100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (pt 4)

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This week’s Tuesday Tips is the final part to this four part series. 100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (continued)

76. In a Sunday service, try to avoid naming lists of people you wish to thank or appreciate without having the list in front of you. Otherwise, count on it, you will leave someone out.

77. As the pastor, you are the mood-setter for the congregation. Whatever you radiate on Sundays and in private conversation with members, they will pick up, too.

78. Words. Never say anything to a church member about someone else you would not want plastered on a billboard at the edge of town. If you assume they are keeping this in confidence, you will live to regret it. (With your spouse and your mentors, you may speak your mind; to all others, tread carefully.)

79. Daily, pray the prayer of Psalm 141:3. “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Another you might want to add is Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

80. Keep good records for everything you do in ministry—whom you saw, your appointments, everything. A few times in a long ministry, you will find yourself digging through it in search of a vital bit of information (“When did this happen?”) and be so glad you had the records. (I once had a woman call to ask, “When did you marry us?” She gave me two possible dates when it might have occurred. I found her wedding on my calendars and informed her that not only were her two dates incorrect, she was on the wrong year!)

81. Just as no one knows you better than your spouse, your co-workers on the church staff see you as no one else does. Make sure they respect you as a person of integrity and compassion who keeps his word, has a sincere heart for God and treasures each of them. Defend them before critics. If you lose their respect, the fabric of your leadership begins to fray.

82. Watch for certain scriptures—a verse here, a verse there—to begin to impress themselves upon you in a special way. This is a work of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, He is inviting you to study this area more, to seek His insights and receive His teaching.

83. Humility. Do not fear apologizing to your people. If you made a mistake and everyone knows it, to stonewall and refuse to admit it is to enrage a few and disappoint the others. By humbling yourself and admitting your error, then asking for their forgiveness, you endear yourself to everyone who matters. (I’ve known of pastors who gained so much love and acceptance by publicly apologizing for a mistake, they jokingly say they are now looking for some other dumb mistake to make just so they can apologize.)

84. When you need the approval of a committee, say the finance or personnel, for some project or expenditure, if the chairperson says, “Oh, go ahead and do that, pastor,” you should respond, “Thank you, my friend. But I’d really like the entire committee’s input on this.” Insist on meeting with the entire panel, and never allow the chair to act as if he or she is the committee. (Church bosses are created just so subtly as this.)

85. Always err on the side of conservativism in finances and on the side of grace in relationships.

86. You should always see yourself as a servant and nothing more (see II Corinthians 4:5). Granted that, in Christ, you are much more. However, we’re speaking of “how you see yourself here.” Be a servant. Serve your spouse, serve your staff, serve the congregation. (The parable of Luke 17:7-10, mentioned previously, reigns in your ego’s need for recognition and appreciation. That parable is found nowhere else in Scripture, and may be one of the most important teachings anywhere for God’s workers.)

87. Learn from everyone you meet. Work at asking key questions to draw them out, and then listen intently to their responses. “So, Bob, tell me what you did on your job today.” “What was the most interesting thing that happened to you today?” Ask it, then sit back and be quiet and wait for an answer.

88. Never forget the old adage, “No one should ever preach on hell without tears in his eyes.” Only the compassionate are entitled to teach the stark truths about hell. To speak of such a “difficult doctrine” (see John 6:60) without your heart breaking fails your people.

89. Sleep. No one unable to turn off the constant demands on his life will be able to sleep at night and endure long as a pastor. You live in a world of unfinished tasks; get used to it. (Nothing lifts burdens like prayer. Pray about everything, then leave matters with the Lord—at least overnight.)

90. Have a notepad on your bedside table. When thoughts of people you need to call, projects you need to lead, notes you need to answer, will not leave you alone and interfere with your sleep, write down reminders for the next day and go back to sleep. You’d be amazed how jotting these down settles the mind. (Never assume that “This is so important, I’m sure I’ll remember it when I awaken.” You won’t.)

91. Beware of spending your days locked in your study, absorbed in your computer. Get out of the office and drink coffee with your office staff and the other ministers. Visit your people in the hospitals or the homebound. Check on the saints in the assisted living facilities.

92. Prayer-walk your neighborhood and the blocks around your church regularly.

93. Knock on the doors of all the homes around your church, at least a block in each direction. Introduce yourself and say, “I’m just meeting all our neighbors to ask one question: Is our church being a good neighbor to you?” See where the Lord leads.

94. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

95. Guard against even the appearance of anything out of line with women. If you find yourself being attracted to some person other than your spouse, pick up the phone and ask your mentors if you can meet with them “tomorrow or sooner!” Tell them; they are unshockable and can talk straight to you.

96. Don’t sell your seniors short. Just because we opened this “list of 100″ with a dig about “only 3 people like change and none are in your church,” the fact is, most people do not mind change. They just don’t like abrupt change. Seniors are not averse to new things. No one drives a 1948 Packard to your church. Your seniors own widescreen TVs and computers. Some of them want only hymns written before 1912, but most would appreciate some of the great choruses being produced these days. And they’d like something more than just the piano and organ. But don’t dump it all on them at once. Introduce it slowly, sweetly, carefully.

97. Help your people learn what it means to live by faith. The Lord has no hesitation in asking us to go when we do not know the destination, to build when we do not have the resources, and to give when we have only two mites. Show the flock how to do it yourself, pastor, then (and only then) teach the principles.

98. Remember the delicate balance the Lord has put in His churches: Just enough ornery, head-strong people to keep you humble and just enough sweet, godly saints to keep you from quitting.

99. Have a pleasurable hobby, one you do with some regularity to help you keep your balance in life. But do not let it grow out of proportion and begin to assume too much of your time, energies or money.

100. Start your own list of “Things God is teaching me in ministry.” Or even, “Lessons I have learned the hard way and have the scars to prove it.” Or this one: “Areas in which the Lord is still working on me.”

Thank you for reading my entire list. If as many as six or eight of these seem to have your name on them and to have been planted here just for you, we are well-rewarded. God’s richest blessings on you, my friend.

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