Lead With Clear Vision

The Gospel Alliance recently interviewed Justin Buzzard and asked a great question about pastoral leadership.

What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?

Lead with clear vision. Where there’s no vision, the people perish. I’ve found that my generation is hungry for vision, for clear leaderships, for leaders who know where they’re going. I’ve learned to become more clear and simple in articulating vision as a leader (emphasis added).

An excellent piece of counsel for pastors. Leading with clear vision is difficult, but I'm learning that it's crucial for fruitful pastoral ministry.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

The Gospel is for Christians Too

One of the more important truths I've been learning over the past several years is that the Gospel isn't just for unbelievers. It's something that I, as a believer, need to be reminded of every day.

Here's how Bryan Chapell puts it in Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice:

While the gospel includes the good news of God's grace for those who would turn to him in faith, the gospel is not just for outsiders or unbelievers. Great power lies in the line popular among young Christians today: "We must preach the gospel to our hearts every day." This ethic is not just about repeating those portions of the gospel that lead to new conversions; it is about engaging the power of the good news that God has provided his grace to save, to sanctify, and to equip his people for this day, every day, and forever. We need this gospel to enter Christ's kingdom, but we also need it to walk with him through our daily trials and demands.

The One Thing No One Else Will Do

Last week I linked to a talk by Mark Dever on the church's relationship to the culture. If you haven't listened to the audio or read through the notes I encourage you do so. Dever makes a number of excellent points that deserve careful consideration.

One point in particular has occupied my thoughts since listening to the talk. In point #30 Dever states,

We must carefully consider the amount of our members’ time, vision, excitement and prayers we are encouraging to be occupied by actions non-Christians might do, when non-Christians will never be giving themselves to evangelizing our community (or beyond).

There's something the church is called to do that no one else will do for us: preach the gospel. Since no one else will engage in this activity we must guard against the subtle temptation to allow other noble, yet less important endeavors to occupy too much of our congregations' time and energy. The verbal proclamation of the gospel must be top priority. Faithfulness to our calling demands nothing less.

Advice on Prayer for Moms with Young Children

I was recently asked what advice on prayer I would give to a stay-at-home mom with several young children. This mom wants to have a healthy prayer life, but feels overwhelmed with all of her other responsibilities and doesn't know how to get started. Here's what I said.

1. Realize that you don't have a lot of time to pray. Many moms of young kids feel a constant sense of guilt that their prayer life doesn't measure up to the prayer lives of the older women in their church. While it's good to be challenged by the example of more mature believers you need to recognize that those women didn't always have as much time to pray as they do now.

God has called you to care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of your kids. At this stage preparing meals, keeping up with house work, changing diapers, shepherding hearts, and maintaining your sanity will take up most of your time and that's OK. You ought to be busy with those things not locked away in a room praying for hours at a time.

2. Start small. Right now don't worry about getting to all of the things for which you ought to pray. Your goal is to develop a lifelong habit of consistent prayer. One of the most effective ways to build a habit that sticks is to start small. Begin by committing to pray for 1 minute everyday for a week. It may not seem like much, but in many cases a simple repeated act over a period of time leads to new lifelong patterns. Once the habit of daily prayer is firmly established you can begin extending the length of time you spend praying. Keep in mind my first piece of advice though.

3. Use the Lord's Prayer as a guide. So you've committed to pray each day. Now what do you pray about? Jesus gave his disciples a pattern of prayer to follow (see Matthew 6:9-13) that you can use as a guide for you own prayers. The first few times you pray just read the Lord's Prayer out loud. It's not a magic spell so the goal isn't merely to repeat the words. You want the priorities and concerns reflected in the Lord's Prayer to inform and give shape to your own prayers. Regularly reading and repeating the prayer helps you internalize it. After a while you'll find that your own prayers are much more substantial than when you first started.