Pastors and Deep Change

According to Robert Quinn, self-change is crucial to leadership. The organization — for instance, the church — will not change unless the leader (the pastors) experience deep change. Leadership is not so much a set of skills as much as about choosing deep change rather than slow death.

There are so many gospel implications I could make from this one key insight. We tend to overemphasize leadership skills and underemphasize what happens when pastors experience deep change.

One way to foster deep change? Fire yourself every Friday. Quinn quotes Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon. “Reinvent yourself first before you reinvent your company,” Jung said in an interview a few years back. While I wouldn’t express it exactly this way, I think she still has a point. Pastors: why reinvent a new church when you are in need of being reinvented by the gospel? Start there. She continues:

Fire yourself on a Friday night and come in on Monday morning as if a search firm put you there as a turn-around leader. Can you be objective and make the bold change? If you can't, then you haven't reinvented yourself. If you can, then you can have a decade of tenure that is like having different jobs.

Just two thoughts:

  • Before a church can be changed, I must be changed. Too often I focus on the work that I want to see God do out there rather than realizing he wants to do a work in me first. It's about being the chief repenter, the one most enamored with the gospel that never gets old.
  • I never want to coast as a pastor. May we never lose the freshness of the gospel and the immense privilege and responsibility of serving God through his church. Deep change — possible through the gospel — is always preferable to slow death, even if it means firing ourselves every Friday.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

He Will Hold Me Fast

Yesterday, I began to tell you about cancer's toll on my body and soul. Today, I want to tell you more about God's work in my soul, even in the most tempestuous times.

5 Benefits Of Having A Challenging Teen

God causes all things – even a teenager’s sin – to work together for our good. Here are 5 ways.

20 Ways to Be Refreshing in the Local Church

How do you refresh the hearts of the saints? Here are twenty practical ways.

When Leaders Are Too Individualistic

A leader needs to accomplish more than he did as an individual contributor, not less. And that’s the precise reason he needs to stop acting like an individual contributor.

Advice to Young Pastors from David Powlison, Danny Akin, Tim Keller

In addition to knowing Scripture and sound doctrine, what should young pastors today be studying? Is your answer any different from what you would’ve recommended 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago?

Four Reasons Why Some Preachers Get Better and Others Don't

If someone has a burning calling, teachable spirit, passionate heart, and reckless abandon to pay the price to preach well, then not even the limitation of his own background, personality, or natural talents will keep him from preaching the Word of God with power.

How To Simplify Your Life In 5 Minutes A Day

Below are five simple ways to simplify your life so you can focus on what is most essential.

Three Avenues to Joy

When I look back at what I’ve experienced in church planting these past two or so years, three joys stand out:

  1. The joy of risk — There’s something joyful about sticking your neck out and risking for the sake of the kingdom. It’s far more joyful than playing it safe. I don’t think I’d want to go back.
  2. The joy of evangelism — My best friends are increasingly outside of the church. I am intentionally cultivating relationships in my community and being present in my neighborhood.
  3. The joy of reliance — I am learning new levels of dependence on God. I am also much more aware of my reliance on other people for prayer support, as well as practical support.

If you want to ask me what I love about church planting, these three joys would rank near the top.

Here’s the thing: you don’t need to be a church planter to experience these three joys. Sadly, I pastored many years without experiencing them as much as I am now, but they where there for the taking.

Risk. Evangelize. Rely. I’m finding that these are three avenues of joy available to all of us for the asking.

God Wants Us to Want

I used to think that God was happy with our grudging obedience. Do the right thing, grit your teeth, and everything is good with God. I’ve been increasingly learning that God doesn’t want us to do the right thing so much as he wants us to want to do the right thing. Big difference.

Two examples:

Peter writes to elders in churches that are experiencing some suffering. “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,” he writes, “not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you” (1 Peter 5:2). There’s a world of difference between elders who serve because they have to, and elders who serve because they want to. God, Peter says, desires the latter. God wants elders who want to serve him, even under the pressure of suffering.

Paul writes to the Corinthians to ask for money for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. He doesn’t tell them to dig deep until it hurts. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). There it is again, something to avoid: compulsion. God wants our willingness, our eagerness, and our cheerfulness.

C.S. Lewis was insightful when he wrote:

A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and other people) like a crutch which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits, etc) can do the journey on their own.

The perfect man or woman acts not out of duty, but of delight. We're all in process, but this is God’s desire for us.

God wants to change us not at the level of our obedience, but at the level of our affections. God wants us to want.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Be Yourself in Prayer

Prayer is naturally one of the most spiritual things we can do as believers, so we don’t need to add anything extra to over-spiritualize it. We can simply come as deeply joyful sons and daughters with reverent awe that we have been rescued by a God who loves us and hears us.

Why Your Church Is Closer to Planting Than You Probably Think

I want to help us understand that church planting involves a series of small steps that are not beyond the grasp of churches.

Becoming an Influential Leader

These principles are important, even if you are not in a formal leadership role in your organization, because leading where you are involves more than just doing your work.

5 Good Words of Pastoral Advice That Stuck

I’ve heard a lot of good words on ministry and ministry life, and while a lot has been good, a few choice bits of wisdom have stuck with me since I heard them. Here are just five.

The Importance of Being a Pastor/Theologian

I believe that there are several reasons why God uses pastor/theologians in special ways. Here are my five theoretical observations.

Why Did God Allow Satan to Harm Job and His Family?

So what should we say in response to the question, “Why did God allow Satan to harm Job”?

Sexuality and Silence

I’ve heard rumors of a silent trend beginning to take hold in some city churches I mean a trend towards silence. Without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes discussions that had taken place, what would I say?