Category Archives: Leadership
In the not so distant past I was thinking about all the Godly and solid pastors who are slogging away with little or no notoriety. We know about the many dead and living heroes who have thousands of Twitter followers and have prominent platforms, but what about the guy who is doing a great job with little or no fanfare? Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for the pastors and leaders who are faithfully serving and have broad influence to let us know about all the good things happening in their churches and ministries, but what about those who are serving in quiet faithfulness?
And then I had another thought: instead of those faithful and quiet pastors and leaders posting about their own ministry, what if someone else wrote about them. What if someone else sought to honor them and shared about their quiet faithfulness?
For example, I have a pastor friend who quietly and faithfully serves the Lord’s people in Allen, Oklahoma. I have known Chad Kaminski for almost twenty years. We first met at a university disciple now in Ada, Oklahoma. At the time, he was a student and I was his small group leader. I don’t remember a lot about our time together, and I don’t remember anyone else particularly, but I do remember Chad and that he was very intuitive and seemed to be a leader among his peers. Oh, and I think he challenged me a few times in front of the rest of the group. But as you will see if you keep reading, I am over it.
Fast forward to somewhere around the year 2010 when we crossed paths again, serving together on a Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) vision team. Since then Chad and I have built and maintained a friendship as fellow Oklahoma pastors. We interact regularly on social media and occasionally text and visit by phone.
I admire Chad for his faithfulness in one place. He still serves in his first pastorate and has loved the same body of Christ for almost 15 years. It appears to me that more pastors are staying in one place for longer stints, and I think that is a healthy trend, but 15 years in only one place is very impressive. He told me he has endured by being fed by mentors like Tim Keller, Mark Dever and D.A. Carson. Longevity has afforded Chad the opportunity to patiently preach and teach his people through some difficult transitions, moving them away from doctrines that are antithetical to the gospel and mission of Jesus.
During his tenure God has done a lot of work on Chad in moving him away from moralism to a more gospel-centered message and approach to ministry. When I asked him what he meant by this, he said that he now sees that the whole Bible is about Jesus and His saving work and everything in the Christian life flows from that. He said about his early preaching and teaching “I would tell my people that this passage teaches us to do this and not do that, but I would often fail to incorporate a Christ-driven understanding and motivation of the text. Everything flows from the gospel. If we tell people what to do or what not to do without telling them why they should do because of the gospel, then we are teaching them to be Pharisees who try to perform their way to a right standing with God.”
Chad told me that his favorite part of being a pastor is helping hurting people. “It is a delight to help them from the scriptures, showing them that God is for them and He is not grading their performance to see if they are good enough. I delight to apply the gospel to people’s difficulties.”
Like all of us, Chad has struggles in life and ministry. He admitted that he can be prone to make idols out of things he wants to accomplish as a leader, and he said it is hard to love people who seem to always want to keep you in check when trying to lead. He also noted that one of the biggest challenges he faces is trying to lead without “unraveling people” and not getting too frustrated so that the church can move forward to a better future while still keeping it together. Leading change and keeping people together is painstaking work.
Chad is a fantastic biblical thinker. He strategically uses Facebook to pastor his own people and others by writing posts that always start with: “A Few Thoughts On…” Some of the topics he has addressed are:
- Being Extra Tired
- Being the Main Guy
- The School Construction (in Allen)
- Paige Patterson and Battered Women
- Emotional Blackmail
- Ordinary Pastoral Struggles
I find Chad’s writing to be biblical, brave, clear and applicable.
Chad is also very witty as evidenced by a recent post about the royal wedding that many woke early to watch: “In 1776, I stopped caring about royal weddings.” Now I had not idea that Chad was that old, but I see his mind and found myself wondering what all the commotion was about since we Americans have moved onward and upward.
I have already alluded to this, but I very much admire Chad’s courage. Despite his telling me he does not like confrontation, I like that he is willing to go to bat for his convictions when he thinks an issue truly matters. Most recently he has been quite critical of Paige Patterson and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because of the way they have handled a recent controversy surrounding comments by Patterson. I believe Chad’s criticism is valid, and I admire that he has the backbone to express it in a straightforward and substantive way.
Suffice it to say, I truly admire Chad and I hope it continues to quietly and faithfully serve the Lord Jesus and His people in Allen, Oklahoma. If the Lord should give him a larger church and bigger platform, I trust he will be faithful with it and thankful for it also.
If you are reading this, perhaps God will impress it upon your heart and mind to think of someone who is serving quietly and faithfully, but gets little or no recognition in ministry circles. Maybe instead of tweeting our own successes, you and I could do a better job of honoring and building others up. In the final analysis, the only applause that will matter in the end is that of the Lord Jesus Christ, but until then, maybe each of us could do our part to spur someone else on toward love and good deeds, building them up as a part of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ.
Call me crazy, but I really enjoy mowing and trimming the lawn. I like being able to start something and see it finished to my standard of satisfaction, even if it is only for a moment.
But to enjoy the process and outcome of manicuring the lawn, I have recently been picking up a lot of rocks. You see, we had a house built this past year and the dirt work left a lot of various sized rocks all over the place. Rocks are good for many things, but they are bad for lawnmower blades and windows.
I want to mow the lawn. I like to mow and trim the lawn. I find satisfaction in doing so. But I need to pick up the rocks to do what I enjoy doing.
Such is so much of life.
If we want to do what we enjoy doing, and do it well, then we will have to do some things we need to do. And we may not always enjoy doing what we need to do, but we will do it in order to do what we enjoy.
If I don’t do what I need to do, to do what I want to do, then when mowing the lawn I might lose the enjoyment when I damage my lawnmower and surrounding windows.
So I will continue to pick up the rocks for the enjoyment of doing what I desire to do. And in doing so, perhaps I will learn to value picking up the rocks as a means to a more fulfilling end.
This morning at our weekly men’s gathering we used an article by Michael Hyatt called, Leadership and the Law of Replication, as a spring board for some very challenging discussion. In summary, he argues that those we lead will be like us for better and for worse – even if we don’t recognize that it is happening.
And that’s why it is important to have some self-awareness and other-awareness. We have to know something of our own strengths and weaknesses and we also have to be willing to see them in others and recognize that it is probably a reflection of our leadership. This is especially true in parenting. Why do your children act the way they do? When you observe them, you are probably looking at a living mirror. And as one man pointed out this morning, that’s scary, and even cringe-worthy.
But how does replication take place? One of the most helpful moments of the morning was when we identified three ways replication happens. These observations primarily came from the opening story in the article that is posted above. Replication happens:
- By what comes naturally. What is it that we do that we don’t even know we are doing it because it is so much a part of us that we are like fish in water? What comes natural to us tends to happen over and over again. The question becomes this: “Is natural helpful or hurtful?” This is why self-awareness is so important; you are passing on something to those you influence and/or lead.
- By what is done consistently. What is done over and over again sticks. This is why repetition is a necessary component of teaching.
- By what is distinctly noticeable. Replication happens because something is visibly modeled that does not fit with what is normal. What do we do that sticks out to others? Whatever it is, it probably is being replicated – whether good or bad.
The potential trouble with all three of these means to replication is that they may not produce a desirable and virtuous outcome. So I offer four guardrails to protect us from ignorant and accidental error:
- Begin by asking what you hope to accomplish. What is your goal? What is the result you hope to see? What is success? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need not proceed. Imagine deciding to build something without knowing what you want to build. That’s a recipe for frustration.
- Have intentional processes. Plan to take actions that are noticeable and consistent for others to see. You may also have to eliminate some things that come naturally that don’t accomplish the intended end. For instance, if you desire responsive and disciplined children, don’t watch TV while eating potato chips for four hours a day.
- Seek to be self-aware. It’s a frightening thought that you could be passing on to your children or followers something that you are completely blind to. Ask introspective questions about yourself often.
- Embrace community and shared leadership. The shortcoming of number three is that we really like ourselves and are therefore often blind to weaknesses that are obvious to others. We should invite trustworthy and wise people to critique our lives. When was the last time you asked your spouse what you could do better? What about a fellow leader? Also, by placing ourselves in a committed community of people and by sharing leadership, our weaknesses can be minimized because the people who follow us see a diversity of strengths that no one person alone possesses. My sons, for instance, need to see other males who are acting like men so that they don’t conclude: “That’s just the way us Prentice men do it.”
If we hold any kind of influence with people then there will be replication. So consider this question: If people imitated me in everything I did, would I be glad?
Our standards have changed, I think, in a way that’s not for the better. We are very lax about enforcing professional standards and demanding professional competence. Yet somehow, we have become very insistent about judging people’s private, consenting relations with other adults. Link to the whole interview.
When I heard this I immediately wondered: “Does he really believe what he just said?”
It may be true that professional military standards have fallen. Truthfully, I don’t know since I am no expert on the topic. I doubt, however, that people care more now about people’s private lives than they used too. If it seems that way, it most likely is the result of an unending and vicious appetite to fill a never-ending news and social media cycle. So I am not really sure people are more insistent about judging people’s private business, I just think there is more access to everything celebrity and scandalous.
This information age makes me glad that I am no a celebrity.
What’s troubling about Ricks’ comment, though, is that he seems to imply that what is done in one area of life has nothing to do with what is done in another. He seems to be suggesting that we should be able to live life in isolated categories that would allow for a person to cheat, lie and break promises to a person or persons, and then expect us to believe that actions over here, have nothing to do with what goes on over there. If a person isn’t honest with their spouse, a person they made a public covenant with before God, why should a different result be expected professionally? I have a hard time seeing a clean divide.
I have been a General Petraeus admirer for a while, but his unfaithfulness to the covenant he made with his wife causes me doubt the commitment he made to do what is right to defend our country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. He may have still been able to be a fine CIA leader, but it does cause me to doubt. It is inevitable that his private life casts a shadow on his public life, and the same could be said the other way around.
Is this fair? No less than cheating on his wife is fair. We all will reap what we sow – whether now or later.
Here are a couple of other thoughts:
- Ricks comments: “We have become very insistent about judging people’s private, consenting relations with other adults.” This makes adultery sound very harmless, but I can tell you who didn’t consent – Holly Petraeus. By the way, it’s not private. The commitment to covenant faithfulness is a public one and God is watching. If a person wants to pretend like God isn’t there, well, they will have to take that up with God.
- We humans intrinsically want others to be committed and honest. We have a sense of justice about us that expects honesty from others. We have an internal moral compass – especially with what we expect of others. I think this is why the unbelieving world hasn’t yet completely discarded marriage. Humans have an innate belief that commitment and honesty are virtuous things. If not, why then would anyone make a pledge to a lifetime of monogamous commitment? It doesn’t take a contract to procreate. Put yourself in Holly Petraeus’ shoes and ask whether her husband’s actions were just a consenting relationship among adults. No one that I know wants to be betrayed.
- We humans are fallible creatures. As I said, I admired and thought highly of General Petraeus for his service to our country, but his fall is another stark reminder that we all are unrighteous and, therefore, we all need Jesus. We simply must not make idols of broken people. But neither should we assume that we all are destined to fail miserably. We are saved by faith in the gospel and not by works, so that no person may boast. But we are saved for good works of righteousness (Matt. 5:48). We have to navigate the tension without running into a ditch on either side.
- We should pray for General Petraeus, his wife and our leaders. We would want that for ourselves (Matt. 7:12).
Tomorrow (Tuesday, August 24th) at 9:45 we will gather for staff meeting and we will have a new pair of university interns who will join us for the first time. Welcoming new staff to their first staff meeting is a helpful trigger that allows me to introduce and remind what I expect from everyone on staff. I am not a dictator but I have found that it is clearly communicated expectations which enables good communication and in turn builds trust. After all, how can anyone know what success is if there hasn’t been a clearly communicated standard of what is necessary?
Consider for a moment what would happen if you were planning a trip with several people and you were in charge but never told them where they were going, what they should wear, how much money they should bring or what they would be doing. It is probably safe to say that the people you planned the trip for won’t be going with you anywhere anytime soon. It seems to me that far too many leaders make the simple mistake of not adequately communicating what each person should and can do for whatever it is they are asked to do. What ensues as a result of failed communication of expectations is frustration and all sorts of organizational dysfunction. This is why I try to regularly evaluate, update and communicate expectations.
Here is the list of expectations the staff will receive:
- Biblical and Christ-Centered for God’s glory. This is the foundation for all we do and attempt to do.
- Mission and Commitment – the universal church and our local church is God’s plan to demonstrate the gospel by “taking an unchanging savior to a changing world.” To be committed to Jesus is to commit to His mission.
- Trust – Accountability and Confidentiality– I trust you to do what God has called you to do, but you must be accountable to do it. Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. Confidentiality: What’s said in staff meeting stays in staff meeting – at least some things. There must be mutual trust among the staff.
- Jesus Excellence and Sunday Mornings – This is the only time the whole church is together. We need to be excellent and Bible-saturated and Jesus-centered. Key Question: Does Jesus look good on Sunday morning?
- Thick-skinned – You must be willing to both critique and be critiqued in your areas of ministry. You must be able to take constructive criticism and lovingly give it. But do it with a Matthew 7:12 ethic.
- Consistency – “The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it is chronic inconsistency.” – Jim Collins
- Serious Yet Joyful – Ministry is serious because eternity is serious, but you must be able to have joy and fun doing it. Balance.
- Pace–Setting Awareness – You as the staff are pace-setters. If you are cranky and short, others will follow. If you are friendly, others will be friendly, etc. Those who follow take on the attitude and actions of their leaders.
- Soul-care and Boundaries – You must be disciplined in caring for your own soul. You must read the Bible and Pray and Worship and Rest because if you don’t, you won’t be able to help others if your soul is atrophied from neglect. You must set appropriate ministry boundaries.
What does it mean that we largely ignore the pervasiveness of lust and pornography in our church culture? Is it just taboo because it is awkward? Is it inappropriate? Was Jesus being inappropriate? Is it a case of “What we don’t know won’t hurt us; ignorance is bliss.”? Is Jesus being unrealistic about his standard of practical righteousness concerning sexual purity?
This Sunday we will be preaching through Matthew 5:27-30 and hitting head-on the topic of adultery and lust. Below is a brief exhortation to our CORE Group facilitator/leaders about the need to go forward with this topic and the teaching of Jesus. Please be prayerful as we continue to go through “Exposed; The Sermon on the Mount.”
There is a reason we go through the Bible and not around it. We must deal with hard texts. This will be an uncomfortable text and topic (Matthew 5:27-30) as all difficult topics are, but keep in mind that tension is our friend because it causes us to think and act, hopefully in obedience. In times like these I see why Joel Osteen stays positive instead of biblical, though in doing so he clearly has no regard for the way Jesus or Paul or any other biblical writer did ministry and confronted real problems and sin. Adultery and lust are very taboo topics in the church and get danced around a lot. I will try to be sensitive to the complexity of this topic in my sermon. I would expect you will do the same and be tactful in facilitating. However, I will not avoid it and I implore you to hit it head-on too. The world rightly looks down on the church because we will not take on hard topics and deal with “real” issues, pretending like everything is fine when in fact it isn’t. Let that not be true of Eagle Heights for the praise of His glory in all things, especially in the depths of our hearts.
We will not be like Christ until we realize that we need Christ so that we can obey Christ. May the Spirit of Jesus convict, heal and change us as we honor the word that He inspired. HOW DO I BECOME A CHRISTIAN?