How to Make Someone Else a Better Leader 03 What’s So Good About Raising Leaders

I am surrounded by a team of wonderful people. I am surrounded by some great leaders. It has taken a lot of time to invest in these people, a lot of faith to believe in them, and a lot of humility to let them take the spotlight from me. It is not easy raising leaders, but it is essential. But I have found over time, there are loads of benefits of this.

  • You get wisdom from them. I can’t see everything the right way, I only have one perspective, mine. I can only see things the way I see them. Other leaders around me have wisdom I don’t have, have perspective I don’t have. I can ask them – how do you read this situation? What do you think of this person? What is your advice here? It is awesome.
  • They make your life easier. I can travel more now knowing things are taken care of while I am speaking at a conference. They help me fly further than I have ever flown! Followers do not make your life easier, other leaders do. Followers want your resources to get things done! Other leaders help carry the load!
  • They encourage you. How many times has one of my team of pastors said something either in a sermon, a leader’s meeting or one on one that has kept me going, set me on fire, helped me – over and over, more time than I can count.
  • They think like you. There is a way you think as a leader, you dream big, you solve problems, you get involved, you look for the best way forward, you don’t take sides. When you have leaders around you they think like you.
  • They are not threatened by you. Because you raised them up and by doing that you show that you are not threatened by them shining, they respond by not being threatened when you shine. You both rejoice when the other succeeds, it creates a very healthy relationships!
  • It’s generational – you raise up leaders by raising up leaders so you end up raising up leaders who raise up leaders. That’s an awesome cycle to be involved with. I am now launching churches which are pastored by leaders I did not raise up, but the leaders I raised up raised them up. That’s something truly special.
  • There is no success without a successor. You are not getting any younger. You will one day leave this planet. What you do – is it important enough to keep going when you are gone? Then you must raise up leaders.

    Selah.

My 5 Principles of Confrontation

I don’t really like confrontation, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, Paul told Timothy not to appoint a “striker” as an elder (1 Tim 3.3), and a striker is someone who is always ready for a fight.

However if we are to lead, we must confront. Someone is going to teach someone in your church something bad, someone is going to want to be a leader but not living a lifestyle appropriate to that leading, someone is going to want to take over a service who has no right to do that (and in charismatic churches they will pretend God made them do it). There are many reasons why sadly in different situations we must confront people. It’s not an easy job, but it is part of leading.

I have five principles I always adhere to when confronting.

  1. Build a Bridge
    1. Everyone is an island, and if you want to drive a truck-load of correction to someone then you need to build an appropriate sized bridge or the truck will sink half-way there. The first question I always ask is “Am I the right person to do this” – if it is something happening in Tree of Life Family, often the answer is yes, sometimes my wife can handle it better, sometimes the individual pastor. If it not happening in the Tree of Life Family, sometimes it simply is not my place. If I have no bridge to the person, it’s not my job to correct or confront them. I am not going to write a letter to some stranger preaching on TV to correct them, there is no bridge there. It is literally none of my business. It’s not my job to correct my parents either – physical or spiritual. That is not the way confrontation works. You need to know your place, and many don’t.
    2. If. for example. a couple come to Tree of Life for the first time and they are living together, we do not jump down their throat the first week. We love them, we bless them, we thank them for coming, we show them how to register their children in children’s ministry. We just keep loving them and building the bridge to them. Maybe a few month later, he tells me he can really play the guitar and wants to join the worship team. Well, then we have the discussion about marriage, but because we have spent a long time building the bridge, the truck gets across. This is vital to all confrontation. Often you do not even need to confront a situation because it is not your situation to confront. Selah.
  2. Distinguish Hurt and Harm
    1. I once had root canal surgery without anaesthetic. I was doing a funeral immediately afterwards and I did not want to speak at a funeral with a numb mouth. It really hurt me, but it did not harm me, it made me better. Drinking lots of sugary drinks did not hurt at all, but it harmed me.
    2. If you have a strong enough bridge to someone and you genuinely believe you need to confront, do not ask will it hurt, but ask will it harm them more or less if I do or don’t speak to them. Some people are going to be seriously harmed by their own behaviour. Some people are going to harm others if I promote them to a leadership position. I might hurt them if I tell them I will not give them the position, but that is not harm. You must learn the difference. Some people are afraid to hurt anyone and it harms a lot of people.
  3. Do Not Take it Personally
    1. Someone may not take your words well. It’s not personal. I often write down the problem I am going to speak to someone about on a piece of paper, and put it on a table and look at it until I realize it is separate from me. It’s a small exercise, but it works for me.
  4. Be Prepared for Someone to Get off the Bus
    1. Every time I confront someone in Tree of Life, I am prepared (though not expecting) for them to leave the church. If not, then I might not say what needs to be said. I once confronted a minister in one of our churches about his inappropriate use of funds in his own ministry and the dreadful state of his marriage, within a week, he “felt the Lord” lead him to go to another church. Several times I have put someone into some form of Biblical church discipline for their behaviour and they have suddenly felt the calling to go to Bible College. That absolutely is not the way to start ministry, but I am not going to fight them, they are burning their bridge to avoid my truck and that’s their right (apologies for the mixed metaphors)
    2. We are bus drivers. God has called us as leaders to go from point A to point B. Some people will come with – or we are not leaders – but you have no assurance from the Lord the same people will stay on from the beginning to the end, sometimes old people get off, sometimes new people get on. Don’t fall apart – keep going to your destination.
  5. Aim for a Win-Win
    1. People need to know how to win. It’s amazing but true. Don’t just chide someone for their pornography addiction, get them covenant eyes software, check up on them, give them teaching materials that are going to help them. Do not just confront someone and tell them they are not suitable to be an elder, tell them why and show them how they can change and develop. Give them hope. Our job is to provide hope to people and help them walk in their dreams. Correction is part of that, but not condemnation. Correction says do this to get back on the path. Condemnation says you will never get anywhere. Learn the difference and go for a win-win – you win in that the person develops towards their dream, and they win because they develop towards their dream. It’s an awesome result, and it will happen often.
    2. Whenever I confront someone I am thinking of how to help them, how to give them a path forward.

How to Make Someone Else a Better Leader 03 Bigger Leaders Have Bigger Groups

I remember fondly the TV series Heroes, where Peter Petrelli was told that if he saved the cheerleader, he would save the world. What a joy to have such a simple way to save the whole world – just to save one person. But if you are a leader in the body of Christ, and you want to grow your church or ministry, let me tell you the key. It’s not save the cheerleader, save the world. No – it is this:

GROW THE LEADER. GROW THE GROUP.

If you want a living church to grow, grow the elders. If you want a church to grow, grow the pastor. It’s that simple. It is not any more complicated than that. So many churches are putting finances and effort into doing a lot of things that will not produce growth. That is why churches are not growing – because pastors are not growing. It really is that simple. IF A CHURCH IS NOT GROWING, THE PASTOR IS NOT GROWING. Trust me when new people come to a church, they can very quickly tell the difference between a pastor that is growing, trained, able to teach the Word, able to flow in the Spirit, able to handle problems and situations and one that isn’t. A great Facebook advert or a great website will never take the place of this. Do what you can to get competent at leading and pastoring yourself and if you are leading leaders, invest in them.

John Maxwell says that if a church stops growing, it is because the leadership has stopped growing. He says “Leaders determines the level of an organization”. That is the truth. If your church has stalled at 100 for example, that is because your leaders and your leadership can handle 100. Change so you can handle 200 you will eventually reach 200. That involves change and development – positive and radical change, which is why so many people don’t do it.

When the leaders grow, the growth around them is automatic. Weak leaders shrink organizations, strong leaders grow organizations. Everything comes back to leadership.

Selah.

Be Bold 01 It Makes Satan and Religious people nervous!

If you read Psalm 23 which is a revelation of Jesus as our pastor and the benefits of being in a local church, one of the wonderful blessings is a cup that runs over. You could translate that as: more than enough. Greg Mohr likes the phrase “enough and extra”, others use the word abundance. It is all referring to the same glorious truth about our Heavenly Shepherd – He does more than we dream, more than we imagine, more than we can ever ask for.

God is a great big God and realizing that should make us bold in Him. He is never going to let us down, He is never going to give up on us, fail to provide enough and extra for us to walk in our dreams and then some!

So many people think they are living by faith but they are not. They are living by religion. They read something happened yesterday and are pleading with God to do it again when God wants us to walk with Him today!

Whether we have revival today depends on us not God. And we need to walk with God and know His goodness to the point it makes us passionately bold to speak His truth and be carriers of revival. It will not come about by us begging and pleading with Him or repenting of someone else’s sins to cleanse the nation. That’s just ignorant talk invented by people who don’t really know the goodness of God.

People tell me I am bold. Some say it as compliment, other people say it as an insult. Those are normally religious people who genuinely have no idea how good God is. But my boldness if I have any does not come frome, it comes from the Lord. My confidence is in Him.

But here is some good news… We can all be confident in Him because He is good to all. We can all win. I don’t need your light to dim for mine to shine brighter. We can all be the head and not the tail. We can all prosper and be in health. We can all minister.

Serve Jesus boldly. Make the devil nervous. And if you make a few religious people nervous too, that’s OK.

Tell people the truth. Do not be afraid of how blessed you are. Be confident in the Lord. Talk about how good God is. Share your faith with others. Show love to others. Lay hands on the sick.

How to Make Someone Else a Better Leader 02 Who Around You Is A Potential Leader

I am going to give you a very simple mental exercise I do when I decide if someone is a potential leader. Right, I want you to imagine it is Sunday morning and church starts in ten minutes. And something has gone wrong. There is a fight in the worship group that has turned vicious, and several members in the worship team are arguing over the song choices and it has devolved into a fight about who is the most (and least committed). It is turning nasty, voices are being raised and tempers are flaring up. You are utterly unaware of this because you are solving another problem in another department.

The person you are wondering about whether they are a potential leader is the first to arrive on the scene and arrives in the middle of the situation just as it is kicking off.

Now, will this person bring the situation to still waters and bring everyone to calm and peace and deal with the problem and make it smaller, or will they make it worse, causing the whole thing to blow up. Will they be someone who pours water on the fire or someone who pours petrol on it?

When you know if you want them to be the first person to show up, you know if they have potential as a leader in your community, church, business, etc.

If you grow those people you would want to be the first there if you could not be when there is a potential fire – grow those people – and you will grow the organization.

Selah.

How to Make Someone Else a Better Leader 01 You Had Better Be Making People Better Leaders

Every leader should be fruitful. One of the hallmarks of fruitfulness is to reproduce what you are. Christians should reproduce more Christians. Leaders should produce more leaders, apostles should produce apostles, pastors should produce pastors, and so on. You bear fruit according to your kind. I wonder about people who have pastored for decades and never raised up another pastor. I think it takes a lot of effort not to reproduce, reproduction should be natural.

It starts very simply with two very simple things. I want you to think carefully about whether you are doing these two things, so that you know if in the next five years you will be raising up some more leaders like you. You need more leaders for your ministry, church, business, organization to grow. So take a second, ask God to help you answer these questions honestly:

  1. Do you appreciate the people around you for who they are and what they do for you? Do you praise their work and accomplishments?
  2. Do you believe in your people? A lot of pastors do not. Do you believe they will do a great job if they are released – and if not, that it is your responsibility to invest in them until they can?

I used to work in a programming team, programming computer code. I was not the best programmer, I was not the most intuitive at the languages, I struggled to sit and read code for hours on end to find bugs. But I had a skill very few in computing have – I could bring people together, I could inspire people, I could get us working on the same team doing the same job and winning together. That meant they always wanted me around!

If you study the life of anyone who is a great leader, you will find they are inevitably surrounded by other great leaders. That is not an accident, that is not a quirk of nature. That is something that they deliberately did. I know pastors who love to send their leaders to Bible Colleges – outsourcing their leadership training. Why would you outsource the most important thing you could do? Why would you send people to be looked after by people who are not pastors for a couple of years and then expect them to come back to you as pastors? If you are the pastor, bear fruit as a pastor and raise up some pastors!

Let me tell you something that good businessmen know, but very few pastors know. People are the only asset that appreciate with time. I have got some pastors who have worked with me for years and years, and they are better pastors than they were when they started. My laptop from those days is worth nothing now. My car from back then is now scrap metal. We have gone through a bunch of projectors and cables and so many other things that have worn out, but the people in Tree of Life are better than ever. The leaders are better than they have ever been.

You are not so anointed that you can do your dream alone. This blog post has been inspired by listening to Andrew Wommack last night who said that all leaders must learn to delegate. You must learn how to build a team and build that team. You must find a way to share your dream, and share your scheme with others and then invest in them and build them. John Maxwell says the most important task of leadership is keeping good people, I would say as a pastor it is to build, keep and develop.

Most pastors keep their concept of fruit in the idea of sheep. More sheep means you are a better pastor. But Jesus said bear fruit according to your kind. Your main ministry is to raise up pastors. Evangelists – it isn’t how many sinners you win, it is how many evangelists you birth. Apostles stop focusing on planting churches and plant the dream of church planting in the hearts of others. It will both lighten your burden and enlarge your dream at the same time – and that cannot be a bad thing.

When someone says to me they are a fivefold ministry, “hello, I am a prophet” – my first question is how many prophets have you produced? If the answer is zero, I am not going to start proclaiming you as a great prophet yet.

You should be surrounded by great people and be making them great leaders and then greater leaders. Great leaders produce leaders that produce leaders! I know that leaders who produce leaders win in life but those who do not, and even outsource their leadership development fail. Selah.

What is your plan for the leaders around you? Are they growing? Are they helping lift your load? Consider this. Next time, we will answer the simple but vital question of how do you know who are the potential leaders around you to develop.

Dealing With Uncertainty 06: Be A Change Carrier

When times are uncertain, you have to keep the dream big, like I said in the last post. But at the same time how you get from here to there may change. Our dream is our destination, and if it is a God-given dream then you must absolutely hold onto the dream and keep the same destination. But if times are uncertain, we have to be ready to innovate and change the way we get there. As leaders we must become carriers of change.

Even if you are teetotal, I would imagine you have heard of Jim Beam whiskey, it is one of the top whiskey brands, and is the most internationally available whiskeys. You can buy it anywhere in the world. Jim Beam was a farmer who made his first barrel of whiskey in 1795! The company has been selling whiskey for over two hundred years! It has been in business longer than anyone has been alive, it has been in business since before the car and aeroplane were invented, before trains, before computers, before tin cans, before photographs, typewriters, and fridges existed! Their dream of making whiskey is still the same, but the way they do it has had to be re-innovated over and over again.

In 1854 they moved the entire distillery next to a train station because they realized the easiest and best way to get the whiskey delivered across America was with the newly invented and built railway system.

In 1920, alcohol was outlawed across America, and the president at the time (also called Jim Beam) used the land to grow citrus fruits and mined it for metals. He kept the whiskey’s secret formula secret and kept planning for a future he could sell whiskey again. He was 70 years old when the Prohibition ended, and quickly came back, they built a distillery faster than any other whiskey company in the US, was selling whiskey again less than four months after the laws changed, giving them the edge over their competitors. In fact, most of their rivals had gone bankrupt. But Jim Beam did not fail, it increased during tough times.

He was capable of carrying change – the company over the years was capable of carrying change. This is something we in the church need to learn. When we face uncertain times, we cannot ignore the challenges, we cannot wish that life was magically better. We need to face the roadblocks in our paths and work out a new, fresh way to our dream and our vision!

Most of the things that impact the local church are utterly out of the control of the pastors. When we faced lockdown, there was nothing I could do to keep having church meetings, it was that simple. I was doing great, advancing the kingdom, and suddenly I had to become a carrier of change. We could be facing lies, a church split, lack of finances, a lawsuit, national pandemic – whatever it is, keep hold of the dream but be flexible on the path forward.

Many pastors claim to be living by faith during uncertain times, declaring boldly “all is well, we will just keep doing what we are doing” – but it’s not faith, it’s fear, it’s panic, it’s an ostrich response to the uncertainty, and it won’t help. We need to be people of faith but we must be people who realize we need to change routes often as we progress.

We have to accept that the way ahead is messy, it is not always comfortable, the road you want to take is not always open. Look up and look forward and walk forward knowing that we can innovate, we can survive. If the whiskey producers can handle the Prohibition, we can handle what is ahead.

The next time you are struggling to advance, think of Jim Beam growing citrus fruit on his land, keeping going, dreaming of a day in which his whiskey would be famous across the world. Keep dreaming, and plan an alternate route. Do not stop, do not retreat.

Dealing With Uncertainty 05 Do What You Do Well

I used to run a McDonald’s restaurant. No one ever once came in and asked for a fillet steak with peppercorn sauce. If someone did we would all think they were weird. We all know what we get when we go there. Our job wasn’t to do something new but do what we were known to do and well. You can go nearly anywhere in the world and you know what you are getting in a McDonalds. People don’t complain about the food there unless it is slow or cold. They expect the food fast and hot.

That is because they have been establishing for decades that this is what they do. In tough times, their challenge is to keep providing what is expected.

We must, when times are uncertain, go back to what we do well. One of the key things I do well is minister healing to the sick. I was doing healing meetings long before I started pastoring. When I am stuck what to do, I often hold a healing service. I hold healing services when we start our new churches. People expect that at Tree of Life they can find healing for their body, among other things. It’s becoming part of the brand of Tree of Life. Our other pastors are bold when it comes to teaching healing and ministering to the sick. If we had a Tree of Life Church that was not seeing healings, I would have to do something about it.

In uncertain times, there should be certainties. One thing we must not throw out of the window is our standards – our cultural standards, our spiritual standards, the standards of our message, our ministry, what we produce, our way of doing things. Stay on point!

And if you have let things slip – do not beat yourself up, just get it unslipped! It happens to all of us that the changes around us can cause us to change what should never be changed. It’s not always easy to get unslipped. People do not realize that one of my biggest battles is just to keep the standards of our Tree of Life Churches on point. I pray, I teach, I counsel, I fight to ensure that Tree of Life is always full of the Word, full of the Spirit, full of the nations, filled with love. Often that means we will not do certain things, and you do not win any popularity contests when you cut a certain meeting out or do not have a certain guest speaker, or will not promote someone who you know cannot carry the vision of the Tree. Correction is hard on people as well, but we know leadership requires strength.

Maybe you can see that your standards have slipped – pray to the Lord and ask for ways to refocus on the dream, and do things for the dream! Get people on board and make some changes.

Dealing With Uncertainty 04 Make the Dream Plain

In my last post on handling uncertain times as a leader, I said to make sure the dream stayed certain. That meant in your mind as the leader. You have to know what is non negotiable. Tactics change, plans change, timings change, roles change, routines change but your destination in your heart should not change. We are still going to do what God called us to do… But maybe online, maybe not with the people who let us down, maybe not in the way we expected.

But it’s not just enough for you to know that the dream stays the same. You have to clearly communicate the dream to those you are leading. You have to know how to make the vision plain.

You need to let others know clearly: this is where we are going, and we are going to get there. This path is closed right now but there will be another path. You need to remind people God is on your side and His path to your dreams will not be denied by a sea in the way, city walls, or an axehead sinking without trace. But you may have to do slightly different things but the goal is still the same.

Even online Tree of Life Church was still full of the Word and full of the Spirit. We saw people healed last night in different continents during an online healing service. We are doing healing meetings like we have never done them before, but the dream is still the same. It’s not enough for me to know that, I need to let people know that too.

One of the things this does is let people know what a win looks like, to know what to celebrate. That way the dream becomes part of your culture.

Dealing With Uncertainty 03 Don’t Ever Let Go of the Dream

One of my dreams is to plant one hundred churches in the UK. In the next two months, we are planting another two churches meaning we will have ten churches in the UK.

We are en route to the dream. But it has not been easy. We have been lied about, discouraged, persecuted, hated, all for the sake of the kingdom of God! What we have had to do is hold on tight to the dream.

In uncertain times, it is vital you don’t let go of your dreams. You might have to find alternative paths, but the grand destination should not change at all.

You, as a leader, need to constantly be course correcting. Am I still heading to the dream or am I distracted, am I stuck because of a change or uncertainty where I should be coming up with alternatives. Not alternative dreams but alternative paths to the same dream!

You hold onto a dream corporately by what you celebrate. You help other people dream big with you when you celebrate the dream advancing.

I can see when a church has gone into survival mode when it celebrates the trivial.

In Tree of Life, we are celebrating two brand new churches. That is something worth celebrating.

Yes, a new projector or new building is nice, yes an invite to preach overseas is nice, yes, this and that change can make the journey easier, but I am celebrating steps to the dream not the little things along the way. That is the number one way you celebrate the dream: You celebrate every step towards it.

An organization that no longer makes steps towards a dream will start celebrating banal, superficial changes. Oh, we moved to a new venue around the corner. Is it larger, does it help you extend the kingdom more, or is it just an external sideways step? Nothing wrong with that, but don’t celebrate that or everyone in your church will want a new building, as they will think it’s important because you made a fuss out of it.

Celebrate salvations, healings and steps to the dream. Celebrate the kingdom of God being advanced. Then everyone in your church will want to see that.

In business I see people write a business visiom statement because they are told that’s what they have to do, but they never look at it again, they never walk towards it, never fight for it, never push towards it. And how much sadder is it when a church does this.

Oh yeah, here’s a vision statement, says the pastor, but if no meeting in the last ten years has been about stepping forward into the dream then you don’t really have a vision. That’s not a good response to uncertain times

In uncertain times, keep the main thing the main thing. You may have to find a new venue, a new strategy, a new website, but remember you are selecting alternatives because you are obsessed with reaching a destination. Do not celebrate the alternative, celebrate the goal. Selah.