Leadership

Pass the Baton: Successful Leadership Transition

CityLife Church, located in Melbourne Australia, had three Senior Ministers in the first 50 years of it's history. Richard Holland was the founding pastor and led the church for 20 years, followed by my father, Kevin Conner, who led the church for the next 8 years. I was the Senior Minister for the next 22 years before passing the baton in February of this year to Andrew Hill. [Read my announcement on 28th February 2016] Like any relay race, passing the baton effectively is vital for any organisation, including a local church. I wrote about this a few years ago,... Read more →


My Farewell Address: The Meaning of Life

What does one say in a farewell address? In biblical times, we have a record of parting words from people such as Jacob (Genesis 49:1-33), Joseph (Genesis 50:24-26), Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1 - 32:47), Joshua (Joshua 24:22-28), David (1Chronicles 29:10-20), Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20 and John 13-17) and Paul (Acts 20:18-25). In modern times, we can consider the farewell speeches of kings, presidents and prime ministers, as well as sports personalities, actors and entertainers. Whether it's Michael Scott saying 'goodbye' on the TV series The Office, Truman exiting The Truman Show (“In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and... Read more →


The Stresses of Church Work

I would never suggest that pastors and church leaders work harder than other people ... but church work has its unique challenges and pressures. Here are five of them: 1. Ministry work is never done. It is open ended. There is never full closure. There is always more to do. It just keeps coming at you - day after day, week after week. There are no finish lines. Finish one counselling appointment and there's another one coming. Get through last weekend and there's another one coming. Preach that sermon and you'll need to start preparing the next one - and... Read more →


The Art of Coaching

The role of a leader includes many tasks, including vision-casting, planning, directing, building teams, communication, training, problem solving and coaching people. The primary means of leadership development in the Bible is through mentoring and coaching. Think of Jethro and Moses, Moses and Joshua, Samuel and Saul then David, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and his disciples, and Barnabas and Saul. The apostle Paul once wrote, “Jesus is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully... Read more →


Your Home Base

Luke 5:16. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer. The Message Bible This is an amazing description of how Jesus lived and did ministry. He loved solitude - by the sea or in the country, on a boat or in a garden. This required withdrawal from people, busyness and activity. It was his home base - the place he continually returned to. He spent as much time there as possible. Out from here, he left to do ministry and serve the people God had sent him to. His life was full of conversation with God -... Read more →


The Art of Loving Confrontation

Life can be very rewarding and fulfilling. It can also be very difficult at times. Two of the hardest things to do are handling criticism and confronting people, not that we should love confronting people (!) but learning how to do so in a loving manner. The apostle Paul once wrote in Ephesians 4:15 that one of the marks of a mature church is the ability to “speak the truth in love”. Some people speak the truth but not always in a loving manner. Others are so loving that they never speak the truth. Finding the balance of doing both... Read more →


Think Win/Win

In his best selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey noted that when it comes to healthy relationships, mature people think “win/win”. Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all situations, agreements and solutions. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and are committed to the action plan - there is something in it for everybody and everybody wins. Win/Win sees life as a co-operative, not a competition. One person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others -... Read more →


Navigating Transitions

At a recent conference, I shared a message about "Navigating Transitions". Here is a summary of the main insights I shared: 1. Trust God for the Future. Life is a journey with many seasons. We can have a sense of where we have come from, where we are now and where we are going. Seasons are marked by endings and beginnings. Occasionally, there are unexpected turns in the road. Some things are within our control while many things aren’t. Placing our trust in God is based on a belief that his providence is undergirding everything (Romans 8:28). Trust is active... Read more →


The Power of Priorities

“Most major goals are not achieved because we spend time doing second things first.” Robert J McKain “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” John Maxwell “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” William James. Knowing what is important (our priorities) and focusing our time and efforts on these things is a key to greater productivity and effective leadership. Yet these are two of the most difficult things to get people to do. Conventional thinking is linear and assumes that all activities and tasks are equally important. But research reveals that not all... Read more →


First Things First

Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you (Jesus). Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. Good is the enemy of best. Establishing priorities is essential to life and ministry effectiveness. Not every task or project is created equal. The challenge is to put “first things first”. Basically, all of us spend our time in one of four ways, as illustrated in the Time Management Matrix. This matrix defines activities as “urgent” or “not urgent”, and “important or “not important”. Most people discover that they... Read more →


Jesus' Preparation for Ministry

At the age of 30 (Luke 3:23), Jesus began turning his attention towards his ministry to the people His Father had sent him to. Jesus’ preparation for ministry included his baptism in water (Luke 3:21-23), his relationship with his Father, the empowerment of the Spirit (Luke 4:1-2), and his defeat of the devil and his temptations (Luke 4:3-13). Jesus prepared for 30 years for 3½ years of significant ministry. It has been said, that people today go to Bible College for 3½ years to prepare for 30 years of ministry. Proper preparation is essential. Anything significant is preceded by intensive... Read more →


What Leaders Do

Last Thursday night, we had our first All Leader's Summit at CityLife Church. It's always good to get tighter with such an enthusiastic and committed group of people, who help care for our congregation and lead our various ministries. At the meeting, I took some time to review what it is that leaders actually do. Here is a summary of what I shared ... What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘leader’ or ‘leadership’? My Story - Personally, I never saw myself as a ‘leader’. It was someone else who first pointed out a leadership gift in... Read more →


The Power of Focus

Proverbs 4:25-27 says (Message Bible translation): Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. Here is some good and helpful advice for life: 1. Look straight ahead. We need to have a clear vision and direction for our lives. Know where you are going. This requires time aside in prayer and reflection about God's will for our life and the options we have available to us. There are many things we could do or places we could... Read more →


How to Be a Courageous Leader (Pt.5)

5. Believe that God is with you. Joshua 1:5, 9. “I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you … God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua was promised God's constant, personal, un-ending presence - “I will be with you; I won’t give up on you, I won’t leave you.” For his next step, the step after that, and every step he would ever take! Jesus also promises us as his followers his personal presence. He is: Immanuel = “God with us”. It's guaranteed. We don't have to ask him for... Read more →


How to Be a Courageous Leader (Pt.4)

4. Don’t walk alone. Joshua 1:2. “Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people.” Joshua's journey was not a solitary journey. It was a community walking together. Joshua was moving forward with the elders, the leadership community, and all of Israel. He challenged them to help each other (Joshua 1:12-15). They were to stick together. Unity was vital. Discord, division or dissent in the ranks would threaten their future. They were many tribes (diversity) - but ONE nation (unity). In the same way, Jesus' church is ONE body with many members - different but united. “United we stand -... Read more →


How to Be a Courageous Leader (Pt.3)

3. Follow God’s instructions. Joshua 1:8. “Don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed." God have given Moses the ‘book of the law’ to guide them. When we hear the word 'law' we often think of legalism or rules. But to Israel, the Torah was a revelation of God’s character and it contained principles for maintaining a loving, covenant relationship with God. His commands were always “for their good”.... Read more →


How to Be a Courageous Leader (Pt.2)

2. Face your challenges. Joshua 1:6, 9. “Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors … Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged.” God said to Joshua three times, “Be strong & courageous!” He must have known that challenges were ahead - rivers to cross, cities to conquer, and giants to defeat. Between every promise and its fulfilment there is a battle! He had to possess his inheritance. The reality was that this was a momentus, risky, humanly impossible task. Joshua was leading a group of nomadic... Read more →


How to Be a Courageous Leader (Pt.1)

Last night at our church leader's meeting, I shared some thoughts from the life of Joshua as an encouragement for us to be courageous leaders today. Here is a summay: Joshua 1:1-9. After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses ‘assistant: "Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I'm giving to the People of Israel. I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on – just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon... Read more →


A Call to Courage

The apostle Paul finished his letter to the church at Corinth, which was facing many challenges at the time, both internally and externally ... "So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1 Corinthians. 15:58. NLT Bill Hybels writes this in his excllent book Courageous Leadership ... "No matter how difficult the hardship, no matter how long the particular storm lasts, no matter how dark and scary it gets, no matter how the winds how and the waves crash... Read more →


Halftime Australia

Only one hunderd years ago the average human life span was less than 50 years. Today, we are one of the first generations to live long enough to have two considerably lengthy halves of life. Even at the age of 50, although you will have already had 30 years of work and contribution, you have a possible additional 'second half' of another 30 years or more of contribution. In our first half we tend to focus on whatever we define as 'success'. It's wise to have a good 'halftime' experience in order to reflect on our life and ensure that... Read more →