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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Kraft’


It is that time of year to consider all the “best of lists.”

While it has been a great year for Boston sports (the Patriots nearly made the Super Bowl again to gain revenge on the 49ers, and the Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Red Sox won their 3rd World Series championship of this young century) I’m thinking of the best books I’ve read this year. This is not necessarily books that came out in 2013, but what I read this year.

I’ll take them in the order in which I read them. What you will notice is that I’ve probably read less this year, and clearly blogged less. Having 4 kids will do that. As will being pastor of a church that has grown enough to have to expand it facilities to expand ministry capacity. I also read some enormous books, and that takes time.

Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp. I couldn’t identify with all the problems he talks about, and that is a good thing. Some issues are connected to how we “do” seminary and preparation for pastoral ministry. Others have to do with the manifestations of pride and sloth.

Resurrection and Redemption: A Study of Paul’s Soteriology by Richard Gaffin. This is not an easy book to read, but it is a significant book to read. As I noted in the review, for Gaffin soteriology is eschatology. This book explores the significance of the resurrection for our redemption which is a neglected area of thought.

Bloodlines: Race, Cross and Christian by John Piper. John Piper looks at his own history with questions of race and brings the gospel to bear on the question. I wish he would have co-authored it with a person of color to balance the perspective. But much of what he says is excellent

The Book of Revelation by G.K. Beale. This is a humongous commentary on Revelation but is well worth the time needed to read it. This is the one to read to understand its connection with the Old Testament. While I don’t agree with all he says (like I prefer an early date) this is excellent.

Freedom & Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church by Kevin DeYoung. He is correct, it is a primer. He concisely addresses the most important texts and questions that arise. He presents a complementarian position but not an extreme one. I highly recommend it.

Mistakes Leaders Make by Dave Kraft. This little book was an excellent treatment of common mistakes church leaders make. Some I’ve made and I don’t want to make the others.

Sex & Money by Paul Tripp. He talks about the 2 things that occupy most of our time, energy and thoughts. He focuses on the tendency toward idolatry and the healing power of the gospel. Great stuff.

The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul. Typical Sproul. He explains sound theology so the average person can understand. Here he’s explaining the atonement, which every Christian should understand.

Delighting in the Trinity by Tim Chester. Books on the Trinity are pretty rare these days. Helpful, interesting and accessible books on the subject are even more rare. This is a book that is all three. It isn’t very big, but it is worth reading.

Gospel Centered Leadership by Steve Timmis. This is a very helpful little book that helps us understand how the gospel should shape our leadership in the church. I gave this one to my elders and we’ll study it soon.

Modest: Men & Women Clothed in the Gospel by Tim Challies & R.W. Glenn. I haven’t read any books on the subject before. What was good about this one is that it is about both men & women, and it is about how the gospel changes the equation. It is not about rules and a moralistic spirit.

Love into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church by Peter Hubbard. This was an excellent and challenging book. He tries to balance truth and love (I think Paul said something like that) when we speak to homosexuals. We should not back off biblical teaching, which he explains by looking at key texts. We should not treat people as lepers either and he talks about how we can love them as we communicate the gospel to them as sinners, not just homosexuals.

The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame. This is another enormous book. I have not quite finished the appendices since I’ve been focusing on other projects. This book examines ethical systems and then moves into understanding and applying the ten commandments before briefly discussing sanctification. This is an excellent book even if you agree with his particular end points.

The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry by Jared Wilson. This is another very good book on ministry. His focus is the importance of the doctrine of justification on who we are and how we go about ministry. Theology applied!

Crazy Busy: A Mercifully Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. It is very short. I read this during a crazy busy time that mercifully should be coming to an end. I gave this to my elders and those who have gotten to it have appreciated its message. It is not just about techniques but the heart.

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves. I’m not quite done with this book yet so it might end up on next year’s list too! As I preach thru the prologue of John’s Gospel this has been a great help. He really pushes the point of “God is love” as we think about the Trinity and Christianity. This is definitely a must read in that rare category of books on the Trinity. Like Chester’s of the same name this is relatively short.

Interesting-

  • 2 books by Paul Tripp and Kevin DeYoung
  • 2 books on the Trinity
  • 5 books on ministry
  • 2 books on salvation
  • 2 books of over 1,000 pages

Not one book by Tim Keller (I left off the Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness). Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be at least 1 next year.

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Trust is an essential for leadership. To be effective, you have to trust people and people have to trust you. Trust is something that takes time to build.

But some leaders take the shortcut to accomplish their goals. The Mistakes Leaders Make include substituting control for trust.

“To empower people means learning how to lead people without controlling them.”

You cannot overestimate the value of trust in leadership. But you can’t overestimate the allure of control to leadership. Control offers the illusion of attaining your goals more quickly. It is a lie, obviously, but it sure gets lots of leaders to accept the lie. Control leads you to micro-manage people.

Trust doesn’t mean that you let people slide. You hold people accountable for their actions, choices and performance. Control is not letting them make choices but continually inspecting every action.

“The more freedom you give people to do their jobs, the way they’d like to do them, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work.”

I’ve been micro-managed in the “real” world and in ministry. Hated it. You feel devalued as a person. When you control people you are saying either I don’t trust you or you are incompetent. One root of this is pride: no one can do this like I can.

Dave Kraft lists some warning signs for leaders to notice:

  • leads through control instead of collaboration;
  • always has to be right and seldom or never admits to being wrong;
  • uses anger as his primary means of getting results;
  • does most of the talking and very little of the listening;
  • always has to have all the answers and provide all the solutions;
  • always gets what he wants regardless of the price others pay;
  • feels threatened by those who are better at something than he is;
  • has to have an opinion on every subject and issue.

This leads to discontented, unfulfilled people. I worked in one place in which the CEO was quite controlling. We would walk on eggshells. I was glad when I got “laid off”. Things were not moving in a good direction and my discontent was going to get worse.

“Unfulfilled people can be just as serious a problem as inefficient methods.”

A discontent person or two does not mean leadership is the issue. But if many or most are discontent and unfulfilled … it is probably a leadership issue. I know that in this situation it was a leadership issue. Time would show there were some serious issues.

So leaders should look around periodically. Do I trust the people I lead to do their job well? Are they merely afraid of me or do they find joy in their job? It isn’t too late to return from the “dark side”. Of course, like Darth Vader it may cost you everything to do it. But controlling leaders can begin to trust others only if they ultimately trust God first and foremost.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,    and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him,    and he will make straight your paths.7 Be not wise in your own eyes;    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3

 

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As we’ve been noting, there are many Mistakes Leaders Make. One of the more serious mistakes, relating to discipleship, is confusing information with transformation.

Here is what Kraft means, in the context of his fictional church.

“Because quantity was a higher value than quality, people at CCC gradually made the mistake of replacing transformation (quality) with information (quantity). They were a Bible-teaching church. But they were at their core becoming a transactional (lots of activities) but not a transformational (life change) body of believers.”

The Senior Pastor put an emphasis on numbers- the growth of the church was measured quantitatively. There wasn’t really a matching focus on qualitative growth. It isn’t as if you have only one or the other. Any wise pastor wants BOTH. But I’ve seen many sacrifice the latter to pursue the former.

But even those who want to see qualitative growth can have inaccurate understanding of what it is and how it happens.

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The next of the Mistakes Leaders Make is to spend too much time on hurting people and not enough time developing future leaders. Dave Kraft is not the only one to warn of this propensity. It comes up in The Trellis and the Vine.

He isn’t saying churches, and leaders, should not care for the hurting people in the congregation. He is saying that you need to make sure you spend time cultivating future leaders too. The hurting can often demand your time. The hungry usually aren’t calling you to set up appointments.

“If all the leader’s time is devoted to shepherding and counseling hurting people to the exclusion of nurturing hungry future leaders, the ministry cannot continue to grow as God would desire.”

So it can be easy, particularly as a smaller church pastor, to focus too much energy on the hurting.

I suspect some of this has to do with gifting. The more priestly pastors are highly empathetic. They will spend lots of time working with the hurting. They will not place as high a value on the future. They won’t be preparing future leaders as much as a pastor with a strong prophetic or kingly gifting.

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I’ve been doing a series of posts on the various Mistakes Leaders Make. They are me thinking out loud about the mistakes Dave Kraft addresses. I’ll finish with those posts, but I’ve finished with the book. Since I didn’t really review the chapters so much as process them, here is a review.

Dave has been in ministry for many decades. He previous book, Leaders Who Last, addressed the character traits that leaders need to have and cultivate. This book addresses the common mistakes that he’s seen leaders make. In the Afterward, he mentions 10 more he thought of which may comprise a follow up to this book.

“As leaders we all make mistakes- it’s part of being human. Some mistakes are innocent and are no big deal. Others are serious and are a big deal.”

Jesus is the only leader who never made a mistake. All others have made them. If you learn from them you will become a better leader. If you ignore them or don’t change you will stagnate and become a bad leader. This book wants to help leaders turn the corner and learn.

He works all of these mistakes through the leadership team of Covenant Community Church, a composite of different churches he has worked with in the past. One leader will be used to understand how that mistake can affect ministry and one’s personal life. Sometimes the person changes. Sometimes they don’t. So, it is realistic in that regard.

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No doubt about it, ministry is time consuming. Some people think we read books all day (yes, I read plenty of books- that is part of my job responsibilities). There are also plenty of meetings, during the day and in the evening and sometimes on weekends. There are phone calls, e-mails, personal counseling, working lunches…

Ministry takes time. I don’t say that to make it sound like pastors are busier that other people. I say it because some people think it isn’t. And that busyness can be a problem. Being too busy is one of The Mistakes Leaders Make.

“… it seems that most leaders are moving too fast and trying to do too much. There is precious little time set aside to think, pray, plan, and listen to the Lord.”

Ministry is more than doing. Leadership is about more than doing things. It is about setting a pace, a direction and a tone. And if you do that intentionally (thinking, praying, planning), it will just happen and when that happens the results are usually not pretty. The pace becomes too fast, there is no real direction and the tone is “don’t bother me now.” It happens in parenting, and it happens in ministry.

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Pride is a problem for everyone, and this includes people in ministry. Pride is “the mother of all sins”, and the third of the Mistakes Leaders Make. The chapter is “Allowing Pride to Replace Humility“. Since pride is our default mode as sinners, I think “Not replacing pride with humility” would be more accurate. Just saying.

“It often hides under the cloak of confidence and conviction.”

Kraft rightly says that pride is often in stealth mode. It does not often come out overtly, brash and in your face. It lurks under the surface, corrupting our motives and tainting our actions.

Often churches set themselves up for the problem of the prideful pastor. They hire guys based more upon gifts than character. We want competence, or exceptionalism, and realize that we have to let people go because their character sabotages their ministry.

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