Leadership Lessons from David 02: Boring is Building

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Before David became King of the nation of Israel, he had a very remarkable CV. He was a shepherd, a musician for the king, a servant, an errand boy, the sandwich deliverer, and armour carrier. Notice – he was never a politician or soldier. God trained him to be king through exceptionally menial, boring jobs!  And God still trains Christians for great jobs, to run businesses and great businesses through boring, menial jobs!

Do NOT shy away from boring jobs!

Nearly all great people trained doing boring jobs. They served in the lowest levels of society. In church, I have been the chair-setter-outter, the cleaner, the usher, and so on. All of them have helped me be a better leader.

The best leaders are those who have been the best followers!

The best way to be a reasonable king is to have been an armour carrier! You don’t give impossible commands, you understand the job, you know the implications of what you say.

Learn to not hate boring tasks.  Jeremiah was sent by God to watch the potter at work, and the potter span the clay around over and over and over and over, round and round and round. It was boring, but each revolution changes the clay slightly until it isn’t a lump anymore it is a vessel.

God wants to do the same with us today. Let him!  Don’t run away from boring jobs!

Leadership Lessons from David 01: It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start!

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In my general blog for church life, I am currently doing a series on Samson, a man who is strong and weak. As I was flicking through the Old Testament looking at his life, I flicked to a passage on David which says “And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches and honour, and Solomon ruled in his place” (1 Chr. 29.28), and I thought – that’s how I want to go – full of days, riches and honour. In fact, the most powerful part of the legacy of David in this verse is Solomon. It’s amazing how many successes are not real success because they have never raised up a successor.

I don’t want to be one of those pastors who when you hear his name you think of the scandal. I want to be someone who has much fruit and finishes my course!

And David wasn’t perfect, in many ways he messed up as bad as Samson, but he got through it because he had learned some things Samson never did. So for all you pastors and leaders out there, I want to do a series on some of the things David learned.

And let’s start at the beginning, David was the youngest of seven brothers, and he was the shepherd of the family. He began by looking after the family sheep – a lowly and small job, but David started there and was faithful there.

It is my experience that fewer and fewer people want to start a ministry in a small way.  People don’t even know how to start small. They want to rip another church apart to get people into their church. They find a pastor who is building, and break his legs to steal some of his church, because they hate the days of small beginnings.

Through deceit and dishonour, they rip a church in two to gather a following for themselves and use those people to start their own ministry.

Sometimes people have been disparaging of Tree of Life Church because some of our satellite churches are very small indeed. I realize that these people do not know how to start something out of nothing. They don’t know how to begin a church. They don’t know that the entire network for 6 months was a church of 3-5 people!

Do not be afraid of small beginnings, rather trust God to promote you!

While looking after the sheep, David had two encounters – one with a bear and one with a lion.  Learning to fight tough battles in the small, seemingly insignificant church of his father’s sheep, taught David how to fight for the nation! When you have preached several hundred times to 12 people, you will be fine preaching to 100 or 1000 or 10000. You have learned!

I have preached all over the world, to small groups and large groups, to hostile groups and to friendly groups, to places I have been cheers and places I have been jeered. Learning this in small settings has been invaluable. Now I am on one of the largest Christian TV stations in my nation, speaking to possibly hundreds of thousands of people weekly. That’s ok with me – I have spoke to 3 over and over and over until I know how to speak.

But people today all want to be in a rush to succeed. Whether it is the assistant pastor who rips a church in two to get his crowd, or the Bible College student who hangs around the Bible College hoping to be offered to share to the class or teach a class rather than go into all the world and make a disciple or two, or the people who email me every single week asking to preach in our church – they want to get there quickly, and haven’t learned this foundational lesson from David.  Serve where you are, minister where you are, never be afraid to start small.

Don’t be in a rush to get there. Better to make a mistake in a small group than a huge group. Better to misspend a thousand pounds than a hundred thousand. Small is a necessary stage in the kingdom (and in business too). Jesus said you have to be faithful in small things to get big things, and you have to be faithful in another man’s stuff to get your own stuff (Luke 16.10-12). Most people don’t seem to believe that any more – but David did. He looked after those sheep like they were millions and like they were all his. And that was the key to his promotion.

You might be in the school of Small Starts today. Your class today might be “Treating Other People’s Ministry as Well As You Want Your Ministry to Be Treated”, your class might be “Turning up on time and preparing a great Bible study for 10 people, while you really want to preach to a thousand, but still preparing it just as well for the ten”.  Well, go to school then! Take the class. You won’t be at school forever, your graduation will come, your kingship will manifest one day. I believe in you! Enjoy the training, as one day it will end.



Dos and Don’ts When Inviting A Guest Speaker

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I love guest speakers. It’s a chance for me to rest and enjoy a faith-building message from another ministry, it’s a chance for our people to hear the gospel of the kingdom framed in a different way, it’s a chance for our people to hear a specialist with a specific message or gift, and finally, it’s a chance for people who have never heard of our church find us because of a guest speaker’s mailing list.

However, I have seen several churches ripped to pieces by guest speakers who have ulterior motives, generally a hobby-horse, or to build their mailing list, or just plain to get money and not care how ethically or righteously it comes. We have had a couple of near misses ourselves, and I have learned a few lessons about inviting speakers.

  • DO invite people who you know and who you benefit from hearing. If they don’t feed you, they won’t feed your people. It’s that simple. All the speakers that come to Tree of Life Church are people who feed me.
  • DO invite people who you trust and feel comfortable dealing with.  If you don’t feel right corresponding with and inviting them, then it won’t feel right when they come. Some of the best guest speakers at Tree of Life now are dear friends of mine, and I love them and they love me, and it’s great – but of course that doesn’t happen overnight!
  • DO openly ask if the speaker has a rider or any requests.  That conversation should be started by the church – you as the pastor should take the initiative and have that conversation before the speaker arrives. It can be a little embarrassing but man up and do it!
  • DO talk about financing the speaker beforehand – and DO pay your speaker well. If you don’t know how much to pay speakers, speak to other pastors of churches your size. I have always overpaid what I have heard the market rate is, because I don’t think you can put a price on a great speaker. Save up beforehand if you have to. The idea of letting someone speak and benefiting from that and not honouring them financially is utterly unbiblical and utterly unChristian. You should be giving an honorarium that fits the speaker and your church.
  • DO honour your speaker when they are with you – give them enough time to minister, let them flow with their gift, and enjoy their company. Let them feel welcome.
  • DO ensure if the minister has product they are given a place to sell it and that people are encouraged to purchase.
  • DO use your speaker where he is at their best. Don’t ask an evangelist to speak on end-times, let them evangelise! Craft the experience around the dominant gift of the speaker.
  • DON’T let your speaker advertise for sign ups to their mailing list from your people. They are not there to build their mailing list, they are there to feed your people. You are providing a good honorarium
  • DON’T let your speaker take his own offering. That’s for you to do and your people to do.
  • DON’T let your speaker prophecy judgement and doom and gloom over you and your people!  Shut that down immediately.
  • DON’T let your speaker advertise their events at other churches. Come on now!  That’s just rude.
  • DON’T let your speaker stumble around – let there be someone who lets him know when to arrive, where they are staying and so on and so forth. Use some empathy!
  • DON’T ever forget to say thanks.  Send a thank you card after they have come, and express your appreciation.