Lead On - Resourcing your ministry, leader to leader

Welcome to the latest edition of Lead On, the monthly email with leader-to-leader input from CPAS. If you know others who may be interested in this email, please forward it on or point them towards www.cpas.org.uk/leadon. Thank you.

Sabbath: a day of rest

It’s here. September. New term, new things starting up, new opportunities. It was as I reflected on the sense of pressure that accompanies the start of September that a reflection dropped into my inbox from veteran leader Leighton Ford. It is a helpful reminder of the place of Sabbath in the life of a leader. Enjoy.

Lead on


On a recent trip to the mountains I woke early on a Sunday morning and immediately began to wonder: what should I be doing today?

Then I remembered another Sunday asking a writer friend if they were writing that day. The reply: ‘No, I’m doing Sabbath!’

Why didn’t I think of that? And why are leaders sometimes among the most notorious Sabbath-breakers, working Sundays and most every other day?

In a Jan Karon Mitford novel one preacher admits to another, ‘My sermons are about as nourishing as cardboard.’ His friend asks, ‘Are you too exhausted to run, and too scared to rest?’

Too exhausted to run? Too scared to rest? Why is it, that when God rested on the seventh day to enjoy, we often find it so hard simply to stop?

The world of course doesn’t stop just for us. My wife’s father was a dairy farmer. His cows didn’t know it was Sunday and had to be milked. I realize that some overburdened readers would give anything just to have a free day or even a few free hours.

But aren’t we also part of a culture of ‘more’? Businesses want more customers. Churches – whether mega- or midi- or mini- want more members. The papers want more readers. And with our 24/7 non-stop media we are always seduced into not missing a moment.

Of course God has made us as partners with him in building and developing his world. Ambition can be both holy and useful. And as long as there are starving children to feed, souls and bodies to be healed, families to care for, we can’t overdo compassion.

But when does ‘more’ ever turn into ‘enough’?

Are we ‘too scared to stop’, so defined by what we do, that we are afraid to stop and look inside and maybe find what? Nothing?

It would be good to heed Jesus’ story of the farmer who kept building bigger and bigger barns, hoping some time he’d have enough. And God commented, ‘You are foolish. This night your life will be required. Then who will get all these things you possess?’ Or, we might add, that possess us?

I remembered a young lawyer in Charlotte who came home late one day with a briefcase full of work to do, and sighed, ‘I can’t ever seem to catch up.’ His five-year old daughter said, ‘Daddy, why don’t you join a slower group?’

You're hired

Dave Richards, Rector of St Paul’s and St George’s Edinburgh, reflects on the process of hiring staff.
Over the last twenty years, a significant number of churches in the UK have begun employing staff.

Youthworkers, evangelists, worship directors, children’s workers, and operations directors are just some of the posts that have taken their place alongside the traditional roles of the clergy. But how do you know who to employ? What criteria do you use?...

Read the full article


Last month John Dunnett offered five leadership quotes with a challenge to stretch us in our leadership, here are five further quotes:

1. 'Great leaders are usually part of great communities’ (James Lawrence).
My experience is that the relationship between a leader and community in which he/she leads is symbiotic. Therefore we become more able and impactful in our leadership as we nurture, grow and serve the community of which we are part.

2. Max Du Pree once said ‘The first task of a leader is to define reality’.
Unfortunately, this sometimes means that our role and responsibility is to point out what is not working. Too many leaders try to effect change without having first indicated the reality of pre-change and the necessity therein for the change being pursued.

3. Professor Bier (Harvard Business School) once said ‘the number one reason for failure is new leaders coming in with their own ideas and not enquiring’.
Too many church leaders pursue change without having first asked appropriate questions, listened at length, understood the whys and wherefores of the current situation and explored the viability of what they pursue. My experience suggests time spent here makes the subsequent journey easier.

4. ‘The beginning and end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others’.
In these famous words, Henri Nouwen identifies the example of Jesus as an inspiration to us all. His own ministry in the later years of his life was drawn from this understanding and serves as an example to us all.

5. ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet’ John 13:14.
If intentionality is important in living the Christian life, then who and in what way are you going to serve in the next 24 hours?

Additional resource material

A couple of videos this month…

Michael Green – an interview

Charles Burgess writes: ‘I have always enjoyed learning leadership lessons from the biographies and autobiographies of accomplished leaders. In a similar vein, this interview (scroll down to number three in the list of videos) with Michael Green – theologian, apologist and Christian leader – is striking as he reflects back over 60 years of Christian leadership.

The evangelist in Michael cannot help bubbling through (which in itself says something about one of the facets of Christian leadership) but the imperative of investing in others comes through also. The clip is only just over 20 minutes long but if time is really short, skip to just over 16 minutes when he talks about characteristics of leaders.’ Watch it here.

Why good leaders make you feel safe

Graham Archer recommends a talk by Simon Senek ‘Why good leaders make you feel safe.’ Great illustrations from the world of business and the military that summarise some of his thinking from his book Leaders Eat Last. Watch it here.

Leadership talk

'No one should lead without being ministered to. Everybody should have somebody who cares for them, otherwise they burn out.'
Michael Green

Next month...


Chris Neal writes on living and leading the Jesus way.

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