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Team Energy

Your team has an energy.

Over time, your church or organization will adopt this same energy.

What is energy? It’s a combination of intangibles like relational and organizational unity, momentum, support, morale, attitude and ultimately spirit.

Webster defines energy as: a usually positive spiritual force; vigorous exertion of power; a fundamental entity of nature that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of physical change within the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing work; usable power.”

Energy is the real stuff of life God put in motion from the beginning.

Alright. So, what is Team Energy? It’s all the above either multiplied, subtracted or even divided by the energy of each team member.

Collectively, it’s the soul-condition of your organization.

Why does this matter? Two reasons.

#1 – Because people matter. Specifically, the health and well-being of your Lead Team matters to the Lord and should matter to you.

#2 – Because your vision matters. Your Team Energy will either be moving you collectively towards or away from fulfilling your unique vision.

For those of us trying to reach our communities with the Good News of Jesus, this is a big deal.

What does this have to do with your role as a pastor or especially as a lay-leader?

You are an Energy Manager. Wait. That’s not good enough and can often be counter-productive.

You are at your best as an Energy Multiplier.

(and so is your church!)

As an Energy Multiplier you should make it your goal to come alongside your Lead Team (fellow Pastoral Staff, Elders, Team Leaders, etc) to see that Team Energy is and remains at a high level.

This should be a shared role and goal and especially applies to the Team Energy of the Pastoral Staff.

Again, why does this matter?

Your vision is the reason and your church’s capacity to fulfill it will rise and fall with your Lead Team’s ability to model it and partner to move it forward.

And this takes ENERGY!

What are your thoughts on Team Energy? Share your take in the Reply section below.

Depressed Part 2

Whether you are a pastor struggling with depression or simply hope to come alongside one in your life who does, where do you begin?

I’ll admit it. I was a pastor who was simply unqualified to counsel on this subject early in my ministry. If I had been, I wouldn’t have heard these words from an ER physician. He said, “I don’t know what you do for a living. But you either learn to love it, find something else, or die a very young man.”

I was stressed, depressed and didn’t really know what to do about it.

Thankfully, there were people in my life that did. In time, I made changes that have kept me living and leading healthy.

Here are three resources to help you respond in a more compassionate and informed way to the realities that contribute to depression and compound other forms of mental illness among church leaders…

Understand the “Why?” behind it. Thomas Rainer helps us come to terms with some of root causes behind depression among clergy. https://thomrainer.com/2018/02/five-reasons-many-pastors-struggle-depression/

Get past the stigma that comes with it. Mark Meynell writes for the Gospel Coalition about getting the conversation out in the open. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/pastors-depression/

Take some practical steps to confront it. Something has to change. Stephanie Lobdell draws from the life of Elijah to offer some steps anyone can take to keep depression from leading them down a darker path. https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2017/december-web-exclusives/when-youre-pastor-who-suffers-from-depression.html

It’s become all too cliche and way too familiar. Still, “the struggle is real” for those of us serving to answer God’s call to ministry.

There is hope. There is help.

Be a part of the solution and stay informed on the realities of depression and mental illness.

If you are struggling with depression. Let someone know. You don’t have to walk alone.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Depressed

Recent news of another pastor taking his own life has us all hurting and questioning.

How should we approach the reality of depression among Christian leaders, especially among those of us who preach and teach the Good News of Jesus?

Whether you are a pastor, church leader or just happened to be searching the web on this subject, here are a few thoughts about pastors, from a pastor, to help guide your conversations.

Pastors aren’t immune… to anything. We are flawed, failed, tempted and tried, and our calling doesn’t magically make us somehow above the things that challenge others, including an unseen sickness like depression.

Pastors are lonely… at least it often feels that way. We may be surrounded by people, many are even very encouraging. Still, church leadership can leave us feeling very much isolated no matter how many “likes” we get on social media.

Pastors don’t have all the answers… too many think they do (maybe even a few us pastors). We have some education, attended a conference or two and have some experience. The very Word of God is right there at our fingertips on a daily basis.

Make no mistake, there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Still, that doesn’t mean we always know exactly how to prescribe it in the real world to others or even ourselves.

Pastors are a target… and we need a lot of grace and prayer. Sure, the devil is trying to take everyone down with him in the end. Still, everyone knows that in warfare, if you can take down leaders, the impact on your enemy is multiplied many fold.

In short, pastors are people.

What can you do to deal with the pressures and stresses of ministry life as a pastor, or to come alongside one that you care about? We’ll talk about that in Depressed, Part 2.

What would you say about the realities that pastors face? Share your insights below in the reply section. We would love to hear from you!

Need help right now? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Transition Shifts

Every time there is a transition in an organization’s staff there is a cultural shift that follows, especially if that transition is among senior level staff.  Thankfully, you don’t have to be surprised by this shift and the Lord has already given you and your team what you need to lead well through it!

Before diving in, let’s define culture. Culture is a combination of what we create and what we allow as leaders. (Craig Groeschel) This combination, over time, defines an organization and says “This is how we do things here.” 

What should we expect during this season of shift? How can we prepare for and walk well as a team and organization going forward? 

There are several Major Shifts that take place around a leadership transition…

Gift Shift

Every leader is uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit. They are simply different than other leaders that may have filled the same or similar roles. In addition, their personality, communication style, leadership strategy and more are different. This is just as God designed it. Their gifting, along with other senior level leaders, will find it’s way into the leadership culture and, in time, the greater culture of the church.

Relational Shift

A healthy culture is simply made up of healthy relationships working in harmony towards a goal. And, how and who a leader relates to others is as different as each God-given personality. Discovering and understanding our shared gifts and personalities will be an important venture into knowing ourselves and one another better relationally.

Who a leader relates to on a more personal level will be different. Not better, not worse. Simply, different. We all have a small circle of interpersonal relationships we can maintain in a healthy way. In other words, close friends. This is just how God designed it.

Jesus had 12 disciples, hung out with 3 of them a little closer (Peter, James and John) and had 1 best friend (John). This is neither right nor wrong, just as it was with the previous leader. We simply need to recognize and flow with this as it naturally develops. 

The new leader will gravitate to a different circle, although every leader should prioritize their staff and lead team (Pastoral Staff, Elders, Team Leaders, etc). I recommend they become like family! 

Vision Shift

The Holy Spirit partners with leaders to communicate and carry out a unique vision for seasons of life and ministry. This big picture reality should also be both anticipated and embraced. 

The new leader should seek to partner with the broader leadership team to pray, process, promote and walk in the new vision as the Spirit reveals it through them and the team they are privileged to lead with. 

Values Shift

Values simply define HOW we do what we do (and don’t). No surprise here… different leaders hold to a different set and level of values. However, there are some values that organizations of greater influence all have in common. When values are clear and defined over time, a culture thrives. When values are not clear, a culture suffers, insider RELATIONSHIPS suffer and with it, influence with outsiders.

It will be very important to pray and process through the values of the incoming leader in partnership with the lead team, and then live them out and promote them until they become part of the culture at the DNA level. Over time, these Values will simply say, “This is how we do things here.” 

Preaching/Teaching Shift

Elijah and Elisha had unique voices. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each communicated about Jesus’ ministry in very different ways. Paul and Barnabas had differing styles as well. Simply put, leaders communicate in their own God-given voice and way. This will take some getting used to for everyone. What matters is that a leader communicates God’s Word faithfully. 

Still, it will take time for the congregation to adjust. Many will love the new style. Most will be fine with it. A few might leave over it. Accept this as the natural part of the shift in preaching and teaching style.

Organizational/Administrative Shift

This area concerns day-to-day functions of a leader and team. Some leaders have a high organizational gifting, and some not as much. Further, what was simply assumed, delegated or done by one leader administratively, isn’t always the same with another. Some of these functions can and should be anticipated and talked through. However, most will need to be handled with clear communication and a high level of grace as they naturally arise in the course of ministry life. 

How do we navigate Cultural Shift? 

First, we pray about it!

This is more than the “Sunday School” answer. The Holy Spirit can and will help us make inevitable changes throughout the organization, while helping everyone involved to adjust to them. We simply need to stay prayerful about it! Pray specifically for fellow team members and the congregation as they adjust.

Second, we talk about it.

This is about the health of the church we are privileged to lead. With much love and respect for both former, present and new leaders, we simply talk about differences in leadership style and vision and how they affect the church at each level. Again, this is more about culture than it is personality.

Third, we clarify it.

Again, what roles, duties and functions that simply were assumed by and/or of a previous leader, may not be so with a new leader. Many of these cannot be anticipated and will simply be addressed in the day-to-day course of ministry life. However, major responsibilities, direct reports, etc, should be discussed and then affirmed going forward. 

The Holy Spirit will give us everything we need to love and lead well through the shifts that always occur during seasons of leadership transition.

Remember, you simply can’t over communicate as a new leadership culture is established through a season of transition. 

What “shifts” have you experienced during seasons of transition? Let us know in the reply section below!

Want to drill down deeper on leading through transition? Email us at peakpastors@gmail.com and let’s see how we can partner in a coaching relationship!

3 Truths in Transition

Do you find yourself in a leadership transition in a key ministry area of your church? Are you in an executive level staff transition?

There are realities that come with the territory of transition.

Bringing your staff, lead teams and congregation around these will go a long way towards walking together well going forward.

I recently began walking with my home church through this season. It is the 7th church I’ve had the privilege of coming alongside during a Lead Pastor transition, and I have learned so much along the way! I say this only to highlight the fact that, although each situation is unique, there are some common threads woven through the fabric of each experience.

Here’s some of what we shared together…

As Interim Lead Pastor let me be the first to let you know about a few things that almost always happen in seasons of leadership and church transition. You need to know that these are OK!

For some it’s exciting and they embrace it like a faith adventure. For others it’s just plain scary, and that’s OK!

When it comes to the will of God for the future of TCAB (The Church at Bradenton), we don’t know yet, and THAT’S OK. God knows and that’s enough in this moment. We won’t always be in this season. The Spirit will guide in His time as we worship, fast, pray and seek wise council together.

There will be change over time, and THAT’S OK.

Change either happens to us or through us.

Let’s be a part of it, together! This excites me because another word for change is growth.There can never be growth without change. Healthy things grow (like our kids). See Romans 12:1-3.

People sometimes come and go before, during and after a transition, and THAT’S OK. I WANT EVERYONE TO STAY and get behind what God is doing! Still, this rarely happens.

Don’t overdo trying to talk people in or out of these important decisions. Listen, love and pray for them as the Spirit leads.

Should people decide to leave, they may simply be finding another local church where they can be “all-in” for the Lord. Love them and the church you are serving enough to let them go. That’s a very good thing for everyone!

Again, whether you are facing a change in a strategic area of ministry or in an executive level staff position, you don’t have to be surprised by these realities. You do need to pray and process them well together.

Why are these realities so common?

Join us in our next post as we explore several “Shifts” inherent with leadership transition.

Want to drill down on some of these? Email me at peakpastors@gmail.com and let’s see how we can connect in a coaching relationship!

What are some of the realities you’ve experienced in your seasons of transition? How did you and your lead teams walk well through them together?

Share some of your experience in the reply section below…

What I Learned Off-Grid

On the Summit of Spread Eagle Peak!

I went on summer vacation with my family and, for the first time, stayed off-grid, unplugged from work and social media. Crazy, right?

Here’s what I was reminded of and learned from my online hiatus in the mountains…

Lesson 1: I loved it!

I was present and in the moment with family & the Lord like never before. It was awesome. Plain and simple.

Sure, I snapped a few photos here and there to remember and celebrate at a later date. However, it was so good to be authentically in the moment and not feel like it had to be shared with anyone else, at least not right then and there.

Many times there were no pictures taken at all. The memories are that much more vivid in the hearts and minds of those who experienced it in real time.

Lesson 2: It’s okay.

I stayed off-line and, I’ll admit it, it took some getting used to.

After all, “If it happened and no one posted online about it, did it really happen?”

Some won’t get this. Some may even be a little suspicious of what the deal is with someone who dares to not make just about everything about their vacation public knowledge. My advice? Do it anyway. Those that truly know and love you will get it and be fine with it.

It’s also okay to keep sharing.

This goes without saying. Posting on social media has long been a part of the joy of sharing life with extended family and friends who aren’t there. It’s just how an emerging generation communicates. They simply don’t know life any other way.

Good leaders recognize this reality and choose to meet people where they live, virtually or not. This reality is increasing exponentially over time. For more about this and a little different take on things, check out https://careynieuwhof.com/what-i-learned-from-my-social-media-fast/.

Lesson 3: I am needed, but not necessary.

The world, the church, family and friends all went on without me. This is a healthy, humbling perspective for all of us to have. Call it a reality-check.

Besides, if we have surrounded ourselves with great leaders, everything can and should keep moving forward well in our temporary absence.

I really did miss connecting online & sharing with other family and friends! I also wondered what was going on at church, especially among the lead team. Still, both of these had a way of drawing me to prayer for these same people all the more.

As it turns out, they were all still there, still doing life and work, some were on their own vacations. They were still posting and sharing the latest happenings. All I had to do was jump back into the virtual stream to catch up.

Lesson 4: I’m better for it.

I’m rested. I’m recharged. I’m reset and ready for what the Lord has next. I truly felt like I got away from it all. Isn’t that what the principle of the Sabbath is all about? Isn’t that what “getting away from it all” is for? I’m glad I finally got the memo and chose to experience a little bit of life off-line.

I highly recommending unplugged vacations and even going off-grid for some strategic days, events and moments.

Plan on it and plan for it. Let those that need to know, know, and then trust the Lord and them with everything else.

It may be hard to imagine life without play-by-play commentary as you live it. However, maybe you will discover that it’s worth it every once in a while.

I dare you.

Live life a little more off-grid and a little more in the moment.

What are your thoughts on living and leading off-grid? Share your insights in the comment section below!

Sunset over the Sangre de Cristo Range

Influence Multiplied

How do you multiply your influence as a leader?

Leaders who intentionally create and actively encourage a culture of delegation, position their teams for greater health, influence and growth.

Still, too many leaders fear delegation for a variety of reasons (mostly unhealthy) and this keeps them, their lead teams, and the organization as a whole from reaching their full potential.

This doesn’t have to be you.

Learn to multiply your influence through the power of delegation.

Here are 5 Steps to Delegating Well…

Step 1: Choose wisely

Resist the temptation to pick someone too quickly, just to meet a need and, let’s face it… get it off your “To Do” list.

Do your homework.

Don’t accept the first person to eagerly volunteer or press someone close to you into service just to fill the void.

Delegate the same way for a short-term project you would hire a full-time staffer, keeping a sense of calling, character, chemistry and competence in mind.

Make the time to sit down across the table and learn their story. and answer their questions. Make sure they understand from the beginning what the “Why?” is behind the position you are both considering a partnership in.

John Ortberg affirms, “I don’t have a problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion of leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.”

Step 2: Explain simply

Only expect people to do exceptionally what you have communicated exceptionally well.

This is all about letting people in on just what they are getting themselves into. People are far more likely to partner with you if they are aware of the level of commitment they are agreeing to.

This means explaining and putting into a simple document the why, who, what, when, where and how of the role they will be fulfilling and/or task they will be undertaking.

Step 3: Empower willingly

In other words, don’t delegate a task, delegate authority. Craig Groeschel speaks to this point in a challenging and encouraging way. Check out the link at the end of this post!

The extent of authority should match the breadth and depth of responsibility. Leaders that fail to lend authority to those they have tasked with responsibility find their pool of quality people drying up fast. Explain simply to those you are empowering, and to all those they will be leading ,who reports to them and who they report to.

We are all accountable.

Resist the urge to micromanage or hover. Give them space to do what needs done. Remember, you have been lent power to lend power.

Step 4: Resource thoroughly

You wouldn’t ask someone to drive a nail without a hammer or to bake a cake without flour.

Don’t task people to do something without giving them the tools to get the job done right.

While these should include tangible resources such as a specific budget, gathering/working space and technology, don’t overlook the intangibles such as the details they need to lead in an informed way.

Step 5: Follow-up responsibly

“How’s it going?”

“What can I do to help?” These should be common questions you ask as a leader. Realize that if you have chosen quality people to serve they will be tempted to lead without seeking out additional advice or assistance. Be an occasional but intentional presence. Listen to concerns and lend a hand.

Then, when the task is complete or the role has run it’s course, sit down to process the highs and lows and glean from the experience what you would or wouldn’t do again, what didn’t work and what did.

Oh… and CHEER WILDLY!

Be your team’s biggest fans.

Lead the way in encouraging and cheering on those you are privileged to partner with in seeing your unique mission fulfilled.

Jesus is the ultimate model of delegation.

He was fully human, yet, fully God. He chose to partner with 12 men knowing their sins and shortcomings in order to fulfill the Father’s will and birth His church. The rest is history and now we have the opportunity to follow in His footsteps and partner in making disciples who make disciples!

Learn the power and practice of delegation well and see the influence of your teams go farther than you ever imagined!

Want to learn more about the power of delegation. Check out https://open.life.church/training/216-craig-groeschel-leadership-podcast-creating-an-empowering-culture-part-2. Download the free Show Notes, gather your team and take your influence to another level!

The Lonely Leader Part 3

How do you keep from the kind of lonely that quickly trends towards isolation?

You don’t have to be lonely alone! Here are 4 Ways to Avoid Isolation…

1 – Refuse to isolate. Determine not to isolate and tell someone about your commitment who will hold you accountable for staying in community.
2 – Get alone with the Lord. Solitude with Him is sacred. Isolation is not. Get away and get into His Word, prayer, worship and meditation daily.
3 – Stay connected to the family. We desperately need the encouragement and accountability that the Spirit of God brings through the Body of Christ! While you are at it, serve someone together. Few things draw us closer to the Lord and the family of God like taking Jesus’ example and serving others in His Name.

“God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” (Psalm 68:6)


4 – Praise the Lord! There is power in our praise of the One who is always true to Himself and His people. Have you ever read the account of Paul and Silas in prison. They chose to turn their prison into a Tabernacle of Praise and this led to their freedom AND the salvation of the jailor and his entire household!

Remember, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE LONELY ALONE!

Jesus’ brother challenges and inspires in James 4:8a, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” The moment you turn to Him you will find that He was and is right there waiting for you and already walking with you!

Check out this challenging article on responding to loneliness as a local church. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/church-respond-loneliness-epidemic/

What are your thoughts on loneliness and how to live through it as followers of Jesus and leaders in His church? Let us know your thoughts in the reply section below!

The Lonely Leader Part 2

We will all face loneliness. However, isolation is a choice, and it’s a bad one.

And, yes, we all need some “alone time” with just us and Jesus. This isn’t about that.

Let’s deal with the hard truth about isolation.

Isolation isn’t an isolated event. It hurts those we should be doing life with, and everyone misses out.

How do we know if we are living in isolation? Isolation is often marked by several things:

  • Lies from the enemy. It’s just what he does!
  • Abuse and excess. We tend towards extremes when no one is around to hold us accountable.
  • Victim status. It is easy to justify this status when we have isolated ourselves from the perspective others can bring.
  • Extreme blame. The fault has little (or nothing) to do with us. “It’s all their fault.”
  • Normalization. This is when we have allowed “Victim” instead of “Victor” to become our identity.

Give Psalm 25:16-22 a read. David felt like we have all felt, maybe how we do right now. Understand that David was the King! He had servants, he was married, had lots of kids, had officers and an army of men including a group known as David’s Mighty Warriors (also known as David’s Mighty Men or the Gibborim; Hebrew: הַגִּבֹּרִ֛ים ha-Gibbōrîm) are a group of 37 men in the Hebrew Bible who fought with King David and are identified in 2 Samuel 23:8–38.

There was no good reason for David to be lonely, let alone in isolation.

What we know is after this Psalm was written, David isolated himself and this contributed in no small way to his multiple sins of lies, adultery and murder in his selfish pursuit of Bathsheba. See 2 Samuel 11 – 12 for this sordid story.

We are never truly isolated. The enemy is right there to keep us company.

However, he will rarely reveal himself. Instead, he will whisper subtle half-truths and outright lies about God, you, others and your situation, that will serve to further isolate and discourage.

Discouragement unchecked leads to disillusionment and dissolution leads to desperation and desperation to deadly choices.

Is there hope for those in the dark of seclusion? YES!

Be on the lookout for the next post as we explore the steps to overcoming and then avoiding the trap of isolation.

Want to get a head-start on some great advice concerning loneliness and leadership? Check out https://careynieuwhof.com/overcoming-the-new-leadership-epidemic-isolation-and-loneliness/

The Lonely Leader

Loneliness is a part of the human experience.

This doesn’t change when we become Christians nor does it suddenly go away when we answer the call to serve the Lord in vocational ministry.

No one knows this better than the pastors reading this. You know, and, thankfully, so does the Lord. When we feel lonely as followers of Jesus, regardless of our role within His kingdom, we have the opportunity to identify with Him.

No one knows what it is like to not only feel forsaken, but be forsaken, like our Lord.

The Apostle Paul got this and shared this sense of connection to Christ in his letter to His followers in Philippi. (See Philippians 3:10.) 

When it comes to loneliness, we all go there. None of us should stay there.

Pastor, here’s the BIG POINT: DON’T BE LONELY ALONE.

When we stay lonely alone, too long, we risk the real problem, isolation.

Proverbs 18:1, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

The root word in this verse is פָּרַד paw-rad’; to break through, spread or separate: disperse, divide, be out of joint, part, scatter, separate, sever self, stretch, sunder. (Strong’s, H6504)

We all face loneliness. However, isolation is a choice.

How do you know if you are choosing isolation as a leader? Isolation is characterized by numerous symptoms. These symptoms come on slowly but very surely.

Join us in The Lonely Leader – Part 2 coming soon as we uncover these symptoms together.

Until then, check out this great post that deals with the subject of loneliness in leadership by Thomas Rainer. https://thomrainer.com/2013/09/the-lonely-pastor-nine-observations/

Pastor, church leader, whoever you are…

You don’t have to lead lonely alone!