The point is to be you. Not a lazy version of you but the best version of you!

There is no shortage of leadership advice out there. Books, blogs, conferences, and podcast to name a few are all available to anyone wanting to grow as a leader. We should take advantage of all of them and never stop developing our leadership potential.

In the midst of the all the noise there is one principle that I believe we should never lose sight of. That is the principle of being you. In my earlier years of ministry I noticed that I was very different from most “young preacher boys.”

  • I didn’t wear suits
  • My shirts were usually un-tucked
  • I had a beard
  • My hair wasn’t slicked back
  • I have never owned cuff links

As I saw these things about me I attempted to do something that we as leaders should never do, I attempted to be someone else. Here is what happened, I started to get exhausted. Trying to keep up certain appearances, as someone else is exhausting!

Dr. Jack Graham, Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano Texas, said something once that has always stuck with me. He said, “Nothing will burn you out quicker than faking it.”

He is right! This is true spiritually and physically. Spiritually you don’t have to conform to man made practices ideals. I see this with marriage advice. Not every marriage requires a weekly date night or nightly devotions that unpack your love language. Find out what works for you and do that. The same is true spiritually.

  • You don’t have to get up at 4am and do a quiet time.
  • You don’t have to journal everyday of your life.
  • You don’t have to have blog.
  • You don’t have to write a book.
  • You don’t have to fast every Thursday.
  • You don’t have to read 1,000 books every year

Physically you don’t have to conform to man made practices either. Dress, walk and act like you and not someone else, be you! I am not advocating for laziness here. Be the best version of you, but ultimately be you!

  • You don’t have to be a morning person to be a good leader.
  • You don’t have to have to be an extrovert to be a good leader.
  • You don’t have to get up at 3am and go to the gym to be a good leader.
  • You don’t have to shave your beard.
  • You don’t have to have a “slick” hair cut.
  • You don’t have to drive the cleanest car.

The point is to be you. Not a lazy version of you but the best version of you! Find out who you are and how God has wired you and grow from there. Anything else is faking it and you will eventually get tired and exhausted as a leader.

I love this verse:

” Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all his good things with the teacher” Galatians6:4-6

Learn them. Like them. Launch them.

This is an excerpt from the Arkansas Baptist Evangelism Conference where I shared a few thoughts on reaching the next generation.

On of the most magnificent proclamations in the history of the world: 

 Matthew 1:23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
and they will name him Immanuelwhich is translated “God is with us.”

God putting on flesh and walking among us! What did this communicate? It communicated just how depraved mankind really is and how much we needed a savior! And in doing so He also displayed an unconceivable amount of grace and love toward his creation! The creator of the world befriended us! And His friendship is shown by allowing us to be apart of His redemptive plan.

John 15:15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.

Christ’s desire in this text is that His disciples would have joy. And that joy is caught up in their obedience to the things he has revealed to them. And we can clearly see all that Jesus taught His disciples was a preparation for His going and their being sent.

Sent to do what? Make Disciples.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Every church, every Christian has a command to reach EVERY generation! 

But not every church or every Christian is committed to reaching every generation! We must change that! Specifically we must change our attitudes toward reaching the next generation.

You know the same is true in a home as it is in a church:

Biblical homes cultivate multi generational faithfulness

Biblical churches cultivate multi generational faithfulness

Here are three very practical ideas to consider as you seek to reach the next generation:

  1. Learn the next Generation

It easy to make excuses for not reaching the next generation.

  • Church is too small,
  • Church is too old,
  • Music is too old school

The list could go on and on.  If GABC can do it any church can. The truth is we are not the “coolest” church in town! There are a lot of churches in our town that have skinnier jeans than us! But you know what we are learning: The Next Gen is drawn toward passion over a perfect well put together modern church. Meaning vision draws them! But not just any vision a vision that is saturated with mission of God!

   2.  Like the Next Generation

I was recently in a meeting with pastors from all over and the topic of conversation was reaching the next generation. That conversation was a little disheartening to say the least. Our time together consisted of jokes about the younger generations and how churches in their town were “stealing all our young people with gimmicks and fun”. Of course there is room for discussion on healthy strategies to reach the next generation without compromising the Gospel. But I am convinced that what churches and leaders convey by what they say and what they do is that they don’t like the next generation! This is a problem.

Through jokes stereotypes and a lack of desire change methods churches put to much distance between them and the next gen. And the result is the church dies.

Like the next generation by being willing to learn them and adapt methods to ensure the future of the local church.

   3. Launch the next Generation

Churches are really bad at not leveraging this season of life! Not married, No kids, all the time in the world to do ministry. Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because of his youth! Churches need to stop looking down on the next generation and start leveraging their youthfulness and availability.

  • Give them your time Pastor! You are not too busy to poor into the next generation of local church leaders.
  • Give them ministry opportunity. Set up a pathway for future leaders to be discipled toward ministry.
  • Give them a passion for the local church! The local church is Gods plan to reach cities! Teach that to the next generation.
  • Give them a platform to set an example as to what they are able to do during this season for their lives.

The task ahead of us is not an easy one. We must act and if we cross our fingers and hope they come into our churches without intentional efforts, we will lose the next generation! 

God Bless!

Four of the many lessons I learned in my first year as a Lead Pastor

I am not AT ALL an expert on the pastorate. I have been in full-time vocational ministry for seventeen years and have been a lead pastor for four of those. I write this knowing that I have just begun to scratch the surface of what it means to be an effective pastor.

Please don’t read this as me being arrogant or having an “I have arrived” spirit. I have found that when something is fresh on your mind get it out there. I have a ton of fresh lessons I have learned, and many more coming as I serve God and His church.

Here are four:

1. Learn Names

Pastors are in the business of leading people. We are called to shepherd people’s heart toward the Worship of God, toward Growing in his/her understanding of God and His mission, and to see them Go and take the truth of God to the world. When people know you care for them leading them is smoother. Knowing names is a great start. I served on a church staff in Missouri and I would watch the pastor walk through the hallways of the church, calling people by name. At lunch one day he humbly boasted that he had memorized 3000 names! That said a lot about how much he cared for the church, and how he desired to be the best pastor he could be.

2. Walk Through The Room Slowly 

Surprise!! This is not an original thought. I have heard pastors say this on numerous occasions. Now that I am a pastor, the importance of this has never been truer. If you pastor a larger church the interaction you have with a good portion of your church is limited to mostly Sunday morning. Being early and leaving late gives you an opportunity to engage more people in the church. It can go along way as you lead. People remember a handshake and a hug as much as they remember distance and unavailability. Make yourself available.

3.  Go To The Balcony

One Sunday morning I was walking through the sanctuary before service started and I decided I would go to the balcony to talk with people there. The next day I had several emails from church members thanking me for doing that. One person commented, that in all the years she has attended our church she had never known a pastor to do that. The point isn’t to brag, but to encourage you to go to back rows or balcony and meet people. Believe it or not, it helps to gain trust and allows for more effective leading.

4. Pray

People need to know their pastor is praying for them. We are spiritual leaders before we are anything else. If people know anything about you, make sure they know that you pray for them. I send out letters to people every month giving them the day and time I will be praying for them. I ask them to email me with specific prayer needs. Some do not respond but most do. Most are overwhelmed by the fact that their pastor would set aside a specific time to pray just for them. Their surprise is sad and alarming. Pastor, if you are not praying for the people you lead then you are missing a big part of what it means to be a spiritual leader.

I am aware that context matters. I am not suggesting that the above points are the only ways a pastor can engage the people he pastors and leads. The bigger point here is to not forget that you are a pastor and not a distant super star that thinks he is too busy or big to talk with people. Remember, other pastors may think you are a big deal, but to the people who attend the church you serve, you are just their pastor.