Entries by Dave Kraft (941)


Don't let discouragement rob you of your God-given dreams!

In my second book, "Mistakes Leaders Make," on page 115, I listed some additional mistakes other than those dealt with in the book. Here is one of those listed mistakes. 

We make a mistake when we…

Allow Discouragement To Replace Dreaming

It is noteworthy that in the middle of a chapter on leadership in 1 Peter 5 we find this, “Be sober-minded; be watchfulYour adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”-verse 8.

He is after leaders first and foremost. Leaders are his prime targets.

The devil has many tools in his bag of tricks; sexual temptation, financial greed, pride, for starters. When he can’t trip us up with obvious and blatant temptations, he will throw something more subtle our way…like discouragement.

When a strong dose of discouragement afflicts our soul it can quickly dampen or curtail any adventurous dreams God may give us. Discouragement rains on our dreaming parade.

Joseph received a God-given vision (dream), but his brothers were the devil’s emissaries to discourage him. Nehemiah also had a God-given vision (dream); a clear sense of what God wanted him to do for Jerusalem. He also had more than his share of detractors from within and from without. So did Moses, so did Paul…so did a lot of God’s leaders; maybe most of them. Start being discouraged & soon you may stop following the dream God gave you regarding what he desires to do through you.

My wife Susan and I spent eight years In Sweden with the Navigators. During our 2nd four year assignment there, I was hit with a strong season of discouragement. In my mind I purchased my ticket home numerous times. Then I got sick with shingles and things went from bad to worse. I had never been sicker or been in more pain. My thoughts and outlook went very bleak. The enemy had me against the ropes. My imagination went to dark places.

What was I doing here? Did I really think I had anything to offer? What about my awful past? Could Jesus really use a sinful, fearful, shameful person like me? Who was I kidding?

When discouragement set in, dreaming went out the proverbial window. I lost all hope, lost track of the promises of God that led us to Sweden in the first place.

One day when I was as low as I have ever been, God met me, & encouraged me through 2 Chronicles 15:7. “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands been weak, for your work will be rewarded.” (ESV) The heaviness lifted, the clouds dissipated, the joy came back. Grace won out over discouragement. The enemy was defeated.

This was the first of many times Jesus defeated the enemy of discouragement in my life and got me on the dreaming pathway again. Some of those times took longer than others. It usually boils down to having my value and worth in Jesus and in nothing else or no one else.

Here are some of the things that can still open the door for discouragement in my life:

  • When I am criticized
  • When I am tired and on the edge of exhaustion
  • When I am misunderstood
  • When my expectations are dashed and not realized…according to my time-table

What about you? Has discouragement replaced dreaming in your life?Does the evil one have you in the corner as he pounds you with his lies. You’re no good. You don’t have what it takes. God will never forgive you for____ (fill in the blank).

Run to the cross. Remember the resurrection. Rejoice in the promises he made to you. Embrace Jesus victory over discouragement. Begin following the dream he gave you again!


Five ways to help younger leaders succeed!

Success as a leader is not based only on what you do, but what you are doing to develop and equip others to be able to do; investing in the future by especially coaching and mentoring younger leaders so that they can succeed. Ron Edmondson shares five ways to help young leaders succeed.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

I love working with young leaders. I consistently look for ways to invest in and recruit those who are currently entering the field of leadership or who will be in the future. In doing so, I see part of my role in working with younger leaders as helping them succeed.

I’ve been practicing this for years with incredible results finding new leaders – for non-profits where I serve on the board, to businesses I’ve owned, to churches where I’ve served as pastor.

It is often easier to get a more seasoned or experienced leader. You do not have to invest time and resources in training. You have a more tested and proven person. I have found, however, in certain positions the younger leader is a good – sometimes better – option.

It is true though if you recruit someone who has never led – or never led at the capacity you are seeking them to do – there will be some learning curves. And, part of your job as a leader will be not only to recruit them, but to help them succeed. This may include special training, coaching or mentoring, but definitely requires intentionality.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about the process.

5 ways to help a young leader succeed:

1.  Eliminate the fear of failing

If a young leader knows failure is welcome, and a certain amount of mistakes are even expected in the early days, they’ll feel more willing to take risks. They’ll more quickly begin to add value to the team.

2.  Understand he or she may be afraid to ask

They may assume asking would be perceived as a sign of weakness. Younger leaders sometimes want to make the best impression and often this means they will refrain from seeking help. They may have 100 questions, but they don’t want to keep asking.

Release the tension of asking. In fact, approach them first with “What questions do you have?” Recognize their need for help acclimating to a new environment and new responsibility.

3.  Give consistent, constructive, encouraging feedback

Young leaders, even more from this current generation entering the workforce, need to know how they are doing and how they can succeed. They may have an idea in their own mind. It may or may not be correct. They need to know what you think. They won’t know unless you tell them.

4.  Tell them what they need to know, but don’t know to ask.

There are always things in any organization a person needs to know to be successful – the unwritten rules, the hidden culture. These things aren’t written in a handbook or in a employee orientation, but you can help young leaders acclimate faster by letting them in on “secrets” they’ll learn anyway sooner or later. It will be easier to learn them from you.

(And, keep in mind, they may disagree with and even defy some of the unwritten rules. They may change your culture. And, this may be why you need them most.)

For this last one, visit Ron Edmondson




The yearly performance review...there's got to be a better way!

Most of us have been on the receiving end (or giving end) of a negative experience with performance reviews. Based on my experience, most of them are a waste of time and a morale killer.

I am going to venture a guess that no one (with perhaps a few very rare exceptions) enjoys, profits from and/or believes that the performance reviews they’ve had have been a positive and pleasurable experience.

Following are six problems with the way we currently do them and how to improve them:

1. They Aren’t Frequent Enough

By law, many organizations and churches are mandated to have a yearly performance review. And, in many places, that’s what happens, with very little in between from one year to the next. Nary a word is said as to how somebody is doing between one yearly review and the next.

Discussions (not formal reviews) need to be happening regularly--at least once a week. The problem is that everyone is so incredibly busy (crazy busy, I may add) and these discussions seldom, if ever, take place. Most employees and volunteers I’ve talked with would appreciate regular updates as to how they’re doing and what they can do to improve.

2. They Are One-Way Conversations

It’s mostly about how the employee/volunteer is doing--or not doing. Seldom does the employee/volunteer get to speak into the life of the boss. What would happen if the “boss” were to ask the employee/volunteer questions such as:

Is there anything you would like me to do that I’m not doing that would make your job easier and more enjoyable?

  • Is there anything I do that de-motivates you or keeps you from doing your best?
  • Is there anything you would like to say to me that you have not had (or been given) the opportunity to say?

3. No Ongoing Support Is Offered

 I think it would be great when the boss points out an area of needed improvement, that support/resources/suggestions are offered rather than just pointing out that things are not going well, leaving it up to the employee/volunteer to figure it out and address it. In many cases they’re not sure how to address it, or they probably would have already done so. They need help and support. Do we really want them to succeed, or not?

4. No Accountability Is Set Up

When the performance review is over, seldom is something arranged for a future discussion within a short period of time so as to monitor progress. How hopeless can it feel when dissatisfaction is expressed by a boss and no support/resources are offered and there’s no checking in to see how things are going? It leaves the worker in limbo--not sure how to proceed or exactly what the expectations are.

5. No Encouragement Is Offered

There is a great book out there entitled, “Practicing Affirmation.” (You will find a Book Note for it on this website.) We all know it’s easier to receive constructive criticism when it’s given in a context of positive belief and affirmation. It works with kids, and it works with adults.

A pat on the back goes a lot farther than a kick in the pants. If you do need to kick someone in the pants, do it in the context of three pats on the back. In some cases (far too many), the only time someone hears from the boss is when they have done something wrong. When your boss sends you a message that he wants to talk, is your first thought, “Oh, he wants to give me a raise or thank me for a job well done? I don’t think so! “What did I do now” might, more likely, be your first thought.

6. They Are Have-To’s | Not Want-To’s

As mentioned earlier, in many cases we are mandated by law to give yearly performance reviews. We do them because we have to. If there wasn’t a law mandating at least one yearly, is it possible we would not do them at all? (I think that might well be the case.) Let’s change that mindset, and offer frequent conversations to those who report to us because we want to.

Let’s go out of our way to honor them, thank them, commend them publicly and do all of this because we believe in them, want them to succeed and genuinely care about them. Is that asking too much? If you are too busy to do this, unbusy yourself!

For more on this subject, check out the book (there is a Book Note for it on this website) “Get Rid of The Performance Review” by Samuel A. Culbert and Lawrence Rout. Guaranteed to get you rethinking on what is currently happening--both in the market place as well as in the church. It’s time for a change. The health of your organization, church or group depends on it, as well as the health of those who report to you.


Five lies pastors/leaders tell themselves and how to resist them

As leaders we want to be truth tellers about ourselves and our ministries. There are lies we pass along about what’s really going on. Karl Vaters shares “Five Lies” that pastors are tempted to tell.

Originally posted by Karl Vaters

Five Lies Pastors are Tempted to Tell – And How to Resist Them

No one wants bad news. So we're tempted to downplay the negatives, up-sell the positives and call it faith. In over 35 years of pastoral ministry, I've known and worked alongside hundreds of pastors. I've met thousands. I can count the dishonest ones – the wolves in sheep's clothing – on one hand. With fingers left over. But there are some lies that even the 99+ percent of honest pastors have a hard time resisting.

Here are five of them:

1.  How Big Their Church Is

We live in a church growth culture. Bigger is better. Even if we don't say it that way, we believe it. The pressure to perform tempts us to lie about our attendance figures – especially to other pastors. And denominational officials. And visiting preachers ("The attendance is really down today!"). One of the main reasons we do this is found in the title of this point. Too many pastors see the church as "their" church. So they see the growth (or lack of) as their responsibility.

We're always striving for more. And when we don't hit those goals, we pad the books – in our heads and our conversations, if not in the actual reports. Although sometimes we do that, too.

2.  How Healthy the Church Is

No one wants bad news. So we're tempted to downplay the negatives, up-sell the positives and call it faith. It's been said that the first job of leadership is to define reality. I believe that to be profoundly true. A big part of defining reality is to acknowledge our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Leaders lead. But we can't get there from here if we don't have an accurate picture of where "here" is.

3.  How Spiritually and Emotionally Strong They Are

Most churches are too pastor-centric. Including the church I pastor. Too many churches rely far too heavily on one person to cast a vision, preach the Word, visit the sick and so on. When the pastor is seen as a proxy for Jesus, we're taking on a burden no one was ever meant to bear. So we're tempted to lie about it.

To ourselves and others. We present ourselves as paragons of spirituality and virtue. And by doing so we set ourselves up for failure. Even if it doesn't lead to a moral or emotional flame-out, this over-reliance on the pastor sends the wrong message about who the church is supposed to be focused on and led by. We need to point to Jesus. Lean on him. And equip the saints to follow him even when we're not around.

4.  How Strong and Stable Their Marriage and Family Are

If the pastor is supposed to be near perfect, then so is their marriage and family, right? Too many pastors' spouses and kids are living under an unreasonable pressure to perform, causing them to live a lie – to themselves and to others.

The only perfect relationship is among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When a pastor’s marriage and family are held to a higher standard than they're capable of living up to – than anyone is capable of living up to – they're being set up for disaster. The world is filled with pastors and ex-pastors with shattered marriages and families that prove the sad truth behind this lie.

5.  How Sure They are About the Church's Direction

We act like we have a clue. We don't. Not really. Oh sure, every pastor should plan and pray about a vision for the church they're called to lead. And we should present that vision filled with faith and hope. But we don't really know what the future holds.

We've seen visions die before. Including our own. Especially if we've been pastoring for a while. Pastors aren't the only people capable of hearing from God and acting on it. Plus, pastors aren't the only people capable of hearing from God and acting on it. If we really believe in the priesthood of believers, we should act like it. And that includes vision casting.

Resisting the Lies

Pastoring is hard work. But we make it harder than it should be by taking on greater burdens than we were ever meant to carry. The only way to change this pastor-centric model and shift the burden and the glory back to where it belongs – on Jesus, not the pastor – is to insist on total honesty.

Be honest about how big (or small) the church is. 

Only then can our egos get out of the way, allowing churches to be lead appropriately for their size.

Be honest about how healthy or unhealthy the church is. 

Only with a proper diagnosis can we hope to treat the church's problems, challenges and possibilities correctly.

Be honest about your own spiritual and emotional health. 

It's not right to expose every doubt and weakness to everyone, but we should never present a false self. And we all need to be vulnerable with someone we trust.

Be honest about your marriage and family. 

We have to stop holding our spouses and kids up as public examples of unrealistic perfection. And don't let anyone else do it to them, either.

Be honest about the church's future. 

If we can let go of our unrealistic (and often unbiblical) plans and expectations, we might find that Christ's plans are very different and far greater than anything we can even imagine. In his hands they’re quite attainable, too.

And that's no lie.










Your view and use of "Time" reveals a lot about your leadership!

How you view and invest the “Time” you have been given reveals a lot about your leadership!

The hourglass of time is running.

You can't stop it, reverse it or demand a replay.  What you can do is wisely invest what you have.  Your skill at making the most of your limited supply of time can make the difference between being a winner or a loser in the Christian life as it pertains to being the best you can be for the Lord.

 I have some good news for you!  Being skillful in wisely using your time is something that can be learned. Do you ever find yourself coming late to meetings or commitments? Do you experience that you are often in a hurry…eating, driving, talking fast...honking at your own tail-light in the traffic of life as it were?  

I was once in a jewelry shop and saw a sign on the counter that said: "Don't rush me, the hurrier I go the behinder I get."  If you can identify with any of the above, perhaps you need to take a long and prayerful look at your “Philosophy of Time.”

Do you ever say, "Oh, if I only had more time” or "I'd like to, but I just don't have the time?"    There are two facts we need to know:  l) We all have the same amount of time; and, 2) We have all the time we need to do what God wants us to do. 

When we make excuses about not having enough time, it means we are either doing the wrong things or we are doing the right things in the wrong way. Lack of time is (probably) never the problem, but the wise investment of our time is; values and priorities is what’s at stake.

From Psalm 90:l2 we learn that the proper use of time can be learned, that we should be conscious of time, and that each day is important. Ephesians 5:15‑18 further teaches us that there is a relationship between our use of time and understanding and doing the will of God. It is pointed out in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that what makes the significant difference is taking advantage of the time and opportunities we are afforded.

Being punctual is one aspect of how we view time. Punctuality in getting things done in a timely manner and showing up in a timely manner to appointments or meetings reveals a lot about your leadership and about your love for other people with whom you work.

When it comes to being punctual, there are four types of leaders:

1.  Those who show up or get things done early and enjoy the peace that comes from staying ahead of things and not being in catch-up mode most/all of the time.

2.  Those who show up and get things done in the nick of time or at the last minute, praying that things will somehow work out.

3.  Those who generally show up late and are a bit late in getting most everything done, at times missing important deadlines and then place the blame elsewhere.

4.  Those who don’t know what time it is or don’t remember when things were to be done!

Be brutally honest with yourself now! Which one of these four do you tend to be and what kind of price might those you work with be paying for your lack of consideration or organization?