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Leadership is Tough

Learning to lead and thrive while you do so is a big deal.
It’s not something you learn in the classroom.

I love working with leaders, but I’m especially interested in those who tackle the complexities of ministry leadership. Leading a church or any ministry that longs to make a kingdom impact in a changing world takes serious leadership game. Without robust skills, strategies, and spiritual authority, ministry will eat your lunch and break your heart.

A bazillion of us ministry types were trained with content, but not trained to lead. At Bible College or Seminary, we were taught Greek, Hebrew, Bible, Theology, and a host of “__ologies.” But, leadership is learned in the trenches.

aboutLEADING is dedicated to lessons from and for the trenches of leadership. In this space, you will find ideas, insights, resources, and even the occasional twisted view on the humor of life. Things you can use. Everything you will find here comes from the real world of personal experience and the result of walking with leaders for decades. It has value for anyone in a leadership role, but the bullseye of my focus is the men and women who get up every day to shape a movement of churches and disciples who will live as missionaries in the places they call home.

One insight, one idea, one conversation at a time, aboutLEADING is a source to help you and those you influence thrive as agents of the kingdom.

The Back Story…

Back in the early 70’s, my wavy hair was well past my shoulders, my beach tan was semi-permanent, and my experience of the church was anything but compelling. Jesus seemed like a religious figure who had little to offer to people who lived in the real world. I had grown up going to church with my parents. I was a lifer. But, I saw the church as a country club gathering of friends rather than a community that was passionate about following the author of life or making a difference in the world. (By the way, my now-adult children have always found those pictures of my long hair to be hysterical.)

As a college freshman, Jesus turned my life upside down.

The God of the universe became tangible, accessible, real, and undeniable to me. He literally changed everything about everything that mattered. My grand plan to become an architect faded away. I wanted to spend my life helping as many people as possible discover a life-altering relationship with Jesus. I wanted to see churches become the engine to make it all happen, become consumed by the presence and mission of Christ.

So, I changed career plans. I transferred to Bible College. I went to Seminary–in fact, three of them. And I became a pastor. For twenty years I served in pastoral ministry in local churches. But, the thing is, I have always had this call to serve as a catalyst to the church broadly, not just to one at a time. Now, for the past twenty years, I have served as a mentor, trainer, coach, and missionary-partner to pastors, church planters, and ministry leaders around the world.

Along the way, I have discovered that leading the church is one of the most complicated leadership assignments on earth. The church is the ultimate volunteer organization. Ministry leaders have to cast vision, lead change, motivate people, shape and sustain ministry direction, recruit and manage staff, enlist and equip volunteers, raise funds, innovate programs, exegete culture, and so much more.

The raw stuff of leadership wasn’t the curriculum of my academic education. It’s the stuff I had to learn in the trenches of daily responsibility. And, I’m not alone.

Two weeks ago, I was on the phone with a church planter I have known for a decade. He is an amazing guy. Honest. Passionate. Transparent. Gutsy. A pioneer among pioneers. We chatted for a while about the challenges of ministry he was facing and then he said it this way, “Nobody out there is helping a guy like me with the challenges of leadership in a setting like mine.”

I long to shape the church–in all of its forms—in order to fuel movements of new disciples, new expressions of the church, and transformed communities. To see that happen, leaders of amazing skill and spiritual authority are needed.

That’s the point of this website. It’s the focus of my life.

I am going to pull out lessons God has taught me. Lessons I’ve learned or am learning about leading and thriving in the complex reality of modern-day trenches. I will post articles, resources I have created, the occasional video, and—from time to time—things others have given me permission to pass on. My hope is to serve men and women who share my longing for the church that could be and for what a fresh movement of the gospel could accomplish.

So, welcome to the first new post in the re-Launch of aboutLEADING. Subscribe. Contact me. I welcome your input, ideas, and conversation.

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