What Makes a Great Leader?

Leadership is like a many-faceted diamond. To define leadership in small and simple terms is to remove the beautiful complexity of the diamond, and replace with with a sheet of glass. We want easy definitions of leadership so we can lock in and press forward, but inso-doing, we take something that is beyond three-dimensional and make it flat and lifeless and powerless.

In these thoughts, I’m taking the diamond of leadership, making an observation about the view through one cut edge, then turning it for another view. And I’m just scratching the surface of what many others have already discovered about what it means to be a great leader.

Most leaders protect themselves and their interests. Great leaders cover those around them, and move their organizations forward underneath the safety of that covering.

Many leaders are trying to figure out their own purpose and calling. Great leaders are discovering that their greatest purpose and calling is to help those around them figure it all out.

Many leaders create friendships so the job gets done. Great leaders create jobs so the friendships get done.

Many leaders coerce. Great leaders invite.

Many leaders believe the ends justify the means. Great leaders focus on treating the means with integrity and honesty and love, then allowing God to create the best end possible.

Many leaders believe that the size or their organization matters most. Great leaders believe that the size of every team member’s heart matters most.

Many leaders try and remove the tension of not knowing. Great leaders learn to dance in the middle of that tension.

Many leaders hide their weaknesses. Great leaders confess them.

Many leaders have core values that serve the organization. Great leaders help people to fully embrace what it means to live and breathe and find life within those core values.

Many leaders talk first. Great leaders listen first.

Many leaders control. Great leaders trust.

I suppose that If leadership is getting the people around you to do your bidding, then Hitler was a great leader. But if leadership is pouring into others so they discover the best way they can pour into a needy world, then Jesus stands atop the leadership boards.

For in Jesus, we find Someone who both loved and challenged people fiercely. We find someone who always invited people into something that was far bigger than themselves – something He called “the kingdom” – and we experience a man who alone offered the keys to that door’s unlocking. We see a leader who lived for the glory of His Father, but who created a band of rejects to help a dying world see that glory.

And I just can’t get beyond the fact that, over and over and over again, we only see and hear invitational language on the lips of Jesus, never coercion and guilt and pressure. Jesus came because He loved the world so much, but that love never lost its invitational nature to either follow Him with everything, or not.

I want to be more like Jesus, and let any leadership I offer to my family or church or organization flow from there. And I never ever want to abandon the multi-faceted diamond of leadership in favor of something that fits into a few simple catch phrases, but lakes the oxygen away from the soul of anything I lead today.

This article originally appeared on GaryMo.com. Used with permission.

Popular Stage Designs to Inspire Your Creativity

Hats off to those of you out there who get to spend your time dreaming, planning, mobilizing, and executing a well thought out stage design to use for services. No matter how big your church is, all eyes are directed to the stage, the place where worship teams gather to honor and glorify Jesus through music, and where pastors proclaim God’s glory by expositing the Word. No matter what happens on the stage, you had a hand in helping people be drawn into the presence of God and not be distracted by superfluous items.

I wanted to highlight an article from our friends over at ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com. They recently posted an article of the best stage designs for June 2017. Some of these designs are just amazing. I personally like Burning Boards. Check out their post and let me know what you think.

Most Popular Stages – June 2017

Thy Will Be Done

Thy will be done.

Those are the easiest words to say, and the most difficult to mean.

Thy will be done when I don’t see a way out.

Thy will be done when I’ve unknowingly created a vision of what Your will should look like, and have already started moving toward it.

Thy will be done when I have no human understanding of why or how you’re allowing this thing to happen in my life, and why you’re allowing it to keep happening over and over again.

Thy will be done in my grief, in my despair, in my heartache, and in my loneliness.

Thy will be done when I succeed and verbally give You the public credit, all the while harboring some secret self-reliance, pride, or even arrogance.

Thy will be done when the disease returns.

Thy will be done when the relationship goes south, or when the business plan backfires, or when the truth about who I really am is brought to some embarrassing light.

Thy will be done.

Kinda feels like we’re getting to the heart of those words now. Because at the heart of embracing the depth and breadth and soul and nuance of those four words – Thy will be done – is to add a simple phrase to their conclusion. What if we added – “…with no strings or expectations attached.” That’s what we’re really saying here, right? So…




For me, that’s the very best way I can mean it when I say it, and I can say it and fully mean it.  It feels like surrender to me, and I’m unaccustomed to feeling enough of that. It feels like I just came closer to the heart of worship than when I sing words to songs. It feels like I’m confronted with the choice to either believe in the goodness of God, or to abandon that belief in His goodness altogether. It feels like I can now begin to see my life in the light of eternity, not in the glare of these earthly and temporal and individual events.

Christ is not inviting us into some version of Christian Karma, friends, where His will is somehow attached to our good or bad deeds, and our lives get easier as a result of following Him. Not even close. He’s inviting us to climb up onto an altar, not as a sacrifice that will die, but as one that will truly and finally live.

So today, God – Thy will be done.. and truly…

with no strings or expectations attached.

So what about you? If you were to fill in the blank at this moment of your life, what words would you use in that blank space?

Thy will be done with no strings or expectations attached, even when __________________.  

This post originally appeared on GaryMo.com. Used with permission.

3 Tips for Effective Church Leadership

Church leadership is not for the weak of heart. Whether you are a senior pastor, worship leader or a small group leader, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into what you do. Every so often–after weeks, months or even years of leading your ministry– you must take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this still working?” Are you still leading effectively? Is your ministry running like a well-oiled machine, or could your leadership use a tune up? Here are some tips to get back up and running:

Learn to Delegate

Don’t try to be a hero. No one expects one person to carry the entire load alone. Enter: volunteers. Spend time getting together a team of volunteers/other staff members to help you. Maybe you already have volunteers waiting for an opportunity to get involved. If so, great! The key is to come up with a list of goals, or things that need to be accomplished, and delegate the tasks that can be done by someone else. Sharing responsibility with others helps to not only get tasks done quicker and more effectively, but also helps others feel connected.

Think Long-Term

Where do you see your ministry/church five, ten, or even fifteen years from now? There’s nothing wrong with working on goals for the “right now,” but you should constantly be striving to achieve your long-term goals. If you want to add a campus location in three years, start planning what that will look like. If you’d like to add a full band or choir to your small music ministry, treat the few people you have as if they are the 50 or 100 people you’d like to have. Matthew 25:23 says, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.”

Trust God Always

Serving in God and actively participating in ministry is rewarding, but there will be definitely be hard days. There will be mountains and valleys. At the peak of the mountains, you will be so thankful to God for allowing your ministry to grow. In the valleys, you will wonder if God is still present. Trust. God. Always. Remember that God has placed a calling on your life, no matter how big or how small. It is not your job to know how to make everything work, but it is your duty to allow God to be in control. He is faithful to do what He promised us in His word that He would do.

This may have found you ten years deep into ministry, or you may have just gotten your first pastoring position. No matter where you are in your journey of ministry, I want to encourage you to keep pressing into the calling He has for you. When you begin to doubt, lean into God. He sees what tomorrow holds, so trust Him today.

Dig into the Psalms with the Devotional Psalter

The Psalms make up a powerful book of the Bible that impacts us all in many ways and on many levels. Why is it that this book tends to draw us deep into places of the heart that can transform how we view situations and our lives?

First and foremost, it is God’s Word. We all know, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). We also know that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). But what is it about the Psalms that make them unique?

The unique character of the Psalms is that it is an entire book devoted to God as the audience. All of the Psalms are written to God, or about God. Yes, the entire Bible is focused on revealing the glory of God and His Son Jesus. The fact that we are reading a poetical book that drips with God’s glory, His goodness, His faithfulness, and the author’s emotions, however, is unique in how it helps us relate to God.

Finally, the raw and vulnerable emotions the authors display when they speak with God are unparalleled. They hold nothing back; they pull no punches. They empty their hearts before a holy God, trusting that they are safe and welcome to do so. It’s in these moments that I know I can open my heart and pour out my life to God knowing I am welcome.

These points, and many others, make the Psalms stand out to us, drawing us in for times of devotion and study. To help us in this area of utilizing the Psalms for devotions, I wanted to point out the ESV Devotional Psalter, a new product from Crossway.

The ESV Devotional Psalter is a tremendous book that is perfect to use during our times with the Lord. As I share more about this, let me dive a bit into the details of what makes this particular book special.

I love the look of the book. The pages are an off-white, antique color that gives you a sense of the book’s depth and history. The text is written in black in a highly readable font. most The beautiful part of this book, however, is that the title (Psalm 1, Psalm 2, etc.) and the verses are in a burgundy that really makes the text pop.

The content is just right for devotions, as it contains all 150 Psalms with a devotional after each one. It highlights an aspect of the Psalm it corresponds with and helps us to dive a bit deeper into the text.

Truth be told, when I showed my wife, she raved about it and brought it to her women’s ministry to show all of the women. They loved it!

I highly recommend this book and think it is perfect for your devotional times. Honestly, it’s also a great gift for a friend, child, spouse, ministry leader, or a complete stranger. The ESV Devotional Psalter will allow you to dig deep into God’s Word and help you truly encounter God by engaging with the Psalms.


You can find out more information on the ESV Devotional Psalter by going to Crossway.org.