How a Baby’s Funeral Taught Me Reliance

For multiple years, through a local hospital’s ministry, I had the honor of conducting memorial services for parents who had lost their babies in utero or within the first months of life.

Each year, these saddened families came and gathered underneath the tent near a graveside marker titled “Tiniest Angels.” Many brought toys or stuffed animals to hold onto or place at the grave marker. In many instances, this was the only memorial service certain families experienced for their child.

littlest angelsPhoto courtesy of Jeff Black @jeffblack76

The first year I spoke at the service, not only had I not lost a child, I was not even a dad.  I couldn’t empathize with their loss. How was I to give hope to these families?

With my inadequacies, never more did I rely on the truth and hope of God’s Word.  It’s something I wished permeated all my actions. Full dependence on God allows Him his greatest work. With my inadequacies, I never gave hope to those families, but God did.

Since then, ministry has allowed me more opportunities to be used by God. And with my parenting privilege quadrupling, I find myself in the same frame of mind I was in while preparing for those memorial services–total reliance on God.

The stakes are too high for me to try to meander through ministry and life with Brian-sized strength to do God’s work.

Like me, you’re not prepared for all the opportunities God will present you. But God provides ample amounts of Himself so we can be used by Him. I hope you and I continue to live in the tension of not being enough ourselves, but serving a God who is enough.

What life circumstances have taught or forced reliance on God for you? I’d like to have the conversation via Twitter or email.


Continue Reading

Why we require a leadership course for staff and 5 reasons you should too

It felt just like the first day of a college class. The syllabus was passed out and the instruction method was explained. And then, the assessment tool was revealed—a comprehensive test at the end of the semester.

Worse yet for me, the instructor and test proctor was my direct supervisor!

In college, I always remember being overwhelmed by the syllabi the first week of classes. And six months into my new job at Brentwood Baptist, I felt a little overwhelmed too. But this 40-hour required course on leadership has grown on me, and its value to the church staff has been evident.

Eleven years ago, a key lay leader introduced Brentwood Baptist to a leadership class. He had several key staff members certified to teach the course, called Model-Netics, a Main Event Management course.

At that time, we were the only church to engage it. It’s mainly corporations that teach it to their employees. But even as a church, we wanted to teach leadership principles. While our instructors have some ability to contextualize it to our church situation, it’s mainly about applying leadership principles, wherever you work.

Here’s why we require all of our full-time employees (support staff, administration staff, professional staff, and ministers) to take this course and pass the test:

  • The leadership models give us a common language. Of the 151 models, I’d say 25 of them are used in everyday nomenclature amongst the staff. When the language is used, we’re all on the same page and clearly understand what is being communicated.
  • It gives us a common approach for “accomplishing pre-determined objectives through others” (Model-Netics definition for management).
  • For those who supervise, it gives clear goals for supervising. For those who don’t supervise at work, it gives them a clear expectation of how they should be supervised.
  • As with most leadership principles, they can be applied in everyday life outside the office. Most everyone exerts leadership in some realm, so this content is helpful wherever they might lead.
  • In addition, our church leadership trumpets self-development. This is one of the methods we offer for self-development.

Every organization needs to improve, and the church is no exception. Many ministers feel accomplished when they complete seminary, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize the lack of parallels between their school curricula and their actual job responsibilities.With our staff leadership, this course closes that gap.

If a church is led well, it gives an excellent opportunity to minister well too.

Model-Netics is a worthy course. There are other great leadership courses, but the point is that we as church leaders should be teaching management and leadership. We should facilitate self-development.

Do you have a required leadership course at your church?

What’s been your experience?

Do you feel there’s a place for leadership training in church that isn’t focused on the biblical leadership?

I’d love to hear from you via Twitter or email.


Continue Reading

Coping with Church Leader Jealousy Syndrome

My name is Brian, and I suffer from church leader jealousy syndrome.

Despite it being the day the church I was serving was being featured in a local Metro newspaper article as being the biggest in the county, and having launched another regional campus, I felt jealous.

Sin perpetuates jealousy and competition.

How’d I become jealous after reading the newspaper? Later in the day I was reading a recently released book that was authored by a young leader (a peer in age). It talked about all his successes and friendships with other notable church leaders. Jealously emerged.

I was so jealous that I mentally posted a review of his book on in righteous judgment of his writing and name-dropping.

I remember it first happening at my church in Texas. Our church had done some great things for Christ, and for a while, we were the place to be. Then, three miles away, God chose to bless another church, and they became the “it” place.

The pastor of the new “it” church (who was the same age as me) took a church of 150 people up to several thousand in just a few years. I became jealous. God convicted me of this, and still does. I have to work hard to combat this sin.

One way I chose to get over my jealously of other church leaders was to take an opportunity to get to know them. It’s harder to dislike someone once you actually know them personally (their calling, gifting, their values and intentions).

I later served at a larger church that had a larger influence. That should’ve ended my jealously, right? Nope, my jealously then focused on the next largest churches or the their influential leaders.

Have you ever felt this way?

We’ll never be satisfied if we equate church size to success. That’s the problem in equating church size as an affirmation of God’s calling or even favor. I know better. Size is only one factor of many to determine a church’s effectiveness for the kingdom. I’ve witnessed that firsthand.

If by chance you suffer from my same syndrome, I suggest:

  • Be prayerful and remind yourself via Scripture who you are in Christ.
  •  Get to know those of whom you are jealous.
  •  If need be, stop reading their press. If their Twitter feeds cause you to sin in jealously, stop following them.
  •  Be comfortable where God has placed you. Rarely, if ever, is church staff ministry a ladder to climb.
  • Accept that no matter your success or your church’s success, you’ll be tempted to be covet the next biggest thing, so, get a grip on who and where God has called you to be.

p.s. When I first published this, I was an XP at mega and multi-site church. and now, I’m at a small church plant. Yet, I still believe in what I wrote, and at times, I still suffer from “church leader jealously syndrome.”

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Receive Posts in Your Inbox

Join my mailing list to receive all my blog posts in your inbox and other special subscriber-only content.

You have Successfully Subscribed!