What You’re Missing and How it Limits You


Within Acts 29, a lot of leaders talk about the leadership lens of prophet, priest and king. The idea of using the offices of Jesus to talk about how people see things, how they best work and relate to each other. At Revolution, I find this to be a helpful way to know what a leader is like, what I can expect from them and how they will react in a situation.

The broad overview of these are:

  • Prophet: Tends to be big picture, visionary, bible person. They love to talk about where things are going. They love reading, preaching, theology. They only need a verse to be right. They ask a lot of “why” questions. In preaching, they love doctrine and can get lost in the weeds. They will preach from a letter whenever possible or throw in some Old Testament history or wrath of God just to keep everyone a little scared. They will take 6 months to preach through Jude or Philemon and will happily spend 10 weeks on 3 verses in Romans to make sure everyone gets it.
  • Priest: Tends to be shepherding, caring. They want to make sure that everyone is being taken care of, cared for and is connected. They worry a lot about feelings and how people feel about something. They ask a lot of “who” questions. In preaching, they love stories. They love to preach from the gospels and talk about how things feel. They will sacrifice doctrine to talk about how something feels. If they do say something difficult to hear or are confrontational in a sermon, they will quickly say something to soften the blow and give a verbal hug to the congregation.
  • King: Tends to think strategy and steps. They help to move a vision to reality. Often, they are very organized, detailed and financially minded. They ask a lot of “what and how” questions. In preaching, they love logic, things that add up at the end and steps. They love steps. A sermon is not complete without a next step (or 15), every point starting with the same letter, but it is clear.

These are just broad strokes.

On a leadership team and in a church, all are needed. I am high on the prophet scale with some king thrown in. I need priests around me to make sure that everyone is cared for, but to also challenge me in how I am shepherding and caring for people. I need kings to help make my visions happen. I often walk into a conversation, listen, throw out some vision ideas, get people pumped and then walk away. I need a king to walk behind me and say, “Okay, that one thing will never happen, but here’s how we can do those two things.”

While these lens help to live out of our strengths, they also make it easy to sin.

Broadly, I’ll hear leaders say, “I’m not very kingly” as a way to excuse their disorganization or financial carelessness. Or, “I’m not very priestly” as an excuse to not meet with someone or do any counseling. Or, “I’m not much of a prophet” as a way to be wishy washy in their theology or have no vision for their church. All followers of Jesus are called to be like Jesus, which means we are to be growing as prophets, priests and kings (Numbers 11:29; Acts 2:16 – 21; Romans 12:1 – 2, 15:14; Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 4:14 – 16; 1 John 2:20, 27; Revelation 1:5-6).

Each lens though, can lead you to sin (and often you will not see these as sins because it is how you are wired). Here’s how:

  • Prophet: You are always posting your opinion on Facebook, twitter or your blog about gay marriage, eating, diets, vaccine’s, adoption, games. All you need is a verse or a scientific study and you are good to go. You are determined to win and be right, because, well “you have a verse.” You can miss the people because you are so infatuated with your vision and end up not caring for the people God has sent you to care for or the people who are supposed to help accomplish the mission because you are so focused on “out there.” The prophet also tends to be pretty legalistic and loves rules. You look at a priest and wonder why he wastes so much time on meetings and can’t confront anyone. You look at a king and get frustrated that he can’t see the big picture, he only wants to talk about the steps to get there or why something isn’t possible and you question his faith and salvation.
  • Priest: You are often willing to sacrifice doctrine, holy living and confrontation in an effort to keep the relationship. Your first priority often is the relationship and the person and will let them keep walking in sin as long everyone feels good. You have a tendency to burn out because you can’t say no to a person or a meeting. Every request that comes in is an urgent thing that must be handled now. Every crisis you jump at. You tell yourself you are needed, that you can save this person or fix that situation and will sacrifice your health, your marriage, your kids, their heart (because you won’t confront them) all to save someone or a relationship. You struggle to trust that God can save and fix them and are content to just do it yourself (God is really busy any way). You look at a prophet and wonder if he has a heart or a soul the way he talks about people. You look at a king and wonder how she can be so organized and can become frustrated at how everything has to fit on the bottom line or fit into a budget line.
  • King: You tend to think about the bottom line and ask how everything affects the bottom line. You are willing to sacrifice visions if they cost too much or relationships if take away from other endeavors. You are organized, detailed and a rule keeper and consequently if something is messy or doesn’t fit in a box, you skip it. This includes relationships. You strive to keep things in order, so new ideas or things that seem new or out in left field are off the table. You look at a priest and wonder why they are so disorganized, always late. You look at a prophet and wonder why he can never come up with a detail to his plan.

As I said, a leader and follower of Jesus is to grow in all areas to be more like Jesus. A healthy leadership team needs to have all three represented to push on each other and to keep the church functioning in all areas. But our blind spots as an individual or church can keep us from being who God created us to be.


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Tuesday Morning Book Review || Into the Storm

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Into the Storm (kindle version) by Dennis Perkins. I reviewed his first book Leading at the Edge here.

From the author:

Into the Storm looks at The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is among the most demanding sailing competitions in the world. Unpredictable seas make the 628-nautical-mile course grueling under the best conditions, but the 1998 race proved to be the most perilous to date when a sudden and violent storm struck. Winds gusted over 100 mph and monstrous 80-foot waves towered over boat masts. Six sailors perished and another 55 were saved in what became the largest search and rescue operation in Australia’s history. In the face of turmoil and tragedy, a crew of “amateur” sailors piloted their tiny vessel, the AFR Midnight Rambler, not only to the finish but to overall victory. While bigger, better-equipped yachts attempted to maneuver around the storm, Ed Psaltis and his crew made the daring decision to head directly into its path. Their triumph–perhaps even their survival–owes itself to an extraordinary level of teamwork: an alchemy of cooperation, trust, planning, and execution. “Into the Storm” chronicles their nearly four-day ordeal and draws parallels to the world of business, revealing 10 critical strategies for teamwork at the edge. Illustrated with examples from the story and compelling case studies, the book sheds light on what teams need to do to succeed in tough times.

Perkins points out 10 things leaders and teams can learn from journey:

  1. Make the team a rock star versus making an individual a rock star.
  2. Remove all excuses for failure.
  3. Find and focus on the winning scenario.
  4. Build a gun-ho culture of learning and innovation.
  5. Be willing to sail into the storm.
  6. Cut through the noise of the wind and the waves.
  7. Find ways to share the helm.
  8. Step up to conflict – and deal with the things that slow you down.
  9. Master the art of rapid recovery.
  10. Never give up-there’s always another move.

Like his last book, this one was fascinating. Perkins has an incredible writing style that pulls you right in. Great book on teamwork and leadership.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. Charles Stone on Six ways to encourage your pastor. As a pastor, encouragement is a lifeline. If you don’t encourage your pastor, you should.
  2. 10 ways a pastor can use twitter to impact his church.
  3. Andy Stanley on 3 keys to creating high performance teams.
  4. 10 lies your kids believe.
  5. Paul David Tripp on 29 things that shape a pastor’s ministry.

Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Take the Lid off Your Church

Just finished reading Tony Morgan’s new book Take the lid off your church. What I love about Tony’s books is how short they are. This one clocks in at about 30 minutes to read it.

In it, he answers these basic, but important questions about the leadership team of a church:

  • When should you begin building a senior leadership team?
  • What are the roles of this team?
  • Who should be on the senior leadership team?
  • How does this team empower other leaders in the organization?
  • What should the senior leadership start and stop doing? What’s their focus?

Who is on a leadership team at a church is the most important decision a leader of a church makes. This team will decide how money is spent, how ministry is done, how people are cared for, how the vision and values will be passed on and ultimately, they will determine the health of a church.

The rest of the church will take its cues from this team. The leaders of a church and the leaders on the senior leadership team of a church will define a church.

Now, if you are looking for a lengthy book on team and leadership, this isn’t the book. I can’t imagine a pastor who has time for that book. This one is short, practical, right to the point and reads like a collection of incredibly helpful blog posts.

Links of the Week

  1. Letters to a young pastor. I’m reading this book right now and it is a great book for young pastors, tons of wisdom.
  2. Phil Cooke on the secret to great teams.
  3. Porn blamed for children’s sexual behavior.
  4. Dave Ferguson on What stats a church should count.
  5. Russell Moore answers “Should I marry a man addicted to porn?
  6. Start – Stop – Continue. Great advice for pastors and leaders.
  7. Teens & porn: stats you need to know.
  8. Dave Kraft on The importance of picking the right people for the right teams.
  9. Forbes on Girls for Sale! Changing the Conversation on Exploited Kids in the U.S.

Links of the Week

  1. Will Mancini on 6 ways to know you are coasting from your vision. Vision drift is the easiest thing to do in leadership.
  2. Christians, NY Times & the real culture war.
  3. Register for October’s Together For Adoption conference here in Phoenix. I’m one of the guest bloggers for it.
  4. Preparing your children for the worship gathering.
  5. Jared Wilson on 10 reasons to under-program your church. Couldn’t agree more. It is hard to stay a simple church at Revolution, but totally worth it to help people grow and stay focused on our mission.
  6. 10 characteristics of a great team.
  7. Kevin Myers on Don’t be a “used to” leader.

It Matters Who is Around You

Any leader worth his/her salt will tell you that who is around them makes all the difference. The team you build, the leaders who work alongside of you will make or break you.

For many pastors, being a pastor is incredibly lonely. They carry a weight few people understand. Much of the loneliness comes from the reality of the job, but it also comes from them not being willing to build a team. But the success of every leader, every church, every organization will rise and fall on the leaders around that leader.

I was reminded of this last night.

As an elder team, we recently updated my job description to deal with the growth we’ve experienced, as well as to set some realistic goals and objectives. Last night, we spent some time reviewing and how it was going, as well as reflecting on the last 16 months as a church. Talking through our goals, where we are with them, how the progress is going, our dreams, our joys as a team, leaders and a church, as well as our disappointments.

A lot of laughter and some moments that made us all pause as we thought on God’s goodness and protection, but also the heartache that comes with leading and shepherding people. It was one of those holy moments as a leader that makes you think, “I love what I do and who I get to do it with.” Very few pastors can say this.

I think for a couple of reasons. As leaders, we are control freaks. We always want to have the power and control. The idea of giving some of that away to highly capable people is scary. The idea of opening up and being vulnerable flies in the face of what many leaders feel. Yet, without doing these two things, you will never reach your full potential as a leader or as a church.

All of the men you see above have bought into, not only me as a leader, but to the vision of Revolution. Getting a church off the ground is an incredibly difficult path. The journey we have been on has had unbelievable highs and incredible lows. We have sacrificed time, money, energy to make it happen. We have lost friends along the way who no longer wanted to be on the journey, which is by far the most difficult aspect of leadership and church planting. But, one of the things that pushes us is that we are doing it together.

One of our values at Revolution is community. Now I know that every church says this is a value. Here is how you know if it is a value, does the rest of the church (not just the leaders) show that it is a value. Values trickle down from the top. The law of the lid says no one goes higher than the leaders. At our elder meetings, we start off by answering 3 questions:  What is God teaching me right now? How did I do at serving my family in the last month? How can we pray for you and your family? This has created a vulnerability and openness that is difficult to get to when you bring a group of guys together.

Here is the point, if you are a leader, you can’t do it alone. Anything worthwhile will take more than you to get done. Find some other people to help pull the rope in the same direction. Is it a risk? Yes. Is it hard to build a team that lasts? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

Who you put around you matters.

What You Can Control

I was reading Exodus 18 – 20 this morning. It is the classic passage on delegation. Whenever you go to a pastor’s conference, someone is bound to use this passage to show how to delegate. The example of Moses doing everything for the Israelites and not handing things off, for a number of reasons, is something every pastor and leader can relate to.

Jethro (Moses’ Father in law) watches as all the people line up to let Moses answer their questions and make decisions for them. Jethro asks him, “Why are you doing this? All by yourself?”

Moses answers, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me.”

Now, it is easy to look at this and think, but Moses is wise. Maybe Moses was the best person to do this, the best person to answer all their questions. But Moses also kept other people from being involved. By doing this, he was really being selfish by not allowing others to help and he was setting up a system that made it that only he could answer people’s questions.

One of the things that many pastors struggle with is letting go of things. Letting go of control and letting other leaders step up. Not being in every meeting, every conversation, every decision. This makes the pastor the bottleneck of the church. It keeps the church from being healthy and effective, and it keeps highly talented leaders from doing what God created them to do.

Once in my coaching network, Nelson made the comment that there are two reasons churches do not break through the 65 and 125 barrier (these are considered the two hardest growth barriers for a church to breakthrough). They are connected:  either the pastor will not give up control and delegate to other leaders, or the church won’t let him.

At Revolution, we are entering this stage. We prepared for it by raising up leaders and passing things off to them before we needed to. We have always tried to be ahead of growth and staff and prepare for it instead of reacting to it. I shared on Saturday night that right now, you don’t have to talk to me to get involved and connected at Revolution. That is awesome.

We are trying to remove the barriers to breaking through 125 before we have them. This is exciting and scary for me as the lead pastor. Giving anything away as a person is difficult, but when you start a church or business, it is hard to let others care as much as you do. Even though they do, it is still hard.

I was reminded Saturday night how many people in our church care about Revolution and how much effort everyone puts in to make it happen. As a leader, I am humbled by this.

In a growing church, the lead pastor must let go of control to high capacity leaders. They must let leaders do what God created them to do. It is a win-win situation.

A leader must learn to control what they can control. A leader can control what they give away and how they do when they give it away.

No Show Saturday

This past Saturday was unlike any other night at Revolution. It was unlike any other night at any church I have ever been to.

As we were planning the big creative elements for this series, we came to the idea of teamwork and volunteerism that it takes to make Revolution happen week in and week out. We tossed around how to really bring this idea home without having the normal, “It would be really great if you served and here is why…”

During this planning time (in the fall) I came across the idea of a no show service from Steven Furtick at Elevation Church and loved it.

So, on Saturday, we had no greeters, no signs around the church telling you where to take your child (we had a full staff in Planet Rev because we wanted to make a point not be a distraction), no food or coffee, no one handing out programs, no Bibles on the seats (you picked up the programs, pens and Bibles from boxes), no moving backgrounds on the screen, no videos, no band, no candles.

Only paid staff did something at Revolution on Saturday.

As a portable church, most people have no idea what goes into making a church happen. It is easy to walk in every week and think everything it just happens.

Paul walked out on stage with an amp, his guitar and a mic and that was our sound system. We had no intro video for me, I carried my table out. It was weird, but it was a beautiful night. God moved in the worship time in a special way.

The point was to say, this is how many people it takes to pull Revolution off week in and week out and that number is growing as God continues to entrust us with more and more people. We also wanted to give all our volunteers a night off (although many of them confided in me that it was tough not doing anything and they wanted to fix problems they saw). In fact, when we brought the screens down at the beginning of the service, one of them did not come down. Not planned, but it went perfectly with the night.

Every week, it takes almost 40 people every week to make Revolution happen. From office help, printing, folding, setting up chairs, bibles, candles, sound equipment, running the lights, sound and video, greeting, setting up food, signs, curtains, teaching classes, holding babies, leading small groups. And then we take it all down. That doesn’t even include small group leaders and hosts.

No Show Saturday was a huge success. It was a risk we were willing to take to say thank you to all of our volunteers and to challenge the rest of our church to jump and help build the city (Revolution)!

Why I Stayed

While in San Diego, I got to meet with some other pastors to talk about leadership, preaching and church planting. As I was telling them the story of Revolution and what God has brought us through (you can read more about that here).

One of the things I shared with them (because the one guy is about to launch a church, in 1 month) was how we lost a lot of our leaders before launching, which was right around a year ago. He asked why the leaders who stayed stuck around. This is a question I’ve asked some of them and I had some time to reflect on their responses:

  • I believe in the mission of Revolution and this is my church.
  • Through the whole situation of people leaving, you never lost your integrity, you didn’t throw rocks.
  • I saw how passionate you were about the mission because you stuck it out, so I want to be a part of that.

Don’t miss this leaders. Our churches are watching to see where we stand, how we handle things, what we do. When people see their leaders have integrity, are not lazy, are passionate about the mission, they will give everything they have to see God fulfill what God wants to fulfill.

Every church planter will tell you that there are moments when your church should not survive. Moments that you are amazed looking back on that you got through. For us, there are several between when we moved here in February 2007 and launching Revolution in September 2008 that we should have closed down, but God saw fit for us to stay open.

Do you know what this tells me?

God is not finished with Revolution in Tucson or our world. Our best days are coming!

One of the things that has been the biggest blessings to me is to have leaders who have looked me in the eye and said, “If we ever close down, I’ll turn the lights off with you.” That’s how committed our leaders are, we’re dying here.