Church Leadership Life Self Leadership

What Leading A Church Has Taught Me About Life And Leadership



This is a guest post by DJ McPhail, senior leader of Liberty Church. Follow him on @saintdj and his blog.


After founding a church and leading it for the past 20 years I learned:

God has a purpose for everyone!

  • We are all leaders:

God’s purpose thrusts us all into leadership. Everyone influences someone; thus we are all leaders.

  • Always encourage people to lead:

As a leader, my responsibility and privilege is to respect every person, irrespective of age or gender, and to inspire them to lead in life.

DJ McPhail
  • My family is my responsibility:

When it comes to priorities, family is the first arena of leadership. It carries the most profound consequences to a person’s joy and a sense of significance.

  • Most people are not thinking as much about you as you think:

Among those you lead, some will love you, most will like you and few will criticize, oppose and resist you. Be grateful for those who love and support you, be gracious to those who like you and don’t worry nor waste any energy or time on the others.

  • Hold people lightly:

People come and people go. They are God’s children not mine!

  • Never be a threatened leader:

Encourage people to make decisions, show initiative, take responsibility and lead. No one can threaten my job or position, as I don’t have a job. I have a call from God and there is more than enough for all of us to do.

  • Only God:

When I do what I can do for His Glory then He will do what only He can do, and that makes all the difference.

  • Never complain:

Church leaders often complain they are tired and feel used. But they forget that when we met Jesus and were consumed with His love, grace & mercy for us we prayed, “Lord use me”. Stop weeping and start sweeping, serving, and leading!


A Reminder Of What The Church Is Not

Every now and then a reminder needs to be issued. The Church is not a building. Neither is it programs that are run by her. The church is not how good the music or the preaching is. The church is not how much offering comes in or does not. The church is not liturgy. The church not man’s idea, it is God’s! The church is not just about the people in it. (It is also for the people not yet in it!) The church is not made up of people ‘who have it all together’.

the Church is incomplete without you!

The church is not how well people dress up on Sunday. The church is not the stain glass or steeple. The church is not complete without you! The church is not and should not be a place where some are more important than others. The church is not and should not be a closed ‘community’ or club. The church is not how well her building is adorned. The Church is NOT complete without you!

.illustration: from outside Wordwise, in Hartebeespoortdam

What is your take on what the Church is NOT?




Leadership Life Passion Productivity Self Leadership Vision

In This Strength That Is Yours

A great difference between seeing a vision or idea realized is often action. You can spend a long drafting plans and perfecting them and never realize your goals. Perfect plans are not a guarantee for success. Nothing will bring you closer to your goals that a plan and action to back them up. Plans and inaction = stagnation. How many dreams are you carrying? How long have you been carrying them? Do you have any tangible action backing your plans?

Lack of resources is often an excuse for inaction. I sometimes catch myself dreaming about what I will do when or if I got a particular resource. Are you obsessed with the resources you hope to have at the expense of action with what you have? What you have now is the means to get what you want to achieve the ‘bigger’ things you see. The (little) you have right now is really the great resource you’re looking for. See the value of what’s in your hand and leverage it!

But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?” – Judges 6:14 (MSG)

This was part of a conversation between Gideon & God. Prior to this statement Gideon had (indirectly) communicated a desire to Israel delivered from her oppressors. Despite his desire he expressed why he couldn’t save Israel. This sounds like most of us! We want to do great things but how willing are we to pay the price? What dreams has God given you? We lose more in our ‘self made safety’ of inaction than in risk chasing God’s call on us!

Gideon said to him, “Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.” God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man – Judges 6:15 – 16

Gideon then launched a fight to stay in the comfort of his discomfort. What does your fight for staying in the comfort of your discomfort look like? You see, Gideon and his people did not have it easy. They were constantly being harassed by the Midianites and Amelikites. By not rising up to the challenge there can be no change. You can never change what you’re not willing to confront. Gideon was also overlooking this fact: Whatever God calls you to; it is ultimately going to be greater than where you are right now! Not moving to where God is calling you to is denying God the opportunity to act through you! Stop stopping God! Allow Him to make his purposes to be fulfilled through you…

 With all this being said, God echoes to you His charge to Gideon:

But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?” – Judges 6:14 (MSG)

Obsessing over what you don’t have will blind you of want you do have! God will bless the work of your hands. When your hands are not at work there is no blessing to empower you for success. You may be praying and waiting for God to start doing something, but He’s actually waiting for you to do something. God moves in our moving. As feeble as we are, we hold the key to seeing God’s strength at work. We must go in the strength we have!  All excuses must end right now. God is not going to ask you about what you did with what you did not have, but what you did with what you had. It is time to act with what we have!

We are never going to change the world with excuses of why we cannot do something. We will only change the world when focus on why we cannot afford to do something.  Your inaction not only affects you but the people God has called you to. Your community or church’s action or lack of it, is the difference between God being manifest to them in a tangible way or not. You have something and can use it for a great impact. Don’t undermine what you have by getting hung up by what you don’t have. Go in this strength that you have!

illustration by ralphbijker, flickr, (cc)

What have been some of your excuses?

Church Leadership Vision

People Not Programs

I read Fellowship One‘s ‘slogan’ a couple of weeks ago. I speaks into this theme of “People Not Programs”. I couldn’t agree more. This got me thinking about some of the things that get in the way the Church reaches and serves people.


5 Sources For Sermon Or Teaching Content

I’m a pastor’s kid. One of the things that fascinated me when I was growing up was how dad cranked up a sermon or teaching every Sunday. Sometimes he even taught two to three times a week on different subjects. As a communicator, I thought I’d give sources for content for ‘platform communicators’ in the church context.