Leadership Is… Pastor Support #314

A three legged stool is strong, but less than helpful when missing a leg. In supporting our Pastors, I look for people who, like the three legged stool, consistently share three qualities. They are consistent in their prayer support, excited about volunteering within their giftedness and they go out of their way to encourage others.

“Being a Pastor is a tough, demanding job, one that is not always very well understood or appreciated. Pastoral work is more complex than that which transpires in the hour or two a week that many lay people see the pastor in action…” (Burns, Chapman and Guthrie, Resilient Ministry)

Returning to my church office one day I spotted $18,000 worth of Pastoral encouragement on the sidewalk. Blue suede color with chrome highlights, crossover dual exhaust, slash mufflers, two cylinder 3500 rpm achieving a clean 45 mpg. Our visiting Pastor told us with great enthusiasm how his church gave his Youth Pastor and himself matching Harley Davidson touring motorcycles on Pastor Appreciation Sunday. This church invested $36,000 in Ministry encouragement. Now, the point is not the money and not the motorcycles. The beautiful point is every time these two Pastors ride to work, take a weekend tour or re-tell the story, they are reminded how much they love and are loved by their people. 

I haven’t bought any of our Pastors a Hawg lately, but it is a dramatic illustration of what people working together can do to collectively show their Ministry staff their love and appreciation.

I have the privilege of meeting and praying with our Pastor every other Wednesday. We pray, share, laugh and sometimes and cry as we seek God’s plan for our church and community.

Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know that you care for them.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Loving Being A Pastor’s Wife #313

Guest blog from Bradyn Schellenberg.

“What’s it like being a pastor’s wife?”

On my best days, when I feel God’s love strongly and appreciate the blessings he’s given, I am so grateful for the privilege it is to be a pastor’s wife. However, life is not full of “best days”. In short, I’d say that being in ministry is difficult, demanding and draining BUT tremendously rewarding.

The long answer entails so much more. Being a pastor’s wife isn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced before. Like my entrance into motherhood, it started in a way that I could have never fully prepared myself for. As a mom-to-be, I read books, blogs and heard from other moms about the sleepless nights, the temper tantrums, the overwhelming love you feel when you meet your baby for the first time, but no amount of preparation, no amount of baby proofing the house or bulk diaper buying beforehand, could have prepared me for what was to come.  In the same way, I wasn’t prepared in advance to be a pastor’s wife. Jesse and I were a couple years into marriage. He was working in the business world and was very successful in climbing the corporate ladder. I was working full time as a teacher – loving the community I found among my teacher friends. This lasted for a time and then Jesse said to me one day that he wanted to start taking some seminary classes. The next thing we know, we’re invited to a church in another community where Jesse takes on his first job as a real life pastor. It all happened so fast and much of our experience was kind of unexpected, but God orchestrated it all and his timing is so perfect. Just like my entrance into motherhood, my step into life as a pastor’s wife is all about the learning along the way.

The work that my husband and I are in is more than an occupation, it’s a lifestyle. Some might read this and think, “Wait, isn’t it just your husband who works for the church?” To that question, I would answer, yes, Jesse works for the church, however we share a unique calling together. My husband, Jesse doesn’t exactly punch his time card at the end of the day and head for home, turning all areas of work out of his mind. No, in ministry you’re always on. Phone calls can come in all hours of the day. People still need help, direction, prayer, a listening ear. Jesse will jump back into his car after coming home and will head over to the hospital to be with people who are sick or dying. We open up our home regularly to people from all walks of life, some strong in the faith and others weary and with questions. Among all these circumstances, I have the joy of seeing my husband flourish in a calling he’s realized and followed.  The part I play in this calling is this: I have the responsibility and concern of helping hold up his weary arms when ministry is hard, to encourage him and be excited with him when ministry is bright, to listen, to love, to take care of our family, and to be his constant companion and helper in this ‘together calling’. 

The thing is, despite the busy and exhausting lifestyle we live, I thank God for the call that he has placed on our lives, and for the constant learning along the way. I’m proud of how hard Jesse works to serve the people God has entrusted to him to lead and shepherd. I love being a pastor’s wife and I am privileged to be a part of the ministry of the church.

Leadership is … the joy of sharing a calling

Yours in Service,

Bradyn Schellenberg
Guest Blogger
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Delivered Personally #312

I just hand delivered a letter to our Pastor. You may want to consider what you can and should give or share with your Pastor during this Ministry Appreciation month. Think about a letter, a gift card, a free evening of Child sitting, a car wash, a book, or something your Ministry leaders would appreciate.

“Interacting with many Pastors… has convinced me that the river they are crossing is often treacherous and the means are rather primitive.” (Glenn C. Taylor, Pastors in Transition) My personal experience counselling and working with Pastors confirmed their lives can be awesome or treacherous or at any point in between.

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17 NIV)

Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” (Hebrews 13: 7-9 MSG)

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

Pastor, we are thankful for you and your family. We pray for you daily.

Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know they are loved and cared for.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Pastor Appreciation #311

Jethro Group recognizes October as Pastor Appreciation Month

I love working with Pastors. Every Pastor I know needs prayer, encouragement and team support. My daily prayer is that our Pastors, Churches and leaders are healthy, growing in their relationship with our Heavenly Father and working to demonstrate God’s love to our world.

We need to care for our Ministry staff on a continual basis. We’ve hired them and we trust them to lead and care for us.

Char and I have had the very unique privilege of leading Home Bible Studies for many years. Each week we would read scripture, follow a devotional book, pray for each other and work to be active supporters of our church and community. A couple of times each year, the topic of supporting our Pastor would come up for discussion. Someone would ask how our Pastor and family were doing.  Others would illustrate or comment on how they were blessed, encouraged or challenged by something shared on Sunday. Others would share a recent church meeting, a hospital or shut in visit. We’d talk, pray for our Ministry staff and their families. I would typically end the discussion by pointing out that it is great to share our appreciation and to pray. However, it would be awesome if everyone in our group would make a card, send a letter or email just to encourage our Pastor.

Fascinating, our Pastor would call or email me the next week.  In his words, “it was an amazing coincidence to get 10 cards of appreciation in three days”. We made his day and whole week.

Now, just imagine the impact if every Home Bible study would pick a week to encourage each of their Ministry staff.

Your church demonstrates your love for God and His bride (the church) by how you care for and support your Ministry staff.

I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15 NIV)

Leadership is … appreciating your Pastor and confirming it with a note.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … A Serious and Prayerful Conversation on Church Health #310

My prayerful dream for today is to challenge our status quo and stimulate serious conversations in homes and churches worldwide.

Over the last year, I’ve asked one specific question to every Christian Business owner and manager that I’ve met. Here is the question.

What year over year percentage increase in sales or customers would constitute a healthy and successful business?

My research is casual, only designed to stimulate a conversation with you and your Leaders.

The average response to my question is that a Business should grow by 6.5% in terms of increased customers, clients or product sales every year to be considered healthy. Here’s the fascinating point. These same men and women, including you and I, are the leaders in our churches. We pray, share, discuss, set direction, encourage and lead our churches. Yet, the average growth rate in our churches is dismal compared to the business community. A quick look at church Annual Report stats suggests that the average growth rate of churches is 1% – 2% a year.

“Nation wide research suggests that poor to fair growth in churches is between 2-5% a year.” (Gary L. McIntosh)

Anyone want their church to be known as poor to fair?

Church health research and Pastors themselves suggest a healthy church should have an annual attendance growth rate of 6% in worship services each year. This positive growth is a result of prayer, scripturally sound teaching and consistency in vision, mission and values. I concur Ministry is different from the business world of enterprise. But, our goal in church is unmeasurably greater. Your church is, or should be, a living organism. Just like the human body, it is designed to grow and heal itself.

So, here is my question that I’d love each of you to prayerfully share and converse with your Pastor or Leadership Board.  Why is it we expect and aim for our businesses to have a 6.5% increase every year yet we, the same leaders, are satisfied with a 1% growth in our churches?

Leadership is … prayerfully seeking healthy churches.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … Authority or Freedom #309

How do you lead? Do you and your staff work together to achieve and excel? Is your place of work enjoyable?  Your leadership style has a dramatic influence on whether you achieve your goals and whether your staff and volunteers love to come to work. Your style and that felt by your people likely sits in a balance between the two opposing leadership styles of authority and freedom.

Many leaders want complete control and authority. They choose to make most of the decisions and they direct the organization independently. Staff and volunteers are discouraged or not allowed to make financial, organizational or in extreme cases any decisions at all. Volunteers and committee leaders are committed and expected to be motivated and ready to be involved and work hard. There is little or no freedom for innovation, creativity or input. The bottom line is the boss is always right! This leadership style is centered on the leader.

Now consider the volunteer or staff centered leadership. The leader and staff set the vision and direction. Staff are encouraged to find and implement the best method of achieving the goal. The leader takes a keen interest, while playing a hands off yet supportive role. The employees are responsible to schedule, plan and accomplish the task. They set high work standards, will share, likely work in teams and will innovate and utilize their creativity to the fullest. The key factor in both of these styles is the boss encourages the direction and vision, but the use of that authority and the area of freedom for the employee changes as you move from style to style.

As the leader, you don’t need to adopt either extreme, but you will find the balance based on your God given skill. The drive to excel whether in Ministry or Secular is to move the decision making as close to the front line as possible.

You and your people need to prayerfully work together to find God’s role for you and your team.

Leadership is … seeking God’s direction in your daily leadership style

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … Running Yet? #308

If you woke up one morning realizing you were a gazelle, your second thought would be, you had to run faster than the fastest lion, or you would be eaten. However, if you wake up realizing you were a lion, your second thought would be, you had to run faster than the slowest gazelle, or you would starve. It doesn’t matter whether you wake up thinking you are a gazelle or a lion, in our ministry or secular world, you have to be engaged and ready as soon as you wake up.

We each have a choice and each choice has consequences. Our world is changing so fast that those who choose to sit, watch and criticize will be left behind. Only those who pray, innovate and adapt within their God given calling will survive.

Note these quotes from leaders of yesterday. Even using the best of their education, ability and resources their future forecasts were unreliable.

In 1902, “I must confess that my imagination, in spite even of spurring, refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” (H. G. Wells) In 1969, “We have 10 years to clean up our act, otherwise blooey.” (U Thant Secretary General of the United Nations)

These world leaders, dynamic in their day, were not able to forecast accurately and prepare for the inevitable crisis or keep up and achieve their dreams. The challenge is, as individuals, mission organizations or church, we need to pray, focus and learn to share God’s love on a daily basis. You and I need to daily pray for God’s leading, then focus today and every day to share God’s love.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)

Leadership is … looking ahead and running for God’s kingdom.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … A Healthy Church #307

I’m often asked about the characteristics of a Healthy Church. My response lists several points, Biblical focus, evangelism, outreach, Pastor Appreciation, reaching our communities, team building, visitor services, to name a few. However, the most significant difference between a healthy and a challenged church is prayer. The clear distinguishing factor between healthy and challenged churches is the healthy church has and lives a clear, concise and Biblically based vision. The key characteristic of a healthy church is always prayer.

Prayer is key and critical. Personal prayer, family prayer, Board and Congregational prayer. Not prayer read from a book and not memorized.  Healthy churches have leaders who actively pray alone, in public and in church. The church atmosphere is looking to God. Leaders pray consistently for and with their people. People are willing to pray with leaders. Prayer that we really expect experience, anticipate and plan for God to respond.

“My house will be called a house of prayer”. (Matthew 21:13 NIV)

Healthy Sunday services have an atmosphere of prayerful expectation and connection with God. Before each service, leaders pray with ministry staff. They pray for the service, the ministry staff, volunteers and the individual health and healing of their church and community. At the closing of Sunday services the leaders are available to pray for and with their people.

Services include prayer for people in need and testimonies of answered prayer and celebration with your people. Guests feel welcome, encouraged and comfortable to join, listen and understand your prayer focus. The Pastor, leaders and those in attendance are committed to worship God and demonstrate his love and forgiveness to their community.

The community knows where the church is and it has a positive influence of prayer and God’s service.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)

Leadership is … praying for God’s leading on a continual basis

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Change #306

As a leader, you are responsible to guide your team through our changing world. You know the vision that you and your team have developed and own.  However, to accomplish your God directed vision you will need to make changes, motivate and encourage your followers.

Change is often perceived as a difficult challenge. The routine is comfortable and feels secure. A change impacts the working environment. The change to the balance may be uncomfortable until stabilized. Your role in orchestrating change is crucial to the degree of acceptance. During times of stress team members look to you, their leader for support, encouragement and security. You can reduce staff anxiety and increase staff comfort by following a few points.

Be honest in stating the reason for the changes. State why the change is required, how it will affect the individual staff and the organization as a whole.

Emphasize the benefits of the change. Staff are concerned about the organization, but are more concerned about their working environment, career plans and individual security.

Detail the positive and potential challenging aspects of the change. Staff will find the negatives if you don’t. By identifying all sides of the issue, you are being honest and this will increase staff’s level of confidence. Spend time with your staff.

Define a realistic plan for implementation. Here’s a good opportunity to win staff support by asking for their input in designing the plan. Staff are always more committed to a project they have had input into. Honestly ask for staff feedback and use it. We can all benefit from the advice and input from staff experience.

Finally, and possibly most important, look at your own track record. When you have a reputation for positive changes, staff will trust your work and will be positive. However, past failures will be projected into the future, feared, resented and derailed by staff.

Change is difficult. Be honest, represent all the issues well and your staff will learn to trust your judgment and leadership.

Leadership is … knowing that change can and should be positive.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… A Body Of Believers #305

Every church or mission is unique with its own culture. This culture is a mosaic of the vision, mission, values, habits, beliefs, traditions and rules held by the individuals involved. These components work together to develop the culture and define the spiritual health of your church. 

A servant led church would be a living, growing, learning organism that radiates Christ’s love. “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.” (Larry Spears, Theory of Servant-Leadership.)

Your church is a body of believers. This body of Servant Leaders, demonstrating God’s love through serving has the potential for impacting its surrounding community. Imagine the unprecedented impact a group of dedicated Christ following churches would have on our world. Small decisions influence larger decisions and transformed lives impact others, the wave of influence for Christ is beyond imagination in today’s world.

A Servant led church would have a dynamic, exciting and motivating vision based firmly on God’s Word plus the values and spiritual gifts of its people. The vision would focus each individual to a closer personal relationship with God. The vision would involve leading others to Christ and developing disciples. There would be Home Bible Studies and opportunities to meet for prayer during the week in addition to the weekend services. Each service would be designed to bring people into a closer relationship with their heavenly Father. This church would be committed to win their community for Christ.

George Barna surveyed people who didn’t attend church presently, asking if they decided to attend a church, what would influence their choice. “The most common response was they would seek a church that was committed to helping people outside the church who needed care and consideration”. (www.barna.com) I find this fascinating. People who don’t attend church see community service as a factor that would influence their choice of a church to attend. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4 NKJV)

Serving in church should be equivalent to a gene or DNA within the human genogram. Imagine a loving, caring serving gene within the growing living organism of your church that grows and reproduces itself. The influence would be beyond imagination.

Leadership is … showing God’s love to your community.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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