Entries by Dave Kraft (1093)


Making good decisions; what to do and not do!

Leaders make decisions. That’s one of their responsibilities. That’s what they get paid to do. They make decisions about people, about direction, about new ideas, about the future and about what’s best for the group or organization. The higher the position and the greater the influence and responsibility, the greater the risk or rewards are for the decisions being made.

Readiness to risk failure is probably the one attribute that separates good leaders from poor ones. Don’t hesitate in making the tough decisions.  Indecision by the leader will have negative repercussions throughout the entire organization.

An imperfect decision made expediently and implemented with sensitivity and wisdom may result in far more progress than a “perfect” decision which is first postponed then implemented with fear and uncertainty. How and when the decision is communicated and announced is many times just as important as the decision itself. The risk in decision-making goes with the territory in leadership positions. Those unwilling to take risks need to find another line of work. 

Here Are Seven Things To Be Aware Of When Making Important Decisions:

1. Don’t Make Decisions Too Quickly -

Exercise due diligence and do your homework.

2. Don’t Make Decisions Too Slowly -

When you know it’s the right thing to do, don’t procrastinate or wait for more information (you may never have 100% of the information you think you need)…pull the trigger.

3. Don’t Make Decisions In Order To Please Everybody -

You will never keep everybody happy. No matter what you decide, there will be those who don’t agree or don’t like it. It was that great philosopher and theologian Bill Cosby who said, “I don’t know what the secret to success is, but I do know what the secret to failure is and that’s trying to keep everybody happy.”

4. Don’t Make Decisions When You Are Tired Or Discouraged -

It’s a recipe for disaster. All the more reason to pace yourself in work and ministry and to make it a priority to get adequate sleep (7-9 hours as a general rule). Many leaders are sleep deprived and, therefore, make poor decisions. Likewise, when you are significantly discouraged is not a good time to make an important decision. Get some time with the Lord and some close supportive friends and then make that critical decision.

5. Don’t Make Decisions When You Are Fearful -

King Saul is the classic example of a leader who made a decision when fearful and it cost him his leadership and, eventually, his life. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, or fear of making a mistake should not play into the decision-making process. Ask yourself if the decision is right before God--not if it is popular, politically correct, or will placate your detractors.

6. Don’t Make Decisions When You Are Upset Or Angry -

Lashing out at something or someone by making a snappy ill-conceived decision is plain stupid. Wait until you cool down and have some God-given perspective on what’s going on before deciding.

7. Don’t Make Decisions By Yourself 

“We” decisions rather than “I” decisions are always better. In a multitude of counselors there is safety (Proverb 15:22). Team decisions are always better than independent unilateral decisions and are, mostly, better received by the rank and file. The leadership team has decided is always better than I decided. Additionally, with good input from others, the decisions are more likely to be right.


Reasons why many leaders are lousy listeners and what can be done!

At times leaders can be the absolutely worse listeners. Here are 13 reasons why this is so and what you, as a leader, can do to develop in this area!

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

13 reasons leaders don’t listen:

1.  Time. Be honest. You don’t have time to listen.

2.  Inconvenience. Listening is an inconvenience to leaders with a bias toward action.

3.  Knowledge. The more you think you know the less you need to listen.

4.  Solutions. You don’t really listen, you solve. The search for an answer isn’t listening. There are times to listen for solutions. But, people should know that up front.

5.  Blame. Self-protection invites leaders to listen for someone to blame.

6.  History. You stop listening when you’ve heard their story before.

7.  Compassion. Listening to help causes you to listen selectively for ways to be helpful.

8.  Lack of compassion. You just don’t care.

9.  Bordom. Some people are boring.

10.  Need to talk.

11.  Distraction. Include cell phones, email notifications, and your next meeting on distractions to listening.

12.  Decisiveness. Why listen when you’ve made up your mind?

13.  Fatigue.

Listening can be learned and developed.

Trust leaders who listen.

Five listening tips:

1.  Believe in the power of curiosity. Current knowledge blocks breakthrough; curiosity enables it.

2.  Set aside ten minutes to listen everyday.

3.  Don’t evaluate.

4.  Eliminate distractions.

5.  Forget your agenda.

Exercise your listening muscle. You might need to start with five minutes. 

Listen to language, but include energy and emotion.

Courageously reflect what you hear. Describe the messages you make in your head and ask, “Is that what you mean?”

Develop a list of great questions and use them.


Feeling heard is transformational. Until you feel heard, you resist your own development.

Leaders who listen extend respect and acceptance.

Listening is an invitation to belong.

People who listen to us, energize our transformation.

What prevents you from listening?

What tips for listening might you add?

Leadership is more than listening. What needs to be added to listening to make it leadership-listening?




Why pastors leave and leaders quit!

There are a number of reasons why pastors leave churches; some good and some not so good. Here are some excellent insights from chuck Lawless that hopefully will be of use to you as a pastor or church member.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

I’ve worked with churches in North America for almost twenty years, and I’ve seen many pastors leave a church. These results are only anecdotal, but here are the primary reasons pastors have given me for leaving (in no order of significance):

1.  New calling. This reason, of course, can be a positive one. When a pastor simply senses God’s call to a new place of service or a new ministry, we should want that leader to follow God’s direction. Ideally, anyone who leaves a church does so for this reason . . . but honesty sometimes points to these other realities.

2.  Financial strain.  Ministry is hard enough without having to worry about paying bills. When another opportunity seemingly offers relief from financial worries, it must be attractive.

3.  Congregational conflict. Church folks can be some of the sweetest people in the world . . . or, at times, some of the meanest. Even the strongest leader can be worn down by continual conflict, especially if he’s the target. Departure removes the immediate bull’s-eye from the pastor’s back.

4.  Family loneliness. I’ve written previously about the strain ministry can put on a marriage. Families who feel isolated and unappreciated seldom experience the joy that ministry can offer – and a new venue can look quite appealing.

5.  Personal sin. Nobody wants this problem to develop, yet it does more often than we care to admit. Even when the reasons given for departure are vague, the real problem is not. It’s sin that costs the pastor his position.

6.  Outside eyes. Sometimes when we do a consultation, a church doesn’t call us until they’re deep in trouble – and occasionally, the pastor decides to leave. The work needed to turn the ship around would require more energy than that pastor has to give. Starting over elsewhere seems easier.

7.  Physical fatigue. Ministers who do their work get tired. The hours can be long. The emotional strain of dealing with life issues can be heavy. Pastors often don’t take care of themselves physically, thus only compounding the problem. Leaving becomes a perceived rest.

8.  Family responsibilities. As believers, we’re expected to care for our parents. They age, and they can become like children in need of their own parents. Our adult children also need our help at times. Caring for family sometimes means a pastor must leave one location to be closer to others.  

9.  Honest evaluation. I will make this statement as lovingly as I can: some pastors do not belong in the pastorate. Neither their giftedness nor their passion suggests otherwise, and folks in the pew recognize it. When misplaced pastors recognize this reality, leaving a ministry position can be a big relief.

10.  Church planting. I’m hearing this reason more often these days. The pastor of an established church leaves to start a new congregation, even if doing so requires him to be bi-vocational. This reason can be a cop-out to avoid the stresses of an established church, but it can also reflect a genuine calling (see #1 above).



When you have to let someone go in ministry1

Sometimes it becomes clear that someone needs to be let go. It is never easy, but necessary. The loving thing to do is to let them go. Loving to them and to the rest of the team. There are good ways and bad ways to do this. Here Ron Edmondson shares five things to keep in mind.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

Whenever I talk about firing people in ministry I create a great deal of interest. Some feel it makes the church seem too much like a business. I get it, but the other fact, and many understand through difficult experiences, if we don’t address this very serious issue, Kingdom dollars are often misused. And, if we are honest, this has been allowed in ministry far more often than it should be. Our command to love or even to be kind shouldn’t cause us to waste Kingdom dollars.

Please read THE PREVIOUS POST before reading this one.

The fact is, in nearly every situation I’m aware of where this type decision is made, it’s not an issue of likability. It’s not we don’t love the person or their family. If this was the case, all this would be easy. It doesn’t even always mean the person did something wrong. At times, it is a simple issue of chemistry or fit and often the person proves later to be a great fit elsewhere.

Making this difficult decision has many times proven best for all parties involved, but admittedly, getting to the point of release is sometimes a most difficult process. As hard and delicate an issue as this is, it is poor stewardship, in my opinion, not to address the issue.

With this in mind, I always have people ask for suggestions when having to release someone from a ministry position. They want to know some best practices to protect the church and person?

Here are 5 suggestions when you have to fire someone in ministry:

1.  Be certain

Not as much from a legal sense, but from a moral sense, we need to be sure this is the right move. (You need to be legal too and if you aren’t sure – ask. I have always consulted an attorney before anyone is released. Always.) The fact is it will be difficult. It may even be messy. There is usually some damage done to the body. You shouldn’t hide from the right decision because of it, but you should make sure you’re making the right decision.

2.  Be generous

This will differ depending on the person’s tenure with the church and the reason for dismissal, but be as generous as you reasonably can be. This could be financial, but it could also be in the way you allow an exit to take place. I’ve had some unique situations to accommodate. Knowing how hard this is going to be for the affected party, as much as possible, be overly generous.

3.  Be graceful

I’ve been involved in a few messy situations involving the release of a staff member. Many times the most gracious thing to the departing staffer is the information that’s not shared. There is always more to the story and everyone wants to know the “more” – sadly many times for the wrong reasons. Keeping information as confidential as possible extends grace to the person, the person’s family and the church.

Grace should also be extended in creating an exit strategy which protects the person’s future employment possibilities, as much as possible. There may be moral or legal issues you feel obligated or legally have to share, but as much as possible, extend grace.

4.  Be honest

Here, I am talking about what you communicate to the person being released. Don’t sugarcoat. Now is not the time. What’s the real reason? Hopefully, by this point, there has been sufficient due process and fair warning, except in cases where an immediate exit is the only option. Either way, tell the truth. I’ve seen churches disguise the real issues in an effort to land a “softer blow”. Many times this only creates more tension, because of the ambiguity and uncertainty of the dismissal.

5.  Be helpful

How can the person improve for their next position? What are the areas they do well? In what ways can you help them land better into their next role? The person won’t always be open to your “help”, but you should be available to help them wherever and however they might be.

This is admittedly hard. No one enjoys this discussion or this process. I don’t even enjoy writing this blog post. We should be Biblical in our approach always, but it’s not Biblical to avoid hard issues hiding behind a label of ministry.



Vison Blockers!

Things generally don’t happen without some kind of vision. There are obviously things that block leaders from having and pursuing a God-given vision.

Here are nine of them from Chuck Lawless

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

One of my mentors once said to me, “If God is calling you to a place, He’ll give you a vision for that ministry.” He didn’t mean a literal vision, but he did mean something just as attention-getting: a clear sense of what God wants to accomplish in that new ministry. We may not grab that vision immediately, but we’ll gain that sense of direction as we follow His lead and get our feet on the ground in a new place.

Then, things happen that sometimes block our vision. Here are a few of those things:

1.  Problem people – Few things turn our attention away from a positive future like problem people in the present. Jesus had them, too – so we should not be surprised – but they can sure be distracting.

2.  Greener grass – Somebody else is accomplishing a vision much more rapidly than we are, and everybody’s talking about it. Their grass is green, but our soil is rocky. And, then the Internet lets us travel to that greener grass in our minds any time we want to . . . .

3.  Community disconnect – Just because we feel called to a place doesn’t mean we easily adjust to it. Sometimes, the culture shock of moving to another state (or even to another place within the same state) can be as heavy as moving overseas. It’s hard to stay focused when you feel like you don’t fit in.

4.  Shepherding responsibilities – The sheep take time. They want, and have a right to expect, our care and concern. When pastoral care takes all of our time, though, just getting through the day is wearying. The future will have to wait.

5.  Home struggles – In too many homes of church leaders, the pain behind closed doors is deep but hidden. In some cases, the church workplace becomes an escape from the home – but vision doesn’t matter when your family is in anguish.

6.  Warped memories – It’s interesting to me that we often remember yesterday’s ministries as much greater than they seemed when we were in them. Somehow we recall with fondness what was frustrating then – and we begin to long for the “good ole days of the other place.” Today’s vision can’t last with our eyes in a backwards direction.

7. Overwhelming fatigue – Ministry can be tiring, especially if we don’t take care of ourselves, don’t rest well, don’t exercise, etc. Weariness robs us of our joy and misdirects our focus. It’s difficult to look forward when we’re too tired to lift our head. 

8.  Personal sin – Sometimes the sin is a sin of omission: we spend no time with God, who is the giver of vision. At other times, our sin is commission: our sin (often private) hinders everything we do as a leader. Why should God give vision to someone who’s already not following His clear will?

9.  Forgetfulness – In the midst of all these other issues – and more not listed here – we forget that God called us to a ministry in the first place. The excitement of the first days has diminished, and today seems drudgery. We need God to (1) remind us of His calling and (2) renew our sense of vision.