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Be A “C” Student

“The ‘C’ students run the world.” – President Harry S. Truman

The need for “C” students …

Effective ministry is a team activity. In order to leverage gifts and skills to advance God’s kingdom people need to work together as a team. You want to be part of a team of people with common passions and complimentary skills. When you start to think about being part of a team it is typical to consider what kind of teammates you want on the team with you. However, you may not be as quick to contemplate what kind of team member you want to be. The following is a list of traits that I want to embody (and that I look for in teammates):

1. Character

God places a premium on Christ-like character in selecting leaders [1Tim. 3, Titus 1, Gal. 5:22-23]. Be a person who reflects Christ-like character. While ability and dynamic personality tend to be attractive elements they are counter-productive for the kingdom if not bridled by character. Over time, you’ll discover that character is the most important qualification. If something makes you feel uneasy about another person’s character it is probably wise to be very slow to put them on your team.

 2. Commitment

You want to be the type of person that other people on the team know will be faithful to fulfill their responsibilities and commitments to the team. Christians are free to come and go as God leads them. Yet I want my reputation to be that I am committed to complete the work that I’ve taken on. The amount of energy needed to train team members and forge a healthy team dynamic encourage me to be committed and look for committed people in ministry (and life generally).

3. Consensus

Seek team members who generally share the same vision philosophy of ministry and doctrinal views as you. There will always be slight divergence regarding non-essential issues and variation in style or approach. However there needs to be consensus. If the team doesn’t understand the vision and agree with the vision then there will definitely be confusion and conflict among the team. Therefore for you to be able to establish consensus you need to know what you believe, why you believe it, where you are, and where you believe that God is leading. In essence you need to know your philosophy of ministry doctrine and vision. Then you can develop consensus.

4. Competency

Are you and other team members able to develop your gifts and use skills effectively? Develop your God-given skills to achieve greater competency and look for others who want to do the same. In other words can you do the work that is required today, and if God blesses the effort and the influence expands are you willing to develop greater capacity to continue to be competent? What is you present level of competency and what is your perceived future capacity?

5. Compatibility

We place a premium on the community experience and seek teammates who desire the same [Ac. 2:42-47]. You’re going to spend a lot of time serving and working together so it is best to find people you enjoy being with. No matter how talented someone is, if it feels like you’re banging your head against a wall being with him it’s probably not a good idea for him or her to be on your core team. Incompatibility may be unrelated to someone’s character. They may have great character but the personalities simply don’t mesh. Be the type of person that can be compatible with as many different kinds of people as possible, and then seek to develop team with others that are compatible with you.

 6. Compassion

Jesus trains His disciples to be compassionate people who care for the needs of other people [Mk. 6:34]. If you are talented but lack compassion you may experience some measure of success as the world defines it, but you will not be successful as the Lord desires and requires. Some leaders are very focused on achieving a task. That is a helpful trait in leaders, but if they don’t have genuine compassion for people then the task becomes the priority rather than the people who will benefit from the achieved task. So you need people on the team who care about people not just accomplishing a task.

7. Courage

Learn to take chances as led by God – steps of faith. Life and ministry require courage. Nevertheless, it can be very frightening, even for godly people to cross the Jordan and embark on a conquest of the Promised Land [Josh. 1:1-9]. People will fear: the challenges, failure, measuring up to another (leader), and letting go of the known in favor of the unknown. Develop your God-given courage by taking ventures of faith. Small steps of faith that are blessed by Christ encourage larger leaps of faith. There is a difference between courage and simply impulsive or adventurous behavior. Ventures of faith and courage are Spirit-prompted and glorify God. Be strong and of good courage and surround yourself with teammates who will also be courageous.

8. Calling

What are you called to? In different seasons of life and ministry you will discover different callings. Your calling will always be something that honors God (or it isn’t your calling), and will tend to maximize or leverage your gifts and abilities. Your calling is likely related to something that you are passionate about. What moves you to cry or to laugh? What keeps you up at night or causes you to wake early in the morning? As you experience life seek to discern what you are called to be and to do. You will never find satisfaction until you discover and fulfill your calling. Once you have a sense of what you are called to then find others with a common or complimentary calling.

Finally, avoid the temptation to try and manipulate people to join your team because you believe they will help your effort apart from a sense of confirmation from God that they too are called to the team.

President Truman famously remarked, “The ‘C’ students run the world.” In an ideal world, I’d suggest the “C” students advance the kingdom. So be a “C” student.

Pastor Bruce Zachary planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, CA and is the director of Calvary Church Planting Network. Many of his resources are available for free online, including Kingdom Leaders and theChurch Planting Manual. You can follow Pastor Bruce on Facebook and Twitter @BruceZachary.

Transition Thursday Part 3: Leadership Transition

Over the past few weeks I’ve been filling in for a pastor on sabbatical. I’m in Juneau, Alaska as part of a team of five pastors who’ve served this church (and their pastor) for the past several months. Each of us brings a different style and area of ministry focus.

It’s a healthy church body and my role is primarily working with discipleship and developing leaders. In my opinion, I’ve got the gravy job. Most of the nuts and bolts ministry work was done before I got here. So I’m thankful for my fellow Poimen Ministries pastors, including those serving in other places.

This third and final post, in a series on leadership transition, is a combination of questions and thoughts to help you look toward and plan for a good transition of leadership.

Leadership Transition—part 3

If you’ve followed along, this is the 3rd post related to the story of leadership transition from King Solomon to his son Rehoboam, as told in 2 Chronicles 10. If not, you might want to review the previous two posts in this series. The first is– The Importance of Passing the Baton Well, and the second is– Leadership Transition and the Value of a Team.

As with part 2, this will mostly be questions to consider, and these will focus more on the one coming into a leadership role or position. Although it can be looked at from a younger leader’s (pastor’s) perspective, there are good things to ponder for those of us who’ve been in leadership for quite a while.

Do you cast a shadow, or are you in the shadow?

A couple things to keep in mind…
It’s always tough to follow in the footsteps of a founding leader or pastor, especially if they were a very charismatic personality type of leader, who is popular and well-liked. It is especially difficult when they remain nearby—it’s hard to get out from under their shadow.
Can you imagine what it was like to follow someone like Solomon? Solomon did very well, but his dad (King David) set things up very well for him. That favor was not returned for Rehoboam—a lesson to be learned!
Some questions and thoughts to consider:
  • If you’re a founding leader or pastor– What are you doing now to provide for a smooth transition for whoever will follow you?

We have the example of King David setting things up for Solomon, but we also have Jesus.

Once Jesus began His public ministry, He started grooming those who would become the leaders of the first church. He chose twelve men and trained them through teaching, example, and delegation. He told them and showed them, then sent them out.
I over-simplified Jesus’ training process, but a more thorough look at it can be found in many good books. One I always recommend is the classic, “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman.

And don’t forget the apostle Paul, who wrote most of the epistles of the New Testament, especially those called the Pastoral Epistles—1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Paul has much to say about discipling and raising up leaders!

  • If you’re a new leader or pastor– What model of leadership are you following? That of Jesus, or someone you’re trying to emulate?

I served as a missionary and pastor in the Philippines for fifteen years. Another pastor and I served as interim pastors at a local church, and my friend recruited a young Filipino pastor to serve at our church. I had the opportunity to help this young pastor get settled as the new senior pastor.

He was discipled well by another American missionary-pastor, so he was equipped to teach and he also led worship. But, I encouraged him to develop his own vision for the church, and with his own style of leading.

His mentor had a strong personality, so I was concerned the younger pastor would tend to emulate him. He followed that advice and developed into a strong pastoral leader and teacher. He is also committed to discipling other leaders within the church.

  • Are you following a founding pastor? If so, what are you doing to help the people of the organization or church adjust to a different leadership style and personality?
    • Are you starting out fresh with a new vision and direction?
    • What are you bringing along with you as a leader from your own experience, good or bad?

King David had a vision for the Kingdom of Israel while he was king, and saw beyond his own reign. Because of his passion for God he wanted to build a temple, but this was not God’s plan. So King David set things in place for the temple to be built by his son, as well as the transition of leadership (see 1 Chronicles 22).

  • Has God given you a fresh vision for leadership?
    • Can you articulate this vision clearly so others can see it with you?
    • Has God revealed His plan for how this vision is to be implemented and fulfilled?
    • Have you sought out counsel from more experienced leaders?
  • Or…
    • Are you moving forward with your own ideas as it seems best to you?
    • Are your plans based on borrowed ideas from someone who’s “successful”?

Some final thoughts

A leadership book I’ve found very helpful over the years is, “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make,” by Hans Finzel. I like it because it’s based on real experience, it’s concise and practical, and provides clear direction for how not to make these same mistakes. It is well worth the read.

Hopefully, along the path of leadership, we can learn how to make good transitions, so others may follow well. If you want the top 10 ways to lead, observe the master leader, Jesus! No one can improve on His methods, nor match His example.

With Trip Kimball’s permission this is a repost from his blog, Word-Strong. Along with his family, Trip planted a Calvary Chapel in 1978 and in 1990 took them to the Philippines as missionaries. There in Asia he was used by God to not only establish Rainbow Village for abandoned babies, but serve in equipping hundreds of national pastors and church planters. Currently Trip serves from his Florida home as a mentor with CCPN, as an integral part of Poimen Ministries and continues to equip leaders in the States as well as in missionary settings.

Transition Thursday Pt 2: Leadership Transition and the Importance of a Team

What does good leadership transition look like? Should it be on a grand scale and made with great promises? How long should it take, and what’s the secret to a successful transition?

Last week I started a three-part series on leadership transition, using the illustration of passing the baton in a relay race. A relay race is composed of teams of four runners who must be quick, strategic, and smooth in running, pacing the handoff of the baton, and the handoff itself.

One critical element is often overlooked in our age of super-stardom. The four runners must work together as a team. No one runner is more important than the other. Each has a role to play. Yes, it’s great to get off to a good start, and have a strong kick at the finish. But, it’s also vital that the second and third runners gain, regain, or keep the lead, along with seamless handoffs so no precious seconds are lost.

Teamwork is critical for good transitions of leadership. But where and when does this teamwork start?

From great to not so great

Last installment (part 1) we looked at the story of Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles. It is a sad example of a transfer of leadership from one leader to another, from King Solomon to Rehoboam, his son. It can also illustrate a transition of leadership in most any organization, including a church.
One thing especially difficult is a transition from a founding pastor (or leader), to a younger, much less experienced leader, as in this story (2 Chronicles 10:1-19). “Filling the shoes” of someone who established the culture of a church (or organization) is very difficult, and is even more difficult under the shadow of the founder, if they stay within the organization or church.
Here are several questions that should help bring some healthy consideration towards a good leadership transition. Healthy leadership transition shouldn’t start as an afterthought, or in the last few months of a leader’s tenure, but needs to start early on. It should be embedded in the whole vision of the church or organization.
 
Self-accountability questions for leaders—
1) How is your relationship with the Lord? Are you going through a spiritual growth period or adry spell? Are your devotional times with the Lord somewhat hum-drum or are you experiencing some special times as well?
2) Who are you discipling? Are you investing any of your life and walk with the Lord in someone else? How are you transferring any of what the Lord has done in your life to bless others?
3) Who are you training up for positions of leadership? Who is able to take your place if you’re called to do something different someday? Will what you are doing outlast or survive your involvement and presence?
4) Are you accountable to anyone? Who? Do they know this? Do you make regular time to be held accountable? If not, who can you go to when you need guidance, help, or restoration?
5) What vision do you have for ministry now and the future? Do you have a sense of vision for the ministry you’re involved with now? Do you have vision for other ministry beyond what you’re doing now?

Now rather than later

That’s a bunch of questions all at one time, but these are not to be answered once and set aside. They should be looked at and considered from time to time within a given year—maybe 2 or 3 times a year.
Discipleship will naturally produce leaders. It worked well for Jesus, and it still works. It’s just a slow and deliberate process, which is why now is the best time to start doing it! Keep it simple, personal, and deliberate. It will spawn good spiritual growth for the discipler, as well as the one discipled.

Looking ahead

In the next installment I’d like to address some questions for younger leaders. But even young leaders can benefit from the above questions. If Rehoboam followed the advice of the team of advisors to his father (King Solomon), it would be a very different story. But he didn’t.

Trusted and proven advisors are a valuable asset to young leaders, any leaders for that matter. New and young leaders can bring fresh vision and energy to the table, but not know how to get things started or how to implement the vision.

Next week, we’ll look at a few ideas to prepare for leadership transition long before it needs to happen.
What is your experience with discipleship?
 
Are you investing any of your life and walk with the Lord in someone else?
 
Who are you training up for positions of leadership?
 

What vision do you have for ministry now and the future?

 

With Trip Kimball’s permission this is a repost from his blog, Word-Strong. Along with his family, Trip planted a Calvary Chapel in 1978 and in 1990 took them to the Philippines as missionaries. There in Asia he was used by God to not only establish Rainbow Village for abandoned babies, but serve in equipping hundreds of national pastors and church planters. Currently Trip serves from his Florida home as a mentor with CCPN, as an integral part of Poimen Ministries and continues to equip leaders in the States as well as in missionary settings.

Conception & Birth

It was mid July in Louisiana when I began coming to terms with planting Vestige Church. My wife called me to the bathroom, waving a home pregnancy test, the look on her face was one of both excitement and fear. She wasn’t the only one that had mixed emotions at the conception of our second son. I was totally ready to be a dad again, but the uncanny timing of Vestige Church’s conception simultaneous to this new baby, had me searching for roots, not the uncertainty of planting a church.

When Lisa was pregnant with our boys, I came to a point where the excitement of their arrival, gave way to the weight of being their daddy. I could describe the calling to plant a church the same way. Initially, you’re full of hope, excitement, love, and anticipation, but concern, doubt, and worry creep in as well. Seeing the little blob on the ultrasound screen for the first time, was like the first meeting Vestige had with fourteen people at a Starbucks. As I gazed at that blob, I wondered how God could create something so beautiful- and that He would use me to do it! I felt the same awe and gratitude when it came to planting Vestige. But in babies and churches, conceiving is the fun part. Each week produces up, downs, and sometimes a sort of gravity-defying combination.

As we got closer to our baby boy’s arrival, I felt something I never expected to feel: loneliness. After my role as assistant pastor for several years, loneliness was something I felt inoculated to. It was like my calling had pushed me to the precipice of some mountain, and I was left feeling uncertain, flapping in the wind. One of my church planting coaches reminded me of when God told Habakkuk to “write the vision…and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” So I began writing –in blogs, in a personal journal, and a plan for Vestige for the days ahead. God used the faithful men in my life, to direct the overabundance of emotion and passion I had (and still sometimes have!), to a task that would begin to bring clarity to the vision God had given us. The more I wrote, the more God gave me focus and certainty in the midst of uncertainty.

With a renewed clarity of vision, we packed up our home, sold it, and moved to city my heart had long since been residing in. A group of about fifteen people helped us unload all our belongings into our new home, which was in complete darkness because the electric company couldn’t get the power turned on in time. We spent the next three nights in a hotel room with our five month old and six year old. The funny thing was, we loved it. It was crazy hard, but we were here.

If you have kids, then you know the way you sometimes convince yourself that after the birth of your baby, it’s going to be better than the pregnancy was. Then you discover that once your baby is able to use the lungs God gave it, you have a whole new set of challenges, not the least of which is sleep. Well, I thought once we moved to Monroe, God would take it by storm. He didn’t. For the first few months, we felt pressed to pray and wait on God to show up and do His part,  feeling we had done ours.

While trying to survive being a new dad and a bivocational pastor, I realized I was just attempting to make it untill we got past the hard stuff, and got on to real parenthood and real ministry. Watching our baby grow, God clearly showed me we didn’t need to wait for either, they where all around us. Resolving to be what we already were, we adopted the phrase: “be the church”. It was no longer necessary for us to wait for more people, or less difficult circumstances, we just had to find tangible ways to be what God had already made us to be. We adopted a local school that was struggling in a bad area, and committed to praying for the staff and students, as well as blessing them with gifts and treats throughout the year. This has provided us a way of pouring  into our community as a group- being the hands and feet of Jesus together.

It was no longer necessary for us to wait for more people, or less difficult circumstances, we just had to find tangible ways to be what God had already made us to be.
January 2015 we launched Vestige Groups, our version of small groups. They’re the first thing we’ve done that we don’t plan to change. Seeing them take shape, is like watching the first walls of house being erected, or the green of a sapling break from the dirt. Our journey is nowhere near completion, and maybe we’re just waiting for the next hard thing. With our kids, it’s probably the pre-teen years and terrible twos, and with the church, God only knows. But for now, we take comfort in knowing God has our backs. He is building His Church, and He won’t fail.
Church planter and Pastor Caleb Tarr can be followed on Twitter, @PastorCalebTarr, and you can check out Vestige Church in Monroe, LA, online.