Beware of People-Pleasing

My good friend, Charles Stone, has written about one of the hidden temptations of leadership: the tendency to people-please. I know that I fought this as a pastor and continue to fight it as a leader today. On the one hand, your job is to love and serve God's people. This means putting aside preference and living in community with people with whom you disagree, people different than you. And at the same time, you wear a title and carry responsibility before God. So you must lead and lead well. Charles is a thoughtful writer. His book, 7 Ministry Killers was one of the best books on leadership I've ever read. And he's back with a new one, People-Pleasing Pastors. Here is one of the questions I asked him: The job of a pastor, by nature, is to bring people together, to lead a diverse group of volunteers and staff. So how does the...

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Equipping Students with the Tools of Leadership

Last year Angela and I were enjoying some downtime in Orlando Florida. The hotel we were staying at was also hosting a student leadership conference hosted by Student Leadership University. We had the chance to speak to the organizers there and came away impressed by their vision for student discipleship. Last week I had the chance to interview the president and founder of SLU, Jay Strack, for my weekly Leadership Journal blog. Here's a portion of that interview: It seems we speak a lot to young people about following Christ, but don't often flesh out what that looks like specific to them and their unique calling. Why do you feel this is an important part of their development? At SLU we believe that 1 Corinthians 14:8 is spot on: "Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?" We attempt to put students in a...

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Thomas Kidd on Christians and History

Last week for Leadership Journal, I interviewed one of my favorite historians, Thomas Kidd. Kidd is professor of history at Baylor University, and the author of books including Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots. He is currently writing a biography of George Whitefield for Yale University Press. It was a fascinating discussion. Below is one of the questions I asked him. There is a temptation for evangelicals to either sanitize American history, or ignore it. But you call for a third way of knowing, understanding, and learning from our history. Yes. George Whitefield (the preeminent evangelist of the First Great Awakening and subject of my current book project) spoke of how Christians sometimes make a "pious fraud" out of the heroes of the past. We might be tempted to act as if the people we admire in the past were entirely sanctified saints who never made any mistakes. It is interesting that the Bible never adopts...

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Celebrating Sanctity of Human Life Sunday In Your Church

Sunday is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. If you are a pastor or church leader, I encourage you to celebrate this in your church. Here are a few resources you might consider: 1) Here's an oped I cowrote with my colleague Andrew Walker for Christianity Today. A snippet: As evangelicals who came of age during the culture wars, we're part of a generation ready to move past the pitched left-right debates. The critiques of Christian political activism have held some merit: A hyper-focus on elections, voter guides, and strategy has often buried the gospel story. Sometimes following Christ has strangely looked like following an elephant or a donkey. We need the hope, optimism, willingness of new generation of evangelicals to get dirty serving the poor, fighting for justice, and eschewing party labels. Their wide-eyed engagement has awakened new interest in bipartisan horrors such as human trafficking, environmental degradation, the orphan crisis, and child...

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