Archives For Advice

My Stop Doing List

Benjamin Kane —  October 28, 2015

I love books on leadership.  They are inspiring, enlightening and offer tangible help to my ministry.  While there are many out there, my favorite leadership writer is Jim Collins who wrote Good to Great (a must read for anyone in leadership or thinking about being in leadership).  Recently I came across a speech he gave at the Drucker Institute (click here to view the speech). The entire speech is worth listening to, but the last 10-15 minutes are pure gold.  He offers 10 pieces of advice to emerging leaders, two of which are: “If you woke up tomorrow and found out you inherited $20 million dollars while also finding out that you had a terminal disease and would be dead in 10 years, what would you stop doing right now?”  His next piece of advice is, “Create a stop-doing list.”  I immediately created one and here it is:

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1. Stop trying to memorize my sermons. I thought great preachers memorize their sermons and I want to be a great preacher.  So I tried, worried, tried some more and ultimately felt unfulfilled because I never found the time to do it.  I realized that I was setting myself up for failure and my gifts and time could be used elsewhere.  I know great preachers who use notes—and I know great preachers who don’t.  To each her own! Continue Reading…

True confession: science was never my favorite subject. My university science requirements were fulfilled with courses like “Human Nutrition” (I get to talk about food every day?) and “Geology” (how hard could looking at rocks be?). During 7th grade parent teacher conferences, my life science teacher reported I preferred talking to active participation in class (um, that was definitely the girl who sat next to me!). Studying theology as an undergraduate and pursuing a call to pastoral ministry allowed me to avoid all those labs and experiments my science-loving peers voluntarily signed up for…at least I thought so.

Crazy scientist. Young boy performing experiments

True confession: as a pastor in ministry, I do a lot of experimenting. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent, and continue to spend, a significant amount of time focused on youth ministry. My seminary professor Kenda Dean often asserted, “Youth ministry is the de facto research and development branch of American Christianity.” So, for me, experimenting comes with a territory. While I agree that youth ministry is a hub for inquiry and change in the church, I think those of us who serve as pastors in today’s church are, and will be, challenged to experiment more and more as we navigate a rapidly changing social, cultural, and religious environment. As I experiment in ministry, here’s what I’m learning. Continue Reading…

I read an article by Jen Hatmaker in the Washington Post titled, “How a Consumer Culture Threatens to Destroy Pastors.” While I agree that our culture is a threat to pastors, I wondered whether we place too much emphasis on culture and not enough on our need to create boundaries and realistic expectations. (This spoken from a minister.)  What if we looked at ourselves and asked, “How do I make ministry harder than it needs to be?”  Below are five ways:

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1. It Feels Good to Be Needed

Ministers love to be loved. And one of the best ways to be loved is to feel needed. Yes, I’ll teach Bible study; yes, I’ll preach 45+ Sundays a year; yes, I’ll visit everyone in the church every month. Congregants love these ideas and pastors (myself included) love to be needed.

2. We Think Ministry Only Happens When We Are Present

It is a hard pill to swallow when a minister sees a successful ministry that s/he isn’t leading/creating/nurturing. This speaks to our need to be needed and how we often assume (we all know what that word means) we need to be the leaders/facilitators/guides for every ministry. Continue Reading…