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Ok, they might not be secrets but they are counter intuitive. I’ve been privileged enough to meet, and get to know, many great pastors, and what separates them from the rest is probably not what you think. Sometimes we are guilty of judging a pastor or leader based solely on their public giftedness. In other words, we believe great pastors are great speakers or visionaries. While they probably exhibit those qualities, I have found 4 consistent qualities in almost every truly exceptional pastor that I know.

1. Counseling
So many people think counseling is only for weird people with problems, but counseling for most pastors is their monthly detox from all the emotions and stress they carry around. It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of, as a matter of fact, it screams of security and health. Going to counseling provides you an audience with someone who couldn’t care less about your church “success” and couldn’t care more about your mental and personal health. Only 10% of ministers retire as a minister. That’s scary. We have to take care of ourselves.

2. Coaching
Iron sharpens iron, and coaching sharpens leaders. Once a leader is confident and secure enough to ask for

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I grew up in a “tribe” with the best singers and preachers you’ve ever heard. I’m serious. These men and women were the cream of the crop. Later in life, as I entered the ministry profession for myself, I began to reflect on the churches and incredible ministers I had grown up under, and arrived at a frightening question.

Why are all of these churches filled with the best talent not growing?

It didn’t make any sense. The best preachers and singers were preaching and singing to shrinking crowds, or plateaued crowds at best. I guess the reason this question was so scary for me is, because I had spent my ministry preparation trying to make my talent better. I was convinced taking my preaching or music ability from a seven to an eight (hypothetical talent scale) is what my church needed to take the jump to the next level. Boy was I wrong!

Think about this; Jesus was called the great teacher, but is that what made him great? The people say he taught like no one they had ever heard before, but is that quality what built the church that has changed the world over the last 2,000 years? I would argue no. If it wasn’t his teaching talent, what was it? I would argue it was his

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A few weeks back, I had the chance to be in Atlanta for some coaching with Matt Keller. Matt has been my ministry coach for the last several years, and his teaching has helped our church launch new services, break growth barriers, and most importantly helped me get to a healthy place and enjoy ministry again. During his teaching in Atlanta he explained his theory of the appropriate amount of risk leaders and churches should take, and I asked him take some time and explain this principle for the Forward Leadership readers. We have provided the "bell curve graphic" above for you to use as a guide for Matt's teaching. Enjoy, and take good notes.

You can find out more about Matt at http://www.mattkelleronline.com, and follow him on twitter @matthewkeller.

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This week I returned from one of the most enjoyable experiences of my professional life.  The seminary where I teach as an adjunct professor has a partnership with our sister denominational school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, referred to as STEDH on the island (le Séminaire Théologique de l’Église de Dieu en Haïti).  I received an email back in December from our dean, asking if I would be interested in an all-expense paid trip to Haiti to teach Luke-Acts to 40-50 graduate students, most of whom are working pastors. 

Sometimes, life is so sweetly not fair. 

I just spent three days in pristine weather teaching the Books of Luke and Acts to seminary students in an open-air classroom in the hills of Haiti.  I felt as though I had died and gone to heaven.

I have had the opportunity to travel and to preach in various islands of the Caribbean, but there was something particularly special about this trip.  It was about as immersive as a cross-cultural trip can be, in that I spent all day, every day in the classroom with the same large group of people.  They didn’t have the choice not to constantly interact with me since I was leading the class.  And, by God’s grace, I had the sense

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Tuesday, January 28th 2014 snow and ice shut down Atlanta, Georgia. For those who live in other parts of the United States or the world where winter weather is severe and snow is as prevalent as sunshine, it may be easy to hear of a few inches of snow and scoff at those “poor Southerners being afraid of the cold.” This was not that. This was frozen roads in a hurry with minimal infrastructure to combat it.

A lot of people are trying to blame a lot of other people. The cries that we crucify elected officials for not preparing for this is followed by calls that we should be mad at school officials for not  ignoring the National Weather Service and canceling school instead calling for early dismissal resulting in kids on buses for hours and kids sleeping in schools overnight. Why shouldn’t we make fun of weathermen who got it wrong again?

Except blame accomplishes nothing and that’s not the real story here.

The stories will take days and weeks and months to come out fully, but we’ve already heard the stories of stranded motorists pooling their gas by bunking together in cars in 2 hour shifts and then moving to another car together in order to have heat all night long. One

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