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Stepping stone? No!

I did not use Children’s Ministry for a stepping stone toward the Senior Pastorate. However, I can see over the past three years how God has been preparing my heart for the Senior Pastorate. I am eternally thankful for God directing my path toward where I am today - The Senior Pastorate.

Before I transitioned out of my previous church, a mentor who is also a former pastor told me, “The two most important things a pastor can focus on are: Prayer and the Ministry of the Word.” While I understand why he counseled me toward these two tasks and I believe they are Biblical (Acts 6:4), I would like to take time to narrow our focus down to one priority as leaders in ministry. Our priority is simply this:

The Glory of God

When God’s people were allowed to return and worship God after seventy years of exile, they returned to a temple that was in ruin. God’s people then started to lay the foundation (Ezra 3:10), but became discouraged by their adversaries. For sixteen years, God’s people became focused on other tasks: rebuilding their own homes, farming, work, food, and drink, while God’s House remained unfinished.

A prophet named Haggai is called by God to emphasize rebuilding the temple. In Haggai 1:7, God declares, “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified…”

The glory of God was the priority for God’s people. Rebuilding their own home, farming, eating food, earning wages were not sinful. When the priority shifted away from God’s glory, God rebuked the people and called them to ‘consider their ways’.

As leaders in ministry, we can be distracted with ministry and easily forget that our priority in ministry and in all of life is to glorify God. With the demands of leadership continually shifting and changing, it’s important that we daily refocus our priority in ministry. With this in mind, over the next three weeks, I will discuss three ways we can give glory to God as leaders in ministry.

  1. Prayer
  2. Self-Care
  3. Direction

Check back next week as I write about giving God glory in each of these aspects.
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Michael Altshuler, a Motivational Speaker and Trainer, once said, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” The goal of the pilot is to take passengers to their destination safely and on schedule. They know the course and prepare accordingly. Communication is important in order to let passengers know about the journey along the way.

A new year is swiftly approaching and as leaders, you are in the pilot’s seat in how productive you will be in 2019. In order to help you arrive at your destination (productivity), there are five key actions to take in 2019 to improve productivity.

1. Utilize a Voice Assistant - As Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and other voice assistants continue to become popular, it’s time to utilize them for more than simply asking ‘What is the weather today?’ or ‘How long will it take me to get to work?’ In 2019, utilize voice assistants for productivity around the office. For example, say ‘Hey Google, remind me to call Fred today at 2 P.M.’ You can also say, “Hey Siri, email Stacey and ask if she is available to meet on Thursday.’ From sending text messages to adding calendar appointments to shopping, begin utilizing your voice assistant in 2019 for productivity.  

2. Purchase a Full Focus Planner - Michael Hyatt and Company have developed an incredible planner for leaders to utilize for daily, monthly and quarterly planning. Each morning, leaders are to write down their daily big three goals for the day, along with their schedule and other tasks. There’s space for writing down your ideal week, annual goals and daily rituals all designed to keep your goals within your reach. Check it out here - https://fullfocusplanner.com

3. Utilize an Online Calendar - The smartphone culture has provided worldwide access at the tips of our fingers and if you are a leader who has not created an online calendar yet, now is the time. While there are many to choose from, Google Calendar has a simple and free calendar you can use to get started. Provide access to your calendar for your spouse and your Administrative Assistant at the office. It’s important to communicate your schedule to those close to you and an online calendar can provide that communication. In the event you want to use both a hard copy and electronic copy, Michael Hyatt has written an excellent article on how to use the Full Focus Planner and a digital calendar here - https://michaelhyatt.com/digital-analog-hybrid/

4. Stop Multitasking - Research has proven multitasking is ineffective (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking) so use 2019 as the opportunity to learn how to focus on one task at a time. When skipping back and forth to multiple tasks, you’re losing time and efficiency. Begin learning how to focus on one task at a time. It will take time adjust to this new routine, but it will certainly prove to be more productive for you in your area of leadership.

5. Begin Block Scheduling - In order to help keep you focused on one task at a time, block scheduling is the method to begin using in 2019. Simply prioritize what area of your work needs most attention or is most important and block a specific amount of time on your calendar (30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, etc.) and simply focus your energy and effort on that most important task. An example could be ‘I will work on this presentation from 9:00-10:00 A.M. on Thursday morning.’ So from 9:00-10:00, you are in your office or at the local coffee shop working on the presentation - not switching back and forth from the presentation to ministry calls. Ministry calls can take place at 10:01 A.M on Thursday morning, but from 9:00-10:00 A.M. you’re focused on the presentation. Sure, emergencies will always arise - you’re in ministry, you’re a leader; but when this happens, simply schedule another block of time for that one task.

​All leaders can improve in their productivity. Like the beginning of the article said - You’re the pilot - so take advantage of the resources and tools available and begin 2019 focused on improving your productivity. How do you plan to improve your productivity in 2019? Use the comment section below and discuss with others how you plan to improve your productivity in 2019.
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Over the past few weeks we have discussed paper calendars and online calendars. We’ve shared benefits and concerns of each method. Today, we’ll conclude by sharing the method we use and how it’s possible to blend the two options together.

Our Personal Preference - The preference for Leadership in Ministry is: Online Calendar. We use the Google Calendar and have separate calendars rolled up into one. We have an appointment calendar, family calendar, blogging calendar, and an Administrative Assistant Calendar. If the calendar becomes jumbled with all of the different calendars, we simply uncheck a calendar to improve the look of the calendar.

Regarding distractions, we simply schedule times throughout the day to check email and resist the urge to check an email at every notification. Also, the goal is to limit games on our electronic devices as they can often be a distraction. However, we understand there are emergencies that arise that require an instant response, but those are few and far between.

Overall, choosing an online or paper calendar depends on your personality and preference. Our recommendation is to try a few until you find what works for you. If you would like some assistance on what to choose, contact us using the contact page on our website.

Blending the Two - We have found a way to blend the two calendars. When you are planning long term and would like to see the ‘big picture’, a paper calendar is the best option. We typically print a yearly calendar and use that paper calendar to look long range. For the short term, like day to day tasks or weekly planning, we use the online calendar.

This concludes our discussion on calendars. We would love to hear your thoughts on the discussion from the past few weeks. What methods do you use in your calendaring? Do you have a system that works for you?
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Last week we began a discussion on effective calendaring and which method is most beneficial. We began by looking at the benefits and a concern of online calendaring. This week we will look at paper calendaring.



​Paper Calendars

We live in a day where ‘paperless’ is becoming a goal of many companies and churches. In one way, this is productive and organized. However, regarding a calendar, having paper may benefit you and your ministry. Here are two ways a paper calendar can be beneficial and one way a paper calendar can be an obstacle. 

Memorable - Research still proves writing down items can be beneficial in retaining information. (Link). Writing down an event, meeting or appointment can be helpful in keeping the calendar input at the forefront of your mind. This is also beneficial in keeping notes and recording important information. 

Customizable - There are many different paper calendars to choose from. You can choose which calendar fits your personality. For example:

Wall Hanging
Desktop Calendar
Pocket Size
Daily
Weekly
Monthly

​Michael Hyatt has an excellent planner that not only includes an appointment section, but also has a place to record goals as well. Check out this wonderful tool here - https://fullfocusplanner.com/

Bulky - The one concern we have with the paper calendar is we cannot carry it everywhere we go. Depending on the calendar you purchase, they can be bulky and can be misplaced easily. While it’s true, writing things down make it more memorable, it’s possible that many other things will cloud our memory and cause some confusion in the event a calendar is lost or forgotten.

Next week we’ll share with you our personal preference and how it’s possible to blend the two options together.

Share with readers what ways you see paper calendaring more beneficial than online calendaring. What ways do you see paper calendaring less beneficial?
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Have you ever been late to a meeting because you simply forgot about it? Have you scheduled an evening meeting at the same time your son has a basketball game?

In the next three posts, we’ll take a look at calendering and if you should utilize an online calendar or a paper calendar.

Online Calendars

We live in a day with instant access to social media, email, podcasts, books, bank account information and much more all on our smart phone device. Even while sitting behind the desk throughout the day, we easily have access information related to work or ministry. The same applies to online/electronic calendars. With an online calendar, you can access your schedule anywhere in the world and as long as you have internet access, your calendar can be updated in real time. Here are additional benefits on using an online calendar as well as a reason to not utilize an online calendar.

Shareability - Most online calendars have the capability to share your schedule/calendar with other people. You can create a Family Calendar, work calendar, blogging calendar, etc. and share that calendar with your Administrative Assistant, family or supervisor so those close to you are aware of your schedule.  

Accessibility - Whether you are at a conference, a trip overseas, or a training event, you can access your calendar. Also, most smart home devices have the capability to add an event to your calendar without even opening up your smartphone, simply by speaking to a device. Accessibility to online calendars are easier today than years past.

Reminders/Notifications - You can set most online calendars to remind you automatically of an event 10 minutes before the event. You can receive a daily email schedule of the events in your calendar. Reminders and notifications are great tools to use to keep you on track throughout the day.

Distractions - Finally, one reason to not use an online calendar would be how easily distracted a user can be. Email notifications, text messages, social media alerts, or websites can become distractions to the task at hand. If you fear you can become easily distracted or you have other reasons to not use an online calendar, then a paper calendar is the other alternative.

Share with readers what ways you see online calendering more beneficial than paper calendering? How do you see online calendaring less beneficial?

Next week, we will discuss paper calendering and explore how they are beneficial and if there are any concerns with using a paper calendar. 
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Bugs, Clowns, Snakes, Heights and Zombies are still outranked. They still cannot take over the #1 spot.

Americans still view Public Speaking as the #1 Fear.

Yet, no matter how long we try to avoid it, we’re still going to have to speak up at some point. Whether it is a staff meeting, the wedding of a friend, a school show and tell for your child or a report, we’re going to have to speak up in front of our family, friends and peers eventually.

Looking ahead, I want to give you 3 tips to help you overcome your fear of speaking.

  1. Preparation - Simply walking up to a podium with little or no notes is enough to make anyone anxious. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve out every word before you let it fall.” Before your next scheduled speech or meeting, do some research online, read some books and even try to talk to other people who may know about your subject you will soon be speaking about. Then, write these notes down either on postcards or type them out on a document. This may seem elementary, but I am still amazed at how many professionals simply ‘wing it’ when it comes to speaking in public.
  2. Rehearse - If you know your weekly staff meeting is within the hour, take five minutes and record some highlights you would like to add to the meeting. Then arrive ten minutes before the meeting begins and rehearse silently what you want to say and how you would say it. If you have an upcoming presentation, after your preparation, practice your presentation at least three times. Here are seven ways you can rehearse a speech (http://www.publicwords.com/2012/07/26/seven-ways-to-rehearse-a-speech/)
  3. Acceptance - Accept that it is okay to be fearful standing in front of other people. 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety (www.statisticbrain.com). And over three million Americans have a fear of crowded or public places (www.statisticbrain.com), so more than likely you’ll be speaking to a few people who are somewhat anxious of sitting in a room full of people listening to your presentation. While acceptance doesn’t take away the fear you have associated with public speaking, it can be a start in the preparation process.

No matter how many times you give a presentation in your life, you will have some anxiety associated with your public speech. But the key to all public speeches is preparation. How do you prepare for a public speech? Share with others your keys to giving a successful presentation in the comment section below.
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Church volunteers are truly on the front line of ministry. Many local church volunteers work a full time job, have a family life at home, are active within the community and still serve faithfully each week in the local church. The church places volunteers all over the church campus: Greeters, parking attendants, small group leaders, technology volunteers, nursery workers, elementary leaders, student ministry leaders and more.

Knowing each ministry volunteer has his or her own battles they encounter away from the ministry, it’s important that the local church leaders and ministers pray for their ministry volunteers.

Here are 10 ways you can pray for your ministry volunteers. Each point will be stated, then supported with Scripture. When you pray for your ministry volunteers, remember to pray over them using the Scripture referenced below.

Here are 10 ways you can pray for your ministry volunteers this week:

Health - John told Gaius that he prayed for his health. Third John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health…” Ask God for protection from sickness and healing for those who are in need.

Preparation Time - Peter reminds the church in First Peter 4:10, “...whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things GOd may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” May those who serve within your ministry serve with God’s strength so that He will be glorified.

Serving Time - Ask God to bless the actual time your ministry volunteers serve, as they interact with members and guests. Once again, Peter says in First Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Family - Appeal to God on behalf of your ministry volunteers and their family, asking God to bond them together. Like Cornelius in Acts 10:2, may this be said of your ministry volunteers and their family, “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household…”

Spiritual Life - With a busy schedule, often a daily quiet time with God is neglected. Ask God to bless your leaders with a strong personal devotion time. And as they read and pray in private, may their knowledge of God grow. Once again, Peter writes in Second Peter 1:2, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Social Life - Wherever your ministry volunteers spend their social time, ask God to bless them with opportunities to share the Gospel. Malachi 1:11 says, “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My Name will be great among the nations…”

Work - Ephesians 6:7 states, “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” Ask God to bless your ministry volunteers at their workplace with a spirit to work as unto the Lord.

Motivation - Why do your volunteers serve? This may be a good question to ask them on a Sunday morning or a midweek program. If you are afraid of how they may answer the question, pray for them and their motivation for serving. May their joy be found in Christ alone. Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

Growth in Leadership - Are your leaders growing? The work of the ministry is to actually equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Pray to God asking Him to grow their leadership in their ministry area. Ephesians 4:12 reads, “equip the saints for work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God…”

Special Requests - Finally, Interact with your ministry volunteers. Actually ask them how you can pray for them. This may sound like a simple task, but during the busyness of a Sunday morning or midweek program, too often ministers can be task focused rather than ministry focused. Paul said in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

The ministry volunteers are truly a gift to the church. They deserve our prayer and encouragement.

Are there any points I left off this list? What would you have added to the list? Write in the comments below ways you pray for your ministry volunteers.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.
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Have you ever spent Saturday evening preparing for a sermon? I’m not talking about a Saturday evening review or some final edits. I’m speaking about actual preparation for the sermon the next day.
Obviously there are circumstances that arise that require last minute changes. There are also situations where God leads your sermon/lesson preparation in another direction. What I am speaking about is last minute preparation because of calendar interruptions.

Someone drops by your office, a response to an email that takes much longer than expected, or a staff meeting lasts an extra thirty minutes. I know there have been some weeks that I have spent my Saturday evenings preparing for an upcoming lesson or sermon because my week was spent running around performing tasks that were unplanned.

One method to help better equip busy ministers is called ‘Time Blocking’. Instead of tasks, or the to-do list, you should schedule blocks of time on your calendar to work on your most important tasks. Successful business leaders use the time blocking method (http://time.com/4027015/business-success-habits/) and the book ‘The One Thing’ goes into detail on how to implement this method of task management (https://www.amazon.com/ONE-Thing-Surprisingly-Extraordinary-Results/dp/1885167776).


The first step in time blocking is to think about what is most important within your ministry. Once you prayerfully consider what’s most important, then you need to block off a section in your calendar in order to accomplish your one thing.

I’ve chosen these five topics as most important within the ministry. I am sure you may disagree with some of these, considering what role of ministry you are serving in. However, I always consider these important within my ministry.

Sermon Prep/Research Time


Prayer Time


Time for Visioning


Time for First Time Guest Follow Up


Recruiting Connections

So each day, I consider each of these five areas then block off at least one hour at least three of the above areas. Typically, I spent the first few hours in the office focused on three items. Once those items are finished, I begin answering emails, meeting with staff members and/or making phone calls.
As a result of time blocking, I have found more flexibility for ministry. And I always understand that emergencies can arise and may cause my calendar to become disrupted. However, most interruptions can wait because I have made an appointment with myself to make sure I am productive in what matters most within my ministry rather than staying busy attending to every single decision.

While this is simply an introduction to Time Blocking, I would like to ask you what are your top priorities for ministry? What do you block out chunks of time for on your daily agenda? Leave your comments below to create discussion with other ministers.
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168 Hours a week. As Ministry Leaders, we often think of ways we can maximize the 168 hours God has blessed us with and be more productive. However, 24 of these 168 hours should be spent resting your body, both physically, mentally and emotionally. While we are created in the image of God, we are not omnipotent. We need rest. Here are 5 ideas you can use when thinking about your next day off.

  1. Family/Friends - While Minister’s give 110% to the ministry, often family receives the ‘leftovers’. However, on your next day off, plan on eating all three meals together. Ask your spouse questions about the previous week. Play a board game with your children. If you do not have a family living close to you, spend time with a friend or two at a coffee shop or at a local restaurant. You were created for relationships, not for isolation.
  2. Go Outside - Throughout the week, Minister’s are caught behind the computer answering emails, researching sermon notes or editing the upcoming sermon. Walking to the car for visitation or a lunch appointment can be the only moments of fresh air Minister’s breathe. So on your next day off, spend at least 30 minutes outside. If it’s cold, bundle up. If it’s raining, grab the umbrella. Check out the benefits of spending time outside: Benefit of Walking in the Woods.
  3. Unplug - I need thee, Oh I need thee, every hour I need thee. No, I’m not talking about the hymn. I’m talking about how we often feel about our electronic devices. A recent study shows that ‘most people check their smartphones over 150 times a day (Hooked on our Smart Phones).’ I understand that the Minister is ‘always on call’, but even leaving your smartphone on the kitchen counter (with the volume turned up) can in a sense be ‘unplugged’ today. Put the electronic device down for a day.
  4. Use An Alarm to Wake Up - Many people try to ‘catch up on sleep’ on the weekends by sleeping in. However, research shows that sleeping in on weekends isn’t helpful at all (Sleep Article). So keep your alarm set for the same time and wake up the same time as you do throughout the week. However, feel free to take a 20-30 minute nap.  
  5. Pray - Brian Croft wrote an excellent article about ministry and prayer here: Article Link. Minister’s are extremely busy and prayer often is pushed aside. However, our Lord gave us many examples in the Gospels of the importance of prayer. Don’t neglect prayer, even on your day off. Prayer is not ‘work’. Prayer is a gift from God and an opportunity for us to have fellowship with our Creator.

This is a brief list of ideas you can use to rest on your next day off. Do you have a couple of ideas you would add to the list? No matter how you rest, take time to take care of yourself and in doing so, you will be better equipped to serve the body of Christ.
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Leadership Pitfalls to Avoid in 2018

In 2017 we saw the fall of many leaders in America. While I am sure many of these individuals thought they would never fall from their lofty position, the Scripture still rings true, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall (First Corinthians 10:12 NIV).” As Christian leaders, what are some pitfalls we can avoid in 2018 so that we are not making the same mistakes others made in 2017? Here are three Leadership Pitfalls to avoid in 2018.

  1. Not Having Personal Quiet Time - This may seem simplistic, but not spending time alone in Bible Reading and Prayer can be a crucial leadership pitfall. Since a goal of leadership is to serve those we lead, we cannot serve completely without seeking God’s strength to lead each day. Peter said, “If anyone serves he should do so with the strength God provides so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ… (First Peter 4:11 NIV).” Our ultimate goal is for God to receive the glory in all that we do, so we must rely on His strength daily through prayer and trusting in His Word.
  2. Not Respecting Others - In 2017, we observed many leaders fall because of their sinful nature. Selfishness took over and the desire to look out for only themselves took full display. Paul writes to the church at Philippi, “In humility value others above yourselves (Philippians 2:3 NIV).” Not respecting others can be another leadership pitfall to avoid in 2018. As Christian leaders, we should follow the model of servant leadership Jesus Christ displayed. He took upon Himself the form of a servant and became obedient unto death (Philippians 2:5-11). As we follow this model of servant leadership, we will not only be leading others in the workplace, but we will be leading others toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. Not Growing as a Leader - The final leadership pitfall to avoid in 2018 is not growing as a leader. When we believe we have arrived and know all there is to know about leadership, we have failed as a leader. Use 2018 to grow as a leader. Learn more about your area of leadership through reading books; interview a colleague to gain insight in your specific field of ministry; listen to ministry podcasts; or take a course on LinkedIn Learning. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”

As leaders, let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let us grow in godliness, serve those we lead and learn more in 2018 than we ever have before. More importantly as Christian leaders, let’s seek the glory of God in our leadership rather than the glory of man.
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