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Courage To Succeed

RP & PauletteMany people who read my blog are leaders in either church, community, or business. There are so many different styles and philosophies when it comes to leadership, with countless books, seminars, and self-help videos on the subject. Just typing in “leadership” on YouTube yields over 4.2 million results.

As a pastor for nearly 50 years, I have witnessed stunning changes in leadership demands.

In the first two churches I pastored, I was the ONLY paid staff member. The fact is, we did everything through the use of volunteers. As pastor, I had to look at my congregation, identify those with leadership skills, and train them how to serve in a church/ministry capacity. When I graduated from seminary, I became pastor of a church in a rural area that was rapidly becoming suburban, with a lot of growth potential. There, I had two part-time secretaries and one part-time custodian. My staff was all volunteers… Richard Wilson, a court reporter, led our choir and music. A young businessman by the name of Jim McGriff led our student ministry and student choir. An architect was our education director. Our church grew to over 500 in attendance with no paid staff.

Today, I lead a church with over 100 paid staff members, yet the leadership principles we operate by are the same for both paid staff and volunteers. Moreover, these principles and the truths contained therein are not confined to the church-house. They also apply to the business world and, for that matter, any endeavor in life that involves people.

So how can a leader truly succeed?

  1. There must be a clearly defined vision. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). No one wants to follow a guide who doesn’t know where they are going. If there is no definable end-result for your organization (church), your vision (or lack thereof) has doomed it from the start.
  2. There must be defined goals. No runner is going to simply wake up one day and run a marathon. It takes months of preparation with goals along the way. If you are driving from Atlanta, GA to Chattanooga, TN up I-75, when you get to Dalton, GA, you know you are only about 25-30 minutes away from your destination. Leading your organization is no different. You must have, not just the end in sight, but landmarks and achievable goals along the way. It helps to eliminate the frustration of following blindly on the part of those you are leading, as well as your leadership team having to endure the constant cries of, “Are we there yet?!?!?!?”
  3. There must be measurable accountability. “Just because I said so,” may be reason enough for a three-year-old to clean their room, but generally does not suffice when it comes to running an organization and motivating adults. There must be a clear chain of accountability for actions and decisions, and that accountability has to be modeled from the top down. Remember the old saying… Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  4. Leadership1There must be a culture of mutual honor, respect, and teamwork. You cannot be an effective leader from a high and lofty towerFormer President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” A businessman in my church once told me that “I don’t ask anyone to do something I either haven’t done, or wouldn’t do myself. The people who work for me will do anything for me for one simple reason — because they know I will do anything for them.” Treating people with respect, honoring their time by being prompt and on-time, being forthright and honest, approaching each task with a well-thought-out plan, being conservative with criticism and liberal with praise, letting each individual know how important they are to the organization — all of these things help to build an atmosphere that goes beyond teamwork… it creates the atmosphere of family.
  5. There must be a focus on goals, and the steps to achieve them. While looking at the “big picture” can give you a sense of importance and meaning, most people work best with goals that are progressive, logical, and attainable. Make the goals clear for your team. Clearly explain the steps it takes to achieve each goal. Give them the tools they need to be successful for each step in the process. Encourage them to focus on the goal immediately in front of them, and not fixate on the enormity of the “big picture.”
  6. Hands togetherThere must be disciplined financial principles that include healthy revenue streams, careful spending, and total accountability. Most organizations crumble because of financial woes. Bad financial planning (insufficient funding), mismanagement, and dishonesty are just a few ways financial problems can doom an organization. Being disciplined with how you spend, how you manage growth, and how you invest your resources will go a long way toward giving you a healthy bottom-line. Being realistic about projections, operating within a well-defined budget, and being an “open book” when it comes to accountability will not only give you a reputation for integrity, but can also provide others with confidence in investing in or donating to your organization.
  7. There must be flexibility and a willingness to change. Change is inevitable. Change is unrelenting. Change is coming, whether we like it or not. George Bernard Shaw once said,Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” If you want to progress with your organization, being flexible to the changing winds of public needs, technology, and the direction of your industry are essential. Keeping an open mind about new innovations and ideas is the only way to survive having your methods bent to the breaking point. Being forward-thinking to the future needs of your market, and being able to adapt quickly can mean the difference between extinction, survival, and success. C.S. Lewis made this observation…

     

    It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

     

  8. There must be a strong prayer ministry and a sense of God’s leadership.  My thought process for this point comes from my years in the pastorate and ministry. As a believer in Christ, our life in Him should permeate all we are and do. There should always be an attitude of prayer, as well as a desire for God’s direction when it comes to the life and direction of your organization (church). True Christianity is not just a religion or thought process — it is an all-encompassing immersion into the life and death of Christ, and surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit.  There should never be a time when we operate separate from that reality. There should never be a decision made that is not bathed in prayer, with our spiritual ears open to hearing from Heaven for wisdom and guidance. The realization that all we are and have is God’s should motivate, inspire, and guide us in every facet of business, ministry, and life.Creación_de_Adám hands

I hope that embracing these steps will give you the courage to change, the desire for more for you and your organization, and the tools to encourage those in your circle of influence to live life ready to succeed.

Pastor Ron

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Fresh Oil New Wine 2014 Friendship Healing Living It Out In Real Time The Big Event The Life of Faith

A Life In Disagreement

This week marks a milestone in my ministry. My son Ronnie and I recently wrote a book together called The Power of Agreement, and this week, it hit the bookstore stands.

Charisma House (our publisher) recently featured an article by Ronnie in their online publication (www.charismamag.com).  I thought, for today’s blog, I would share Ronnie’s article with all of you. Enjoy!

“Can we agree to disagree?”

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said it yourself? It’s a pretty popular saying, especially in the political and socially diverse environment in which we find ourselves today, but it’s a sad thing when all you have in common with another person is the fact that you disagree. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they are agreed?” (NKJV). That’s kind of the million-dollar question—a question for which I had a resounding answer: Nope.

Growing up in the church, I had more than enough to disagree with. I’m not talking about theology, worship style, legalism or anything related to your admission into the pearly gates. My disagreements were far more simple and personal. As the son of the preacher, my disagreements were with unrealistic expectations placed upon me by those who thought they knew me by virtue of my name. My jumping-off point was with how “good church folk” treated my family (in particular my father) and the abuse we suffered at the hands of such people.

At the ripe old age of 23, I was mad at God, through with church, and living a life that in no way reflected my upbringing as a preacher’s kid. As a result of my poor decisions and the root of bitterness that had me firmly entangled, my relationships were strained, my marriage was a mess, and I was trying to deal with the pain, regret and humiliation of life by hiding inside a bottle. I was working my way up the corporate ladder in my secular job, but beyond that, everything else was crashing around me.

Yet in spite of the disagreements, fights, feuds and other assorted turmoil I had put my dad through, I still had to admit that he was my best friend. While I had done my best to push him away, my father, the son of an alcoholic-father-turned-church-deacon, knew what it was to be cast aside, knew the power and price of redemption, and knew that the best way to win over the object of your disagreement is with love.

Now, the problem with any disagreement is that the vast majority of the time, someone is in the right and someone is in the wrong. It pretty much went without saying that based on my lifestyle, I was wrong—although my dad would also be quick to admit he was not without fault. Still, I hung on to my bitterness and anger like a lifeline and refused to give an inch. I refused, that is, until I found myself on the bathroom floor—a total wreck—crying out and yelling at God. After consuming an inordinate amount of alcohol and a screaming match with my wife, I had collapsed on the floor of our bathroom late one night. Totally freaked out, she knew of nothing else to do than to call my father. I challenged her to do so, thinking he wouldn’t come. Ashamed and confused, I had no use for myself anymore. I figured he didn’t either.

In the middle of one of the darkest nights of my life, there was a knock at my door. It was my dad.

My initial reaction to seeing him was a hate-filled rant that quickly devolved into the cry of the prodigal. Once the angst-filled rebel gave way to the worn-down prodigal, the next couple of hours were filled with cries of remorse, tears of forgiveness, and promise—the promise of healed relationships and renewed commitment to my family, my heavenly Father and the calling He had placed on my life.

Someone smarter than me once said that the problem with running from God is that usually you end up running into Him. Living a life of disagreement with the godly people God has placed in our lives and being forever at odds with our gifts and calling will only lead to ruin and an up-close-and-personal view of the bathroom floor.

Is there happiness in disagreement? Sure. Even the Bible alludes to that in passages like Hebrews 11:25: “He [Moses] chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (NIV).

However, the momentary happiness that a self-serving life brings pales in comparison to the life lived in agreement with the call of God. Pleasures lose their luster. Riches lose their value. Prestige lasts until the next shiny new employee comes along. The only life that has any lasting, eternal value is the one lived for Christ.

Now, years later, I’ve left the parties with my friends for the peace and contentment of my family. I’ve given up the life of egotistical and selfish disagreement for agreement and harmony with my fathers (earthly and heavenly). I traded in the confinement of self-imposed loneliness and unworthiness for the wide-open spaces of promise and hope that only a life in agreement with God’s call can bring.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Fresh Oil New Wine 2014 Miracles Out of Nowhere The Big Event The Life of Faith The Mysteries of God The Secret Place Through The Looking Glass

A Leader Worth Following

From inside the walls of our churches to the halls of Congress, people are looking for leadership. But what is a real leader?

Is it the person who “makes the rules” and “calls the shots?”

Is it the one who constantly reminds others of who is in charge?

Is it the person who has the “my way or the highway” mentality?

Or…

Is it the person who listens to the advice of others? Is it the person who takes suggestions and criticism, and has the wisdom to run with the good, and throw out the bad?

In his book, Jesus: The Man Who Lives, British author Malcolm Muggeridge made this observation…

If the greatest of all, Incarnate God, chooses to be servant of all, who would wish to be master?”

Jesus said that “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”

Do you wish to lead? If you do, then find out what it means to serve, and become a servant today.

This week…

We are in the beginning of what is already promising to be a great week at Abba’s House. Yesterday, we began our annual Fresh Oil New Wine Conference, and it is off to a great start. I’m being joined this week by Pastor John Hagee, Perry Stone, Rabbi Curt Landry, Dwain Miller, Randy Caldwell, and more. We are already seeing God move in mighty ways, and are expecting an outpouring of His Spirit as we tap into the ancient wells of our heritage as believers. I hope you can make it, but if you cannot get to Chattanooga, you can watch us online by clicking this link. You can find out more about Fresh Oil New Wine by visiting here.

I know that there are so many different social media sites out there, and chances are, most of you that follow my blog participate in at least one or two. I would love to stay connected to you…

If you are on Twitter, you can connect with me at @PstrRonPhillips

On Facebook, there is more than one way.

To connect with Ron Phillips Ministries, go to https://www.facebook.com/RonPhillipsMinistries

Our Abba’s House Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/AbbasHouse

You can also visit our website at ronphillips.org

Thanks for following my blog. Hope to see you at FONW14

Pastor Ron