Two Vital Relationships for Leaders

2779598066_647f7ae6d5_o It is often said that it is lonely at the top, especially in leadership. Often times this is very true, but most the times it is lonely because we want it to be that way. Many pastors and leaders intentionally alienate themselves from other leaders who can encourage them and love them. Often times leaders fail to make connection with other leaders outside of their organization for accountability and learning. In addition, most leaders tend to distrust building deep relationships with the leaders in their own organization out of fear of betrayl.

Isolation is a terrible thing for anyone, especially leaders. Many leaders build an emotional wall protecting themselves from the community and felowship that would bring them life and vitality. Isolation is the breading grounds for sin which often manifests itself when we are devoid of community. For a leader's own health and effectivness he must learn to surround himself with community outside the organization and inside the organization.

Developing Community Outside of the Organization

A leader must build relationships outside of his organization. For a pastor, it might mean meeting weekly or bi-weekly with other like-minded pastors for prayer and encouragement. For a business person it might mean networking and learning from people from other industries.

In my own life I've done this by meeting with a group of other student pastors every Tuesday morning for breakfast. These are other men in my city who have a passion for the Gospel of Christ and who are in the trenches of ministry dealing with many of the same issues I am dealing with as a leader. In addition to the plethora of wise counsel I receive from these men, we pray for each other and ecourage each other after a tough week.

People outside of our organization can perceive things that we are unable to see. They can be a neutral third party in dealing with a leadership dilema. They can be a sounding board of your latest idea or even a punching bag to vent about your latest frustrations. Devloping relationships with people outside of your organization is a key component to thriving as a leader.

Developing Community Inside the Organization

As a pastor, this one can often be very difficult to do. As a leader there is a tension between a courageous privacy and a humble openess concerning those in our own organization. We don't want to seem weak as a leader by laying all our junk on the table, but at the same time it is perlous to think of yourself as super man and present yourself that way to the leaders in your organization. No matter how hard you try to convince them you have the emotional callousness of a Vulcan and the Physical Stamina of Super Man, the people you lead know that is not true.

As I've become the Interim Senior Pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church, there have been a wonderful group of men, our deacons, who have been a constant source of encouragement to me. They take care of me and minister to me in ways I don't even know I need. Even this past Tuesday at our meeting these men gathered around me, layed their hands on me, and prayed for me as I lead our church. Wow! That meant the world to me and it made me aware of this reality: We need leaders in our own organizations who can be our source of community and encouragement.

A Leader is Not an Island

You are unable to do everything on your own.  A leader cannot be effective as an island that is stranded all alone in the chaos of the seas. There is something beautiful about humanity in that we continue to need and depend on one another. A leader is not a solo-dicator robot walking around without needs or cares. No one wants to follow a robot, but they do want to follow a human being. They want to follow a courageous man who is willing to be served by other leaders. If you are a leader, look to build community outside your organization but also within your organization. You may be suprised just how life giving these relationships can be to your own leadership and your persuit of your vision.

How have you developed community outside of your organization? How have you developed it from within your own organization? Love to hear how you do this in the comments so we can learn from each other.

How I File My Sermons in Evernote

The days of totting around large filing cabinets around with us every where we go are quickly disappearing.  With great companies like Evernote which creates a virtual locker, the need for paper files are diminishing.  As a young pastor who grew up in the age of technology, I've quickly have adapted to using software and services like Evernote.  Evernote has been extremely helpful in creating a digital depository and archive of all my sermons.  With Evernote, I have a digital filing cabinet of my sermons that I can carry around with me on my Macbook, iPad, or iPhone.  I wanted to write a post describing how I use Evernote to file my sermons and how you can too in 5 easy steps.

Step 1 -Create a Notebook in Evernote to Place All Your Sermons



Create a separate notebook to place all your sermons.  Think of Notebooks like "Drawers" in your digital filing cabinet.  This way you can place every sermon you create into this notebook for easy scanning through later.

Step 2 - Scan Your Handwritten Notes to Evernote

Although I love technology, there is still nothing like the feel of pen and paper.  For most of my exegetical work in a text, I use pen and paper.  I usually print off a copy of my passage that is double space or triple space.  I will print off a copy in English and I will print off a copy in the Original Language.  Then I will mark up the passage and jot down my thoughts and observations.  Often times I will even write a rough outline on these documents as well.  Since I run a paperless life, I scan these notes into Evernote with our church copier by emailing them directly into Evernote with my Evernote email address.  This place a digital, scanned, and searchable copy of my handwritten notes plus my translation that I can later merge with other notes to create a individual note of my sermon.




Step 3 - Add the Final Copy of Your Sermon to Evernote

Sometimes I write my sermon directly in the Evernote itself.  However, most times I write out a hybrid outline/manuscript in the mac app Pages.  When I finish my final copy of my sermon notes I place a PDF copy and the Pages document copy into evernote.  The PDF makes the document searchable within Evernote, and the Pages document allows me to open it up later in Pages to edit for the future if I decide to tweak the sermon.Screenshot_2_28_13_7_50_AM

Step 4 - Add Tags and Other Info

After you have compiled all the documents into a single note, I finish off by tagging the sermon note and adding other info.  My tagging system is very simple.  I simply tag the sermon based off of the book of the Bible the sermon is based on.  The sermon example I have been using in this blog is 1 Peter 2:1-12. . As a result, I use a tag called "1Peter".  This allows me to do a search for the tag "1Peter" and it pulls up every sermon I've ever written from the book of 1 Peter.  It makes for quick and easy searching later.  If the sermon teaches a major doctrine or theme occasionally I'll tag it with that.  For Example, last night I preaching on 1 Peter 1:1-2 concerning the doctrine of the trinity.  I tagged this note "1Peter" and "Trinity".

In addition to tagging, I also make jot down the occasion for the original prepartion for this sermon, then the location and times I preached this sermon.  This is what the top of my notes look like:



Step 5 - Enjoy Your Digital, Easy to Access Sermon Archive!

After this you are done!  You know have a digital copy, with all your work, saved and easy to access wherever you go.  I can't tell you how thankful I am for having a digital easy to access archive of my sermons.  There have been several times where I have been asked to preach extemporaneously.  Thanks to Evernote and my iPad I have my whole sermon library and notes any time I need them.  These five steps might look a little intimidating and time consuming, but they are really note.  Once you get a hang of Evernote, it takes me about five minutes to go through these five steps.

How do you file and organize your sermons? How can I use Evernote better to file my sermons?  Any suggestions?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Tools I Use for Organization

Yesterday I shared with you the urge for Pastors to maximize their time for the glory of King Jesus. Today I'd like to share with you some technological tools I use to help accomplish the responsibilities and demands for my own ministry. Again, I pray that it will be helpful for you in your stewardship of time.  In case you didn't know this about me, I am an Apple guy.  I use a macbook, iPad, and iPhone.  I'm totally committed to over-priced, but great quality, user friendly gadgets.  As a result, some of the apps I'm going to share are Apple only.


Evernote is a life saver.  Seriously if you have never heard of it you need to go to their website and check it out.  The great thing is that for a basic account it is totally free.  Evernote is pretty much a cloud based database that can search and sort pretty much anything you want to put into it.  It syncs across all your devices and allows you to have quick and easy access to any information or documents you need.  It is pretty much the 21st century version of a portable filing cabinet that you can carry around with you on your phone.

Evernote helps me bridge the gap between Paper and Digital.  My go to resource for getting thoughts down is pen and paper.  That's why I carry my Moleskine Notebook with me everywhere.  However with Evernote you can scan or snap a picture via phone of your documents and Evernote can search for them later.  It's pretty incredible.

As a Pastor, Evernote is an incredible tool.  A lot of my sermon prep and notes start in Evernote.  I am able to store my finished sermons on Evernote for easy access later.  As a Pastor, you are constantly reading.  I do my best to stay in touch with the Christian blogosphere so I can keep informed with trends and discussions.  The great thing about Evernote is I can save all those resources into Evernote and tag them for easy searching.  For example, if I'm writing a sermon on the Holy Spirit, I can search the phrase "Holy Spirit" and it brings up everything I've ever put into evernote on the Holy Spirit in seconds.  It is a seriously powerful tool and its only limitation is your own imagination.  It is a must have tool for 21st century pastors who want to stay organize.

Calendar and iCloud

With the Apple Calendar application powered by iCloud I can keep my calendars in sync easily no matter what device I have on me.  As a pastor this helps me schedule appointments and look at my calendar right on the spot.  It allows me to schedule meetings with other people without having to carry around a Personal Planner.  A great feature for my marriage is the sharing feature.  I am able to share events scheduled with my wife, and she can always see what is going on with my calendar from her iPhone.  Also when either I add something to the Calendar or she adds something to the calendar, we get an email from the other person notifying them of the change.  This helps prevent miscommunication and keeps us on the same page together.


I just mentioned that I like to stay informed through blogs what is happening in the Christian world.  A big way I do that is through a Google Reader account.  My Google Reader Client of choice is Reeder which has apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.  It is a slick interface that allows me to stay informed with news and blogs on the go.  My favorite feature though is the one click option for saving a blog post into Evernote.  This allows me to read and file quickly and easily.


Things is an app that I just recently re-added to my organizational system.  I am a big fan of "to do" lists.  I used to just write them in my moleskine.  I have always like Things, but it took them along time to put out a Cloud Sync solution that fits in with my mobile life.  However, with a recent launch of the new and improved Things 2, it has been a huge asset.  Things is more than just a to do list.  It helps you organizes Projects and Responsibilities and get things done.  Whenever I think of something I need to do, or if someone asks me to do something, I pull out my iPhone and enter it into Things.  This way it keeps me from forgetting about it. Pastors have to deal with church members all the time who ask them to do things.  A lot of times church members ask you these things at the worst possible times, like right before a worship service or while seeing you at a restaurant.  As a result, many Pastors understandably forget.  Things helps me remember in addition to maximizing my productivity.  Besides, for geeks like me there is nothing more thrilling than seeing a completed "to-do" list.


YNAB stands for You Need a Budget.  It is a system based off of Dave Ramsey's envelop method for personal finance.  This tool has been incredible in helping me maintain my families finances.  This tool has been huge in helping me to be a good stewards with the money God has given me, and is perfect for the lives of busy Pastors.  If you are looking for a good way to get a Biblical handle on your finances, give this a chance.  With their companion mobile app you can enter in transactions and budget them on the go.  This helps you keep track of every dollar and eases the stress of personal finances.

I hope these are some tools you can look into to help maximize your time and organize your priorities.  There are a few other tools I use not listed, but these are the primary ones I use.  Some of these tools do cost some money, but good tools aren't cheap.  My philosophy is that if it means spending a couple bucks to help me maximize my time for Jesus, it is worth it.  If I am going to be a good pastor, than it means sometimes spending money of good tools to get the job done.

What sort of organization system do you use?  What apps or tools do you use to help meet the demands of life?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Becoming a Productive Pastor

Pastors can be very busy people.  The demands and expectations of pastoral ministry can be overwhelming.  The average church member will never really understand the often overwhelming responsibilities that come with pastoral ministry.  However, in my experience many pastors are absolutely terrible in managing their time.  A majority of pastors tend to be extroverts and conversation lovers.  All though those can be great strengths for a pastor, many pastors struggle with discipline, administration, and organization.  This gets tough when pastors have to juggle so many hats and responsibilities.  For example,  I have a variety of priorities I have to lead and maintain.  Here are a few:

  1. Christ Follower
  2. Husband
  3. Future Dad
  4. Full Time Seminary Student
  5. Youth Ministry
  6. Children's Ministry
  7. College/Young Adult Ministry
  8. Other Church Responsibilities
  9. Blogger/Writer

As you can see, juggling all nine of these priorities and responsibilities has been incredibly tough to manage.  Although I drop the ball often, I have developed an organizational system to help me keep the balls in the air most of the time. Most people complain about not having enough time, in reality most people are just terrible time managers.  I am always trying to improve as a faithful steward of the time on this earth Jesus has given me.  As I've tried to manage my time and balance my priorities effectively, I've developed a personal system to help.  I though it would be a neat idea to share my system with you in hopes that it might be beneficial to you as well.  By no means am I a productivity/time management guru, but I hope to help.  By no means am I asking you to emulate my setup, but I hope it will be helpful in creating your own system of organization.  I've learned that the best system is not the one you copy from somebody else, but the one that you create that works for you.  Everybody is different.

I am a young pastor who grew up in the age of technology.  As a result, I use technology as my primary way to stay organized and productive.  In the next blog post I will showcase several different apps I utilize to accomplish my tasks.  If your a pastor, they might be worth looking into.  If you are just looking to help manage your life better, you might want to look into them as well.

Overall, my prayer is that each and every one of us would learn to maximize the time we have for God's glory, especially those of us who are pastors.