How Pastors Should Answer the Hardest Leadership Question

Sam Rainer: It’s the most challenging leadership question to answer: Am I humble? Humility is the most difficult leadership trait to determine about ourselves. Pride is the most dangerous leadership trait. Arrogance is the root leadership problem. Our sinful nature propels us to an excessive and unhealthy focus on ourselves. It’s the quintessential leadership struggle. We stand on a sliding scale somewhere between healthy humility and unhealthy pride. Even at our best, determining where we are on this scale is tricky. We almost always believe we are more humble than we are. Unfortunately, we rarely recognize our pride until it’s too late. Fortunately, there are three key questions to ask to reduce the potential for pride to puff up. Are you capable, and are you striving to learn more? This question involves competence. Quite frankly, do you know what you’re doing? Too many leaders fake it. Too many leaders do not want to swallow pride and ask for help. Too many leaders fear looking small by

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A Key Ingredient for the Christian Life

Alan Shlemon: Do you want to experience the good life? Look no further. Just add humility to your day. It’s a key ingredient for the Christian life and, indeed, life in general. Without humility, we are robbed of some of the great joys and virtues of life. Here are a few aspects of life that require humility. Friendship requires humility. Chances are you know someone who routinely talks about himself, shares his own problems, and tells you of his future adventures. After a while, you recognize this is a one-way relationship. It’s not only boring, it’s superficial. It doesn’t feel like he cares about you. Don’t be that kind of person. If you want to be a good friend, practice humility. It’s fine to talk about yourself, but a humble person also cares deeply about others. In the course of any relationship, there will be times when one of you goes through a hard time and the focus is on them

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How to Resolve Most Relational Conflict

Jon Bloom: Few things sap more of our joy, are as emotionally demanding and mentally distracting, as relational conflict. And few things wreak as much havoc and destruction on lives as relational conflict. And so much of it is avoidable. Of course, not all conflict is avoidable. Some disagreements are based on issues so fundamental to truth, righteousness, and justice that conscientious conviction demands we stand our ground, even if it shatters a relationship. After all, even Jesus made it clear that for some of us, his coming would result in the painful severing of the important and meaningful and intimate relationships in our lives (Matthew 10:34–36). But most of our conflicts in life are not over such fundamental issues. They erupt over secondary, or peripheral, or trivial, or even utterly selfish things. And there’s only one path to peace in these cases. Warring Passions James nails us when he says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?

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Lay Aside the Weight of Selfish Preferences

John Bloom: Love does not insist on its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5). What a beautiful concept to contemplate. Like many expressions of biblical love, this one is heartwarming and inspiring to read about or observe, at least from a distance. Unfortunately, in the moment we’re called upon to exercise this kind of love, it often doesn’t appear or feel very lovely; it appears confusing and feels frustrating. It feels like self-denial. Me and Mine Wanting our own way is woven into the fabric of our fallen nature. Since the fall, it has been our default orientation. We can see this, even from our earliest days, whenever our way is crossed. We insist in the cradle and then as toddlers; we insist on the playground and then as over-confident teens; we insist in the church and the workplace; we insist as parents of toddlers and then as stubborn parents of over-confident teens; we insist as parents of adult children, and

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The Humble Leader

Kevin DeYoung: According to Numbers 12:3, Moses was more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. What was it about Moses that caused this scribe (whom I take to be other than Moses) to come to such a lofty conclusion? No doubt, there are many examples of Moses’ humility in the Pentateuch, but let me point out three that are present in Exodus 18. 1. The humble leader shows respect to others. Moses was a big deal. He was God’s chosen instrument for leading the Israelites out of four centuries of slavery. He stood face to face against the most powerful man in the world (Pharaoh) and won. He was in charge of 2-3 million people, handling their complaints, leading them through the wilderness, and acting as the Supreme Court for their toughest disputes. Moses was the man. And yet, when he was reunited with his family, he showed Jethro, his father-in-law the proper respect by going out

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4 Ways to Find God’s Grace in Our Failures

Joe Thorn: If you haven’t figured it out yet let me encourage you to see something that will greatly help you. Not all of your ideas are good. Some of them are bad. And God will often let you flail and fail out there for very good purposes. And when you fail do not lose the opportunity to find grace in the midst of it. I believe this is especially important for pastors to understand. It’s one of the most important lessons I have learned in 16 years of pastoral ministry: failure is to be expected and learned from. I have misspoke, misstepped, and missed the mark in more ways than I can explain here. And failing hurts. Most of us of are afraid of it. Leaders in particular are afraid of failure since it’s always a bit more of a public spectacle. I’m not talking about moral failure that disqualifies someone from the ministry, but ministerial failure. It may

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14 Characteristics of Theological Legalism

By C. Michael Patton: […] Here are some ways to know if you are a theological legalist: You don’t think there are “minor theological issues” You always define yourself with the word “true” in front of it (e.g. “I am a ‘true’ Calvinist,” “I am a ‘true’ Baptist,” “I am a ‘true’ Christian). Your statement of faith or catechism is so detailed that no one but your particular tradition can sign it. Your passions focus on the small issues and this finds expression in your personality. Most of your theological writing and/or discussion focuses on where other Christians have gone wrong. You have a bulldog mentality with regard to your “pet” issues; you cannot let things go emotionally. You have to leave the room. When one disagrees with you they are forever defined by that disagreement (“There goes Joe the Arminian” or “I would like to introduce you to Katie the complementarian.” You think belief is either black or white, you

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The Babyhood of God

“The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God – God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh. God has undertaken not only to repair the damage, but in Jesus Christ the human race is put in a better condition than when it was originally designed.” “Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby.” – Oswald Chambers (HT: Trevin Wax)

6 Traits of a Pastor in Awe of God

Paul Tripp: What traits does the awe of God produce in the heart of a pastor that are vital for an effective, God-honoring, and productive ministry? Here is a list of six. 1. Humility There is nothing like standing without defense before the awesome glory of God to put you in your place, correct a distorted view of yourself, yank you out of functional arrogance, and take the winds out of the sails of your self-righteousness. In the face of his glory I am left naked with no glory whatsoever left to hold before myself or anyone else. As long as I am comparing myself to others I can always find someone whose existence seems to make me look righteous by comparison. But if I compare my filthy rags to the pure and forever unstained linen of God’s righteousness, I want to run and hide in heart-breaking shame. This is what happened to Isaiah, recorded in chapter six. He stands

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5 Reasons Why Pastors Should Apologize

Love this from Daniel Darling: For some reason, the hardest two words for a leader to say are often, “I’m sorry.” This is especially difficult for young leaders. Especially young pastors. But here’s the thing, an apology may be your best leadership tool. This I know, because as a young, green, inexperienced pastor, I’ve had to do my share of apologizing. So here are five reasons why pastors should have a quick trigger with their “I’m sorry.” 1) It gives builds respect A young pastor often thinks he has to assert his authority, to let everyone know at this church that he’s the boss and it’s “his way or the highway.” This, he thinks, gives him more respect and authority. Aside from being unbiblical (Matthew 20:25-26) (Titus 3:2; 1 Timothy 3:3), what a young pastor doesn’t realize is that admitting when he is wrong or hasn’t fully weighed a matter actually builds respect. People begin to think, “Okay, he’s young, but

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Tim Keller on Gospel-Humility

Tim Keller on Gospel-Humility: “C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity makes a brilliant observation about gospel-humility at the very end of his chapter on pride. If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble.They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I

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Humility Is Compatible with Certainty

Michael Kruger: Christians believe that God has revealed himself clearly in his Word.   Thus, when it comes to key historical questions (Who was Jesus? What did he say? What did he do?) or key theological questions (Who is God? What is Heaven? How does one get there?), Christians believe they have a basis on which they can claim certainty: God’s revelation.  Indeed, to claim we don’t know the truth about such matters would be to deny God, and to deny his Word. (This doesn’t mean, of course, that Christians are certain about everything; but there can be certainty about these basic Christian truths). Thus, for Christians, humility and uncertainty are not synonymous.   One can be certain and humble at the same time.  How?  For this simple reason: Christians believe that they understand truth only because God has revealed it to them (1 Cor 1:26-30).  In other words, Christians are humble because their understanding of truth is not based on their own intelligence, their own

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What is humility?

Groveling self-deprecation? Smarmy self-loathing? Incessant refusal to acknowledge anything one contributes, by God’s mercy, to the world? Edwards: True Christian humility of heart tends to make persons resigned to the will of God, patient and submissive to his holy hand under afflictions, full of awful [i.e. awe-full] reverence towards the Deity, ready to treat divine things with great respect, and of a meek behavior towards men . . . respectful towards superiors, gentle, easy to be entreated, not self-willed, not envious, but contented with his own condition, of a peaceable and quiet spirit, not disposed bitterly to resent injuries, but apt to forgive. –Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, Works, Yale ed., 8:304-5 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

What the Gospel Helps Us Want When Someone Sins Against Us

I echo these sentiments from Jared Wilson: I don’t know all the reasons why C.J. Mahaney is stepping down — and I don’t need to know. It’s none of my business. But it’s fairly clear from the comments on this post, that it is not a repentant C.J. some people want, but a demoralized C.J., a humiliated C.J. When we are sinned against, a gospel mindset (and heartset) helps us to seek justice, not vengeance. I pray the process is fruitful and reconciliation/restoration/restitution is found in a way that honors the wronged, convicts the wrong, and above all glorifies Jesus.

Ministry Wisdom from CJ Mahaney

(HT: Dane Ortlund) Recently C.J. Mahaney completed a series of blog posts entitled “The Pastor and Personal Criticism.” They are well worth the read. 1. The Pastor and Personal Criticism 2. The Pastor’s Temptations when Criticism Arrives 3. Learning Wisdom by Embracing Criticism 4. A Kind and Painful Bruising 5. The Pastor’s Wife and Her Role When Criticism Arrives 6. Adding a Few Smudges to My Moral Portrait 7. Deal Gently with Your Critics 8. Why Faithful Pastors Will Be Criticized 9. Too High an Estimation 10. Distinguishing Criticism 11. How to Criticize Your Pastor (And Honor God) (HT: Todd Pruitt)

God uses critics to help us

“Christ uses critics to guard our souls from self-destructive tendencies. We gain ears to listen to others when we gain ears to listen to Him….Critics, like governing authorities, are servants of God to you for good (Rom. 13:4). He who sees into hearts uses critics to help us see things in ourselves: outright failings of faith and practice, distorted emphases, blind spots, areas of neglect, attitudes and actions contradictory to stated commitments, and, yes, strengths and significant contributions. God uses critics to help us. Even if I think that a criticism is mistaken, I shouldn’t leap too quickly to the defense. Is there something I am doing or saying (or not doing and not saying) that makes that particular misinterpretation plausible? Do I leave implicit or understated something that needs to be made explicit? Does my attitude or tone or way of treating people send a mixed message? Am I not answering some important question that this person is asking?

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Grace Through the Humble To the Humble

From The Gospel Coalition: Not all that looks like humility is actually humility. And sometimes what looks like pride to the world is actually loving concern. True Christian fellowship means that we must correct friends and family in their sin. So how do we offer such guidance to loved ones in a way that they can receive? And how do we make sure we serve them out of godly motives? Council members James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney hash out these difficult questions in the latest video in TGC’s roundtable series.

The Sin of Sodom

From Tyler Kenney at Desiring God: As Bible-believing Christians, we are known for our convictions against sexual immorality. But are we known equally as well for our contempt for religious arrogance? Scripture clearly states that sexual immorality is sin (Matthew 15:19; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, etc.). We must also remember, however, that this is only one bad fruit of our rebellion against God, one among a list of many others, including idolatry, theft, greed, drunkenness, reviling and swindling (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And all of these, God says, are just spin-offs of a more deep-seated trouble. Speaking to a disobedient Israel, the prophet Ezekiel declares, Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50) In the context surrounding this passage,

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