7 Tips for Hiring the Right Person for the Church Staff

racial diversity

We must make good staff hires in the church. 

That’s seems common sense to me , but there’s a definite reason. 

In most churches it is often difficult to remove someone once they are added. (That’s somewhat of a pet peeve of mine after spending much of my years in business, but that’s another blog post.)
Regardless of the industry, however, adding to a team is a critical decision — perhaps one of the most important a leader makes. New team members change the dynamics of a team. That will either be positively or negatively.

In a day where budgets are thinner and the mission remains critical, we must hire the best people we can find.

Here are 7 tips I’ve learned by experience for hiring:

Biblical qualities – In a church position, especially a called position, this is first and foremost. There are standard passages we use for positions such as pastor. I wonder, however, if there aren’t good Biblical standards for hiring even in every position — even in the secular world. And not just using the couple passages we tend to use. I realize this is open for critique, but it seems to me the “fruit of the spirit” is a good measure of character for anyone I’d place on my team — in the church or in business. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — would you hire someone with those qualities?

Know them – I have told my boys that in their generation, they will most likely never have a job where they didn’t know someone connected to the organization. The more you can know the person the more likely you are to make a wise decision. This is one reason we often hire from within our church whenever possible. If it’s not possible to know the individual personally, try to know people who know the person. I’ve found there is usually someone connected to the person on our team, in our church, or in my social network. LinkedIn is a good resource for this. (If there’s no way to know the person, that doesn’t eliminate them, but it does generate a slower decision-making process for me.)

Investigate them – I don’t insist on background checks on everyone. I understand some do and I’m okay with that, but I do believe in asking questions of those who know the person — whether or not they were placed on their list of references. Knowing them personally helps eliminate some doubt, but if there is any unanswered questions in your mind, it is better to be awkward in the beginning than surprised in the end. (I’d be curious in the comments if your organization does background checks and if so, what kind.)

Meet the spouse – I have always held a simple policy in business and ministry, especially for any position with authority. I won’t hire someone whom I wouldn’t also hire his or her spouse. Period. Most likely, whether you know it or not, you are hiring both anyway. Both spouses will certainly impact the organization either directly or indirectly. Plus, the spouse always asks better questions. 

Chemistry AND Culture – The ability to get along with others and especially the team often trumps a pedigreed potential employee. We can make a team work with people who work well together and are sold out for the vision of the organization.

Culture is equally important. If the person doesn’t like or can’t support the church where it is today (even if the desire is to take the church elsewhere) they will likely make things difficult for the church and you. They may be a great person, you may like them a lot, but they need to be able to love the church (and it’s people) even in its current state, even if they aren’t satisfied with where the church is today.

Talk them out of it – I get push back on this principle when I share it, but I’m really not trying to be a bad guy here. I want to make sure someone knows all the negatives of me and our church before they agree to join our team. So, before a person accepts a position, I tell them everything I can think of why they perhaps shouldn’t accept the job. I did this in business and I have repeated it in the church world. If it makes you feel better, to date I’ve never had anyone decide not to join us. It has prompted some good, honest conversations as a result of this tactic. I feel people have come better prepared for what they will face once they join our team. It also exposes some issues or concerns we likely would have had to deal with down the road. It is easier on the front end.

Take risk – After I’ve done my homework, I’ve prayed for clarity along the way, I hire the person my heart tells me to hire. Many times it is a gut-instinct. I often bring Cheryl along on interviews and I heavily rely on her recommendation. She’s got a much better feel for people than I have sometimes. In business, and in church, I’ve taken some huge risks on people. I always tell leaders — if you’re gut is grounded with Jesus — you can trust your gut. Overall, we’ve created great teams and I’ve even found a few superstars along the way.

What tips do you have for hiring the right person?

7 Suggestions When Interviewing for a Church Staff Position


I serve on the board of a local youth leadership program. These students are the top of their class, so the entry is competitive. Part of qualifying process is an interview with board members — most who are seasoned business and community leaders. I am always reminded in the process how interviewing, as critical as it is to acquiring a position, is not something everyone knows how to do — regardless of their other accomplishments.

I’ve found that to be true in the church also. And, in business when I was in that world. I have hired dozens, maybe hundreds of people in my career — which means I’ve interviewed lots of people. Some people do better at interviewing than others.

I decided to offer some advice from the hiring side of the table. Since my blog is read mostly by church leaders, I am speaking primarily from that perspective.

Here are 7 suggestions for interviewing for a church staff position:

Know the church. Do as much research as you can about the church, it’s history and its culture. Obviously, read all you can online. Ask who will be in the interview and what role they have in the church. Google can be your friend in researching these people. Find out if you have any connections in the church. (LinkedIn can be a great source as it shows you connections to your connections.)

Be honest. This is critical. They need to know you and you need to know them — as openly as possible in a formal setting like this. The worst thing for you personally would be to land a job where you would be miserable — or make them miserable. Plus, in my experience, the more honest and transparent you are — even about your weaknesses or past failures — the more attractive you will be as a candidate — if you’re a fit for the role.

Be upbeat. I’ve learned this is especially difficult if you are nervous — or, like me — an introvert. The main concern in adding staff at most churches is that the person be a good fit for the church and current team. Show you’re easy to get along with, fun and likable. Have a firm handshake. Look people in the eye. But, balance this with also attempting to be yourself. It’s obvious if you’re trying too hard. Especially on a first interview, the key should be to connect with those in your interview.

Be humble. If you’ve had past success, don’t take all the credit. Share the victories with others, knowing that most likely you couldn’t have succeeded without them. It’s a much more appealing approach. Use the word “we” more than “me” or “I”. While you need to demonstrate your ability to perform, keep in mind arrogance is never an attractive quality in a team member. 

Appear competent without appearing controlling. There is a huge difference between being able to lead with confidence and being a bullying leader. Churches are places where people need to be empowered. Your goal should be to demonstrate a care and love for people (which should be genuine), while assuring you have the tenacity and courage to lead boldly. That’s a delicate balance every church needs.

Be forward thinking but celebratory of history – Most churches, even after a difficult period, continue to remain proud of their heritage. (This is where researching the church as much as you can helps.) The worst thing you can do is to bash the church or it’s culture. They may welcome your input to change, but you won’t endear them to you if you make them defensive about their history. Let them know you are willing to build on their past, but also willing to help them go wherever God leads in the future.

Pray – It should go without saying, but pray before and after the interview and ask others to pray with you. (Although as I’ve seen people do, I wouldn’t necessarily post this on Facebook.) In the end, you want this to be a God-thing — not a man-made thing. You don’t want to take the position if it’s not of God. I believe God often gives tremendous latitude and freedom in choosing our place of service, and we should represent Him with our best appearance, but in the end, we want to be in the center of His will.

What tips would you offer to those interviewing at another church or ministry?

16 Often Unknown Roles of a Pastor


What is it you have to do when you’re not preaching?

Must be nice to only work one day a week.

I’d like to come see you this afternoon. Since it’s not Sunday I’m assuming you’re free.

Believe it or not, I’ve heard all of those. Most are simple misunderstandings. Sometimes people are just trying to be funny.

I must admit. It’s not always funny — not laugh out loud funny at least, because the jokes have grown stale by now. They are still new to someone I suppose.

But, especially when it’s said as an indictment that pastors have it “easy” it can even hurt. That’s probably true even more for my pastor friends in smaller churches where they carry the weight of multiple staff positions.

What does a pastor do when not preaching?

That is a valid question. This is not meant to seem as a complaining post, but an informational post. You only know what you know. I don’t know what the doctor does when not seeing patients or all the things that teacher does when not in the classroom. Every job has its own responsibilities that are clearly known until you do the job.

The answer for pastors is — lots of things. Lots. A day is seldom the same.

The pastor wears many hats. Some of them of which you may not even be aware.

Here are 16 often unknown roles of a pastor:

Counselor. All pastors do some counseling. Many pastors — I might add most pastors – – are not qualified to do extensive counseling. They can’t commit the required time, nor do they have the expertise. Still, some counseling is a part of nearly every pastor job.

Career Coach. One of the most frequent requests for my ministry help has to do with people’s career steps — from school to employment. And, I’ve heard similar from other pastors. Because work — or lack of work — greatly impacts a person’s life it is a huge part of the pastor’s life. In fact, I keep a file of people in our church who are looking for work or looking for someone to hire

Business Advisor. It may be because I have a business background, but I think it also comes with the role. Business leaders – especially self-employed business owners – want help discerning the right decisions. (I admire that about them.) one place they consistently seeking input from is the pastor.

Custodian. I can’t stand a piece of paper on the floor. If I see a trash can overflowing — I don’t call someone — I do something about it. Most pastors I know want the facility ready when people arrive. So, they do what they have to do. In fairness, I don’t do much of this. Mine is a more supervisory role. We have a large facility and an excellent team. I do know pastors, however, that have to help on a larger role in facility maintenance or custodial care.

Arbitrator. I’ve stood between a few people before trying to work through division and build cooperation. It could be in a marriage or I have even been between business partners in the church. People often want a third-party objective and many times they look to the pastor for that role.

Social worker. I read a definition of social worker recently. Seeks to improve the quality of life and subjective well-being of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, crisis intervention, and teaching. Yea. That.

Volunteer coordinator. Every pastor must learn how to coordinate the efforts of different people, who communicate uniquely, and have their expectations of volunteer leadership.

Events manager. I need to be honest. I don’t fill this one often, although I do have some responsibilities with events. I am no good at the details of it and thankfully there are people in our church who can fulfill this role better than me. But, most pastors, including me, have responsibility for events at some level.

CEO. Let me be very clear that Jesus is the CEO of the church. (Some may argue Jesus is the owner and He left us to provide everyday leadership — under His direction.) If I get critics on this one criticism it will be because you misunderstand what I’m saying. Maybe on my ability to say it where you can interpret it. But make no mistake about it – the pastor is expected to lead so many aspects of the church. On every major decision of the church most churches want the input of the pastor. Regardless of the structure of the church it can feel very much like a CEO position. (And, I’ve been one in my previous business career.) This is one of the larger uses of my “non-preaching” time. By the way, I have talked with dozens of pastors who don’t feel prepared for this role.

Fundraiser. Ministry takes money. And, most of the church looks to the pastor to be the primary solicitor of contributions. (Honestly, it’s a huge burden to most pastors and one they don’t feel comfortable doing.)

Recruiter. No church can function without volunteers or leaders. Most pastors are consistently looking for new people to get involved and lead ministries of the church. And the search for volunteers is a continuous effort.

Trainer. Pastors consistently help people learn how to do something. Whether it involves life skills or how to function within a ministry of the church, one of a pastor’s primary goals is to help people improve in areas of their life.

Scholar. I’m not the smartest person in our church. But, at the same time, the church has a certain level of expectation regarding my understanding of history, the Bible, and current events — locally and around the world. Most expect the pastor is to be well-spoken and well-read.

Writer. I estimate I average five to seven writing assignments a week beside my message and my blog. Bulletin articles. Church-wide emails. Letters of recommendations.

Manager. Every pastor manages someone — even if they are volunteers. In fact, volunteer management may actually be more difficult.

Public relations. This part of a pastor’s role is increasing daily. The days when a Sunday announcement or bulletin announcement would get the word out to the church are gone. With so many mediums to communicate and people’s divided attention among them — not to mention the frequency of attendance for many in the church — communicating to people has become a huge challenge for pastors.

There’s my list. I’m sure there are others. And, it’s a labor of love — certainly of calling — for most pastors I know, but it requires more than preaching.

And, I didn’t even mention politician. :)

Granted, the size of the church will often determine the amount of time spent on anyone of these. But, except in exceptionally larger churches, the pastor wears multiple hats. Certainly more than a Sunday job. And, many pastors, myself for one, spend up to half or two-thirds of our week preparing for Sunday.

It should also be noted (and this is an edited addition resulting from a comment) — the pastor shouldn’t do ALL of this. I spend much of my energies helping pastors learn to be better leaders which ultimately means learning to delegate. I believe in the Acts 6 and Jethro models of pastoral leadership. 

Thankfully, I serve in a church where most of these tasks are primarily assigned to other staff members for direct oversight. I actually had other pastors in mind when I wrote this more than myself. But, in all of these roles, at some level, in most churches they are under the pastor’s purview. If there is a need for or problem with one of them the pastor will be looked to ensure it is addressed. Therefore, whether or not the pastor does all of these personally, there is a level of responsibility. To ignore this and point to an “ideal” job description of a pastor would be naive, in my opinion. 
One final thought, considering these roles, imagine how that plays out for bi-vocational pastors. Say an extra prayer for those pastors.

Pastors, any other roles we serve?

Five Mistakes Pastors Frequently Make With Finances


I came into ministry after a long business career, so I’m sometimes considered unique in my involvement or interest in our church finances. I work closely with our Business Administrator and finance committee on the budget and administration of our church finances.

I have been known to negotiate contracts, meet with bankers and I can intelligently analyze financial statements. I understand the business side of the church. It comes natural for me.

Working with different churches over the years, I’ve seen lots of approaches by pastors in this area of finances. Some are completely hands-on, while others run from the issue completely. It’s helped me form some thoughts around the topic; specifically some mistakes I think we can avoid.

Here are the top 5 mistakes pastors make regarding money:

Not knowing anything. The pastor doesn’t have to be business-minded. He can surround himself with wise counsel, but the pastor needs some basic knowledge in order to lead the church effectively. Learn to read the financial documents of the church. Get some basic training in financial terms so you can lead people well. Especially in today’s world of speculation and trust issues, those who give to a church want to know that leadership has a handle on the finances of the church before they are willing to invest in the mission.

Handling too much. The pastor never, ever, ever needs to be the sole person to handle money. I’m careful even when someone hands me a check in the hall. I quickly find someone on our finance committee or our Business Administrator. I would never want to sign checks. As pastors, we have to remain “above reproach” and that’s especially true in this area of finances. For appearances, but also to guard our own heart. Temptation is huge for all of us in the area of money.

Being Controlling. When the pastor is the only one who decides how the budget of the church is going to be spent a few problems occurs. First, great ideas are left off the table. Collaboration is the best approach to most decisions, but especially spending someone else’s (God’s) money. Second, the pastor becomes too powerful. Money is power. In the business world and the church world. The pastor doesn’t need that load of responsibility on his own. Finally, eventually people begin to mistrust the system, the pastor, and even the church. The pastor will make some decision no one agrees with and the troubles begin. Beware. Invite trusted people into the process.

Not asking for money. If the church is going to disciple people, it can’t avoid the subject of money. This isn’t even as much about funding the ministry. God can take care of that. If you’re following His will on what you do, He can fund it. But, this is about leading people to be disciples. And as we know, God doesn’t fully have a person’s heart until He has control of their finances. Pastors, we have to teach this to our people.

Not being transparent. Tell everything. You don’t have to share details that people don’t care about, but there shouldn’t be any secrets when people ask. And, keeping people abreast of the general financial welfare of the church is critical. I heard from a church recently that is in serious financial difficulty, but no one in the church except the pastor and bookkeeper even knew. When it was found out, there was obvious repercussions—anger, frustration, hurt. Those emotions can usually be avoided if people know in advance where you stand.

Money is a big issue for all churches—for all of us. Which is surely why the Bible addresses it so often. As pastors, we must diligently lead our churches wisely in this important matter of Kingdom ministry.

(I previously wrote this post for Lifeway.com Pastors Today blog.)

51 Things I’ve Learned in 51 Years

Old books on the table

I continue to learn. I hit 51 years of age this year and one thing that’s become apparent over the last couple years is how much more I still have to learn.

And, yet, along the way, I have moved into a unique opportunity. It’s almost scary at times. People are looking to me for advice. They think I have something to share. Wow! Just when I realize I don’t really know anything, people think I know some things.

So, I culled together some of my learnings.

Here are 51 things I’ve learned in 51 years:

  1. There is no substitute for experience.
  2. You can’t lead people where they don’t want to go.
  3. No one will be as concerned about protecting your time as much as you.
  4. A “lesson in humility” teaches far more than an “ego boost”.
  5. Often what I don’t want to do is the very thing I need to do most.
  6. The best friends sometimes say the hardest — but most needed — things to hear.
  7. People are more honest with you if they can predict your reaction.
  8. We hurt most the ones we love the most.
  9. Very few people can really comply with “don’t tell anyone”.
  10. If someone goes to bed angry they wake up angrier.
  11. You never get a second chance at a first impression.
  12. God could not and would not ever send you beyond His abilities.
  13. Rebuilding trust is more difficult than keeping established trust.
  14. If you have to impress a friend they aren’t much of a friend.
  15. “Just once” is almost always a bigger deal than led to believe.
  16. Don’t be defined by a past you don’t intend to repeat.
  17. Never let an inability to understand keep you from an ability to respond in obedience to God by faith.
  18. Hard times come naturally in life. We must determine early to use them for God’s glory, to develop personally and to help others.
  19. You can pray. You can worry. You can’t do both at the same time.
  20. When you quit trying to be like someone else you have a better chance of being who God designed you to be.
  21. There is wisdom with age. Always be willing to learn from those who have lived and experienced more of life.
  22. The longer you wait to forgive someone the longer it takes to heal your heart.
  23. Don’t miss what matters most by worrying about what doesn’t.
  24. More success in the world does not automatically bring more happiness, but more success with the things that matter most does.
  25. Having wisdom doesn’t mean you made all the right choices. It just means you learned from the choices you made.
  26. Just because your momma laughs, doesn’t mean it’s funny.
  27. Never waste an idea. Always have something nearby to write it down.
  28. You can’t ignore one life principle by trying to live another
  29. Don’t stop doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is receiving more celebration. That party won’t last.
  30. A sweater may be old and ugly now, but one day everyone will want one just like it.
  31. Often one’s perception is determined by his or her experiences — good or bad.
  32. Habits form quickly.
  33. You can have tons of “friends” until there is trouble in your life — then you’ll discover some real friends.
  34. Big dreams rarely make it past our mind unless someone risks the chance that they could fail.
  35. The little things we do often have more value than the big things.
  36. Character is shaped by how we respond to life’s difficulties and life’s victories.
  37. Genuine love is far more choice than it is emotion.
  38. Recovery is often just on the other side of surrender.
  39. People are the greatest investments.
  40. Emotions should never be the sole indicator of decision-making.
  41. Your reaction determines their reaction.
  42. Never mistake the silence of God as the absence of God.
  43. Everyone receives motivation through affirmation.
  44. Seldom will you be 100% certain of a decision.
  45. Solicited applause are seldom genuine.
  46. The best opportunities seldom come wrapped neatly in a package with a bow on top. They usually come with work. Get your hands dirty work.
  47. The best leaders are often the ones smart enough to get out of the way of smarter people.
  48. Integrity does the right thing, regardless of whether it brings popularity.
  49. Some of your greatest achievements will be what you inspired others to do.
  50. If God is stretching you, it may be uncomfortable for a while, perhaps even hurt, but eventually you’ll love the new shape.
  51. Always learning something new keeps your mind young and you’ll have less resistance to change.

7 Ways to Lead Younger People

Smiling Asian businesswoman doing a presentation

If you want to reach the next generation then you have recruit and develop the next generation. They need your wisdom, knowledge and experience.

How you lead them, however, may challenge how you’ve ever led before.

Here are 7 ways to lead younger people:

Give them the freedom to experiment. Even when you may not agree with the idea — let them try. They may need to experience failure in order to experience their next success. That’s likely how you learned. 

Give them opportunities to grow. And help them see how they see fit in the organization’s continued growth. They want upward mobility. 

Realize the generational differences. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. They affect how we relate to people, change, and technology. Be honest when you don’t understand something they do. Ask questions. Learn from them. 

Allow flexibility. Don’t let structure control how people complete their work — allow individuality. Newer generations, for example, aren’t as tied to an office as other generations. Let them figure out their how — and often where — of work progress.

Limit generational stereotypes. The younger generation does value your wisdom. They want it. But, they are less likely to be excited about gleaning from us if we always start with “When I was your age…” In fact, avoid continually reminding them how young they are or appear.

Value their opinions. The most successful changes being made today come from this generation. Don’t dismiss their input because you don’t feel they have enough experience. They aren’t limited usually to all the reasons you think something won’t work. And, it just might this time. 

Give them a seat at the table of leadership. This is difficult for some older leaders, because you often gained your position through years of hard work. You may not feel they’ve completely “earned” it. But, younger generations want leadership opportunities now. 

To lead younger generations the bottom line is to help them achieve their goals and ideas far more than you put a damper on them. Be a people builder. 
Anything you would add?

7 Ways to Respond to an Overly-Negative, Complaining Bully

Grumpy, pissed off, unhappy old man

How’s that for a title?

After I finished talking to a group of pastors recently, a pastor approached me and asked a question. He asked, “What do you do when there is one person who is always trying to disrupt what you are doing? He is never satisfied with anything I do and he incites people against me. I know he’s going to complain about something every time I see him or his name comes up in my inbox. Honesty, I think he’s the one obstacle in us being all we could be as a church. He’s like an 8th grade bully who never grew out of it.”


That’s a paraphrase– but it’s a true story.

And you’re shocked. You’ve never heard anything like it before – right?

It’s certainly never happened to you. Correct?

Of course it has!

In my experience, most churches have one of these type people – – or more.

They remind me of reading 1 Samuel 17 and the introduction of the giant Goliath. These people are intimidating, disruptive, and, if we’re honest, frightening at times.

I need to say that I don’t believe these type people are as big an obstacle as we make them out to be in our mind. We allow them to intimidate us that way. And, they usually know it which is often part of their objective. 

Thankfully, the ruddy shepherd boy David was willing to call the bluff. 

But, how should we respond?

Here are 7 ways to respond to an overly negative complaining bully:

Understand their pain. I have usually found there is a story behind most of these type people. They have been injured at some point. Perhaps they feel the church let them down when they needed it most. Maybe they have had a hard time forgiving. They may have an injury in their personal life that hasn’t healed. They unfairly hold that injury against everyone else. Get to know them. Hear their story. Attempt to place yourself in their shoes. Sometimes God may use you to help the healing process. Understanding always helps you be better prepared to respond.

Pray for them. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44). I find I see people in a different way when I pray for them. When I worry about approaching them, what they’re saying about me, or the impact they are having I never seem to impact the situation in a positive way. Prayer works. If it doesn’t change them — it always changes me.

Love them. Smother them with love. Genuine love. They likely need it. (And, aren’t we commanded to do so?) You don’t have to love their actions, but we are called to love. And, the only way I know to do this is to love God first. If I can’t love the unloveable I always know it’s an indication of the quality of my love of God. Always.

Speak truth. Don’t say what they want to hear if it’s not true. Be honest with them. Chances are good that half-truths were a part of their history — causing them to be the way they are today. Be transparent and authentic with them. Be kind always — but don’t sugarcoat. I have learned that some of these type people are waiting until you push back. They’ll likely push you with bully tactics until you do. Stand firm.

Don’t let them dictate your actions. When you give into a strong-minded, complainer-type person it never goes away. You’ll lock yourself in to being dictated by their negativity and complaints. You’ll only find more complainers. Or, they’ll find you. Because they know you’ll yield with the right (or wrong) amount of pressure.

Remember your calling. Really negative people can sometimes make you feel like you are doing no good. It’s almost never true. This is a good reason to keep an encouragement file from past notes or emails you receive from people who appreciate your work. Go back and review some of them. Think about your past success — and how God has and is using you. You were called to something. Seek your affirmation among the people God called you to minister to. Your calling probably wasn’t to the select agenda of a negative few. When complaints are at their highest — remember why are doing what you’re doing. You have a purpose. You have a passion. Renew it.

Confront when necessary. It should be rare, but there are times you need to confront the one who is continually responding in an unbiblical way — in a very direct and firm, but still loving way. You need to call them on their sin. My Bible says to do everything without complaining. There are healthy ways to do conflict. We are to be kind to one another. Some people need help learning these truths just as others need help learning to tithe. It’s part of discipleship. Practice the Matthew 18 model of confrontation. Don’t talk about them. Talk to them. Confront them about the way they are responding to you and ultimately to life. The crazy thing is they may not even know the damage they are causing. 

Do you have any people like this in your church? Amy suggestions?

7 Habits of a Successful Leader

Senior leader

I’m a student of leadership. I am consistently talking to, interviewing, and learning from leaders I believe have been successful — regardless of their vocational field. If they have honorable intentions (which I believe is necessary to be considered successful anyway), then I can learn from them.

I’ve observed a few common habits that successful leaders have that may, in my opinion, separate them from less successful leaders. I’m not sure you can eliminate any of them completely. Just a theory — I don’t know if I know any leaders I’d consider successful — or who I’d want to learn from — who would have at least 5 or more, of these habits.

Here are 7 habits of successful leaders:

Prioritizing each day – Everyday we are flooded with opportunities. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are best. You often won’t know until you try on some of them, but successful leaders strive everyday to identify and do that which is the best use of their time. That means they learn to say “no” often.

Yielding to experience – Successful leaders know they must seek the input from others for continued success. There will always be someone with more experience in a subject. Many times that person will be someone the leader is supposed to be leading. Successful leaders surround themselves with people smarter they they are — especially in areas of their weaknesses. They are never afraid to ask, “Can you help me?” Pretending to have all the answers can destroy a leader. When a leader is willing to humble him or herself and solicit input, the team feels validated and the best answer is discovered.

Networking – Iron sharpens iron. The most successful leaders I know have a network of other successful leaders around them. They glean from each other, share war stories and help each other when needed. The sheltered leader will seldom reach his or her full potential. I’ve observed the best leaders I know having people they trust to whom they can call quickly and seek input.

Continuous learning – Successful leaders are sponges for new information. They are continually reading, taking notes, and exploring different ways of doing things. They aren’t afraid to take a risk on something new.

Maintaining health – Successful leaders learn to balance the demands on them by remaining healthy physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally — as much as it depends on them. No one can escape sudden tragedy or the trials of life, but successful leaders weather those storms by being as prepared as possible before they arrive. That requires discipline. To eat — at least — moderately well. To exercise. To rest. To pray.

Willing to make hard decisions – Successful leaders don’t allow fear, intimidation or friendship to keep them from making the right decisions for the organization they lead. Leading doesn’t always make a person popular, but successful leaders care more about the greater purpose than their personal advancement. They have courage.

Commitment to a higher purpose – Successful leaders are striving for something bigger than themselves — bigger than the reality of today. For me personally, this is my passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but successful leaders are willing to endure the loneliness of leadership, the stress of leading, and the pressure to perform at higher levels, because they believe in something worth the fight.

Those are my observations.

What would you add?

4 Ways to Get a Grip on Email

man laptop

This is a guest post by Jonathan Pearson:

Email. It’s a necessary evil.

Well, it’s not always evil, it can actually provide some great opportunities to communicate with people that we may not have any other way to communicate with. It saves us from having lengthy meetings and it helps us send quick messages to anyone around the world.


As I talk to people, leaders especially, it seems like almost everyone is overwhelmed by it.

I don’t have all the answers and many of you reading this get FAR more email than I do, but I have managed over the last year or so to get to inbox zero virtually everyday. It can be done. You don’t have to drown in the deep end of email.

Here are 4 ways to finally get control of that necessary evil in your life.

Schedule time for email.

This is one you may have heard, but it’s important. Don’t leave that email app open all day. Have certain times throughout the day, usually 2, that you respond to email. That allows you to respond within the same day twice if necessary. Sure, you may have to send more throughout the day, but open up your email client, hit send, and then shut it down. This keeps email from dominating your day and prevents you from being a slave to the “ding” of new email arriving in your inbox.

Never leave anything in your inbox

Don’t just read an email and leave it where you found it. If you do, every time you come back to your email, you’ll have to process that same email… even if it’s just in your mind. Use a tool like Dispatch (iOS), Airmail (Mac), or any of a host of other clients that let you perform actions on your email. Send them to your task list, answer them, send them to evernote, just don’t leave them in your inbox.

Push work emails to only 1 spot

Ever get to the point where you here that notification on your phone or see that notification bubble count up and get a bad churning in your stomach? If you’re a pastor, your thought is probably something like, “Oh no, what happened and where do I need to be.” To keep you from this, only have your work emails pushed to one device (other than your main computer). For me, this is my iPad. The way I see it, if it’s that urgent, they’ll call or text me. This is extremely helpful on the weekends!

Be cordial but be short

I don’t know where it happened, but it must have some how become acceptable to either ignore an email or just send a snappy response back. Should you keep your responses short as you’re sorting out your inbox? Sure. Never, though, underestimate them importance of being cordial. Just leave with a “Thank You!” or a “Hope you have a good day” message. Be cordial, but be short.

What other email tips do you have?

Productivity is a passion of mine because a the impact of our ministry is easily multiplied when we learn to work efficiently and effectively. That’s why I released The Productive Pastor: A Guide to Getting More of the Right Stuff Done to help pastors discover a better path. Go to theproductivepastor.com for more information.

Ten Things to Know Before Pursuing a New Life Calling


This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen:

It’s time. Or at least you think it might be. You’ve been sensing a struggle within for awhile, but you’ve kept it to yourself.  You’ve felt a restlessness, a sense that you should be pursuing a new life calling, something more in line with your God-given gifts — but you’re scared to step out without knowing how it will all turn out.

You may be sensing a new calling to get into the pastoral ministry, to get out of the pastoral ministry, to start a church, to start a business, to switch careers, or to revisit a calling left dormant for far too long.

That was my story. Not many years ago, I found myself deep in ministry as the leader of a thriving Christian school. And yet I sensed a restlessness within, an awareness that I had quietly begun to drift into simply existing. I’d allowed God-given writing gifts to lie dormant. And I knew a drifting leader was not what the school needed.

In what was one of the most challenging decisions of my life, I let go of the school and stepped out to pursue a new life calling as a writer, a Kingdom catalyst determined to live a story worth telling where it matters most. My journey, the journeys of others I encountered with similar stories, and the practical faith-stretching lessons learned from it form the framework for my new book A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life.

There are different ways to live with radical faith. Some can look pretty normal on the outside. Most don’t involve relocating your entire family, or even changing careers. But when your God-given dreams do require you to step out in a significant, life-changing way, here are some lessons I learned from having gone through the process of stepping out before I knew how it would all turn out.

What You Need to Know Before You Go

1. You do not have as much help as you think you do. If you’re expecting people to respond as if in a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life, think again. Sure, family and friends will help as they are able. But most people have lives and pressing issues of their own.

2. You have more help than you think you do. Instead of expecting other people to come through, expect God to show up as you learn to trust Him in ways you never imagined possible. Only when we had no other choice but to trust God did we realize we should have been trusting Him more fully in the first place.

3. You do not have the faith you think you do. But don’t let that stop you. You will grow it along the way. When we place great faith in our great God, we pull back the curtains to reveal more of his majesty. And that just makes us want to trust Him more — so we can take one more step. The test of your faith is what it takes to stop you.

4. Not everyone will understand what you are doing. In fact, a lot of people aren’t going to get it. And that’s OK. The truth is that when you step out to live an authentic life, one that is true to what you believe about your God-given gifts, you will scare some people. I saw it in their eyes when they congratulated me for making the move and stepping out into the unknown while praying it never happened to them. To minimize discouragement, only go public when you know you’re going to follow through.

5. Someone understands and supports what you are doing. You’ll want to find that person early in the process. I enlisted a life coach as I began the transition. As your life situation shifts, you may not have ready access to advisors you regularly lean on. It is critical that you find someone you can trust who shares your faith and who will speak the truth in love to you along the way.

6. You’ll need encouraging success stories. You’ll find plenty of negative thinking out there, in addition to the thoughts you’ll have on your own. One of the most encouraging things for my wife was to learn of other FaithWalkers who had already emerged on the other side of significant life transitions. She found great comfort in Biblical stories, as well, such as those of Abraham and Sarah — ordinary people who lived memorable stories by walking with extraordinary faith.

7. You must make a habit of praying — hard. Don’t wait until a crisis arrives before cultivating a deeper prayer life. Henri Nouwen said, “Prayer is a great adventure because the God with whom we enter into a new relationship is greater than we are and defies all our calculations and predictions.” Share your concerns with God before sharing them with others.

8. You’ll need to repeat the previous step. Often. If you think you don’t have time to pray, that’s exactly when you know you should. It’s when we have no communion with God that we hear no calling from God.

9. You can expect to fail. You should also expect to get back up. We focus a lot on Peter’s failure to keep walking on the water in the midst of great uncertainty. But seldom do we consider how he got back into the boat. Matthew doesn’t tell us Jesus carried the soaking-wet disciple or magically transported him. The most likely answer? Peter walked. On water. Again.

10. Get a lot of counsel, but listen most closely to those who’ve actually done what you are thinking of doing. Seek out those who’ve been there, done that. These days, you can buy the t-shirt online. But scars only come from experience.

Bill Blankschaen is the author of A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life, just released from Abingdon Press. A writer, speaker, and content strategist, he blogs at Patheos on church and culture and at FaithWalkers.com where he helps Christians live an authentic life with abundant faith. Follow on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.