10 Pastors That Impacted My Life

In honor of pastor appreciation month I felt compelled to share with you ten pastors (in chronological order) that have impacted my life and what I learned from them. Here goes:

Ron Lyles: I got saved after Dr. Lyles shared the gospel during my first VBS. I watched him always give dedicated attention to each person that wanted to talk to him every Sunday after service. He made time for anyone and everyone.

Bobbie Miller: Bobbie served me and my family countless times through difficult hardships. He was the first to cultivate in me a passion for singing. Watching Bobbie showed me that a pastor could serve people with a smile even in the most troubling situations.

David Scott: David, invited me in to ministry even if he didn’t know it. He invited me to join him every Tuesday night when I was in High School to go and visit families that had visited our church. He gave me an incredible amount of one on one time, but more than that it was the first time I got a chance to “do ministry”.

Kile Bateman: Kile, has the illustrious honor of being the first to ask me to preach. It was the summer after I graduated High School on an inner-city missions trip in D.C..  I don’t know what he saw in me, but that night God unleashed a calling on my life that set me on life long course in ministry.

Jim McNabb: I interned with Pastor Jim during one of my summer breaks in college. He taught me some hard lessons that a young, immature, arrogant, bible college student needed to learn and he did it with firmness wrapped in grace and mercy. So grateful for the wisdom he poured in to me.

Gaylan Claunch: Dr. Claunch was not only one of my pastors in college he was also one of my college profs. I remember coming into the sanctuary one Wednsday evening when he was all alone weeping in the altars praying. The presence of God was palpable and it moved me deeply. I vowed to be a praying pastor and not just one that merely talked about it.

Kent Anderson: Kent, was the first pastor to take a chance on me and hire me after I graduated college and I do mean he took a chance! I’ll save that for another story, but suffice it to say he invited me to come partner with him in ministry when many would have moved on down the road. I learned from Kent that a sense of humor is a prerequisite to survive the ministry!

Jim Cornwall: I worked under Dr. Cornwall for over 5 years. I watched him deal with very difficult situations with amazing patience and grace. He always told me when it came to people leaving the church, “Don’t worry about it when people leave, many times they’ll live long enough to learn to love you again.”

Robert Hogan: I watched Pastor Hogan from a distance bounce back from amazing adversity in ministry. What might have driven many pastors to spin out in their ministries, drove him to come back even stronger. He was a walking billboard that resiliance and tenacity should be in every pastor’s tool box.

Dan Steffen: Dan is one of my closest friends and mentors. His insight, friendship and like passion for ministry has been steroids for my growth as a pastor. I learned from Dan that vulnerablity isn’t a weakness, but a strength when it comes to leading people. I’m better because he’s in my life.

I’m so grateful for these and my many other friends in ministry that have made an investment in my life. Any good I might accomplish in this life should be credited to their account.

What about you? What pastor has impacted your life in a significant way? Feel free to share here.

4 Keys to Unlocking the Gift of Mentoring in Your Life

You’ve been walking around with a precious resource and you probably didn’t even realize it. It’s a gift that an entire generation is rummaging through relationships, scouring  the internet and social media trying to find. Know what it is?

Your personal life experience and wisdom. The next generation is desperate to have a pool of mentorship to dive in to. The problem is the pool is empty. It’s been drained for winter, a long winter. Here are 4 reasons why the mentor pool has been closed and how to get it back open:

 

1. Potential Mentors don’t see the mentor potential in themselves. They don’t see the gift they carry. They’ve fallen for a lie, believing if they’ve not perfected their life, their marriage or a skill; then they don’t have anything to invest.

Mentorshift: If you’re even a few steps ahead of someone you’ve got something to turn around and give them. Don’t wait for perfection in you’re own life before you share from your wins and losses. Think about the seasons of life you’ve walked through already. You have something to give to someone still in those chapters of life.

2. Potential Mentors might believe the next generation could care less about being mentored. Don’t buy into the percieved aloofness that this next generation is known for. They’ve learned to communicate by texting and social media and are still learning to communicate true needs.

Mentorshift: This next generation desires deep relational investment beyond just downloading knowledge. Take a risk. Be vulnerable and put yourself out there. The worse that could happen is that they say no, but think about the huge life changing potential of a YES!

3. Potential Mentors believe they don’t have time. With the pace of life we live in today’s society there’s a resistance to want to commit to anything more in our lives.

Mentorshift: Mentoring doesn’t have to be done on a weekly basis that’s driven by a 3 inch binder. I know several that meet with a group they mentor once a month and they make themselves available by phone and e-mail.  Take mentoring out of the box that you might have put it in. You and the one you’re pouring into are unique. Let your version of mentorship be unique as well.

4. Potential Mentors believe their greatest days are behind them. They’ve sunk their teeth into the belief that the days of making a significant impact and changing the world are long behind.

Mentorshift: The value of your life’s investment will be measured long after you’re gone. It will be based on the legacy that outlasts you. Accomplishments, items consumed and enjoyed, money earned….all will be forgotten. People are the highest investment because they have the ability to pay your investment forward.

Bottom line: No matter how young or old you are, you have someone you can pour your life into. They’re waiting.

Talk to me. How would you add to the above list? What else do potential mentors needs to know? How have you been impacted by a mentor? Share below.

God In My Hotel Room

Ever have God give you a wake up call?

I’ve had several. The last one came in early October while out of town at a minister’s conference. I was sitting at the desk in my hotel room praying and thinking about the future of my church and my family when God leaned in and said, “You can’t lead your church and family from where you are.”

“What? Why?”, I instinctively replied.

“Because you can’t lead them where you have not already gone.”

It took the breath right out of me. I leaned forward in the office chair and put my face in my hands and sighed.

As much as I didn’t want to hear it, it was the truth. Putting my head on the desk I began to quietly pray that God would do what he needed to do to get me where I needed to be.

Since that evening I’ve been on a new journey of becoming. While the verdict is already in by God’s grace that I am a new creation in Him, Jesus is stretching and molding me, so I can stretch and mold those I lead.

The truth is we can’t lead our marriages, families, life groups, teams or churches out of theory. You can only lead from where you are. If we want to lead others farther, we ourselves must first go on ahead.

Let’s cling to this verse together: “….he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 1:6)

Question: Where is God asking you to go on ahead so that you can lead those around you farther?

I’d love to hear what God is doing in you. Take a moment and share here.

How to Decide: Yes or No

All of us are bombarded with tons to do each day. The trick is learning to prioritize what’s best. As a leader I’m constantly having to make decisions on where to invest my time when it comes to leading our church. I can’t say yes to everything. That means I must be strategic in what I do say yes to.

For me praying and seeking God’s wisdom is crucial in knowing how best to use my time. Part of this wisdom is learning to ask key questions. The chart below walks you through 4 helpful questions when making this decision. Check it out:

 

What would you add? What criteria do you use when making a decision like this? Share below.

To Those Who’ve Been Hurt By a Pastor

Doug slumped down into my couch weeping. The kleenex could barely stem the tide of tears as he explained how over 2 decades ago a pastor had violated him in an unspeakable way. After sharing his story he said, “I haven’t trusted a pastor since.”

Dana shared that in a pastoral counseling session she had trusted one of the pastors at her church with the story of her rebellious past. Weeks later she found out that he had shared one of her most humiliating stories with the entire staff. She looked up at me with a distant stare and said, “Now, I don’t share anything with anyone. If you can’t trust a pastor, who can you trust?”.

Kyle used to be excited about what he felt like was a call into ministry. Not any more. Why? A long time ago he was excited about the opportunity to serve the church in leading the men’s ministry. The senior pastor had told him that at the start of the new year he’d  be stepping into that role. Kyle’s mind flooded with ideas and vision as he looked forward to this new life changing position. It never happened. The first of the year came and went and the pastor started to avoid him: stopped returning phone calls and e-mails. The pastor acted like the conversation had never happened. Kyle looked at me as he recounted how he felt and said, “He made me think I was crazy. Who does that?”.

These are just a few of the stories I’ve heard recently of people that have been burned by church leaders. These stories should be shocking, but sadly they’re common for too many. For those that depend and trust in God’s shepherds, some have found themselves wounded for a lifetime. Some walk out and never come back. They walk away alone in the pasture, withdrawing into isolation angry and bitter. Here’s the sad ripple effect I’ve seen in people who’ve been wounded by leaders:

1. They leave church completely

2. They attend church, but don’t engage

3. They spill their bitterness on others by sharing their story over and over with anyone who’ll listen.

4. Their bitterness turns into malice and they begin to actively destroy other church leaders.

If you’ve ever been hurt in this way your pain is understandable, but so is the solution. You don’t have stay here. Jesus made a way through the cross so that healing and forgiveness could be yours. It is possible trust again and lean on the church and it’s leaders.

If this has ever been you, and you’ve never heard that much needed apology; would you let me speak directly to you as an imperfect pastor in their place?

“I am so sorry I wounded you. I was wrong. You trusted me and I let you down. Please forgive me.”

I pray that you’d receive those words. Allow God to bring healing to you through them. Remember these words from scripture:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

God has lavished his grace on you. As you reflect on his goodness you’ll find enough grace to give to those who’ve hurt you. Don’t let the pain of your past rob you of one more day. Forgive and with joy move forward into a new day.

Pentecostal Pet Peeve

Spiritual Pet Peeve: Someone believing that having a Spirit led church service means throwing out what God directed you to plan earlier for doing something different in the moment.

Here’s why this bothers me so much. This is a shallow view of God. The premise of this argument is it doesn’t matter what God directed you to do in prayer earlier this week regarding the worship service, it matters what He’s saying now. This suggests that some how God is a schizophrenic: “Why bother praying and preparing about the upcoming service, God’s going to change his mind anyway.”

These are the same people that grew up thinking that a great worship service was when the pastor didn’t “get to preach” and the worship music went on the entire time. What is the purpose of  the local church? Answer: to be equip and mobilize for the great commission. This happens primarily through the teaching and preaching of the word.

Here’s how I seek to allow the Holy Spirit to lead in our weekend worship services:

1. I pray constantly about the direction of our focus in the preaching and teaching of our church body. When the Holy Spirit speaks we move that direction because He’s leading.

2. Our team doesn’t go into each service “hoping” the Holy Spirit will move, we know He will. We know the Holy Spirit is moving in the lives of people in hundreds of ways. We’re ready and open to facilitate this in any way He sees fit. But, we first start with the biblical call for worship and the teaching and preaching of the Word.

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s gift to the church. Let’s embrace what He wants to do during the singing, the preaching of the word, in the altars and in prayer, but let’s not fall into the trap of thinking “Spirit-led” means this shallow thinking of zero planning and flying by the seat of our pants all the time.

We really can have both:  a high view of the Word of God AND be empowered by the Spirit.

The Dreaded “N” Word

I’m not a huge fan of the word “no”. I don’t like to hear it and even more importantly I don’t like to say it. Because of my aversion to using “the word” I tend to use everything but “no”: yes, maybe, we’ll see, who knows, there’s an idea or I just all together ignore the question, statement or cirsumstance.

Recently someone asked if I could be a part of an event coming up. To not offend them and to avoid me having to say the tough thing, (that my schedule didn’t allow this event to be a priority) I said “yes”. I didn’t want to say “no” because I felt that meant potential conflict or they’ think I didn’t care. But, here’s the ripple effect of that “yes”: more stress in a schedule that already has little margin, less focus on what I should be really doing, robbing more time from family, and lastly when I’m there resenting the fact that I’m do this at all.

When I avoid saying “no” when it’s called for I make myself out to be a liar because I’m saying “yes”,  when inside I’m screaming “no”. When we placate people by putting them off and avoiding them, we let the issue become a wedge in our relationships and we frustrate others that would love a straight answer. We need to be asking ourselves the motivation behind this: Is it my own insecurity? Am I intimidated by the person? Am I afraid of conflict?

Bottom Line: You can say no. Life will not blow up. Life moves on as will your relationships.

Say it with me……..No.

Your Turn! What area of your life do you have a hard time saying no? Share below.

Shut Your Mouth and Listen

Pet Peeve Alert: Those people that talk about themselves incessantly.

Recently I had a chance to catch up with a friend from the past. It would have been a pleasant conversation had it not been for the fact that my friend talked the entire time and then “shockingly” had to go. There was a trite “how’s the family?”, but you could tell it was meaningless. You could tell there wasn’t a genuine desire to know how I or my family really were.

But, here’s the truth I’ve been guilty at times of dominating conversations with stories as well. Here is a test for all of us: Next time you are sharing a story with someone and you are interrupted by something, see if people ask you to finish your thought. If they don’t, there’s your sign.

Bottom line: It’s not just about asking the right questions in a conversation. It’s about genuinely wanting to know the answers. Don’t just talk to me…listen to me.

(Your Turn! What’s your top pet peeve? What annoying habits have you grown out of? Share below.)

Leaders Lead With Vision

I’ve been blessed with better than 20/20 vision in my life. However, my eyes are useless when it comes to being able to see what those following me are counting on me to see……what the future could be.

Today we continue with part 2 of my Leaders Lead Series with the topic of vision in leadership. (You can read part 1 here.)

If you’re in any type of leadership role, people are counting on you to to lead them somewhere better than where they are. You can’t take them there unless you can see where you’re going. Leaders without vision are flying blind and everyone behind them pays price.

Vision at it’s core is being able to see a preferred future.  Here are a few examples of where having a vision comes into play: having a vision for your life, a group, a community, an organization, a cause or nation….whatever needs to move from where it is to where it should be. Vision is the ability to see that preferred future before it’s a reality.

 

Leading Vs. Managing

It’s important stop and note an important difference between leaders and managers. People that merely organize and manage what already exists are managers. They’ve been given a role and directions by a leader and now they manage the status quo. In contrast, leaders are leading someone or something forward toward a better future. While they still need to organize and manage those they lead, they are taking their team toward a destination away from the the same ol’, same ol’.

Be Honest

2 questions for you:

1. With the above defintion in mind are you a leader or a manager?

Be honest with yourself here. Being in charge of something doesn’t mean you’re leading. Just like putting your boots in the oven doesnt make them biscuits. (Yeah, I’m from Texas.) Being in charge just means you’re responsible.

2. Can you see clearly where you’d like to take your self, team, church, organization?

If the answer is no…you need to get a vision! Let me recommend a great book on crafting your vision from nothing called, “Visioneering” by Andy Stanley. The book has been a huge help to me and I believe it could be helpful to you as well.

If your answer is, “Yes, I can see where I want to go clearly” then that’s your vision! It’s not enough to have the vision. You have to be casting it….sharing it….painting this portrait of a preferred reality for those you lead. In doing so, you’ll inspire those you lead and you’ll keep your ultimate goal in front of you and your team. (Here’s another great book on Vision by Andy: “Making Vision Stick”.)

Leaders, God has a vision for you. See it. Seize it. Own it. Share it.

(Share with me! In one sentence what do you believe your vision is for your life or area of leadership.)

(My vision (preferred future) is that you share this post with the share buttons on the left and subscribe to my blog by e-mail on the right!)