When I Can’t Rely on Myself

The Christian life is always a life of adventure. Read through the Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Epistles and then the entire Old Testament. You’ll see God’s people continually in peril.

Sometimes, God tells them to do what’s impossible—like instructing Gideon to reduce his forces before going to war against a far more formidable foe. Other times, God’s people find themselves in circumstances where they have no hope but for a miracle. The Egyptian army chasing the Israelite slaves to the shores of the Red Sea, for example.

God keeps putting his people in unreasonable situations. They keep ending up in circumstances where they have to trust God. Where they can’t rely on themselves.

They’re living the adventurous life.



-Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


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

Safety First?

The Christian life is to be an adventure of trusting God and taking leaps of obedience. Yet, the behavior of most American churches would have you believe these accounts were biblical:

Jesus is about to send the disciples out two-by-two. He cautions them: “Be sure you take plenty of money with you and arrange your lodging well in advance. When you enter a new village, if they’re happy you’re there, stay briefly, so you don’t wear out your welcome. And, if there’s any resistance at all, leave quickly and quietly. For goodness sake, don’t stir anything up!”

Picture Peter and John hurrying to the temple past a disabled person who is begging. They avoid eye contact and, as they pass, simply shrug their shoulders. One is overheard telling the other: “So sad that the authorities don’t take care of the indigent, isn’t it?”

Imagine that the disciples are attempting to cross the Galilee with Jesus asleep below deck. Ever cautious, they hug the shore just in case a squall appears. Sure enough, a storm does arise! Alarmed, they awaken Jesus who screams out in terror: “Quick, hand me a lifejacket! We’ve got to get to shore right away! These waves will probably capsize us! We must never travel by boat again. It is just too dangerous!”

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

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

Leadership Courage Synopsis

For two decades I’ve been coaching and training pastors, church planters, and denominational execs. My focus has largely been leadership. Developing and strengthening the leadership acumen of front-line ministers who, more than ever before are dealing with anxiety in their people, congregations, and systems. The prominence of disquiet in much of the Church seems to have mushroomed since the recession of 2007. In many ways this has undermined our willingness to attempt God-honoring exploits as daring agents of change in society. Instead, pastors find themselves consumed with appeasing the angst that presides in their elders, staff, leaders, and members.

“Leadership Courage” is a response to that condition. It describes a distinct type of leadership necessary for the North American Church that is struggling to be courageous. Edwin Friedman, in “A Failure of Nerve,” noted that the United States had become a culture characterized by chronic anxiety. He predicted that, if unchecked, American society would continue to become increasingly immature, lurching from one self-declared “crisis” to the next.

This he observed more than two decades ago.

It’s not just secular society that’s shot through with cowardice. Cowardice has become the way of being for the Church in our time. Immobilized by the growing opposition to our faith by America’s influential thought leaders, the rapid greying of our congregations, and the decline in attendance, vitality, and money, the Church has abandoned God’s mandate to salt and light our neighborhoods, communities, and nation. The result is exactly what we have today in politics, ethics, relationships, education, and the law. While the Church has been asleep the nation has lost its spiritual and ethical mooring.

In “Leadership Courage,” Part One reveals the heart nature of courage. To lead with courage means to lead with one’s heart exposed, available, vulnerable, accessible. To be the kind of leader the Church needs, one must pay the high price of hurt, rejection, and misunderstanding while continuing to risk one’s heart.

In Part Two, the author examines the state of the Church in North America, evidencing the claim that its most identifying characteristic is its cowardice. Supplanting people development and Kingdom advance with religious education and entertainment, the Church has forgotten what business it’s in.

In this context, nine leadership postures and practices are essential. They are described in Part Three, illustrated by the life of Jesus, and applied to pastors in North American churches. The nine characteristics are:

• Courageous leadership is not about skill, technique, or knowledge. It is, most of all, about the presence of the leader as he or she moves through life.

• Take full responsibility for your own emotional being and destiny.

• Promote healthy differentiation within the church or system you lead.

• Stand, as an exemplar, in the sabotage and backlash that must come.

• Don’t “push on the rope:” the unmotivated are invulnerable to insight.

• Undermine the 80/20 Rule.

• Disengage from an unreasonable faith in reasonableness.

• Reintroduce yourself to the adventurous life.

• Go first!

In Part Four, contemporary examples are offered of pastors and church planters who’ve applied the principles of “Leadership Courage” in their own ministries, some of what they’ve learned, and the fruit that’s been produced, as a result.

“Leadership Courage” is an easy, informative read, ideal for leaders, pastors, and small groups. Each chapter offers a study guide of personal reflection and group processing questions. Most of all it is practical, calling Christians to several key shifts in posture and practice that, according to both Jesus and Friedman will provoke maturity in those they lead.

It is available at:




Jesus and the 5,000

As it is with any adventure, Pastor, there is always the possibility of failure, loss, injury, embarrassment, being mistaken, and getting hurt.

The Church today seems to have so little tolerance for the latter that it’s unwilling to engage the former. And, this reality is absolutely stunning in light of the Biblical record. The Christian life is anything but safe, cautious, predictable, measured, and reasonable. Everywhere in the Bible, those who followed God were adventurers.

By contrast, imagine this scene: more than 5,000 have come out to the wilderness to hear Jesus speak. Eventually it dawns on the disciples that if the crowds don’t get something to eat, some will grow faint, maybe ill. When Jesus sees that all they have on hand is five loaves and two fish, he pats the young boy on the head and exclaims: “Oh my gosh! We have to shut this meeting down right now so everyone can get home to eat and rest. From now on, we must hold these gatherings where people can get plenty of nourishing food, refreshments and medical services. Let’s be sure to schedule plenty of breaks so people don’t overextend themselves.”

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

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

Spiritual Freeloaders?

Pastor, what might be gained were you to love that problematic elder enough to challenge the irritating and demeaning way he engages those around him?

What benefits would accrue if you were really to champion your people to a lifestyle of financial sacrifice until it becomes the norm? What do you think we in the Church are perpetuating when 60-80% of long-time church attendees give nothing in return for the services and benefits they receive? When fewer than ten percent of Church members actually tithe?

Why, I wonder, do pastors take such pride in attendance numbers when most of those we count contribute neither time nor money to the welfare of the community of faith, let alone the waiting and watching community outside our doors?

If you are in the religious education and entertainment business I can understand why you’d eschew adventure and risk, but if you’re in the people-development business, committed to make mature followers of Jesus, there’s really no other way.

Is there?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


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

What an Adventure!

Pastor, what an adventure it could be to…

  • Trust Christ as you call people to distinctively demonstrate the way of Jesus to the world. [I Corinthians 6:20]

  • Trust the Father as you lead your people off the church campus to love people and meet real needs in your community. [Matthew 5:16]

  • Trust the Holy Spirit as you confront sin so clearly and confidently that those you influence regain their capacity to blush. [Jeremiah 6:15]

  • Love your spouse so consistently and spectacularly that no one would wonder if the congregation had taken her place in your heart. [Ephesians 5:15]

  • Invite your people to take responsibility for their own well-being and destiny in Christ, serving their commitment to mature in Christ-likeness. [Ephesians 4:13]

  • Break up whatever fallow ground remains in your own heart [Jeremiah 4:3], to commit to love as if you’ve never been hurt [Luke 23:34], to reach to reconcile with those from whom you’re now estranged [Romans 12:18]…and do it all in full view of your congregation, so they can learn to live like Jesus from your example as well as your preaching [1 Peter 5:3].

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


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

Why Adventure?

What has become of adventure in your life, pastor?

I’m not advocating that you risk for the thrill of it, that you put yourself in harm’s way for the emotional rush some get when they do dangerous things, or that you behave erratically just to break up the boredom.

I’m inviting you to the adventurous life for the advancement of God’s reign and rule in your community.

This is not adventure for adventure’s sake. It’s returning to the biblically normal life of risk and trust as we presence the way of Jesus in a culture more dark and desperate than any of us may fully appreciate.

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

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

Jesus’ Model

You may have forgotten that Jesus “emptied himself” of his divinity to the degree that he had to figure stuff out in the moment. [Philippians 2:6-8] Why do you think he knelt to scratch in the sand when the angry religious mob was about to hurl rocks at the woman who’d had the affair? [John 8:6] Could it be that he had to hear from his Father to know what to do? [John 5:19]

Jesus suffered every temptation as a fully-human human being. He learned obedience through the things he suffered. [Hebrews 5:8]

Jesus showed us the adventurous life.

When facing important decisions, the Son of God had to withdraw to pray. This wasn’t just “an exercise” to demonstrate for us the prayer life we’re to have. He needed to receive insight from his Father. [Luke 6:12-13]

His life, the life he modeled for us, was an adventure.

Was not his experience in the garden of Gethsemane an adventure? I suggest that Jesus had no idea Peter would lop off the soldier’s ear! In classic Jesus form, he used this as a teaching moment about how citizens of his Father’s Kingdom were to live. [John 18:10-11]

What has become of adventure in your life, pastor?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


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

A Life of Adventure!

I invite you to consider the adventurous life to which Jesus calls every Christ-follower—especially His ministers.

Consider Jesus’ experience. Born how? Where? When? His incarnation was an adventure. [Luke 2:1-38] As a little kid, he ventures off from his family to hang with the teachers in the temple courts. He’s on his own for three days—at twelve-years-old. [Luke 2:41-50] His childhood was an adventure.

Then, at thirty, he is led by God’s Spirit into the wilderness where Satan challenges, tests, mocks, and opposes him for almost six weeks. [Luke 4:1-13]


On his return, he’s in the temple on Sabbath and the scroll of Isaiah is handed to him. He reads a portion, says a very few words and sits back down. The people who heard him “were furious,” forcefully removed him from town, and attempted to murder him by casting him over a cliff. [Luke 4:16-29]



-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

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

Do You Have Your Copy?

Edwin Friedman, in “A Failure of Nerve” concluded that the US had become “chronically anxious.” One characteristic: the least mature wield great influence. His observations apply to the US, and also describe the condition of the Church—pre-Covid, pre-George Floyd, pre-election chaos. Friedman goes on to describe a unique kind of leadership for such anxious times.

Leadership Courage” applies Friedman’s brilliant leadership insights to the local pastor desiring to provoke growth and maturity in her or his congregation.

Leadership Courage” is a must-read for ministers, lay leaders, and serious Christians right now.

It is available:



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