5 Leadership Lessons from Pastor Duane Sheriff


I have just had the privilege of being in a conference where one of the speakers was Duane Sheriff.  Duane pastors over 7000 people, and ministers grace with wisdom and humour. 

I also had the honour of recording a TV programme with Duane for Revelation TV, and having lunch with him and his wife, Sue today.

Here are some lessons I have learned from Duane this weekend:

5.  There is always true grace in humility.  Duane and I had communicated earlier in the year, but for no one’s fault our wires got crossed.

Duane was so gracious, willing to bend over backwards to accommodate us, never assumed negative things and was absolutely humble.  It was such a powerful example to me.

4.  Do everything not to be offended.  Duane gives away between 300k and 500k CDs free of charge a month.  Yes, you read that right.  His number one series is his teaching on offense.  Duane is passionate that offense is not just the flesh, but a strategic attack of the devil to destroy the kingdom.  Deal with offense!

3.  The importance of local church.  In a day when some grace people are not even going to church, Duane is building a powerful church through God’s grace.  I thought I was passionate about church until I spent time with Duane.  It really inspired me.

Duane said he doesn’t believe a Christian can grow without a local church.  I agree so much.

2.  How to handle when a friend is accused and persecuted.  When some Christians hear about the assault on my character, they gossip, they avoid me, they behave in strange ways.  Not many thankfully, but some.

When I told Duane today he looked me in the eye and said you didn’t have to tell me, I wouldn’t believe it, and it is never to be brought up again.  That showed me true genuine maturity.

1.  The love for people.  I met Duane and Sue in the venue today and we walked to the restaurant.  The whole journey we met people who recognized Duane from the conference.  He stopped and listened to each one, prayed with them and treated them like the most important person in the world.  That was me seeing Christ in the flesh watching him minister.

Our Culture 06: Developing a Progressive Culture

One of the most important roles of a pastor is to set the temperature for the culture of the church. Many pastors are like thermometers – they allow the church to set the temperature, in fact they let the loudest and most carnal people in the church to set the temperature. But what we need to be as leaders is thermostats – we set the temperature, and we need to set it to hot.

We need to develop a progressive culture in the church. A culture that is progressive means that the church is moving forward, growing, developing, maturing. A regressive culture is moving backwards, stuck in the mud, staying where it is, and stopping the church from crossing over to great overflow and increase.

There is a lot to say about this but here are three things that will always help you build a progressive culture in your church or organization:

  1. Stop oiling the squeaky wheel. Part of what we think good Christian ministry is can be so far removed from good Christianity.  We think that the people who demand the most attention, the most immature, the most hurting, the most needy are the people we need to gather with, to meet with week after week and to spend time with. It sounds reasonable, but to be honest it isn’t. What happens is that these people never grow and by attending to them you are teaching the rest of your church that as a leader your attention is on those who are pulling the church back. If people want your attention, they will start to develop problems. The whole church doesn’t grow and it moves backwards!
    1. You need to celebrate the superstars in your church. Those who turn up on time, who serve without thought of reward, who love and go above and beyond the sense of duty. Then the whole church is pulled forward.
    2. You cannot emphasise this point enough.
  2. Don’t worry about offending people. There are always people with thin skin. Either they grow up or they go somewhere else, either way, you win. Some people do not want to change, and it is going to cost you your peace to try and change them. Tell people the truth, let them decide how to respond and let them respond however they want. You can stretch to accommodate other people, but don’t stretch yourself out of shape or let other people dictate how your church should move. You are the thermostat.
  3. Realize that whenever someone is trying to make you feel guilty or scared, they are using illegitimate authority. You are the one in charge, be full of love and grace, but don’t let yourself ever be led by someone who is making you feel guilty or scared.

Halal (1 of 7)

This word is one of the seven Hebrew words for praise.  It has three meanings:

  • To shine clearly
  • To dance with passion
  • To be outrageously foolish

Shining refers to us being happy about God and happy with God.  The word “Hallelujah” comes from this root – to be happy with Jah (short for Jehovah – God).  We should be happy when we praise God – thankful and pleased.

Dancing with passion is not forbidden in the church, it’s encouraged by the Scriptures.  God loves us dancing for him.  It doesn’t mean to dance with skill, but with passion.

Outrageously foolish could cover a lot of things (!) but the focus here is being foolish in love with God.  David danced with all his might – others might have thought he looked foolish, but he wasn’t dancing for them!  What would it take for you to be considered foolish today?

Our Culture 05: Inspiring and Challenging

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One of the things we are doing at Tree of Life is building a culture where there is both a high level of inspiration and a high level of challenge.

I have been in a number of churches and conferences which are very inspirational. The messages are designed to help us dream big, to paint a picture of a big God, to show us our potential, to help us see a bright future. The kind of talking that makes you want to change the world.

I love inspiration. I love dreaming big. I love preaching big. But if all you have is inspiration you will not function well. People will always be looking to a future horizon that will never arrive. You will blow up not grow up. You will end up giving hype not hope.

I have also been in a number of churches and conferences which are very challenging. All the preaching is about how we need to change, we need to focus on God, we need to stop behaving a certain way and behave another way. And it’s all true and all good – I don’t care how successful you are, we never reach a point where we have to stop making course corrections, or repenting to use the Biblical word.

I love being challenged. I love stretching myself. I love changing. But if all you have is challenge you will not function well. People will get discouraged making changes if they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. You will throw up not grow up. You will end up giving people a stone not bread.

You need to learn how to both inspire and challenge people. You also need to learn how to create a culture that inspires and challenges people. You need to learn the balance and rhythm between the two – some weeks you might preach really inspirational, the next week a real challenge. You might get a guest speaker in who is inspirational, the next one might be challenging. You might have a Bible study on an inspirational topic, so the next one might be challenge. You need to learn when the people need the carrot and when they need the stick. You need to pray and get wisdom and flow with this.

Neither inspiration or challenge is enough on its own, but both together produces life changes.

We say it like this at the Tree: we inspire you to dream big, but we challenge you to live the dream too.

Leadership Lessons from Arthur Meintjes


Last weekend we had the joy of hosting Arthur and Cathy Meintjes from Kingdom Life Ministries.  Arthur is now the most prolific guest speaker at Tree of Life Church, and the whole network of churches is better off because of it.  And this Sunday he brought a powerful message on the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Some people may remember Arthur spoke at our first ever Gates of the City conference and has a lot to say about leadership.  Here are some lessons I have learned from him this weekend:

  1. Leadership should always be in the wisdom of the Spirit.  We should never use fear or guilt to get people to do what we want.
  2. We need to enable people to distinguish between what the Lord demands and what we demand.  When people are serving in local church, it doesn’t earn them salvation or spirituality or brownie points with God.  When we as pastors and leaders ask people to do things a certain way, it’s not to get right with God, it’s because we as the leaders of the organization want it done that way.  There is nothing wrong with doing things a particular way, and nothing wrong with strong leadership, but never let the people think it is to please and impress God.
  3. When people walk out of your life for petty reasons, “don’t let the door hit them on the way out”.  Life is too short for silliness, we have to get on with the kingdom work.
  4. God wants to talk to everyone themselves.  Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection was for the purpose that the Spirit could be poured out on all flesh so that all flesh can hear and follow the leading of the Spirit.  We must encourage people not to see us as great men of God or oracles and prophets, but encourage them to be led by the Spirit and learn to hear His voice for themselves.
  5. Generosity should be part of our leadership.  If we cannot start at 10% and give what was demanded under law, we need to ask why are we not able to start there?  The idea that grace means we do not have to give and give generously is alien to the New Covenant.
  6. Be human!  So many people are trying to not be human, and be some sort of angel when God made man and was happy to make man.  It’s not just ok to be human, it’s awesome.  Be yourself and be a human being.
  7. Be practical.  It’s ok to dream big and it’s ok to have a big dream (you better believe that Tree of Life people!) but you have to be practical.  You have to make plans and think things through.  Before you go to war, count the cost.


Leadership Lessons from Marie Helene Moulin

We have just had the greatest leadership conference we have ever had.  It was so glorious, so free in the Spirit, and I have never had so many testimonies from a single conference ever.  If you want to listen to the conference, you can go to www.gatesofthecity.net and have a good listen to all the sessions which are online and absolutely free.

Our keynote speaker was Marie Helene Moulin from Good News Church in Nice, France.  She had a great deal of wisdom to share with us, so here is some that I have distilled for you:

5. Beware of loneliness.  Paul had his Timothy, everyone had someone in the New Covenant.  People had other ministers around them.  You need other ministers around you to keep you balanced and helped and sharp and on fire.

4. Some people will mistreat you and misunderstand you.  They misunderstood Jesus, they misunderstood Paul, and they will misunderstand you.  It’s how you react when this happens that defines you, not that it happens.  It happens to any strong ministry.

3. Learn to flow with the Spirit.  The Spirit of God will lead you to do things that might not seem normal or proper, but they will bring victory and life to people.  Marie ministered with a great freedom in the Spirit, and her ability to be humble and listen to him and let Him lead was something very special.

2. Never ever compromise the truth.  Marie preached on Sunday morning on how we cannot sit on the fence.   We have to live right and think right so we can change the world. Many Christians use grace as an excuse to live in the grey, but Marie preached powerfully on the need to live right and line up with the Word.

1. You need a company.  The Bible tells us to “taste and see the Lord is good”.  You cannot taste food via TV.  There are many many cookery shows, and they can all be inspiring and helpful but none of them will ever allow you to experience the taste of food.  The parallel is this: you can watch preachers on TV and there are a lot of good preachers on TV and on the internet, but there is nothing at all that can ever take the place of having a local church and being in the local church.  You cannot be properly fed outside of the local church.  The virtual world is not the real world.