Entries by Dave Kraft (855)


Ministry results? Whose responsibility?

A couple of year ago, I was in Bryan, Ohio (population 8,000) where I conducted one of my Leaders Who Last seminars, hosted by New Hope Community Church. This church worships around 800 on Sunday…10% of the whole town with quite a few influential market-place leaders as part of the church family.

It was a wonderful seminar with leaders from three to four of the neighboring towns joining us. It was especially encouraging to see lots of younger leaders who can be the foundation for future church plants.

I had some great personal conversations with the then lead pastor Pat Schwenk.

Pat and I discussed:

  • Hiring new staff
  • The responsibilities of the lead pastor
  • How to spot and develop future leaders
  • How to deal with conflict
  • Church planting
  • Determining one’s purpose, calling, vision and gifts

Pat asked me how I felt about the time.  When I travel to conduct these seminars and preach on Sunday, I am often asked how I feel about the results of my teaching and preaching. The questions go along the lines of:

  • How did you feel about your teaching?
  • Did you see the results you were praying for?
  • What kind of feedback did you receive on your seminar and preaching (I preached the three morning services at New Hope)?

I always struggle with how to answer the success/fruit/results questions.

Sometime ago I fixated on a phrase from Matthew 9:38, “Lord of the harvest.”

It seems to me that harvest refers to end results.  A farmer can plant, care for and fertilize what has been planted, but he never has control over the end result. As Pat and I drove through mile after mile of farmland to and from the airport, it was obvious that the corn crop took a hit this year due to the drought experienced all over the Midwest and it was sad and discouraging to see. The farmers did everything they could, but they had no control over the end results...they don't control the heat or the lack of rain.

Oh, yes…harvest…whose responsibility is it?

Mark 4:26,27 has something interesting to say about this: “…a farmer planted seeds in a field, and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer’s help.” (NLT)

Paul says something very similar, “My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6,7 NLT.

So these days, as He gives me opportunity to minister in a variety of ways--coaching, preaching, teaching, writing--it is clear to me that I have no control over the end result.  I give it my best and trust Him to do what only He can and will do! I can’t change a heart, convert a soul or transform someone’s unhealthy lifestyle.

I am growing in trusting him for the result and not worrying about it. This doesn’t mean I get lazy or don’t give it my all, but it does mean my trust is not in my efforts but in the sovereign Lord of the Harvest!

Someone put it like this. When I work I work like it’s all up to me and when I pray I pray like it’s all up to God! I don’t know who said it originally, but it has the ring of truth to me.

Question to ponder:

As a leader, are you living with a lot of stress and pressure trying to produce certain results that only God can produce?


Things to do (and not to do) to keep high morale on your team

 A leader obviously does well to promote positivity and high morale on the team. Some things the leader may be doing can promote the exact opposite and lower the productivity and morale of the team.

Here is Dan Rockwell with seven things you don't want to do as a leader and ten things you definitely do want to do! 

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Unhappiness is easier than happiness like lousy leadership is easier than remarkable. 

The best way to promote unhappiness is to neglect happiness.

Leaders who neglect happiness lead unhappy teams.

7 ways leaders promote unhappiness:

  1. Waste energy avoiding stuff. Protection is necessary but it doesn’t build the future.
  2. Keep telling people what you don’t want and don’t like.
  3. Accept nothing less than perfection.
  4. Compare the present to the good ole days.
  5. Belittle. Remind people of their weaknesses and failures.
  6. Don’t play. Work all the time.
  7. Punish initiative.

Unhappy organizations fall below their potential.

Happiness is energy.

10 ways leaders inspire happiness:

  1. Enjoy happiness. Some leaders fear happiness. Honor happiness when you see it.
  2. Earn trust. Be a trustworthy leader. Have you had a leader you didn’t trust? Were you happy? Productive? Trust  precedes happiness. Distrust produces unhappiness.
  3. Promote transparency. Silos are made of secrets. Transparency eliminates secrets.
  4. Listen. Listening is cost effective. You don’t have to agree or solve. Listen to understand. Relax. Talk less. Make space for silence. Happiness stands on feeling understood.
  5. Focus on meaning and purpose. Meaningful work inspires happiness. Remind people how their work matters. Let them know they matter.
  6. Connect strengths and talents to challenges and opportunities. Everyone on your team sucks at something. Choose to acknowledge and leverage their strengths.
  7. Give control. The more controlling you are, the more unhappiness you cause.
  8. Show appreciation. Name behaviors you admire. Dive below results to behaviors that produce results.
  9. Be friendly.
  10. Make values based decisions. Profits matter, but it’s not just about profit anymore.

Which of these happiness principles seems most important to you?

How do leaders inspire happiness at work?




The misuse of authority and decision-making in local churches

Getting this one right (or wrong) makes all the difference in the world! It can make (or break) a leadership team’s effectiveness and have negative consequences for the entire church or organization.

One of the early questions I ask a new client as we begin is: “How are decisions made in your church or organization?” With some it is very clear and in writing (the church by-laws and constitution.) With others it is very ambiguous, fuzzy and open to numerous interpretations.

Some churches have staff teams, elder boards, deacon boards, advisory boards and various committees and the lines of authority are dangerously unclear.

Michael Hyatt's "Levels of Authority" which you can find under the "Articles Tab" on this blog site has been very helpful to me and I have shared it with 100's of leaers. Please check it out!

Is it clear as to who has the authority to make what kinds of decisions? Is it clear what authority each leader has in making (or not making) certain decisions? Getting this right will make all the difference in the world.

If it’s not clear, persons with strong personalities and opinions will step into the perceived vacuum and attempt to make decisions on behalf of others thereby setting up a power struggle which, in some churches, goes on for years and which can result in good staff and pastors leaving to look for jobs elsewhere. I have personally seen this happen on more than one occasion.

If the authority to make almost all decisions rests with a single individual, you have a dysfunctional situation that will, over time, drive out creative, innovative types who feel there is no permission to dream and implement without having to jump through endless bureaucratic hoops and fight through red tape to, in many cases, then be blocked by the one decision-maker.

I worked with one church where the elder-board felt it needed to sign off on everything, which robbed the team leads of the ability to make certain decisions that pertain to their ministry area. These team leads (staff and other elders) have job descriptions and clear goals, but the elder-board wants to make the final decision to “Protect the church from some of its leaders,” which clips the wings of these team leads and deprives them of the ability to make timely decisions on things (it needs to wait to the next elder board meeting.)

Other churches I have worked with have fallen into the trap of having the lead pastor make all the decisions for everybody, which causes demotivation on a massive scale, creates a needless bottleneck and shuts down innovation and creativity.  It simply reeks of a lack of trust. In many cases it simply boils down to giving responsibility to people you trust to do what you’ve asked them to do.

If you have to control or micromanage a person and don’t honestly trust them to do their job, then you’ve probably made a bad hire (paid or volunteer).

If you trust them, then let them make the decisions pertinent to the area for which they are responsible.

Creating a climate which gives people appropriate independence in decision-making, without giving up appropriate accountability, takes a lot of leadership skill.

If a team lead is capable of making certain decisions intelligently, why have it referred to a supervisor?  If a supervisor is capable, why refer to someone above? Eliminate needless rules and allow people as much freedom as possible in making decisions and leading in their area as long as they stay within the parameters of the purpose, values and vision of the organization and are achieving what’s in their job description, meeting given expectations, and reaching agreed-upon goals which have been established.

I believe wise leaders will communicate and collaborate on ideas they develop to improve the decision-making process and keep others up the chain of command informed. At the same time they should be freed from having to ask permission for those decisions (except on rare occasions where a decision has broad and major impact on other areas of the organization) and be able decide with their teams. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of “Command and Control, top-down leadership,” but more bottom-up leadership.

Although this is written with churches in mind (the world I live and work in) the ideas would apply to any group, company or organization, and coincides with everything I have ever read on leadership

Love to hear your thoughts and experience on this subject in the comment section below.













Things that can kill joy on your team

You want your team to experience genuine joy as they work together.

Sometimes a leader can be doing things (or allowing things to happen in the team) that can kill the joy they should be having. Here are five of them suggested by Eric Geiger

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

Being on a team that is filled with joy, passion, and purpose is invigorating. Being on a team where the collective soul lacks joy adversely impacts everyone. A joyless team harms the people on the team and those the team serves. Here are five common reasons joy eludes a team:

1.  An unclear mission

When the mission is unclear, team members scatter and move in a plethora of directions. Unity around a shared mission and clear direction breathes life into a team. People show up knowing what the team is on the planet to accomplish. What is often most satisfying is also most challenging, so a grand mission can raise the buy-in and energy of the team.

2.  Corrosive team members

When negative people are allowed to sit on a team in their negativity and bitterness, the whole team suffers. Seasoned leaders have seen over and over again how the peace and joy of the whole team are elevated when unsupportive people are no longer on the team. Negative people corrode the entire team.

3.  Changing expectations

When the expectations are continually changing, joy is sapped from the team because people never know what to expect. When expectations continually change, traction in one direction is elusive. When expectations are constantly changing, stability suffers and chaos ensues, and both hurt the culture of a team.

4.  No successes

When a team does not sense any wins in line with the mission they have identified, the team will often struggle with issues of morale. A defeated team is a demoralized team.

5.  A dispassionate leader

Perhaps nothing sucks the life out of a team more than a leader who is not passionate, who is simply going through the motions of leadership. The cliché “speed of the leader, speed of the team” is true. If you oversee multiple teams and continually struggle with lack of commitment or negativity in one team, check the “happy factor” of the leader. In my experience, there is always a relationship. Leaders are contagious, for better or worse.

In reality, leaders are responsible for all of the above—not just point five. They are responsible to give clarity of mission, steward the culture of the team, define expectations, help the team find wins that line up with the mission, and stir their own hearts for the mission and the people along for the journey.



The biggest mistake I ever made!

By God’s grace my second book, was released on in September of 2012, “Mistakes Leaders Make.”  In the beginning of the book I state matter-of-fact that I have either made, or observed, most of these ten mistakes in ministry contexts in which I have served. 


I, as you can imagine, would encourage you to buy, read, and apply the content of “Mistakes Leaders Make.”

Mistakes Leaders Make

In the afterword, I make mention of ten additional mistakes that could be the basis for a third book. Here is a complete list of all the mistakes:

Allowing ministry to replace Jesus

Allowing comparing to replace contentment

Allowing pride to replace humility

Allowing pleasing people to replace pleasing God

Allowing busyness to replace visioning

Allowing financial frugality to replace fearless faith

Allowing artificial harmony to replace difficult conflict

Allowing perennially hurting people to replace potential hungry leaders

Allowing information to replace transformation

Allowing control to replace trust

Allowing selfish ambition to replace godly ambition

Allowing reactive to replace proactive

Allowing discouragement to replace dreaming

Allowing teaching to replace training

Allowing tactical to replace strategic

Allowing politics to replace principles

Allowing talking to replace listening

Allowing careless firing to replace careful hiring

Allowing competence to replace character

Allowing pornography to replace purity

As I look over the entire list, I’m going to select one, which I will call the biggest mistake I ever made.  Now this mistake was not a one-time affair, but more of a focus or emphasis over a long period of time that was not only unhealthy for me and others, but downright hurtful and harmful.

    My biggest mistake was allowing


                to replace


I had my aha moment when, in the process of following my normal Bible reading, I came across Matthew 23:25-28, ESV:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The hammer of God’s word came down hard on me and I saw in a flash what I had been doing for years as a leader--putting all my focus and attention on outward competence…trying to do things well while ignoring the inward life of character lived out in the context of relationships, as most character attributes are.

I had spent years trying to do everything perfectly to impress and win approval from my supervisors and peers, while not thinking much at all about what I was and was becoming on the inside.

I have repented, confessed and cast myself on the grace and mercy of the Lord while focusing on character and connecting with people as I depend on Him for ongoing Holy Spirit-empowered transformation.

Here are four areas I am currently zeroing in on:

1. Purity

2. Humility

3. Contentment

4. Patience 

I regret that it took me so many years to see this hurtful overemphasis on competence.

I am not at all saying that competence is wrong, but it can be when it is the sole focus of my time, effort and attention, while ignoring or neglecting the inward person. I have come to understand that I am first a human being and then a human doing. What I do should flow from within…the person I am in Jesus on the inside.

It seems to me that in far too many instances in Christian leadership, we bring people on board (as volunteers or paid staff) based on competency, what they can do and then let some of them go based on character, what they have become.

Most leaders who fall do so over character issues rather than competency issues!

The legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Far too many leaders are overly concerned with their reputation in the eyes of others, and under concerned with inward character, which God is deeply interested in.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ ” 1 Samuel 16:7, ESV

+To ponder:

Where is your focus these days…on what man sees on the outside, or on what God sees in your heart? Are you making the mistake that I made of allowing competency to replace character?