsibilities for spiritual leaders are praying for people and teaching them right and wrong based on God’s Word. Those should be our focus.

For now, let’s think of the prayer aspect.

The Holy Spirit has a way of taking God’s Word and helping us ponder it and apply it. Most likely, you and the Spirit know if you’re sinning in failing to pray for those you shepherd or not. So, pause. Disengage your inner lawyer. And honestly ask yourself, “Am I praying for others on a regular basis? Am I teaching them what is good and right?”

And if you answer no to either of those, just say a quick, honest prayer asking for the Father’s forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9).

Then start praying for those under your spiritual care and leadership. Then start teaching them the way that is good and right.

One thing I do on a regular basis is to pray God’s Word for people. Take some of the following and pray God’s Word for your people.

Romans 12:1-2     Ephesians 1:16-20     Ephesians 3:16-19     Philippians 1:9-11 

Colossians 1:9-14     1 Thessalonians 3:12-13    2 Thessalonians 1:11-12     

2 Thessalonians 2:16

Feel free to share how God answers these prayers for people in the comments section.

God may use it to encourage someone else.

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Distinctly Different

What do you know about leadership? What about Christian leadership or leadership within “church world”?

Did Jesus have anything to say about it?

As a matter of fact, he did.

In Matthew 20:25, Jesus teaches the disciples something fundamental about leadership. When two brothers are pushing and shoving their way to the “top,” Jesus basically says, “the way up is down.”

In Matthew 20:26-28, Christ starts teaching them about servant leadership.

For us today, I want to just focus on four little words at the beginning of Matthew 10:26...

“Not so with you…”

In other words, Jesus turns the disciples’ ideas about leadership upside down. He is renewing their minds. He is telling them, the way they lead is to be distinctly different from how they see others leading.

Leading does not equal lording.

We don’t get to the top to be served and rule with an iron fist. We dive to the bottom and pick up a towel and a basin.

Servant leadership earns trust which is one of the currencies of leadership.

So if you are currently leading or want to lead in church world, serve God by serving those you lead. Get on your knees to pray and get on your knees to serve.

Be distinctly different in how you lead in God’s church for His glory.

Sidenote: I had another idea in mind for this blog today. I think God lead me in this other way. I pray that it helped to remind you and encourage you today. Next blog post will focus either on praying as a leader or growing as a leader…as God leads and according to His will.

Together

I get it. I do. Ministry is busy. And many church leaders are hard-charging and scheduled people. There is no magic church size whereas pastors that we feel like the pressure is, “off.” There is always more to do and more preparations to be made. Small church leaders are busy and have many hats to wear. Growing church leaders are busy because they are equipping other leaders. Bigger church leaders have full schedules due to the sheer volume of people and events that call for your attention.

But I have a few strategic and heart level questions for you.

When is the last time you lingered with God in prayer? When was the last time you were awake and you weren’t checking your phone or messages every 11 minutes? When are you scheduling and setting aside time to hear the still, small voice of God?

Well, at church Christ-followers have a weekly opportunity to gather together and seek the God of the universe through prayer.

At the same time, we only have a certain number of these every month.

Our leadership and spiritual influence will only be so long. Then it will be gone.

I also wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a pastor or other church leader who had a moral failing or succumbed to burn out longingly say, “I wish I would have done things differently.”

Thinking of both extremes, we can more clearly see the need for us and others for closer connections to God and to others. And even if we don’t see that, have you ever thought that someone else may need some insight or encouragement or perspective that only you can bring through Christian gatherings?

Maybe this for you. Maybe it would be good for you to share this with someone else.

Let’s gather. Let’s pray. Let’s grow closer to God. Let’s glorify God. And let’s do these…together.

Unity

“Unity is mission critical. Disunity disrupts the mission.” Andy Stanley

Unity means cooperation for the cause of Christ. Disunity means sideways energy.

What are some examples of disunity?

gossip     throwing others under the bus     believing the worst about another

blaming     backbiting     division     being suspicious of others

Those are easy to spot in others but harder to see in ourselves.

If this is happening in your church or ministry setting, you might need to at least have some hard conversations. If these are trends and not anomalies, maybe you and others need to focus on and give some energy to creating a better culture.

Unity and disunity are both kinds of cultures that can exist in a church or ministry setting.

Which would you rather work in? Which do you think others would rather work in? Which culture allows for everyone in the organization to thrive and do their best?

Christ prayed for Christian unity in John 17:20-23. Are you cooperating with that and being an answer to Jesus’ prayer or are you competing with that and being a hurdle to that prayer being answered?

Elsewhere in scripture, unity or “oneness” is stressed and sought out –  1 Corinthians 12:12, 14. A humble attitude, according to 1 Corinthians 12:14-26, is one of the main ways we can contribute to unity.

Do you find yourself leaning more toward a prideful and comparing attitude with your fellow church members or fellow laborers or one of humility and appreciation?

How is celebrating diversity and working cooperatively more beneficial to a church or ministry setting than competing and comparing? 

How does the example of cooperation within the Trinity help all Christ-followers as we seek to be an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17?

In other words, to be more missional, we need to be more intentional about unity. We also need to influence others to do the same.

Otherwise, we are maintaining the status quo, which is sideways energy, and we are not advancing the gospel or God’s kingdom.

Let’s get together on this and move the needle toward unity!!!

Why Teaming Up Matters

When we are part of a church or leadership team at a church, our attitude should be, “Whatever I can do to help the team.”

Teams with selfishness either implode or spin their wheels. You see this time and again in professional sports.

Take the NFL for example. I recently watched the NFL draft with more than passing interest. There are some great and inspirational stories in the NFL just like every sport. But alas, I will save some of the best of those for another post.

Isn’t every NFL team’s goal the same every year? Get to and win the Super Bowl?

So what sets some apart and leaves others in the dust?

Teamwork. Trust. Knowing their job and supporting each other in their jobs. All this teamwork, trust, and having a team attitude, they are all choices we make that we need to constantly evaluate and follow up on.

What are most church’s or leadership team’s goal? To introduce people to Jesus Christ and help them grow in a relationship with him.

So what sets certain ones apart? Intentional, Christ-centered, God-glorifying teamwork.

Look up and ponder what Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 has to say about Christian teamwork.

Knowing the benefits mentioned in Ecclesiastes, why would we “go it alone” as a Christ follower or as a Christian leader?

Which one of the reasons given sticks out to you the most and will motivate you to action to have an attitude of teamwork in every area of ministry?

Character Counts

Many have written on the subject of character in regard to Christian leadership. I will quote some and maybe shed a little light as to why character counts for my readers.

Some have defined character in the following ways:

  • What you do, what you say, and what you say you do
  • the will to do what God says is right, even when there is a personal cost.

pexels-photo-1004119.jpeg

2 Peter 1:3-11 speaks of progressive sanctification or how God grows us to be more and more like Jesus.

Why do you think God instructed us to, “make every effort” to grow in these ways?

I think he said that because he knows we will, oftentimes as people and as Christian leaders, make every effort to avoid spiritual growth.

“I’d have a quiet time, but I’m just so busy.”

Or we think, “That just sounds like work. I lean more toward grace.”

I think one of the main reasons God says things like, “make every effort,” and “be all the more eager” (2 Peter 1:10) is because he wants to confront our complacent and apathetic attitudes in this area of our lives.

We are tempted to look good rather than be good.

Bob Goff has said, “We plant sod where God wants to plant seed. He’s more interested in growing our character than having us looked finished.” I tend to agree with him.

IMG_1144.jpgOr, if we’re honest, we want to be fruitful and successful in ministry without having to break a sweat, put in the time, or work with God on this project called our lives and our character.

Character is something that God grows in us each day with each decision in different situations.

I believe a key to help us see that character counts is tucked away smack dab in the middle of these verses.

“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8

In other words, I think we nurture others in their faith as we mature in ours.

So, for us to be productive and effective in our ministries, we need to see that character counts and we need to cultivate it with God’s help.

 

Leading with Character

What do you think of the following quote?

Talent can open doors in leadership, but it takes character to keep them opened.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts or questions below.

Read the following verses, keeping in mind the idea of character.

Ephesians 5:25-26

Romans 8:28-29

Do these sound like changes that start outside or inside of us? Why is this important to thinking and talking about character?

Character can be defined as who we are in the dark or who we are when no one else is looking.

For a modern example of character and what it looks like to live out godly character, we don’t have to look much further than the life of Billy Graham. I had first started jotting down my thoughts on this subject for this blog in January of 2018. Little did I know a few days later, Rev. Graham’s time on earth would conclude.

I could write post after post and page after page about the godly character and faithfulness of Billy Graham. Many have done this and have done a better job than I could. For our purpose, let’s just recall Mr. Graham’s life and see how what we remember matches up with these feeble attempts at reminding us in Christian leadership how character is shaped and areas of our lives where we need it.

BillyGrahamQuoteDeath   I think we can all see the benefits of Billy Graham’s character and integrity. God opened many doors for him. Billy’s faithfulness and character helped to keep those doors of influence opened. And only now do we see the scope of one simple man’s influence with many easily-recognized world leaders.

Character starts inside us and works its way out. It starts with the little things according to Luke 16:10, and works its way into bigger assignments or roles.

We need to have character in our relationships; in our communication to our spouses, our kids, our friends. We need character in our actions toward others. We need to do the right thing regardless of the time of day, how we feel, or how others treat us. We need to have character in our communication to those we serve with and with those we lead.

Character is one of the most important components of leadership. Without it, we don’t have influence. With it, we can be used by God to transform people’s lives, walks with God, people’s families, and our communities.

As we think about Billy Graham’s example, let’s also remember the One who he modeled his life after, Jesus Christ himself.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Luke 2:52

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think of favor with God as our faithfulness and favor with men as our character.

With all of this in mind, I have a simple question or two for all of us in leadership in church world.

Am I growing in my character? Am I growing in my faithfulness to God?

To sum up, have character, don’t be one.