The Ring of Authenticity

As a leader, who you are is more important than anything you say. In fact, who you are is more important than everything you say.

Some ministers are master pulpiteers. Skilled rhetoricians. Gifted
orators. Big talkers.

Talk that’s not backed by a consistent life has a hollow ring, and that hollowness drives people away—away from church and away from the Church.

When Winston Churchill addressed the Harrow School in late October 1941 his speech included these most famous words: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty— never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

His words, then and now, ring true. You know why?

Because Churchill didn’t give in.

Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister prior to Churchill,
was known as the “great appeaser” who capitulated to Adolf Hitler.

Chamberlain could never have made that speech. If he had, it would not have been remembered.

The words didn’t match his life.

Do yours?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Heroes of Moderation?

In the scriptures, moderation in living for Christ is never esteemed.

Who are the heroes of moderation? Peter in Caiaphas’ courtyard? Thomas, in his disbelief? Judas Iscariot?

Jesus is unambiguous: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. [Luke 9:23]

Clear as a bell.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other. [Luke 16:13]


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

The Will to live “All In”

As a new Christian, I had the unfortunate experience of being discipled in a church that regularly twisted scripture and abused pastoral power. Over time, many people were scarred emotionally and spiritually. Hundreds never recovered.

A decade later, Annie and I invested ourselves—without reservation— in a church plant that imploded after two leaders had an extra-marital affair. In hindsight, all the indications were there. Annie and I hadn’t seen the affair taking shape, but we could have. The ripple effects were devastating—particularly for those new to Christ.


If you’ve been around the Church for any time, scandals are nothing new. How the perpetrators can sleep at night is incomprehensible to me. What is not mysterious is the pressure these setbacks have exerted on my enthusiasm to live “all-in” for Christ. It’s as if powerful spiritual forces conspire to soften my commitment to live boldly for Christ.

A “voice of reason” resonates in my head coaxing me to be moderate. One prevailing paradigm suggests that we hold our faith as we would a country club membership or allegiance to an alma mater: one of many commitments. Important maybe, but not essential and certainly nothing to lose your head over.

I disagree.


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Moderation? Really?

It seems that the Church in North America is reasonable if it is
anything, and that reasonableness has got us stuck.

“Syncretism” is what scholars call it. The term refers to the unnatural amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought. The result is the loss of what made each distinctive (and valuable).

I call it a blight that is foundational to the culture of cowardice that’s become commonplace in the Church today. One way to regain our verve is to take an axe to the roots of the commitment to be reasonable in our faith commitment.

Trouble is, there’s comfort in reasonableness. You can find a degree of security there, too. The moderation it provokes can masquerade as wisdom after you’ve had any number of flameouts when taking bold steps of faith.

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Timely Brilliance from Edwin Friedman

Pastor, have you noticed the anxiety growing in your people, dividing them from one another, concern weighing on their minds and hearts, and a sort of pervasive discouragement? More than twenty years ago Edwin Friedman in A Failure of Nerve observed that American culture had become fraught with chronic anxiety and, in that condition, the least mature would have great societal influence.

How prescient Friedman was!

He goes on to prescribe a distinctive kind of leadership necessary in anxious contexts. Reading, I was stunned by the consistent ways that Jesus modeled the characteristics Friedman identified.

So, I wrote Leadership Courage for pastors and Christian leaders applying Friedman’s brilliance to the local church.

It is now available at:

The Unreasonableness of a “Reasonable” Faith

To be reasonable in your commitment to Christ is the most unreasonable thing you could ever do. And to be unreasonable in your commitment to Jesus and His Church is the most reasonable thing you could ever do.

No reasonable person can declare “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Philippians 1:21] Right?

Maybe you rationalize: “That was Paul. The Apostle Paul. Heck, he

wrote half the New Testament. Paul’s was a highly unusual commitment to Christ and Christianity.”

Yet, Paul was either crazy or he fully expected the Christians in Philippi to do the same thing with their lives that he did.

Didn’t he?

Paul, like Jesus, was no reasonable person.

Gripped at his core, from his core, to his core with the unreasonableness of faith, everything Paul wrote and modeled indicated a radical, all-in embrace of faith.


Are you?



-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Just One among Many??

If the Christian faith is but one among many, then a sensibly reasonable approach to applying its teachings is appropriate. If Christianity is just one philosophy among several, holding your faith as you do your political convictions is understandable. If church involvement is considered one of numerous “membership commitments” then it is wise to be measured in your investment.

The thing is, Christianity cannot be any of these, for any of us. If it is but one of many of anything, then it is a lie.

A hoax.

The reasonable thing to do is to have nothing to do with it.

The claims of Christ are so radical, singular, and exclusive they stand alone. Without rival in all of human history. They should be unrivaled in our lives.

Shouldn’t they?

The seminal question: Is Christianity true?

If Jesus Christ is the completely unique Son of God [John 3:16], the way, the truth, and the life, the only route to the Father [John 14:6], the One in whom the fullness of God dwells [Colossians 2:9], then to be reasonable in your commitment to your faith is the most unreasonable thing you could ever do.

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Affordable Faith?

In these posts, we’re looking at Christian leadership from what I hope are refreshing and resourceful perspectives. I am indebted to Edwin Friedman for sparking these thoughts with his charge to “disengage from an unreasonable faith in reasonableness.”

Pastor, after all the years of disappointments, setbacks, and betrayals in your experience as both minister and disciple, I wonder if you have become reasoned, balanced, measured, and composed in the application of your faith?

Has your Christianity become, somehow, affordable?

I wonder how this impacts those you seem unable to inspire.

We are, after all, talking about leading with courage.


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Leadership Courage book

In this difficult season for American society many congregations are fracturing, inundated by the anxieties of the age, appearing to be more devoted to their political preferences than to the Lord Jesus.

What’s a pastor to do?

Read Leadership Courage.

It applies the brilliance of Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve to the local pastor, as illustrated by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Pastor, your posture and presence is most influential with those you lead. You need this book!

Available now at:

Provoke Their Hunger

Pastor, if you’re in the disciple-making business then you’re in the business of changing people. You’re to be changing people into the image of Christ, God’s Spirit working with you. You’re to regularly be provoking people to live and love and give and care and serve the way Jesus did— motivated by what motivated him.

That rarely happens when you keep handing people fish.

Years ago, I was struggling my way through a character- development workshop in Honolulu with Dan Tocchini, my trainer and mentor. Dan’s life-changing counsel was this:

“Kirk, we’re not here to give people fish. We’re not here to teach them to fish.

We’re here to provoke their hunger!”

Are you?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

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