The Test of Loyalty 01: Gold is Gold

Fool's gold: Counterfeit bars turn up in New York | Fox News
Fake gold bars, discovered in a bank in New York several years ago

There are a lot of metals in the world, some of them are a very golden colour. In many parts of the world, the main way to test if a metal is real gold is to put it through a very hot fire. Fire will make all the other metals discoloured but it will make gold shine even brighter. It does not discolour in the heat.

You see without a test it is impossible to tell the fake from the real. And over time every Christian will go through tests that reveal whether their loyalty and faithfuless to God, to the Father, to the Son, to their church, to their discipleship, to their mentors and leaders, is true loyalty or fake loyalty.

When I entered the ministry, my loyalty has been tested over and over. There have been times where if I was not really born again, not really baptized in the Holy Spirit, not really walking in love, not really called by God, not really a man of faith, it would have been exposed in a huge way! My commitment to the local church has been tested. My commitment to my heavenly calling has been tested. My commitment to the men and women who have fathered and mentored me has been tested severely. So, I want to alert you as a leader and as a Christian – you will be tested. And there are three main tests that test your loyalty. Your elders will be tested on whether they are loyal to you. If you plant other churches and form a network of churches, your spiritual sons and daughters will be tested on whether they are loyal to you!

The Test of Remoteness

The first test is the test of remoteness. Because people are human and people are limited to one place at a time, a leader cannot be with everyone at once. If you, like me, are running several churches, you cannot be in all of them at all the time. Paul could not be in every church he planted at once. So, he wrote to the Galatian church and said this: Isn’t it better to seek excellence and integrity always, and not just only when I’m with you? (Gal. 4.18, TPT). Every business leader has to face this test of remoteness when he opens another branch or office. There are many people who do not work hard unless the manager is physically there. This is why many businesses cannot expand. Many pastors cannot plant a second church because the first church does not have the people who will maintain and be excellent when the pastor is away.

If you are working for someone else, I promise you that remoteness will test your loyalty one day. When the boss, the senior pastor, the manager, the dad, the leader, whatever is away at some point you will consider “out of sight, out of mind” – you will think, I can do it my way, I can slack off, I can ignore instructions because they are not here. It is so important for your life success to be disciplined and excellent and have integrity even when the leader is away. People who pass the remoteness test can go and plant churches and open offices in other nations! They will make sure the ministry still has the same flavour, the same attitudes, the same excellence and the same integrity. It’s not an easy test to pass, so you need to work out how you can obey Galatians 4.18.

I currently run six churches across the UK, I am planting another five. I cannot be present in all those places – but I have people who are loyal to me, whether I am nearby, or remote.

I have been to churches where the pastor is away for ten minutes, and someone is being sarcastic and patronizing to him. I have been in businesses where as soon as the boss is out the office productivity drops to nearly zero. You cannot be that person. You cannot just praise someone and follow them when they are not remote. You have to be loyal. If you are not loyal, you will never be promoted, you will never have your own ministry, your own business.

I judge people by what they do when I am not there! Read Gal. 4.18 in the Message: It is a good thing to be ardent in doing good, but not just when I am in your presence. Can’t you continue the same concern for both my person and my message when I am away from you that you had when I was with you? We need to embody this verse!

There was a man in my life who when he was around me was loyal to the point of flattery – he would always praise me. “Ben, I am absolutely committed to you”, “Ben, you are my spiritual father”, “Ben, you are so good to me, you are loyal to me, you honour me, you open doors for me”. But when I was not around, suddenly I would hear “did you hear what this person said about you”, “did you hear what they said, do not go back and help this person again”. People always tell me when people are disloyal, and they will always tell the people you are disloyal to! You will not get away with that kind of inconsistency to the Word of God and the principles of God’s Word for long! This person failed the remoteness test, and his ministry is not fruitful today. As soon as I confronted him on what he was saying behind my back, he disappeared and will not contact me today.

Loyality is not what you do when someone is around. Loyalty is you being ardent in doing good, even when someone is remote. Without that sort of loyalty, denominations cannot grow, missionaries cannot go overseas, ministries cannot open new offices. Learn to develop a life that embodies Gal. 4.18. Here is that verse again, from the NKJV: But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.

Next time, we will look at the second test. The test of continuation.

Set the Pace 06: Give Energy to Others

New Thermal Battery Could Be A 'Game Changer' For Storing Renewable Energy

As a leader you should have energy – that goes without saying. You have to put in effort and life and oomph into getting things done. But one of the true blessings of leading is to be able to energize others and to energize those that you lead.

How can you give your church, community or business have more energy? There are a number of things you can do!

  1. Put people in the right place. Don’t put someone in the position of deacon, or usher, or making the teas if they do not have the drive for it. You need people who give off energy for a thing then get them doing the thing! Help people find their sweet spots and the whole organization will have more energy! Now someone you think is just dull and unenergetic, they might just be in the wrong place. Putting them in the children’s ministry might suddenly unleash energy you (and they never knew they had). This is a skill and art form and you do get better at it. But think about where people are and where people could and should be.
  2. Do not promote the leeches. Some people are not in the wrong place, they are wrong in every place. Their self-pity, their selfish ambition make them leeches of the energy of others. Again, recognizing these people is a skill. But think about who when they walk up to you at work or at church, you immediately brace yourself – that person is an energy leech and you are getting ready to have your ears talking off, to have to listen to whining and moaning, to be drained. Those people are not just leeching energy from you but from everyone around them. They need to be discipled and not working with you!
  3. Promote the Champions. You know, the people who radiate energy, and energize others. The people who warm up a room just by being in it.

You have to realize that energy leechs are a real threat to any organization and they slow down everyone and everything. It stops people even wanting to move forward. Personally, you will be dealing with leeches every now and again as a leader, so ensure you have enough time in your schedule to spend time with the champions that refresh you and encourage you and lift you. You need time with your mentors, time with your friends, time with your peers. Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So make sure you are being energized yourself – or you will never be able to energize anyone.

As anyone who understands physics knows, to accelerate anything requires the most energy. Make sure you rest well before a time of acceleration and make sure you help your people rest. That way you hit the ground determines everything! You need more people around with energy.

Another time you need a lot of energy is to remove a blockage. Sometimes things go wonky (very technical term) and you need to put them right. Sometimes a church stops growing or even starts shrinking, sometimes you hit an obstacle or bottle neck. To overcome that takes energy. You need to recognize these times. This last Sunday morning, someone said I was unusually quiet. I was – I was conserving my energy because in the evening I had a situation that may have required all my energy. It’s that simple. You cannot hit 100% speed all the time, it is impossible and you cannot do it. You need to know when to conserve energy and when to use it. You need to find a rhythm that works and produces fruit.

The good news is that energy multiplies. It is like the flu, once one person gets it, other people around them get it. Then the whole group is inspired and motivated and moves forward quickly.

You also need energy when it comes to solving problems. You might not get it right first time and might have to try again and again! Energy makes you more persistent. It makes you a force to be reckoned with, it helps other people start moving, it helps everything move forward. I see so many churches (that’s my field, pastoring) that are not moving forward. They are the same every week, some are even diminishing week by week – and the reason is that the lead pastor does not know how to energize people.

Learn how to energize yourself and then others. It will change everything.

Set the Pace 05: Know When To Slow Down

lung problems: Before you doze off: Sleeping more than 11 hours or less  than 4 hours can cause incurable lung disease - The Economic Times

The quickest way to get moody is to not sleep enough. A survery in the UK showed that people who do not sleep enough are seven times more likely to feel like life is overwhelming them and five times more likely to have feelings of loneliness. It stops you thinking and acting properly. Another study showed that not sleeping for 24 hours is the same as having blood alcohol content of 0.1%. That is drunk! That is illegal to drive drunk! If you are driving your people at a pace in which they cannot rest or sleep, you are not setting a good pace!

You need to sleep – you need rest – you need a break. How you rest, how you sleep, how you move slowly at the right times is very personal. How much sleep you need is personal. Some people can catnap, some can sleep in a car, some can sleep on a plane, some wake early, some don’t. It’s all different. But a short nap is one of the most powerful ways to improve your attitude and memory!

Did you know that Chelsea football team, along with several other Premier League teams, has a paid sleep trainer for the whole team. He makes sure the players’ rooms are the right temperature, helps them get to sleep and deal with things like jetlag and emotional pressure.

In addition to sleeping well, you need to rest. You need a holiday! You need to be like God – rest one day in seven, and then you – like the land of Israel – need time to be fallow. Not sowing, not reaping, not growing, not working, not rushing. Just reading. You need time in energy-saver mode! Now I know from personal experience that when you are pioneering something new a holiday can be terrifying. I really love what I do, and I am often reluctant to take a holiday – but I know how important they are. Holidays are great for rediscovering our dreams, our thoughts and our priorities. A lot of my best ideas for the church and my most precious times of prayer and wisdom have happened while I have been walking, at the gym, exploring Italy, or whatever. You need to realize that sitting at a desk for all the hours you have does not lead to great decisions always! A holiday is not an interrupting, it’s another thing you have to manage with your time. It’s a real thing – find your kind of holiday, find your rhythm of the year, find out what helps refresh you!

A holiday can make you come back and work a lot faster, and keep up a better pace overall, and be more fruitful. You have a holiday – and like sleep refreshes you over night, a break is like a big long sleep. When you have a good holiday, you will be better when you come back, a better leader, a better worker, a more fruitful saint.

Set the Pace 04 How Do You Eat An Elephant

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
How indeed!

The answer to the old question “how do you eat an elephant” is one bite at a time. Which means some tasks are just big tasks and just take time. Building a church, setting up a new business, losing weight, changing the direction of a church. All of these tasks take time. But if your job is eating an elephant, then don’t just settle and decide “well, it has to take time” – maybe you can shave some seconds off the eating, and do it quicker.

  • Maybe you can persuade other people to help you eat it. However long it takes to eat an elephant, it will take less time if the eating task is shared. If you raise up other people to help, and build community, things will always take less time. It might be that there is someone around you that is an exceptionally fast eater and loves elephant! Give that task to them!
  • Maybe you can practise eating and become a quicker eater. Maybe you can learn some new skills and techniques that let you eat quicker. What can you learn about your task, who can you learn it from?
  • Maybe you can eat more than one part at a time! When we started Guildford as our second church, something amazing happened – we started learning how to pastor twice as fast as before! We had twice the problems, twice the situations, twice the pace! Everything doubled and it was a time of great acceleration for us – instead of there being a miracle in one church, we could have a miracle in two. Instead of dealing with some new guests, we had double the number of new guests. Now, we have a family of churches and they are all growing. We are learning so much. If we had waited to “finish” Dagenham, get a building, build a large team, have a million pound turnover before starting our second church, then we would still be moving at a slower pace there. If you are waiting for the test market and testing and learning for too long, other markets will get away from you. And what if you could learn from all the other markets.
  • Maybe you need to develop more discipline and eat when you don’t feel like eating. So many people just do what they feel like. You will not always feel like working, like serving others, like exercising. You will not always be motivated. You have to develop the character to do things out of a sense of discipline and routine, not out of motivation. While some people are hunting motivation, a disciplined person can change the world without feeling like it..
  • Work out what actions and times and styles are best for eating and get more ate! Have a sense of reflection about your pace-setting and running things, and work out what works best and do more of that. You should be measuring things and putting more energy, staff, effort and money into the things that work the best for you!
  • You are the leader, you should be the one deciding how long a task should take, and how fast it should be done. One of the main tasks of leadership is to set priorities. What things need to urgently be “eaten” and what things can be left to tomorrow, next week, next year – or indeed never have to be done. If your task is to eat an elephant, probably best not to have a cheeseburger and chips beforehand. Sometimes we cannot do the things we should be doing because we cannot stop doing things that just do not matter.
  • You need to be unafraid of failure. You have to develop a sense of persistence. You need to continually remind yourself of your dream and vision. You need to work on your team and make sure they can handle the pace. You need to inspire people to work together.

Do these things and you will win! You will complete every task, and it will be awesome!

Set the Pace 03 A Step Faster

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind': US celebrates 50th  anniversary of first moon landing

1% faster is the difference between being first at the Tour de France and 76th. That’s a big difference. A small increment can change a lot of things.

From 1945 to 1954 the world record for running one mile was 4 minutes and 1 second. It seems impossible until Roger Bannister decided it was not! He got specially designed lighter shoes, he started training in a number of different ways, and he broke the 4 minute mile in 1954. Within six weeks, several others had managed it. You see when you speed things up, others are inspired and challenged by that!

Now what does that mean for your church – if you could do twenty things in your church or ministry (or business) 1% better, your whole church would be 20% better. A small increment can change everything, a small step forward can be a giant leap forward!

Two years ago Google changed the shade of their toolbar to a shade that was fractionally lighter, but it increased how many people clicked and it increased their income significantly. A minor change can have a big effect. We are living in a generation where we want to have grand, dramatic gestures that play out on Facebook and Instagram and get views, but really what we need is to just increase our pace slightly, and move slightly faster, and inspire our people to do it. Greg Mohr stopped calling visitors to his church “visitors” and started calling them “guests”. That is a minor change, it takes very little effort to start that change and have your team of ushers and leaders do that – but it meant a lot more people who came to his church stayed and were discipled. A small change often is more achieveable and more fruitful than a grand gesture.

Success in life is not linear. You get 1% more excitement, you get a lot more than 1% more results. Interest is compounded over time! Growth will always in ministry start off slower than you want, but over time if you keep setting the right pace, it will be more growth than you expected or dreamed of (Ephesians 3.20 is still true!). Making a small change is less exciting than winning the lottery or being the next GOD TV sensation, but it is what is going to produce lasting fruit, sustainable fruit and help your people think and grow and be discipled.

I am currently planting churches far sooner than most people think it should be done. There are recommendations on the size of the mother church, and so on, but the way I am doing it, all of our people from the early days of Tree of Life have experience of a family of churches, going to conferences together, sharing pastors and leadership, sharing wisdom, praying for each other. That has been invaluable over lockdown but it is invaluable at any time. That is the power of small increments, small steps forward. Now to do this you need discipline, you need to be making disciples, you need to be raising up people who will say “guests” rather than “visitor”, you do not need ushers who are going to say what they like when they like. You need people who see the bigger picture.

You will also need a lot of patience. Dyson made 5126 vacuum cleaners that did not work. It was model 5127 that worked and made him a multi-millionaire. Persistence and patience are what win! Model those values yourself and impart them to your leaders and you will be able to say “hey, we can change this part of our ministry” – we can do this slightly better – make the changes and watch the growth explode!

Set the Pace 02 Speed It Up!

Bucks Fizz are reuniting for a virtual Eurovision performance

Part of your job as a leader is to speed it up when it needs speeding up. That is something we must have the skills to do. Some people, maybe most people, will go too slow when doing something essential and if we perceive something is going too slow we need to pace set as leaders. Most humans are not good at setting their own pace – they go too fast or too slow, mostly too slow. We need to work out the right speed as leaders, and prepare our people to go at that pace too.

The most important skill in speeding up the pace for a task in your organization is empathy. You have to be able to understand what pace the people around you are going and what speed they would actually be more comfortable going. A super-dooper speeder-upper understands that pace is done by people, so he learns about the people.

Now, he does not take the pace from other churches, other people, other businesses, but from what the Lord is showing him and what the people can do. But if you are needing to change, refocus or handle a problem pace is so important.

When the lockdown started I knew I had to get my people online. I had to get the Word of God into them, I had to get them hearing notices because they were not getting a notice sheet anymore, I had to get them out of panic and walking forward at a dignified pace. I needed to speed some things up for people. You need to speed up some processes!

Amazon Prime can deliver anything you want in the UK next day! So when your team takes three weeks to reply to an enquiry about whether your church is online, you have failed that person in their mind. They are comparing you not just to other churches, but to other companies, and other experiences they have had! If another church had a more streamlined website they might have gone there.

One of the biggest hindrances to the pace of change in any environment, but maybe in a particular way so big in most churches is the history of the group – “this is the way we have always done it”. There are people in your church whose minds must be changed for you to progress, and that can take time. You can go too fast, but often we are going too slow and need to speed things up. I believe nearly every church in the UK should be growing faster, not slower. You need to speed up the pace and inject that faster pace into your people! Be fast, but not harried and hurried! People need your message, they need you to contact them, they need you to have some pace about you. When lockdown started, our team called over a thousand people, at least eight hungred of them twice. I did not make many calls, I was working on technology, I was writing messages, I was sending emails, but as the leader I set the pace for those calls and injected some life into volunteers to get them done. I praised publicly those doing loads, I shared stories on our social media and in sermons about successes, and I increased the pace because that task was essential and time-sensitive. When you have time-sensitive tasks, you need to set the pace.

The only thing that should stop you moving faster is your integrity. Growing responsibly is important too! You should also pause to plan, and pay attention to details. This is all part of setting the pace. If the pause button is pressed, you as the leader should be tbe one pressing it. If something is working, you should be disseminating what is working and letting people know and celebrate that win. If something is not working, you should be stopping it and quickly. These are times you need to set the pace.

You need your empathy to know what pace people can handle as well. To be a good pace-setter you need to understand the speed your people can be fruitful and not harried. You need to up the pace, but not so much that people cannot have a healthy life-balance. There’s not really a right or wrong answer to this, you need to know that some people are superstars and can do a lot more than you might think possible. There is one volunteer in our church who does so much, and is at the top of his game in business. I have often asked his wife – do you see your husband enough, because if not, I will take church responsibilties off him, but he really is that fast! Other people if I put that workload on them as volunteers it would be unkind of me. You need to understand people to be able to set a pace. It is that simple.

I like being around superfast people – people who can see what needs to be done, people who can set a pace, people who can move things forward. But I am empathetic enough to know not everyone is like that. I am not being judgemental here, I am just remind you that people are not all the same. Some people take a while to catch on, but when they do they will be the most loyal people you have. You cannot burn them out at a pace that for someone else would be fine. Move things faster, and let those people handle things that are less time-sensitive.

In the Bible, there are two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is straightforward time, the hours, days, months and years as they pass. Kairos is an appointed time for something – the moment where things have to be done. We all have kairos moments given to us by God’s grace, our job is to recognize them and get the pace going. If you change things too quickly, no one will ever agree and you will cause resentment. If you change things too slowly you will not be able to do anything of value. You have to learn how to set the pace.

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he said that timing is one of the keys to having a great company. It’s also vital to a great church. You need to know when things are changing and respond in the right timing, you need to know when things are an urgent threat, you need to know what to do. It’s not a question of going at one speed or another, it’s going at the right speed because things are changing.

If it is a time of slow, go slow, let the people rest and heal. In a time of fast, set the pace and make sure people know why it needs to be done fast. Big changes with no time sensitive nature, you can take them slowly. You need to develop this skill.

Next week, I will give you some very solid and practical advice to speed things up just slightly. You would be amazed how much a small increase of pace can change everything.

Set the Pace 01 Leaders Set the Pace!

How long could the hare sleep and still win the race against the tortoise?  | by Krist Wongsuphasawat | Medium

One of the tasks of leadership is setting the pace for the community or group that you lead. For example, as we went into lockdown and came out of lockdown, my job as leader of the Tree of Life Family was to set the pace.

We cannot run off, charging wildly, but we cannot stay where we are. We need a healthy, dignified, safe, but bold, marching pace to advance – and it is one of the essential tasks of leadership that you set the pace in the group or community you are leading. Jim Collins in his book “Great By Choice” (I recommend it!) found out that one of the keys to the top companies in any field was this: they knew when to slow down and they knew when to move fast.

In Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen says “it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast!”. Sometimes in life it feels like we are going as fast as we can and going nowhere. That’s the wrong pace, and that sadly is the default pace for many people – but as leaders we can set a better pace.

The key to sustaining a pace in your church, your business, your family, your community is this: you need to build and maintain momentum. Let’s use this introductory blog post to focus on this: what do I mean by setting the pace? Then we can move on and look at aspects of this in later weeks. There I am setting the pace! We are going to grab the basics first then move on. I have just set the pace by the way I am writing today. You can set the pace in your organization with the speed you do things, the speed you release information, the speed you hold meetings and conferences, the speed you move from one thing to another.

You need to deliberately set the pace. Some things need to be done quickly and efficiently and got out of the way. Other things need more time. Working out the difference and setting different paces for these different things will mean you are more fruitful. There are things you can do to speed things up and slow them down – the art is knowing when to do which!

A key point that must be made early on is this: do not look to someone else in another organization to set the pace for your organization. Pace must be individual to your leadership responsibility. Even the six Tree of Life Churches did not come out of lockdown at the same pace in the same way. It was very similar, but we are aware each church is individual. You have different challenges, different people, different gifts within your church or business, so do not set your pace with someone else. Another issue that must be understood early on as a leader is that your church, business or community cannot go at 100% pace all the time on every issue. An unrelenting, driving pace is unsustainable. That’s my polite way of saying it is stupid to push people too hard in every area.

So how can we set the pace? How can we slow down the pace? How can we make sure there are times to pause and reflect and dream? How can we “know when to slow down and when to move fast”?

The first answer is this: dream big. You were reading my blog waiting for me to say this weren’t you?! DREAM BIG! A big dream sets a healthy pace. Dream tiny and you will gather no pace, as it is too easy, so everyone goes slowly. Dream average and people will hurtle at the goal, achieve it and be exhausted. Dream big and people realize this is a marathon, not a sprint, and start to set a good pace from themselves. The second answer is this: give people a nearby target. We all do this almost subconsciously – if you are tidying a room, you go well I am 1/4 done of 1/2 of the room, and I will do the clothes next, then this, then that. We set ourselves sub-goals to keep us moving forward. As a leader we should be setting sub-goals.

  1. Dream Big
  2. Set Sub Goals

It is not that hard to get a community moving forward if you do this. Dreaming big is a great thing, because it makes people think big, it stops a lot of the pettiness that consumes so many people. I am a pastor running a church and I see it a lot in churches, people get upset over petty things. But if you are dreaming big, it is harder to let those small thoughts dominate. Eric Schmidt, the co-founder of Google, said “If someone offers you a free ride on a spaceship, you will not be asking which seat”. You need to let people realize you are the captain of a spaceship, and you are boldly going where no one has gone before, and that will instantly stop a lot of the pettiness going on in your group!

At the same time, travelling forward in space means it takes a long time to meet your goals. I have goals for 2030 and 2040 and 2050. So, those are a long time to get people motivated for, so I set sub-goals. We are currently aiming for our Dagenham church to be 300 people. That’s a sub-goal. Jack Welch, CEO of GE said “You need to eat while you dream”, and he meant you have to achieve things on the way to the big dream! That’s wisdom right there!

This is your responsibility as a leader – you have to encourage your people to dream big and at the same time give them something they can reach “soon”. Then, if your organization is doing several things – setting the pace across all of them.

You need to take some time to think about how you are going to set the pace in your life and then in wherever you are leading. Next week, I will discuss some ways to immediately add pace to something you want to achieve.

Pastors Behaving Badly 07: Keep Some Discretion!

Stepping Out From Behind The Proverbial Curtain | Women Speakers Association

I am wrapping up this series today with a short post on discretion with your house. This is really important! Let’s jump straight into God’s Word:

12 Soon after this, Merodach-baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick. 13 Hezekiah received the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?”

Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”

15 “What did they see in your palace?” Isaiah asked.

“They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord: 17 The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 18 Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.” (2 Kings 20.13-18 NLT)

Hezekiah messed up his life and his son’s lives because he showed off all his treasures to an enemy. Privacy and discretion are actually really important parts of ministry, and I know more than a few ministers who have missed opportunities for advancement and opened themselves up to attack by not showing proper discretion and keeping private things private. I am not saying keep secrets or mislead people, I am saying keep private things private!

  • Keep your house private. Don’t let just anyone wander in at any time. If you let people in your house, like Hezekiah did, someone may steal your treasure! Others will discuss what they saw in your house – the dishes not done, the clothes waiting to be washed. They didn’t think that the reason you were behind with housekeeping is that you were praying and counselling them and others over and over. Your house is not an extension of the church, not at all. And when visitors come over, they do not need access to the whole house. Keep parts exclusive! Maintain some privacy, don’t reveal all the treasures in your home! There is a devil and he will use people to come into your home and attack you – some people are jealous of you and will attack you. People will constantly evaluate how much money they think you have based on your possessions. Eglon, the king of Moab, let Ehud into his bedroom and Ehud took advantage of the invite and stabbed him to death!
  • You do not have to let people into your house without an appointment, sometimes, if the church does not have a permanent venue or office, meeting someone at a coffee shop or cafe is a much better option. You can eat with them and build a deeper fellowship, and you have the safety and accountability of being in public at all times.

Pastors Behaving Badly 06: Behaving Badly with the Money

richness - Liberal Dictionary

In the Genesis song, Jesus He Knows Me, whenever Genesis perform it live, Phil Collins starts with a long drawn out offering for millions. The stereotype of a pastor behaving badly with money sadly has a lot of examples that back it up. We need to realize that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6.10) and that love of money doesn’t stop producing evil just because someone is a pastor or fivefold minister!

Misusing finances is one of the things that can cost you your ministry, indeed even just looking like you have misused the money can cost you your ministry! All ministers need to adopt certain attitudes and principles. You will no doubt be criticized anyway by somebody, especially if you have a lot of money – but you can minimize people speaking against you and protect yourself from damaging words.

  • Tithe and give big yourself. Never be a stingy pastor. Lead your people as a big giver. If you ask people to tithe and you do not tithe, you are a hypocrite and a con-man. You do not really believe in the tithe, you just want the tithes of other people. This sounds so obvious, but I know many pastors who do not tithe or give!
  • Do not take tithe or offering money. Don’t put it in your pocket, don’t take it into your house, don’t keep it “safe”. Do not count the offering yourself.
  • Do not count the money in public. Some immature people will just see a lot of money and not realize what it costs to run a big ministry. Other people – and I have seen this happen – will be tempted to rob the church!
  • If you get a large personal gift, please consider carefully if there are strings attached to it. Some people give to manipulate you to going their way. Not everyone, maybe not even most people, but it does happen. Do be aware!
  • Do not borrow, especially from someone in the church! Do not borrow from the church account. If you cannot pay it back, and until you pay it back, you have actually stolen from the church. Do NOT borrow money from people in your church, ever! Do not borrow their car, do not borrow their TV, do not borrow anything. They will lend you willingly, but ultimately you will go down in their estimation. Do not covet what anyone in your church has!
  • Be very secretive about your personal prayer requests for money. Do not use a prayer request to manipulate people to give to you personally!
  • NEVER act as a guarantor or such for anyone in your church. This is something people often ask – will you co-sign my loan, please pastor? Listen – if the bank which specializes in money says “this person is not good enough to lend money to”, then the bank is right. You are wrong if you co-sign that loan. You are going to end up paying that money at some point without fail. You may even end up in court! Proverbs 11.15 in the NLT says: There’s danger in putting up security for a stranger’s debt; it’s safer not to guarantee another person’s debt.
  • If someone in the church needs an emergency loan, give them a gift you can give, do not loan to them. That way if they pay it back, it’s just a nice bonus. When you lend money, and you want it back, you may find that person suddenly led “by the Spirit” to another church!
  • Never favour rich people in your church. I saw a guest speaker once in my church fawn over businessmen and doctors in the church. It made me want to vomit! Such relationships will be unstable.
  • Never ever ever ever ever ever ever charge for ministering to someone, for praying for someone or for prophesying over someone. Yes, it happens, it happens all over charismatic Christianity and it is wrong, wrong and more wrong!
  • Don’t ask people in your church how much they earn or own. That’s just rude and people will wonder why you ask.
  • Do not broadcast your salary and benefits publicly. People may get jealous, or angry! People may think a pastor should not have anything or earn anything.
  • Do not preach in a way that implies you need more money. You may gain short-term gifts and pity, but long-term you will lose respect and momentum.

I hope this helps every pastor win financially and avoid financial scandals.

Pastors Behaving Badly 05: Guest Speakers Sometimes Behave Badly Too!

AMC 'Preacher' Showrunner Sam Catlin on Violence, Comedy and ...

Pastors are not the only ministers who behave badly – sometimes guest speakers do too. I have in the ten years I have been running the Tree of Life Family had guest speakers bring their own buckets and receive their own sneaky little offering, preach messages I told them not to preach, lied about other ministers to gain prominence, used my platform to correct my own ministers! So yes, sometimes they behave badly. Sometimes they are awesome in the pulpit, but outside they are difficult, make awkward requests (I mean utterly beyond the realm of reason) and are rude and ungainly. Now please – I don’t think the majority of guest speakers are like this, but some of you reading this will get invited somewhere at some point, so learn how to behave and make it as easy as possible for your host pastor!

We want you to be like the apostle Paul, a great travelling minister going to churches and bringing life and peace and revelation. We want you to be a blessing to every host pastor you visit, being of aware that you an ambassador of the kingdom of God!

  • Respect the church you have been invited to and the pastor who invited you. Say something nice about them – compliment the worship band, the choir, the pastor, the building. Compliment the people for coming. Do not get up there and say “hey, our worship band is bigger than your whole church”, do not criticize anything publicly. Now you have all heard of stories of big name speakers going into a church and saying something like “never sing that song again, it’s not faith, it’s not grace, it’s not good” – you are not them – don’t do that!
  • Don’t patronize the host pastor – you are not his spiritual superior, don’t bless him or give him a word unless you have that mentor relationship don’t do that.
  • DO NOT (notice the big capitals) invite yourself anywhere! There is nothing more off-putting to pastors than pushy people pushing for their pulpit. If you start off by being pushy, all pastors think you will be pushy when you are there. It is really off-putting.
  • Do not go where you think the money is. Do not demand money. Freely you have given, freely give (Matthew 10.8), so do not set a minimum honorarium! You are not a motivational speaker, you are a minister of the gospel.
  • Do not misuse your invite. I had a situation a while ago, a minister I knew asked if I would take a mission team from the USA to come to our church for a short-term mission. We have done similar things before with churches and Bible Colleges, but I had zero peace about this, like a scratching inside me. I know how to be led by the Spirit, so I checked it out. Turned out it was a church in the US planning to plant a church in London – and they were going to use this mission trip as a way of meeting our people to invite them to their new church they were planting. That is a hidden agenda, it is abusive, it is disingenuous! Do not be that person! Someone inviting you to their platform is a good thing, they are doing a good thing for you, and you are repaying evil for good which Biblically is something you should not do (Proverbs 17.13).
  • Make sure you have permission to:
    • Ask for partners. Never ask for partners without the host pastors permission. EVER!
    • Plug your para-church organization. For example, a Bible College or a mission trip. Never ever plug those things, putting people to leave a local church for a season, without explicit permission from the pastor.
    • Raise an offering. Most pastors will want to raise the offering for you. Never raise an offering without permission.
  • It is not wrong to ensure you are treated well, but do it graciously! It is fine to let people know what your expenses will be, especially if you do not know the church. I know visiting speakers who have travelled hundreds of miles, ministered 6 or 7 times in a weekend, and paid for their own hotel and expenses, and got under £100 in offerings. That wasn’t a small church that did that either. It is important to have those discussions up front. As a pastor, I always ask the question “Is there anything that you want to let me know you need when you come”. I like to pay for everything – hotel, food, etc. upfront and in some cases we even give our guest speakers some spending money.
    • Now, often if speakers fly from America, and they travel a lot – then they will have airmiles, favourite airlines and also it is often considerably cheaper to book from America. In those cases, I often ask the speaker if it is ok that they book their flights, and we reimburse them. Sometimes we will ask them to find flights and then purchase them.
  • Do not self-promote! The pastor has probably spent years building a congregation, feeding them week after week – they wouldn’t exist to have a guest speaker without that pastor! The pastor has no doubt promoted you and been favourable about you. Just being a guest speaker means people have more faith in you, less familiarity, more expectations of your ministry. Do not try and outshine the pastor or put them down for your own ego issues!
  • Flow with the conference you have been invited to. Most conferences have a theme – don’t cross it, don’t try and do something different. If you have been invited to do a miracle service, do it and bring some miracles. If you have been asked to teach in a day session, don’t turn it into a miracle service. There is one evangelist I will never invite back because he cannot flow with anyone else or any other service. All the best to him, but I like conferences where we walk in step with each other.
  • Do not build relationships with people from the church behind the pastor’s back. That is outrageous. If you are invited to a family of churches, do not build relationships with the other pastors behind the senior pastors back. Treat the invitee as the mayor of that area, do not go there without his permission, do not contact the people from there without his permission.
  • Promote the host ministry, not your ministry. Let the Lord promote you! When you have finished preaching and ministering, the church you visited should be better off because of it, not divided, not struggling. The pastor should not have to address your strange teaching or odd behaviour or overly controlling comments If people feel hated, or condemned, you haven’t done your job. You are there to uplift that church.
  • You can judge whether you did a good job very easily – if you never get an invite back, you didn’t.
  • Finally, invite the people who invite you to your ministry. You are not the only one with revelations! Invite them too!