Category Archives: Ramblings related to church stuff.

The unseen partner of break through leaders

The Point of the Spear. The place of change. Leadership and the market loves change makers. The disrupters. Those who see the sea change and anticipate the new direction. Looking past the surface success of these “Point of Attack” leadership, often you will find a strange duality between the Spear Leader and the Shield leader. These come in pairs.  (yeah, for Star Wars fans, I hear the quote in my head)

Leadership needs both Spear and Shield

In 2008 we launched an experiment in Dar es Salaam. Could we do church differently in Africa? Could we take a hodgepodge of the best practices emerging in high impact churches in urban areas around the world, introduce them to Dar Es Salaam, while maximizing the local creativity and genius?

The answer was yes, we could. “The Ocean” grew rapidly, for so many reasons. We embraced creativity. We did a fashion show. Young people wrote theater. We took a tea/coffee break in the middle of our service. We did away with “title fixation” for those in leadership. Racial, cultural and financial divisions were minimized and a beautiful multi-cultural, culture-creating community of faith in Jesus emerged.  Many amazing people have been of the Ocean’s story.

That’s the official story. That story is true. The story doesn’t sum up the hours of volunteer labor, the stress, the failures, and the 3 deaths and no attendance of the first year. We were the point of the spear in attempting something new. It was exhilarating and fun, and to this day, those years were the highlight of my professional life.

The story that is less known is the backside. Anytime creators begin, detractors emerge. A large part of the success of the Ocean sits in the lap of an unexpected ally. Magnus Mhiche was the assistant General Superintendent and my direct report in the church structure during those years. We met once yearly and I gave a report of what we were doing.  He never tried to change or altar what we were doing.

What I learned later was that we had more detractors than I perhaps imagined. Rumors about me, and about the new thing we were doing, swirled in church circles. At that time, I didn’t realize why these never came my way. If you’ve ever done something different, you know how much energy can be sucked out of your efforts by having to deal with attacks, many of them from friendly fire.

Magnus was the shield to our spear. He was never going to go the direction of the Ocean. A great leader, he understood that his core people would not connect with our new style of ministry. He himself had served as the Point of the Spear in leading the Tanzania Assemblies of God  into a different understanding of reaching out to unreached areas of Tanzania.

In my life and the life of the Ocean, Magnus shifted from a spear to a shield. He shielded us. He provided the covering for us to innovate and create and be crazy. I am sure he heard it more than once from a pastor who heard a skewed report of something crazy we had done.

Leadership credit is often given to the Spear. Those who innovate and change the conversation are made famous. My sense is though, that for every spear that remained effective, there was an older, wiser leader who provided the shield, the covering, for that new endeavor. Many spears have shattered on the wall of traditional and protectionism.

If you are a spear, understand this….

Holding my metaphor here, as the spearhead for a new kind of ministry outreach in urban Dar es Salaam, it was imperative that we understood our unique role. Our target was never the traditional church. Our target was never to attack those who had gone before us. Our role was to engage in new, untapped communities with the message we had.

Here are some principles

Spears are focused.

Our focus was urban youth and internationals living in Dar es Salaam. We didn’t have to worry about the broader issues of church governance, engaging with legal entities, endorsing and certifying ministers and ministries. We could be focused on only this one new thing we were attacking.

Spears push forward but have a hard time holding ground.

When not burdened with maintaining a system, even a healthy one, a spear can push forward and not worry too much about the larger picture.  The flip side is that rapid gains can be rapidly lost if structures are not built.

Spears must be sharp.

We had strong opinions. I had strong opinions. I still do. But the nuance that comes with dealing with a bigger picture wasn’t my concern. We created a new culture because we started something new. Most leaders don’t work in the culture creation space. They work in the culture change or culture protection space.  And a spear must  actually have solutions, not just identify problems.

If you are a spear, be sharp. Be focused. Push forward.  Don’t attack the old, engage the new.

If you are a shield, understand this.

Shields are broader

You may have the desire to innovate and challenge and change, but recognize the value in the broader scope of the work you do. Protection and coverage is not as celebrated. When was the last time we celebrated a denominational structure for building pathways  for people to be trained in ministry?  Shield Leaders are the mature women and men who know that the influence they have built up over years is now strategic leverage to accomplish change that they themselves can not and do not want to undertake.

Shields are heavier

The weight of leadership for those who cover others is heavy. You have to understand more, carry more, bear more. There is a burden to the privilege that comes with leadership.  Your decisions, what you cover and what you expose has much larger repercussions.

Shields bear the brunt of most attacks

The weight of leadership is having a bigger picture that many times others don’t see and can’t see. I had several situations where I knew things that others didn’t know, and couldn’t know to maintain our integrity in dealing with conflict. Because of that broader knowledge, Shield leaves will have to make decisions that are unpopular. In one specific situation, I was criticized by people who used to be key leaders in our space. I had information they did not have access to and for the sake of integrity, I could not give them.

Shields secure territory

Whether it’s a wall or a smaller shield, gains need to be shielded. Systems and processes and structures that seem onerous to the spear secure gains.

C M Ward, an old US radio preacher, was quoted as saying “We have too many singers who want to be preachers, and too many preachers who want to be singers.”

In leadership, we could say we have too many shields who want to be spears (and think they are) and too may spears who want to be shields.

Understand your role. If you are a spear, but under authority. Stay under cover. Understand the benefit of lazer focus and limited scope of responsibility.

If you are a shield, understand that the most painful blows you receive will often be from those you feel are friendlies. If you protect a spear, it will come at a cost.  Be ok with being a Shield.

Thanks to the shield work of Magnus Mhiche, there is a dynamic church in Dar Es Salaam today, years after I turned over the leadership to others more capable than myself. The community is stronger and larger now than ever before.

If you resonate with this Shield and Spear Leadership metaphor, come back tomorrow for a follow up post. And let me know what you think in the comments.

The Failed Promise of Relevance.

Another article floating around the internet, being shared ad-nausea by everyone tired for old ways of “doing” church.

Change your music!

Target young people!

Be more relevant!

Shorten your services!

Out with the old, in with the new!

Be more relevant!

And “If you don’t like it, serve in the nursery!” You had your time, its our time, time to reach the lost that you didn’t reach with your boring old way of doing church. or so the articles still imply.

The thing is, this is circa 1999. New waves of “worship” are drawing thousands of young people in the fold of passionate discipleship. Passion. Delirious. Classics now.

Here’s the problem. It didn’t work. Relevance didn’t work.

In the time it took this missionary to go to Africa, learn a language, and come home, Sunday nights were gone. Adult Wednesday nights were no longer a priority. Services were 55 minutes. Pentecostal manifestations were relegated to small groups and largely disappeared. All this in an effort to keep up with the times.

Baggy cargo pants replaced suits and ties.

And it didn’t work.

Acoustic guitars replaced the electric pianos, which had supplanted the traditional organs.

And it didn’t work.

Video venues exploded. Mega-churches grew, then imploded.

And it didn’t work.

The promise of RELEVANCE proved to be hollow indeed.

The numbers, from any group you choose –Barna, Gallup, whomever, show the increasing secularization of the West. All the while, the gurus continue to tell us that relevance is the answer.

Today, I get to work with amazing young people who are the church of today. As never before in history, young men and women are having a voice in shaping the future of Christendom. BUT they don’t realize they are stuck in an old refrain.

To a truly un-churched person, there is no “old fashioned” Christianity. There is no “better way to do church.” Because simply put, they have no point of reference for church.

Is there value in targeting certain groups? Certainly. The danger comes in copying, rather than adapting models, or creating your own. Copies are always downgrades from the originals. Copies of Willow Creek are good. But they don’t capture the heart of Bill Hybels and his team. Not exactly.

Relevance is the promise that if we meet people at their point of need, they will be more attracted to the gospel message. Here’s the problem. It doesn’t work.

Back in my bible school days, we were given this little booklet. The packaging is so 70ies. The marketing is non-exitant. The source for the research is 1000 churches OUTSIDE the US. The ABCs of Natural Development. In growing churches worldwide, here’s what’s DOES work.

I recently attended a Lutheran church, not in any way part of my faith tradition. The service was full of light. The sanctuary has no black wall, no lights, no fog.  The liturgy was structured, the Hymns mostly unknown to me. But the life in the room was real. The sermon was apropos. And the building was packed. Nothing about that morning was RELEVANT. But it was real, and authentic.

Have lights. I like lights. Have smoke machines. They are fun. Modern music, lets have it. I love to preach out of movies, a fad which came and went. Give away cars on Sunday morning. But lets not kid ourselves. NONE of this is really what leads a person to relationship with Christ.

My children love grandma’s house. Not because its relevant to their world, but because of the relationship and love they receive from women who often wouldn’t know an Angry Bird if they met one on the street.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Relevance is over rated. Authenticity, now there’s a different story.

Hillsong’s Naked Cowboy Fiasco, and the leadership quandary.

The internet, a least the internet that cares about such things, blew up last week when someone posted video of a youth pastor from Hillsong New York jumping around on stage dressed as “the Naked Cowboy” (who by the way, wasn’t naked but certainly was appropriately dressed.)

“Ah ha! See, we told you Hillsong is apostate!”

“Further proof of the decline of our impact as the church.” My social media feed was a blood induced shark feeding frenzy.

Then Pastor Huston from the mothership in Australia has to come out and issued a statement. I read, and not totally behind the lines, that he was not amused. And his wife was not amused. The statement wasn’t strong enough for some. Others flat out called him a liar. But hold on….

Some youth pastor and his buddies apparently pulled a prank that didn’t go the way they planned. SHOCKING right? That a youth pastor would do something stupid. That his buddies would go along with it.


A few years ago, the church I was leading at the time put on a fashion show. “Classy not Trashy” was a theme and the goal was to promote beautiful and still modest clothing for young men and ladies in Dar es Salaam. The goal was to be light hearted, and the “models,” who were just young people from our church, were encouraged to have fun with it.

Classy not trashy Poster

One particular young man walked down the runway, did a little Micheal Jackson move, and proceded to grab his crotch, right in front of me, the pastor! Not all, but most of the eyes in the room of our church attendees, flashed to me. And my people knew I was not happy. So I ran up on stage and screamed at the young man right there! I stood an apologized to all our unbelieving guests, and stopped the whole event right there.

NO, of course not.

The event concluded and in the private of the back room, I made sure that once and for all everyone involved was completely aware of how embarrassed, angry and ashamed I was. Over the line, completely inappropriate and stupid.

Anytime you have young creatives, who are still learning what it means to use their gifts and talents for God, you are going to get stupidity. 

But catch this. It didn’t make our church apostate. A kid made a stupid move. That’s what it was. And in the midst of it, the event had to go on.

Anytime you have young creatives, who are still learning what it means to use their gifts and talents for God, you are going to get stupidity. You are going to get immaturity. And with the internet, you are going to get outrage.

There are 2 sad outcomes to this HIllsong story.

First, no one is talking about the conference. Did it do any good? Were lives touched, women encourage, ministry empowered? The righteousness police have made the outcome over one stupid move.

Secondly, no one is talking about this kid. This brash young man who went on to stage trying to be funny and instead caused an uproar that impugned the integrity of his church, his pastor and the whole heart of the event.
Ever done anything stupid yourself? Ever regretted a stunt you and your buddies pulled? He is now the target of people who ought to be praying for him. He’s got a name. Diego Simila. I’ll bet he has parents, and a family, and feelings. Naw…. he’s an internet meme. Sarcasm. please read the sarcasm.

I think Hillsong has done some stupid stuff. Their Silent Night thing was an exercise in group stupidity. But it doesn’t make them apostate. It means that common sense didn’t prevail. I don’t justify what that young man did at our church event. But neither did I stand in front of the church or the world and throw him under the bus. I took the heat as the leader. That’s what leaders do. Create environments for people to try, and yes, sometimes fail miserably.

Let he who has never sinned throw the first stone. Because he will be a person who has never tried anything.

Why it doesn’t matter if Bryan Huston and T.D. Jakes do or don’t support gay marriage.

The blogsphere is alive and well friends. Full of decent journalism, no. But alive and well, yes.

Christians have eagerly shared articles claiming to show Hillsongs’s supposed endorsement of homosexual lifestyle at their New York campus. Opps, turns out that it’s not quite the whole story. But those links are still up there, alive and perpetuating the distortion.

T.D. Jakes is unclear in an interview, then clarifies a couple days later. Both articles light up the blogsphere. Social media is abuzz.

With gossip.

True or false, this is gossip.

The blogsphere is alive and well friends. Full of decent journalism, no. But alive and well yes.

There is a fascinating scene at the end of the Epistle of John, just after Jesus restores Peter.  Having a glimpse of his future, Peter does what we all do. He looks back and sees John, the beloved. Jesus’ favorite.

“What about him, Lord?” John 21:21

Jesus response is telling for our times.

“What does it matter? You, Follow me.”

Perhaps is Christendom at large, and the evangelical world concerned about the collapse of a Christian value system in the United States, should consider this message as timely.

“You, follow me.”

Leave Joel Olsteen out of it. And Justin Beiber’s pastor. And Bryan Huston and T.D. Jakes.

Perhaps the words of Gamaliel to the Sanhedrin should ring in our hearts today. [Find the story in Acts 5:34-40]

“If this man is not from God, he will fail. But if he is, we should not oppose him.”(paraphrase)

You, follow me.

Do we know so little of the great things God is doing that we must spend our time reposting stories of the failures (or supposed failures) of others?

Trust me, our friends who are not followers of Jesus are not worried about Christian mega-names supporting or not supporting a Liberal agenda. They don’t know, they don’t care. They’ve never heard of Rick Warren, or Mark Driscoll, or any number of the names the Blogsphere loves to crucify. Who cares!!!!!

You, follow me.

Proclaim truth. Not whether you follow Peter, or Paul or… wait, that rings a familiar bell that was rung in Corinth. Ah, how we love to travel familiar territory.

You, follow me.

What so ever things are excellent, noble, praiseworthy, think about these things.


Do we know so little of the great things God is doing that we must spend our time reposting stories of the failures (or supposed failures) of others?

You, follow me.

You don’t preach the Word of God, and neither do I.

“We just preach the Word of God.”

“I just preach the Word, and let the chips fall where they will.”

I’ve heard many variants of this statement.

And none of them are true. At least not completely. 

Only once have I only preached the word. A group of friends memorized the book of Philippians. In 2001, for my farewell service to the church that had been my home church for nearly a decade and where I had my start in full time ministry, I preached the Word. For 15 minutes, nothing but the word came out of my mouth. I quoted the whole book to my friends at Real Life church. And even then, I didn’t do it in the original Greek.

Every time we stand and expound on the Christian scriptures, we apply. We interpret. We explain.

And we should. We must. My personal opinion is that the examples in scripture are given so that we can find a way to relate to the truth of the exposition. In the same way, explaining and illustrating the scriptures are part of the necessary part of the calling of the preacher.

The better sermons begin in the text and stay close to the text. They don’t have to be expository. They don’t have to be topical. But there should be more than a vague reference to the bible somewhere.

But preachers, let’s not deceive ourselves.

We preach Christ and him crucified. Or we should. But we also expound and explain the word.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs here. There is a certain arrogance that I believe is antithetical to the nature of who God is and whom the man of God (woman of God) is called to be when we claim that we preach the Word and only the word. We try. I’ll give you that.

So stand and thunder from Heaven. But let us do so with humble and broken hearts for the people of God and the things of God. And let us not elevate our teaching and preaching to the level of canon.  Let us submit ourselves to one another in love, to our leaders in humility and to the authority of the author of the scriptures.

A friend from an Irish Catholic background came to a personal understanding of his relationship to God. Our community of faith had a small role to play in his spiritual journey. During Ian’s travels in the UK, he came across this old pulpit in an Anglican church. These words were engraved in the lectern.

“Sir, we would see Jesus.”

Those words haunt me as a communicator of the Gospel. I have my axes to grind. I have my hobby horses.

Sir, we would see Jesus.

So in the header of each my sermons go those words. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I’m a bad copy of Dr. Phil or Ophrah. Other days, I try to channel my inner Finley or other revivalist.

May Christ be exalted in our preaching friends.

Rant over.


The Truth about why Christians don’t invite their friends to your church.

Every pastor that I know wants this church to grow. Every pastor that I know also realizes that the single best way for that growth to happen is when his people invite their friends, relatives and neighbors. Fewer than 2% ever do. Why? I don’t want this post to be too negative, but rather give some points where small practical changes might make a big difference.


Continue reading The Truth about why Christians don’t invite their friends to your church.

Why people are leaving urban churches in Africa.

A friend asked me why people leave churches in Africa. My 14 years in Africa is a very limited perspective, but my friends from around the world can perhaps add to my weak thoughts. Remember, my thoughts are reflective of urban areas, not small villages.
1. People leave churches because of urban growth and sprawl. 
Live in any city in Africa, and the urban explosion is crazy. So is traffic. Increasingly, professionals who are working long hours all week no longer want to make the long drive back into town on the weekend to attend a city church.
Recently Mavuno Church in Nairobi moved quite a ways down the highway. A large group didn’t move with them. Physical realities often determine where people go to church. The Ocean International Community Church moved away from a major hub on public transport and we saw a 15% decrease in people. Location, Location, Location.
2. People leave because they want more than 3 sermons.
In every church gatherings, there are 3 groups of people. Non-believers, new disciples and older believers. Yet with the evangelical focus on conversion, there is little emphasis on life and growth in discipleship. Marriage, family, finances (other than admonitions to tithe), what Paul calls “The full counsel of God” are not part of the spiritual diet of the church and it leaves long term believers hungry. Yet Salvation, prayer and Baptism in the Holy Spirit seem to be a large part of the spiritual fare. Throw in “blessings” teachings and that’s about it.
One reality is that many times in urban areas, the education level of the many congregants exceeds that of the pastor. If the pastor is consistently growing and developing, that isn’t an issue. However, when the people are growing and the pastor is not, a disconnect is created.  The great creeds, the fundamental beliefs and other areas of deeper teaching are neglected for rapid growth.
3. People leave because of entrenched leadership. 
Our church was a very young church. Consistently, one of the complaints I heard from these passionate young people was that older leaders did not make room for them at the top in other churches. I think the reality of the “priesthood of all believers”-including young ones- is missing in some areas.
4. People leave because of sin.
The African church can sometimes be harsh, but sin is often more publicly dealt with. Like anywhere, believers will often flee from rebuke rather than embracing it. Others that I know left churches because of the double standard that wealthy people lived under. Because of their financial influence, leadership would overlook clear sins issues. In one example, a church failed to discipline an elder who was publicly known to have a mistress. The elder was able to continue to serve communion.
Honestly, this isn’t an African issue. This is a global challenge.
5. People leave because they are drawn to personalities. 
Western church is not the only place where there is a cult of personality, not focused on Jesus but rather flamboyant preachers.
When the presence of God isn’t real, believers follow personalities instead.
6. People leave because God wants them elsewhere.
Local churches are not the end goal. Local churches are part of the larger Kingdom of God, and sometimes God clearly reassigns certain people to different areas of ministry.

Joseph was not a total idiot, and other Christmas myths debunked

There is something wrong with the traditional Christmas narrative. Joseph is too much of an idiot.

But Joseph was not an idiot, and why we have the Christmas story totally wrong.

Joseph was a total idiot. That is, if the traditional reading of the Christmas story is right.
Think about it. The way we make the story out, Joseph has no idea that gestational period for a human being is 9 months. Caesar Augustus suddenly issues a decree and everyone drops everything to run back to their hometown. Mary is 9 months pregnant, due at anytime, and well, we can’t keep Rome waiting so we gotta go now!

Joseph has apparently made no plans and is so unwelcome in his hometown that even though he is a direct descendant of none other than King David himself, he has to resort to staying at a hotel for an indefinite period of time.

And of course, like any loser husband, he didn’t make a reservation ahead of time, because of course, the hotel in Bethlehem, a little hamlet in the middle of nowhere, with a tiny little population, will be full.  

Even though Jerusalem is only 5 miles away. Where there would have been plenty of space in the many inns.

Joseph apparently doesn’t listen to dreams well either. Because he knows that Mary is carrying the Son of the Most High, the Hope of Israel, and he is not smart enough to know that if he messes this up, maybe the Most High won’t be too happy with him. I know the whole “lowly in a manger” thing but don’t you think Joseph could have done better than a manger?

Something starting to not sit right with you? Something is wrong with this picture.
Let’s start with the actual story again.

1. First of all, from reading the text, there is nothing to give us the idea that Joseph got Mary to Bethlehem at or on D-day. The text simply says “when the time came.”

Meaning that the logical conclusion is that Joseph and Mary arrived some time before the baby arrived.
If that’s true, then why the whole stable? With enough lead time, couldn’t they have found lodging? First, a linguistic argument and then an explanation about cultural imperialism. 

Linguistically. According to Kenneth Baily, the text is misinterpreted at this point. The word used for “Inn” is different than say, in the story Jesus tells of the good Samaritan leaving the hurt man at an Inn. The word used is Katana, which Bailey convincingly argues, is more aptly rendered “guest room.” (The book by Baily is worth the price of purchase just for the first chapter).

Ok, so we concede the point. Joseph has prepared somewhere to stay, most likely with a relative.

When they arrived, the guest room was full. So what, the family throws them in the back stable with the very pregnant girl? The people of Bethlehem should stand condemned with Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment. Culturally, it would have been impossible for the villagers to allow this to go on.
Again, this is where some of our cultural imperialism comes in. 

As a boy, I grew up in Holzem, Luxembourg. The neighbors across the street were traditional farmers, and in a design that would have been similar to home building throughout the ancient world, the barn or stable, was connected directly to the home. You could walk freely from one part of the building into the other. Again, Bailey is a great reference on this but what if we considered that all peasants and average people were most likely born in similar conditions.

Home with barn attached
Home with barn attached

Mary and Joseph were staying in the loft, warmed by the animals, which may seem repugnant to us, but not so to most of the world. There would have been nothing extraordinary about a child being wrapped in a blanket and placed in a manger. Most likely, it happened every day. The manger may have even been in the main part of the house. Most mattresses of the day were most likely made of straw, or rough wool.

The idea is further strengthened by the arrival of the Magi. In our cultural manger scene, we have the kings kneeling in the filth of the manger. But the text says “when they found where he was staying.”

Which brings me to my last thought.

If Jesus was given gifts of gold at his birth, and I’d surmise the kings were at least generous, if not very generous, what happened to the money?!

The conflict in Syria is once again awakening the world to the plight of refugees. Basic necessities of life are difficult to come by. Here is my idea.(Not scripture, but logic.)

Not only is Joseph not an idiot, but God provides for his son.

The gold is used, and wisely, by a small refugee family in Egypt to make sure that there is food on the table and a roof over their heads. Even if Joseph could have found work, which was unlikely in the short term, refugee salaries are never top of the scale.  

So it messes with our little manger scenes, but it makes more sense to me.

Jesus’ birth was humble, but it was not destitute.

Joseph was a man of humble means, but not an idiot.

And God the Father did not abandon his only begotten to a life of borderline starvation as a refugee.

God gave Jesus to Joseph and he was a good adoptive father. He cared for his family and he stewarded the Messiah in his early years.

The interesting thing is that the essence of what we learn from this story remains the same. The King born in a manger is still humble. There is no less mystery and no less wonder. But the players have more common sense. And that makes the story even more beautiful to me.

Jesus and the Naughty List

Jesus Vs Santa

My 4 year old was worried about the naughty list. Her, shall we say, “impulse control” is sometimes missing. After one little altercation in the car on the way to church, her little voice piped from the back row of the minivan.

“Will I not get any presents for Christmas?”

The frustrated father in me wanted to tell her, “That’s right, little miss! You better straighten up and watch yourself!”

But somewhere from deep within another voice broke through my parental frustration.

“Honey, mommy and daddy will get you gifts whether you are good or not.”

Her shock was apparent “ What?”

“Honey, Jesus died for us, despite of that fact that we were very much on the naughty list. It’s called grace. You get what you don’t deserve.

Honey, mommy and daddy give you gifts because we love you, not because you are naughty or nice.”

I’ve often wondered how to teach my children the concept of grace. I think I stumbled onto something that day.

The message of Christmas is that we were all on the naughty list. We were all destined to get far worse than a lump of coal. Yet born in a manager that morning was a gift we did not deserve, the greatest gift of all.

We were all on the naughty list

Now I just have to get them to be nice some other way.

Leaders Fail before they fall

Three scriptures where Christian leaders fail to follow before they fall.


1. Let your gentleness be evident to all.
2. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life
3. He called “some”
I’ve never met someone who wakes up one morning and says
“Today, I want to ruin my life, my reputation, my family, my relationships, my personal finances, my ministry, and tarnish the reputation of the church and of Jesus.”
Yet that is exactly what happened when a minister, pastor, preacher, or Christian leader falls. By a “fall,” I mean a moral failure that results in any of the outcomes listed above. History is unfortunately plagued with men and women who fit into this category. I don’t need to go into mud slinging here. Just add your list of names.

Before the fall though, there are failures.

Failures we all experience. Failure I see frequently in the mirror during my morning shave. Most of these failures are not a fall. Here are three scriptures that are not often taught in leadership circles that I believe could help protect us if we made them our aspiration as leaders.

1. Let your gentleness to known to all (Phil 4:5)

a. The world loves to lord it over one another. Power is indeed a magnet for men and women. But when a leader starts to become harder and more dogged, they are moving away from the Fruit of the Spirit. Gentleness, not doggedness, marks the life of a maturing leader. Look at the Apostle of Love, who began as a Son of Thunder. Will you be remembered for your accomplishments or for your character? Will you “make you mark on the world” or will you “mark lives?”

2. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. (1 Thes 4:11-12)

When was the last time you heard a sermon on this one? Like, never, right? The world is about more, bigger, better, stronger. You’ll hear worlds like success, dominion, power, more, more, more.  Leaders who are moving towards Jesus may have a spotlight but they don’t seek it.
c. I am a performer, I know it. I enjoy the stage. There is a place for people like me in ministry. But we must be careful about our ambitions. An aspiration for a quiet life is a commandment of scripture. Our ambitions must be made to line up with scripture. God will not share his glory with anyone. Its not easy to live.

3. He called “some,” not all. (Ephesians 4:11)

No leader wants to hear that someone else is more capable, more gifted. But the reality is that Jesus told us that some would have 5 talents, another 3, another one, each according to his ability.
When a leader begins to believe that he/she the only one who can do their ministry, hear from God, or many other scenarios, then that leader is failing if they haven’t yet fallen.

The good news is that none of these are fatal. There is grace. I’m writing this more as a reminder to myself than any judgment on another ministry. May my life be more gentle, seasoned with grace, desiring the quiet life, and understanding that Jesus carries the world on his shoulders, I don’t have to.

What are your thoughts?