Archive for January, 2015

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 201

January 28, 2015 Leave a comment
  1. “This voice was for your benefit, not mine” (John 12:30).

When God’s voice boomed from Heaven, affirming that He would continue to glorify His name through the Son, Jesus states that the Voice was for their benefit, not His. Yet, the text also tells us that some thought the sound was thunder, while others assumed an angel was speaking. If the Voice was for their benefit, why was it received so unclearly? We often want to assume that if God would just take the “guesswork” out of faith, everyone would believe, but such an idea undermines the true meaning of faith. What they heard would be dictated by their willingness to believe. People will settle on an explanation for any event, and their judgment reveals whether they have the capacity or willingness to believe. Those who heard thunder likely could not accept that God would speak from Heaven. Even those who suggested an angelic source likely were unwilling to believe that their God would speak to Jesus directly. But, those who knew Him to be God himself, like John the author, had no difficulty with the Voice’s true identity. Faith isn’t designed for surety. Faith reveals the heart of the hearer. It can only be present in the place of apparent uncertainty.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 200

January 27, 2015 Leave a comment
  1. “No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

There is an amazing confidence one can have when you know what hour you’re made for. Here, Jesus steps into the most challenging of circumstances with an assurance that the challenge is His to encounter. He knows why He came and this is the hour. We can live with that same confidence when our sense of life’s priorities begin to match the ones assigned by our Creator. When we discover why we have been made, we can know why we live and engage the challenge we were intended for. Life isn’t about comfort. It’s about demonstrating the greatness of God. And, we can only do that when the moment demands His presence with us.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

A Pastor’s Battle with Insecurity – Part 9

January 26, 2015 Leave a comment

You will notice, as a leader, that your struggle with your insecurities can “come and go.” You will likely feel as if you’ve won the war during times of success or popularity among the people you lead. However, insecurity raises its ugly head most often in times when you feel intimidated in certain situations.

By understanding when a pastor is most susceptible to insecurity, we can gain the opportunity to address those fears before they materialize into their most powerful forms. So, when will a pastor most likely face such feelings?


—When colleagues or subordinates attack your performance or character.

Ever notice how easy it is to feel rejection when a family decides to attend another church? There are many moments where a pastor can feel rejected, so this situation often raises its ugly head.


—When you’re first introduced to someone you feel you must impress.

This can arise from meeting a well-known ministry leader, authority figure in your denomination, or anyone we might believe is more important than we are.


—When you fail to reach a goal or standard, and you take it personally.

The goal of the outreach was to connect with 50 people, but only five showed up, or worse, nobody from the congregation came to help. Any time ministry effort doesn’t meet expectations, pastors are susceptible to feelings of failure as a leaders.


—When a peer achieves notoriety and reward for their own success.

We want to celebrate with another pastor when his goals are met or he is rejoicing over a particularly effective Sunday, but somehow his success magnifies our own feelings of inadequacy. Surely, that shouldn’t be, but…


—When people you respect fail to notice your own success and accomplishment.

Ever heard your state leader bragging over the efforts of another pastor and wished he knew your success story too? Or maybe the state event used someone else’s worship team and you are convinced that your team is better. Many pastors operate in hidden places so this situation can arise frequently for them.


—When people & resources you’ve relied upon are taken away.

How do you celebrate the promotion that’s taking one of your strongest families to another state? How personal is it for you when people leave your congregation for “greener pastures.”



—When you become melancholy about your own victimized, unjust background.

Now this doesn’t mean you were once a victim of abuse (though it could). Instead, this can be as simple as focusing on the limitations of your situation—we don’t have the people we need, the building we need, the finances we need, to do what others are doing.

Each of these moments—and most occur multiple times in a pastor’s life—open the door to insecurity. And when they come (sometimes more than one at the same time), we find ourselves susceptible to the behaviors we have discussed in our last few blogs.

Next time, we begin the discussion of how to overcome our insecurities and how we can begin moving in a stronger direction.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 199

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment
  1. “Where I am, my servant will also be” (John 12:26).

Are we where Jesus is? If honest, most of us should admit that we tend to hope that Jesus will be where we are, that He’ll come to our aid and step into our needy circumstances. But the idea of following someone implies the desire to go where they are going. That’s what Jesus intimates here. As His sheep, we know His voice and we follow that voice. We stick to Jesus like a good servant always would. If we don’t, can we really say that we are His disciples? Perhaps the question is who do we think is serving whom?

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 198

January 20, 2015 Leave a comment
  1. “Whoever serves me must follow me” (John 12:26).

We’re not very good at following, are we? Our cultural ideals aren’t built around allowing someone else to choose the path for us. Instead, we believe the greatest expression of our humanity is in self-determination, and the greatest among us choose the direction for themselves and for others as well. The strong lead, they don’t follow. But Jesus insists that His kingdom can only be gained as we follow Him. Is this an invitation to the weak? History shows that the greatest moves of Christianity have occurred among the masses in need. The strong only bow reluctantly before Him. The well-resourced seldom choose His path. Following isn’t the preferred priority of those who would be leaders.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

A Pastor’s Battle with Insecurity – Part 8

January 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at the different ways that insecurities show up in the lives of pastors and spiritual leaders. Yes, these wonderful friends battle the same human condition that the rest of us wrestle with, but often they are not “allowed” to demonstrate such struggles, at least not where anyone from their church might see. When your spiritual leader isn’t behaving like you expect, somehow you can feel a bit diminished in your own journey too.

Thus far, we’ve looked at Comparison, Compensation, Competition, Compulsion, Condemnation, and Control as the indicators that a pastor’s insecurities have risen to the surface. The final of our seven “C”s is usually a final stop on the road of all the others—when the pastor becomes Closed.

  1. CLOSED We close up, get defensive and deny our problems.

Ultimately, insecurity tempts us to shut ourselves off, to find a way where our inner hurts can no longer hurt us. Even though the pain continues, we choose to remove ourselves from any setting where those insecurities can be set off.

So, a pastor who becomes Closed now avoids the people that stir his insecurity. If those people are other pastors, then he’ll likely stop attending their meetings, creating excuses for his absence that usually put the blame on the group that threatens him. Statements like, “they’re not focused on the right things” or “they’re always comparing their church numbers” or even “those people are just pretentious, they think they’re better than everyone else” are just a few of the ones I’ve heard over the years. Somehow, the insecure pastor will find ways to withdraw from the places of fellowship he really needs to stay healthy.

Of course, things become worse if the people pastor hides from are members of his own congregation. When pastor becomes Closed, he can resist his own people, avoid them whenever possible, and emotionally withdraw even if his job demands that he physically remain available. You can just imagine the slippery slope ahead of such pastors.

But there is another dangerous element that threatens the pastor who has become Closed to the relationships he needs—he or she can become to attached to the unhealthy relationships available. Insecure pastors may search for good feelings among other unhealthy pastors. They can shop their emotional needs among members of the opposite sex who seem willing to build their tattered ego. Nearly every friend one finds when at the emotional bottom of deep insecurity is one that will keep you there.

Accountability for the pastor’s insecurities is a very difficult idea. Only when a pastor remains in healthy connection to healthy people can he process his insecurities in a healthy way. When he begins to close off because he’s overwhelmed with too much Competition or Comparison, or has worked far too many hours in his wrestling with Compulsion, or has run low on satisfactory places to aim his Condemnation, a person is usually unwilling to engage accountability or be honest with the accountabilities he once trusted.

What does the scripture say about this issue?

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And, you seek Me and find Me, when you search with all your heart.”                                       (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

As we will see in the coming weeks, the solution to our insecurities can only be found in a right understanding of God’s view when He looks our way. Only when we can begin seeing ourselves the way He sees us, can we keep insecurities in their proper place.

Next week, we’ll look at a few places where these expressions of insecurities often rise up and then we’ll start uncovering the path to healthier responses. Stay with us…

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 197

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment
  1. “the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

Hates his life? Biblically, the idea often translated as the English “hate” means to choose against or turn from. As Jesus is preparing His disciples for the truth of His impending death, He speaks of “hating” His life. In other words, He is choosing from an eternal perspective. He will do what the kingdom of God requires, even though His choice will seemingly cut short life on this earth. That world or this one? This is the question Jesus poses. And His choice is quite clear. Is ours?

Categories: Leadership Journeys