Pastors and Elders V: The Requirements for an Elder (part 2)

In part one of the Requirements for an Elder we discussed that an elder must be above reproach and briefly examined what that meant.  Today, I want to look at the second Biblical qualification for eldership – that an elder be the “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3.2).

Now let me preface this article by saying that I do not believe that this statement precludes female elders.  I often use “he” as a shorthand for “he/she” and it seems obvious Paul is doing the same here.  I don’t have time to deal with the entire women in ministry debate, but in Titus 2.3 when Paul asks the older women to teach the younger, he actually is using the word elder in the feminine form: the female elders should be teaching younger women.  So there are female elders in the church and Paul approves – that should solve that one!  So if you are a female elder, or aspire to be one, just reverse the genders and apply what is said to yourself as the wife of one husband!  Nor does this verse exclude single people from church leadership – just like 

The phrase “husband of one wife” in Greek literally means a “one woman man”.  This obviously means that bigamists and polygamists are not allowed to be elders in the church.  But what else does it mean?

It’s in the present tense, so past indiscretions are not being referenced here.  The man who is on his second or third marriage is not disqualified.  In fact a man who is on his second marriage is the husband of one wife – that’s why his ex-wife is called his ex and not his first wife still.  Now divorce is wrong, and also it cuts your soul to pieces and it would be difficult for a divorcee going through the divorce to be in church leadership, so you need to exercise wisdom but when someone has remarried with a healthy second (or third, or fourth, etc.) marriage then this verse is not applicable to them.  I am not brushing aside divorce lightly – it is a grievous thing that takes a lot of time and effort to recover from, and should never be considered lightly.  However, there is grace for divorcees, there is restoration, and part of that restoration involves open doors to leadership.

Your past cannot disqualify you from church leadership – but your present can!  The way to enter leadership if that is your heart to do so is to make your present your past by dealing with situations and moving on!

However, this qualification for church leadership is a lot broader in scope than just “married with one wife”… a lot of people think they have that therefore they are qualified for church leadership just because they have a marriage certificate.  But I think most people are aware that there is a lot more to being a one woman man than being married, and most people know at least one married man who is not a one woman man!

You see the role of an elder is not just a ceremonial title because someone reaches 55, so they can see in a council of elders and discuss the colour of the church carpet or pull the pastor apart week after week.  An elder is someone who is regularly making disciples and running a discipleship group in their house.  They are people who are looking after people – people who may be broken, lost, immature, going through grief and loss.  They can be vulnerable people.

If you have vulnerable people visiting your house regularly, you need to be a one woman man.

You can’t be flirting with people, giving people the wrong impression, fantasising about other people.  You need to be in a healthy marriage, one that is stable and secure, and women need to be able to trust that you see them as a whole entity, not just a body or someone to exploit.  

The New Covenant warns against coarse jesting and language that should be not be used! 

You must be someone who can treat others with respect and dignity and want their best, whether they are male or female, whether they are pretty or pretty ugly, whether they are in need or anything.  Another thing that could easily happen is that someone in the group of people you are discipling could develop a crush on you, or start to elevate you and honour you in a special way.  You need to be in a healthy marriage, not looking for a way out or else these things will end up problems.  You need to be a one-woman man!

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3 Leadership Lessons from England in the World Cup

roy hodgson

3. You have to put energy and experience into defence.  The natural attitude of a leader is to advance, to take ground and to win.  But while we are called to be pioneers and move forward, you have to also ensure that no one is going to advance on you.  England did not have defenders that were able to play at international level and keep the other teams away from their net.  As a leader, always make sure that the people you have in place are able to do their jobs.  David had a mighty man whose only job was to defend a lentil field.  That seems a bit mundane, but if you are going to win a war you need lentils.  If you are going to win a football match, you have to defend your goal.  If you are going to lead a team think carefully about your assets, your direction and your plans and work out what needs defended (it might be unity, it might be a culture, it might be a structure or USP) and make sure it is defended by your best people.

2. Don’t appoint on the basis of potential but on the basis of results.  Hodgson got carried away with the dream that his young, fresh defenders could make headway, and appointed on the basis of potential rather than results.  It’s the same with Wayne Rooney – who has only ever scored 1 World Cup goal (which let’s face it was a tap-in!) yet has been the hope of the England team because of his potential.  As a leader you have to appoint on the basis of results, not personality.  Jimmy might not be your favourite small group leader, but if his group is growing in size and depth over and over, then that’s probably who should take on the supervisor role.  Your best salesman is your best salesman on the basis of results.  Your best players have to be the ones that get results.  Yes we need to develop young talent, but you do not develop people by putting them in positions they are not ready for.

1. A team needs a leader, not just a coach.  A coach can encourage individual players and get the best out of them, but let’s face it England has better players than any of the teams it lost to.  It needed a leader to show them how to work as a team, to work them in the right places and ensure that people fit together.  Most people do not know how to find their place and do not know what they do best and where their strengths and weaknesses are.  You need leadership who can be honest with you, who care about building a team that works, rather than exalting individuals.  A coach is great for building a person or a group of persons – but a leader builds a team.

Pastors and Elders II: The Elders Conference


In Acts 20.17 Paul travels to Miletus, and calls all the elders of the Ephesian church to him.

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church

There were a lot of elders in the church in Ephesus.  Paul decided he wanted to separate the elders and teach them the Word – this was the first pastors and elders conference ever.  In it, Paul gave some great instructions to the elders that all elders need to consider today.

According to historians, each of the elders in Ephesus would have looked after a group of Christians that met regularly in their house, they would have been appointed by the pastor of the church and put in place by the pastor.  Notice: Paul didn’t go to Ephesus to address the elders, he went to Miletus.  It’s 63 miles from Ephesus to Miletus, that’s not a short journey when you don’t have a Toyota and have to make the journey by foot or donkey.  And Paul calls the elders.

The first amazing thing that has to be mentioned is that the elders came!  Paul called the elders to make a 63 mile trip to a conference and they came.  You see being an elder in a local church, hosting church in your house, is a sacred trust and requires people who love God, love God’s Word, and love the people of God.  The essential quality of an elder is an attitude of humility that is prepared to travel to the elder’s conference.  These weren’t people who struggled to get to the church meetings on a Sunday.  These were people who knew they needed input and continual education and training to do their task.  These were people who were fanatics.

If you take on the role of an elder in the local church, you have to be a bit of a fanatic.  You have to be the kind of person who is willing to travel 63 miles on foot to be at the elder’s conference.  Now I know a lot of people would say – of course I would travel 63 miles to hear Paul.  But that’s only after 2000 years of knowing how successful his ministry was.  The Ephesians saw Paul as the bloke who started the church, the travelling apostle who seems to get more attacks and more criticism than actual results.  Yet, they knew he was worth travelling to hear because they were people who were spiritual fanatics.  Good elders love their pastors and apostles, and they weren’t sitting around going “surely it’s easier for Paul to travel to us, rather than us all having to go to him… who does he think he is”… they were too busy thinking of the adventure of going to Miletus to hear the Word.  That’s a good attitude for anyone to have, but it is essential for elders.  Grumbling, selfish attitudes in elders will destroy a church.  I wonder if Paul held the conference that far away just to see who would come.  I think part of the reason was to get these guys away from the church to give them a rest as well as a conference, but I also reckon part of the reason was Paul was finding out where the elder’s hearts were.

When they arrived, Paul didn’t open up the Scriptures to them but rather started reminding them about his ministry and his life when he planted the church (vv. 18-19):

And when they had come to him, he said to them,

“You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;

I find this a staggering opening to the conference.  Paul gets in the pulpit and basically preaches on his humility and what he did for the church.  To the elders – who Paul appointed.  The elders would have no influence, no ministry, no life – a lot of them wouldn’t be Christians without Paul coming to Ephesus to plant the church.  They would not be doing what they were doing, and through Paul’s teaching and ministry they have matured and they have become who they are.

Why would Paul then need to remind them so strenuously of his ministry among them and how he served the Lord.  He goes on to tell the Ephesian elders the following:

how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is telling the elders he put in place that his ministry was good for them.  (As an aside, notice when Paul planted the Ephesian church and was the pastor of the church, he taught publicly and from house to house.  In other words, there was a public meeting and house meetings and Paul visited both.  That’s how church should be done: a big meeting where the pastor preaches and teachers, and then the house meetings run by elders with the pastor going from meeting to meeting to encourage and support and teach.  Many people today are finding the value of house meetings and ditching the big meeting – no Paul did both, the church in Jerusalem did both, and healthy church in the 21st century needs both.  People who are not involved in local church in both large pastor preaching meetings AND house meetings are alien to the New Covenant).  I find it amazing that Paul told the elders about his ministry – they were there, they knew it, they witnessed it.  They owed their ministries to Paul planting the church.  They surely didn’t need reminding of that – even after travelling 63 miles to hear it!

But they did.  The elders of the church needed to be reminded that their ministries are appointed by the pastor, and that they should be reminiscent of the pastor’s ministry.  They needed to be reminded that their message should be his message, that their heart should be his heart.  They needed to be reminded that they need to preach repentance and faith like he preached repentance and faith.  Their role as elders was to take his apostolic message and reproduce it to the people, not sit in their house and go “I’m not sure about this repentance stuff”, or “faith isn’t really necessary today”.  And there are elders in churches that don’t even understand repentance and faith, and the role of elders.  And Paul is taking these guys and reminding them!  That is good pastoring.  That is great wisdom.

If you are a pastor, take your elders away and remind them of your life and ministry.  Let them know the heart of the message you preach.  Take a leaf out of Paul’s book and plan a leadership conference.  That’s what I am planning now – to take our elders deeper into the Word, to get them aligned better with the core values and culture of the church.  Elders – not people with a title but people who are discipling people in their house on a consistent and supervised manner – are the heart of your church.  Get the heart right and everything else will be right.

If you are an elder, get with the programme.  Realize how much you owe your pastor and appreciate him or her.  Grasp the core values of your church and give those.  Make sure you know what repentance and faith are!  Be ready to travel!

NEXT WEEK: what else did Paul teach the elders.  Essential information you need to know!

Leadership and Tithing

Letting people know your vision as a leader is vital as a pastor as people give to vision. At Tree of Life, we want people to understand God and His nature and His principles, and how to live by faith in every single area of their life and finances is no exception. It would be hard to be at the Tree of Life for any length of time and not understand the principles of tithing and sowing and reaping. As a result, people in our church are getting promotions and new jobs all the time – finances are coming to them in abundance.

But we are still not at the place where I want to be, and that is at the place to bless London. And to progress in wealth increase, understanding must increase. People must understand what money has to do with the kingdom of God or people will not give and then they will not receive. If you don’t know something – you can’t walk in it. That’s why people are destroyed through lack of knowledge. I know pastors who are scared of talking about money, but if the shepherds of the sheep don’t talk about money and the prophets of God don’t talk about money, then people will only ever understand prosperity from a carnal, worldly point of view and that will never help them!

I would never want to be someone who did not teach the importance of the tithe. James 3.1 says teachers will be judged more strictly – because as a teacher of God’s Word you are not just judged on your lifestyle and your investment in the kingdom, but you are judged on what you taught the church. I would never want to be in a position where I am judged for failing to teach people the truth about tithing and how giving in faith is the single most important key to financial freedom. Paul taught the Corinthians and the Galatians about sowing and reaping, and in Hebrew’s he said that:

And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth (Hebrews 7.8)

So, here on earth you tithe to a human being – a ministry, a church, a para-church organization – but something that is human. But as you take your tithe and give it to the local church and the leadership of the local church, in heaven, that money is presented straight to Jesus. That is an awesome truth. and one that people need to know. When you tithe, that gift is part of your worship, part of your sacrifice of praise to the Lord Jesus Christ!

So when you tithe, realize that your money is not just going to an earthly organization – it is reaching Jesus. Jesus receives tithes today. Worship the Lord through your giving.

And with the tithe, the local church then pays for pastors to love you, and shepherd you and teach you, it pays for training for musicians to lead worship, for children’s pastors to train your children in a godly way, for meetings and special speakers who bring you truth and freedom.

The tithe is doubly amazing as it produces fruit on two levels; the heavenly level and the earthly level.

To bless London as a church is more than just a gimmickly slogan with us, it’s what we genuinely want to do, it’s the life we want to life. We want London to be a better place because Tree of Life is there. Tithing is one of the ways we can lift people’s lives: we can encounter Jesus as He receives our tithe, and we can spend the money on earth to impact the city. Tithing is one of the keys to impacting a city with the love of God.

In Abraham’s life, tithing was a step of faith. In the Old Testament it became a mandatory law. Now in the New Covenant, it is back to being a privilege, a step of faith in God’s goodness and graciousness. Tithing is a step of faith which says that I believe God is first with my money, I believe God is the most important source in my life, I believe that God is first. If the church cannot make Him first with money then the city will never be challenged or inspired to make Him first in anything.

The tithe also is a step of honour and gratitude. By taking 10% of our income and giving it to Jesus, we are showing beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are grateful for the other 90%! Never pressurize someone to tithe, but do teach the Word and do press people to make a decision to honour God with their finances.

Finally, giving 10% does not mean you can then afford to be a poor steward with the other 90%. Some people think: right, I have paid God off now I will spend the rest on me how I want. Don’t be that person – ask God for wisdom and boldness with the other 90%, the way He leads may surprise you but I bet you end up better off living off of God’s wisdom than living off of your own!


8 Keys to Raising Leaders without a Potential Coup


Sadly many churches have experienced splits due to a coup.  A coup is where a group of people take authority that was never theirs in the first place.  Some pastors are so afraid of this kind of thing they never raise leaders, hate small groups and centralize everything and control everything!  That is not the approach.  Your mandate as a pastor is to bear fruit and equip the saints to do the work of ministry!  If you are the lead pastor of a church, here are 4 keys to ensuring you don’t have a coup that don’t involve never raising leaders, and don’t involve being controlling!

  1. Let everyone know that you are in charge, and more importantly, know that you are in charge yourself.  The sad truth is that there are many people looking to take advantage of weak leadership, and possibly more so in the church than anywhere.  Assistant pastors will dominate you, deacons will capitalize on your lack of self-confidence, and elders will happily make all the decision for you.  You need to be like Paul who was happy to say “Paul, an apostle…” – you need to be certain in your calling.  You may be raising leaders, but that doesn’t diminish your leadership in the church and you are not raising them to lead you!  Know that you are not in charge of people’s private lives, but you are the visionary in charge of the direction the church is going.
  2. Let people know they are very important, precious even.  But never let anyone be deluded into thinking they are indispensable. Let people know that you are not afraid of them or any threat they may make.  They need to realize that they are honoured to be at your side, and must keep their rank by not exceeding their boundaries.  Your associates should never feel that they are the ones holding the church together!  Some people will try and control you by letting you think that they will tear the whole ministry apart – they should not be in power in your church!  People who see themselves as an equal head with you are dangerous!  Two headed creatures are freaks of nature, not healthy creatures!  
  3. Make the Dream Plain.  Everyone should know where you are going and why.  Everyone should know that you are building what you are building and what the blueprint is.  If you are building a mega-church, let people know upfront that is the plan and why the plan is so important.  The clearer the dream the easier it is to walk together.  When the dream is not plain, when the vision is secret, when the direction is not made plain, people will tire of following you and when someone turns up with an easier plan they will follow them.  Imagine trying to move a wardrobe with three other people but no-one is sure why or where exactly you are taking it – that is most churches and you will soon put your corner down and do something else unless someone is showing you the way forward and the reason for the move.
  4. Tell people what you expect from them.  The head is not respected when people have undefined roles in the church.  Let your leaders know what you want them to do.  Let your people know what you are up to, and what you want them to be up to.  Make sure everyone knows their place.  Don’t let people take charge of other things just because you put them in charge of one thing.  If people do not have specific duties, then there is zero way of making people accountable. 
  5. Praise all your leaders publicly as often as you can.  Public praise is the easiest way to ensure the repetition of good behaviour.  It also creates a culture of loyalty.
  6. Never correct your leaders publicly.  It is difficult to lead others when you have been told off in front of them.  I have never let a boss do that to me, although in both retail and education, some have wanted to.  It is a bad practice, and should never be done.  Public criticism is very degrading.  Make sure your criticism is constructive, not destructive, and deliver it one on one.
  7. Take responsibility.  Don’t be Adam – it was the wife.  Or Saul – it was the people.  You are the head.  If someone messes up on your watch, it’s your watch so take ownership of the mess and get it tidied and make it right with the people who were hurt.  If you want the honour of being the senior pastor, you MUST accept the blame!
  8. Realize your leaders are the most important people in your church.  Don’t blow out an appointment with them for Mrs Smith and her thousand problems which she simply must share!  Your leaders will make or break your ministry.

In order to bear much fruit, you have to raise leaders.  You do not have to do it at the expense of your dream and your ministry. These steps will help you lead your team well.

The Three Rungs of Successful Leadership

Just being a pastor, or being the boss does not make you a leader.  Being a leader simply means having followers – now that doesn’t mean you are the next Jim Jones and people follow you blindly – it is much more mundane, but also much more amazing than that.  Being a leader simply means you influence people on purpose.  We all influence people – we make people think and act in certain ways that they wouldn’t if we weren’t about.  For some people that influence is accidental, we are moody and grumpy and go to work and make the whole place moody and grumpy.  We are offended at an elder in the church, so we go to church and gossip and affect the behaviour of the church and corrupt the place.

But leaders – and everyone is called to be a leader – influence people for the better.  They reckon the shyest person on planet earth still will influence over 10,000 people in his lifetime, and the average person influences a dozen people a day.  You influence your children, your friends, everyone.  Leadership is just becoming better at influencing people.  So let’s find out about leadership and how to climb the three rungs of leadership.

The first rung is called RELATE.  You have to get to know people.  You have to build relationships, you have to find out about people. There’s an old saying: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and it is true.  You need to care about people.  If you relate to people, they will love you!  People are lonely in this world, and we are not designed to be alone.  If you are the boss, go for a walk around the office and ask how people are doing, find out how their children are doing, find out what they enjoy, what they like doing outside the office.  Go and make some friends – let people know you care.  That’s the first rung and if you get it right, people will like you!  If you are unable to build healthy relationships, you will never be able to lead long-term – that’s a fact!  To be great at this rung, have a genuine love for people.  Care about the success of the people you work with.  Make sure people are more important than procedures.

The second rung is called RESULTS.  You have to be someone people can respect to get the job done.  If you are the manager at work, get your department making some money!  If you are the pastor, get the church doing something God honouring that attracts new people to the service.  On the first rung (RELATE), you get together because you get together.  But good leadership then takes the next step to RESULTS and gets together for a purpose.  You need to become results-orientated to become a good leader.  In certain fields (football and sales, for example) it’s obvious what makes a good result.  In other fields (church life for example!) you need to also clarify what a good result is and celebrate it.  For example in our church, we are about making disciples who dream big. So when one of our guys met a couple in the car park who were going to a miracle service and prayed for them and got them healed before they ever got to the miracle service, we celebrate and tell that story because we are celebrating the win.  When people get born again, or we have record attendance, or new people get released into leadership, we clarify to people: look a win.  That helps them know you are getting results.  At this rung, people respect you.

To do well at this rung, do things that cause growth – use some initiative.  Have a dream, scheme and theme for your business, church, organization.  Develop a system of accountability for results – including your own!  

The third and final rung is called REPRODUCE.  This is when you start to succeed as a leader – a great leader isn’t great because he is great, he is great because the people he leads are consistently great.  You invest yourselves in the life of others and you reproduce success and life in them.  People come to your church and they have no or little social skills, and you bear with them and help them develop social skills.  That is reproduction.  You are a great preacher and you break down the process of preaching so that some around you become great preachers.  That is reproduction.  If you step onto this top rung, people will be loyal to you naturally because they know they owe you part of their life because you poured it into them.  At this stage you become a leader of leaders and are now helping others climb these three rungs to leadership.  As you do, never forget the lessons from the first two stages: don’t suddenly become aloof and let success insulate you from the people who you should be relating too.  Spend some time reading the annual reviews of your entire team.  Read all the connection cards yourself, and email a personal response to everyone.

To be valuable on this final rung, realize that people genuinely are your most important asset.  When I started church planting I thought money would be the scarest commodity – but it’s not, it’s good people.  Be a model for others, help your key leaders grow and surround yourself with an inner core of people that complement your giftings and who love leadership and love your dream.

Remember to still get results, but now you get results as a team, not just as a one-man band.  The higher you climb this little three runged ladder of leadership, the easier it is to lead.  The greater the growth of your business, church, department.  But never leave the RELATE step behind!

Now if you are leading a group, you may not be on the same rung with everyone, and that’s fine, but take the time to climb up! Become a better leader!  And for your leadership to be truly effective you must take people up to the third rung with you and show them how to get RESULTS and REPRODUCE.–

5 Things I Want to Tell Everyone About to Pastor

5.  Work hard.  Don’t be that guy who is last to church, preaches, let’s everyone else take the slack, ducks out early.  Seriously – just don’t.  People will tell you pastoring is hard work, and it is – but don’t become a prima donna.  Get in there and help set up the sound desk, stay late and talk to everyone, even Mrs Jones who you are convinced is going senile, be at the prayer meeting first, learn how to set the church alarm system.  Just get involved.  Serve teas and coffees.  If you are joining a team in a larger church, don’t be the slacker.  Be the hard worker.  

4. Don’t be quick to accept a church that need a pastor.  Churches between 30-70 people are cats.  They are just like cats: they will wander to you, wander away from you, they will be independent.  Do some investigation – I know you want to preach, but that’s only 1 or 2 hours a week, and you have a lot more hours to fill and the kind of church it is will make a massive difference.  If they have run off the last 3 pastors in less than 2 years, you will be gone in two years.  You are not that good, No one is that good.  Find somewhere else.

3.  Your greatest asset in the church will be the dear old saints who have been walking with the Lord thirty or forty years, draw from their wisdom, find out their secrets about life in the Word and following Christ.  Your greatest liability in the church will be the dear old saints who have been not walking with the Lord thirty or forty years.  Enjoy!

2. Don’t let them mistreat your wife.  Never ever ever let them mistreat your wife.  Or children.  You will be in a greenhouse and people will be looking.  They can look, but if they throw stones, ensure they have no responsibility or future in the church until they can respect your family as an extension of you.

1. Don’t work too hard.  Pick a day of the week (I find Fridays best as it means I hit that weekend refreshed) and turn the phone off, turn the interwebs off, and enjoy.  Let nothing interrupt that day off.  If you want to read, read; if you want to watch a DVD, watch a DVD.  Go out for lunch, don’t cook.  Have a day off every week and rest.

Loyalty (part 2) Fully Persuaded


Last week we discussed loyalty and how to maintain loyalty in a church or organization.  Today I want to continue that thought by discussing something called “fully persuaded”.   I think most people have realized that to be a leader means to be accused.   If you are in leadership, the only way to stop them talking about you is to quit leading – so get used to it.  You have to be able to handle accusation.

If you are part of an organization you have to also be able to handle accusations made at your leaders.  It is not without good reason that the Bible says not to entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5.19).  If there is just one lone voice against a leader, ignore it.  It’s that simple.

Jesus was accused of misleading people, teaching sedition, preventing people from paying taxes, claiming to be the king, being in league with satan.  I’m not sure many of us today would have become his follower in 1st century Israel.  Paul was accused of being a pestilent fellow, a source of strife, a disturber of the peace, an antinomian, a cult leader and attempting to desecrate the temple.

If you were working with Paul you would have to be fully persuaded about his integrity and character.  Otherwise those accusations would find a hook inside you and you would lose the benefits of Paul’s leadership.  Of course this is why leaders are falsely accused – to diminish their influence, and to ensure you fail to benefit from their influence.

Can you imagine working with Paul and at the back of your mind is the idea that he is a cult leader, that you are in a cult, that he really wanted to desecrate the temple?  It wouldn’t work.  You need to be fully persuaded that Paul is an apostle of God and the messenger of grace.

People say there is no smoke without fire, forgetting that some people in any organizations (sadly, especially churches) can be human smoke machines, puffing out smoke by the gallon with no fire necessary at all.   You need to be fully persuaded that you are in the right place with the right leadership!

So, let’s start by addressing leaders with some points, then we will address the led with some more points!


  1. Be open about finances.  You get a new car and someone asks “where did that come from?” Don’t reply “The Lord” – we all know that, but let people know where it came from.  Let people see that you are not skimming from the offerings.  Make sure that you are registered as a charity, and complete the appropriate paperwork to stay above board.  You don’t need to reveal where every penny is spent, but people should be aware of the broad strokes.  It makes it easier to persuade them and help them if you are accused.
  2. Be open about your vision.  A pastor recently wanted to work with me on an evangelism project.  I told him it wouldn’t work because we disagreed about too many core issues.  He lied to me about what he believed about Jesus and about the gifts of the Spirit and salvation to try and get me to work for him.  I listened to him preach and pointed out the dishonesty to him – what he preached was not what he told me he believed.  Why lie?  To get our church on board, to add some sort of weight to his campaign?  I don’t know.  But it is difficult to be persuaded to work with someone who is dishonest about their core values.  Let the church know what you are all about and where you see the church going.  Don’t tell someone “yes, we are going to have services like this” when you don’t want to.  People will see right through it.  Shout the vision, make it plain and let people decide if they are going to follow.  Presenting different visions to different people to keep them around will always bring DI-VISION!
  3. Be open in crisis times.  An elder in the church is being disruptive and rude – won’t teach what you ask, and starts insulting guest speakers and is insulting to other elders and their abilities.  When you remove that person from leadership, ensure people know it was done and why it was done.  Be open about the tough decisions you have to make, and be open as to why they are tough.  I’m not talking about gossip, I’m not talking about running someone down and getting your side of the story out.  I’m talking about being transparent about why you made certain choices.  Let people know that you have their best interests at heart.
  4. Have greater leaders than you that you are open with and honest with.  When people see that you are led too, that you are growing too, that you care about developing too, then they will trust you a lot more.  People care a lot less about knowing everything and attacking everything if they know there is a place that your struggles and your concerns are being shared and that they are being shared with someone who is wise and mature.
  5. Be open about your mistakes.  I’m not saying get in the pulpit and share every wrong selfish kill-em-all thought you ever had, I am saying that if you mess it up publically, apologize publically.  If you get shirty one Sunday before church, let people know that you did and that you know you did and that you are sorry.

It is hard in this day and age to cultivate loyalty but these steps will make it easier for people to follow you.


  1. If the questions are too many, get out.  I am not saying here stay in a church when things are clearly dysfunctional.  Don’t do that.  If you cannot get answers or even feel that you will get them, then find somewhere else.  Get a new job or new church or whatever.
  2. Remember to stay loyal to the highest authority.  What does this mean – if your elder starts contradicting your pastor then go with the pastor and his call.  He founded and built the church.  If your branch manager is contradicting your regional manager, go with the regional manager.  If your pastor is contradicting Christ, Christ is the highest authority.  Stay with Him!  Paul said follow me as I follow Christ – that’s good advice for any leader: when they are not following Christ don’t follow them!  A good leader will say that as well.
  3. Do not withhold information from your leader.  If there is corruption going on, let people know.  If you knew sedition was going on and said nothing, you are disloyal.  Paul told the Corinthians “it is reported that there is fornication among you” (1 Corinthians 5.1) – it wasn’t a word of knowledge or a vision.  Someone told Paul the church was dysfunctional!  A good structure reports on things!  Good people let their leaders know what is going on.
  4. Base your loyalty on principles not emotions.  Most people operate in the emotional realm most of the time, and don’t operate on the basis of principle.  If you decide to be part of something you make that decision on information and principles and vision, not on the basis of emotion.  I know people who followed a youth pastor who split a church and started a new church across the road.  I asked why they would follow him when it was all clearly out of order.  They said “we know he has done wrong, but we feel sorry for him”.  I can’t think of a worse reason to be part of a church.   Those who joined Absalom’s church all died.  The angels who joined Lucifer Ministries International all became devils.  Be careful where you go and who you are loyal to.
  5. Be prepared to pay “The Loyalty Cost”.  Being loyal will cost you – friends, relationships, parties to go, and more.  Everything has a price – your salvation had a price but you didn’t have to pay it.  But every step you take in working out your great salvation will cost you.  Of course the good news is that the reward is greater than the price.  However, there is a cost to loyalty.  To be loyal to one person means you cannot be loyal to everyone.  To be loyal to one church means you cannot be loyal to every church.  I have friends I just can’t spend time with any more.  Why?  Because I am loyal to Jesus.  I am loyal to the Tree of Life Network.  Every relationship you are in either adds to you or diminishes you, and you can only choose so many.   When Moses decided to be loyal to God he lost access to the riches of Pharoah.  There are people I have lost access to their riches because I have decided to do the right thing.  Loyalty is expensive but it will always pay better than the cost.

Next week, we will look at the Analysis of Loyalty.  I hope you enjoyed this blog.  If you want to know more about Tree of Life Church, visit our website: or follow us on Facebook.


Loyalty (part 1)

One of the most important keys in living a successful life is learning the principles behind loyalty. We live in a generation which has largely forgotten the principles of loyalty – and therefore has forgotten the keys to qualification to success.  In a day in which people denigrate local churches, rebel against legitimate authority and hate being led; it is important to grasp loyalty.

Loyalty is the number one qualification to minister. An immature person believes that gifting is the door opener to ministry, but that is not true. When you mature, you discover that faithful and loyal people are the best leaders. An immature person would think that being a nice guy makes for the best pastor, that being a skilful orator makes for the best preacher. But the Scripture could not be more clear:


The pastors in the Tree of Life Church network are not promoted for their good looks, friendly nature or preaching gifts. They are promoted because they are loyal. Loyal people are the best gifts a church can have.

Jesus said that you will know you are His disciples not by gifting or anointing but by love. Loyalty is a form of love – and people are attracted to loyal people. Church people are not blind. They are not deaf. They can tell if you are discordant. They can feel if you are disloyal. If the water is murky – the sheep will not go near it. And then you are frustrated that you are not moving forward in ministry, but you don’t know there is no crocodile in the waters unless they are still waters.

There are several manifestations of disloyalty but the main one is criticism. Disloyalty leads to you noticing and magnifying faults. In the church you find fault with the preaching, with the order of service, with the building, with the systems, with the people, with the structure of the church.

Just like Miriam became critical of Moses: it was by following Moses she got free from Egypt. It was by following Moses she was no longer a slave. It was by Moses that she was redeemed. But now all she could see was Moses’ faults and flaws. She spoke out publicly about Moses’ marriage. She criticised him out loud. Disloyalty has a voice.

“And Miriam spoke against Moses” (Numbers 12.1)

Disloyal people are like eagles’ looking for faults. Scrutinizing the church to find fault. They create an atmosphere that can break a church into pieces. Disloyalty can destroy a church faster than anything else.  If people are insecure and aren’t comfortable in a place, they will rather than look at themselves and challenge themselves will look for someone to blame.  That happens a lot in churches – if you are pastor, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Don’t try and please everyone – that’s called the number one way to ensure you never have a church over 100.  People will always threaten to leave if you take their ministry away, change to songs they don’t like, or lead them forward.

Your point of view depends on your viewpoint. If you are looking for faults you will find them. If you are looking with critical eyes you will always find something to criticise. If you look with loving eyes, you will always find something to love.

Absalom could only see the deficiencies of David’s kingship. But the problem was in his eyes. 

Doctors make oaths to respect their teachers, but people in churches sometimes get a little success and a little promotion and forget who loved them there, who helped them there, who taught them what they know. The deception of disloyalty is that it makes people think they don’t need leadership anymore, that they don’t need help, that God’s structures don’t work because of a small problem in the system.

Our goal in the Tree of Life Church is to create a culture of loyalty. That we all have a reverence and genuine love for leadership. That we grasp what it takes to move forward as the body of Christ.

So, how can we develop that culture. Here are three simple keys that will help you develop a culture of loyalty:

1. The NORTH WIND face

“The north wind drives away rain; so does an angry face drive away a biting tongue” (Proverbs 25.23)

The first key is when you hear someone biting, someone running down the church, the leaders, the people, the building, the service: give them a facial expression that shuts them up. Show someone clearly you are not interested in their gossip and their conversation. This will deter most of the problem straight away. This will create a culture of loyalty and unity. If people realize disloyal talk is not welcome, then they will cease from it.

Sometimes disloyal talk is about flattering you to put someone else down. Don’t fall for it. “Oh the only reason I am at this church is because of you” is nice to hear but it will puff you up and divide the church. Give them a withering look. It works!

They said of David he killed his tens of thousands when he had only killed one. Don’t fall for your own press! 

Gossip is a KILLER.  We still haven’t accepted it, we still don’t believe it.  We happily roast people for dinner and happy go out for coffee and feast on the bones of our colleagues, family and church members.

2. Don’t go somewhere your heart isn’t in

If you are in a church, especially if in leadership, and your heart isn’t in it, remove your body as well. It helps! You can’t change a church from within, you can only split it!


One disgruntled elder can pollute the whole church. Never manipulate people to stay in your Living Church, in your group, in the Tree of Life if their heart is gone. Let them go. It’s that simple.

Some pastors are too soft to remove disloyal, grumbling, divisive people. They don’t protect the sheep from being polluted. 

I’m not talking about leaving because you are having a carnal fit.  People do that to churches all the time.  I’m talking about you know the vision isn’t your vision but you are there to “help” the leadership.  Get over yourself – God has a place for you where you will fit in – it won’t be perfect but it will be real.  Most people don’t leave when their visions clash, but hold on until they are well and truly offended, storm off and never go to church again.  Get a grip – harness those emotions and realize who you are!

3. Set fire to some stuff

In Acts 28 they built a fire, and a snake came out of the fire when it was lit. They picked up a snake thinking it was a harmless stick. But when the fire came the snake jumped out.

Some people look lovely and harmless and wonderful, but when fire comes you find out they are snakes. You change a procedure, ban a certain song, don’t let them lead something the way they want to and they bite. Trials and difficulties reveal people’s nature. The truth is that anyone who wants to do God’s will ends up getting bitten – it happened to Jesus, to Paul, to all people. 

Do not be in a hurry to promote people. Try not promoting them – try taking their responsibilities away from them for a while. That kind of fire reveals people’s hearts. If they were disloyal because you didn’t promote them, rejoice – they would have taken the position and used it as a platform to be disloyal.

A person’s reaction to change is a revelation of their character.

These THREE things will help all of us walk in the unity that God has for us. There is a lot in this post, but if you take it to heart it will lift you and help you be all you can be.


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Decision Making as a Leader

You are in charge – so you make the decision.  Don’t worry who you upset or offend, do what is right.  It’s your vision, your pure, whole, beautiful vision.  Don’t let them make it a patchwork of their half-baked ideas they have never worked out for themselves.  

Do what you know to be right.  Make a decision with all the information you have to hand, and don’t worry about what you don’t know.  Ask God for wisdom.  He supplies generously without reproach.  Let the peace of God rule in your heart.

Don’t confer with people who have never been where you have.  Don’t let them put Saul’s armour on you to fight the battle you know you are called to fight (if Saul’s armour was that good, Saul would be wearing it).  Don’t let them push you around.

Do what you did when the problem was tiny.  It’s the same solution.

Trust God.  Trust yourself.  Trust your gut.  Trust that He will never let you down.  Trust your experience, God has let you end up at this point for a reason.  Trust who you are in Him.

Seek advice from wiser people, those who have been where you want to go.  Read Ephesians cover to cover.  Fast a day or two.  Open your mind to a new idea.  Read a book by a leader.  Flip a coin (doesn’t matter what the coin is – but when it was in the air, what did you WANT IT TO BE?)

Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong.  It will not be your only chance to do this.

Believe big.  Make a big decision.  Expect great results.