8 Benefits of Integrity in Life and Leadership

Integrity is taking a beating today.

  • 20 baseball players potentially being suspended for doping
  • Lance Armstrong being striped of all his awards for lying
  • The IRS apparently misusing its power
  • The Justice Department being accused of lying
  • Identity theft occurring to 1 out of 10 people

We live in a world where self-interest seems to trump character and integrity. And, pastors and ministry leaders aren’t immune to the temptation to spin, cut corners, or compromise.

Yet, the One whom we serve lived a life of integrity and He expects us to do the same in His power. Teacher, we know you have integrity… (Matt 22.16, The Message)

I’ve listed 8 benefits of integrity below.

8 Benefits of Integrity in Life and Leadership Dr. Charles Stone

  1. It protects us. (?May integrity and uprightness protect me because my hope is in you. Ps 25.21)
  2. It gives us confidence. (The man of integrity walks securely. Prov 10.9)
  3. It helps us make better decisions. (?The integrity of the upright guides them. Prov 11.3)
  4. It reflects well on the Lord. (I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. 1Chr. 29.17 )
  5. It sets you apart from others. (these four come from John Maxwell)
  6. It creates trust in others.
  7. It gives staying power.
  8. It extends influence.

What quality would you add to this list?


“I just learned 8 benefits integrity brings to your life and leadership.” (Tweet this quote by clicking here.)


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Should Pastors Tell Church People to Obey Them?

Several passages in Scripture pose challenges to preaching. Even so, we shouldn’t skip the tough ones. However, when we must deal with tough passages such as this one below, we must take care how we teach them.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb 13.17, NIV)

That first part, “Obey your leaders,” poses the preaching challenge. How should we approach the “followership” concept this verse speaks to?

Should Pastors Tell Church People to Obey Them? Dr. Charles Stone

I’ve excerpted a section from my book 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them below that captures the essence of this verse.

“Obey your leaders” sounds quite strong. Certainly this does not condone dictatorial leadership, as Peter makes this clear in saying, “Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example.” (1 Pet 5.3, NLT) After all, God calls us shepherds, and shepherds don’t push—they lead. Unfortunately, in our world, where self is king and where those in spiritual authority have abused their power, many in our churches would struggle with a sermon titled “Obey Your Leaders.”

But that’s not the part upon which I believe we should focus. It’s the last part: “that their work will be a joy, not a burden for that would be of no advantage to you.” Often it seems ministry brings more burdens than joy. After a tough meeting I sometimes wish I could get away with giving an elder a swirly. Other times, in response to a critic, I’m tempted to use King David’s words as a club: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” (Ps 105.15)

Other translations render “that their work will be a joy” in these ways:

  • So don’t make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. (CEV)
  • Let them do this with joy and not with grief…. (NASB)
  • Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. (NLT)
  • Let them do all this with joy and not with groaning. (ESV)

A similar verse mirrors this one. Paul writes, We ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. (1 Thes 5.12, NIV)

Other translators render “respect” (Greek: oida) as “appreciate” (NASB), “be thoughtful of” (CEV), “honor” (The Message, NLT), and “pay proper respect to” (TEV). On the other hand, just as “obey your leaders” can sound dictatorial, these statements can sound like they promote the self-serving, egotistical, and narcissistic.

Don’t make us sad…Honor us…Respect us…Make us happy…Appreciate us…Give us reasons to be joyful.

These thoughts likewise might seem oxymoronic when contrasted to our ministerial call to selflessly give ourselves away. But no matter how they’re translated, these verses raise some important questions. Is it wrong to want our ministries to bring us joy? Would we be sinning or at best self-serving to expect from our congregations certain things that would make serving them more joyful, less burdensome?

Should we dare even broach these matters? Did one pastor correctly assess church folk when he said, “Most truly aren’t concerned with my joy”? Conversely, should we affirm the answer of several others that “My joy is from the Lord, not from people”?

I don’t suggest a simplistic solution to pastoral joy. However, God’s Word leaves no room for misunderstanding. He expects believers to respond to healthy pastoral leadership by taking concrete steps to help make ministry more fulfilling for His servants.

Perhaps the key to making this truth become reality in the church lies in this: the church must see us as servants first and foremost. When we model Christ-like servanthood, I believe we create an atmosphere conducive for those in the church to become good followers, without our having to demand it.

What do you think? What do you believe is key to making this verse a reality in the church?


“I just learned insight about how to encourage followership in the church.” (tweet this quote by clicking here)


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5 Leadership Tensions Seen in Jesus’ Leadership

I recently delivered a message on how Jesus modeled masculinity. As I reflected on that talk, I realized similar parallels apply to leadership. Jesus lived within these tensions during the three years He established our Faith. Although fully God in every way, He lived as a human in every way as well, yet was without sin. He perfectly balanced each of these qualities below that appear as opposites.

As you read these five tensions, ask yourself which ones reflect your strengths and which ones need strengthening.

5 Leadership Tensions in Jesus' Leadership Dr. Charles Stone

Power and Compassion

  • Jesus showed great power and guts when he turned over the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple (Matt 21). He also showed his commanding power when He called the religious leaders whitewashed tombs. (Matt 23.37)
  • Yet he touched the lepers, showed tenderness to the woman with an issue of blood, and showed compassion to the rich young ruler who wouldn’t give up his riches.

Head (intellect) and Heart (emotion)

  • He amazed the people with his grasp of the Scriptures at age 12 while in the Temple. His arguments and logic silenced even the most brilliant of his day. He even tongue-tied the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate. He created ingenious intellectual dilemmas for his adversaries. He masterfully used Scripture in the context of life with allusions and questions that made others think.
  • Yet Jesus deeply loved people at levels that they emotionally felt. The shortest verse in the Bible even says that, “Jesus wept.” (John 11.35)

Present and Future

  • Jesus approached people where they were. He didn’t ask broken people questions like, “How in the world did you let yourself get into such a jam?” He was a realist about human frailty.
  • Yet, he didn’t want people to stay where they were. He told Zacchaeus the tax collector to make restitution. He accepted him where he was, but He urged him to move forward into the future in a God honoring way. Jesus lived with a perfect blend of experiencing the present with an eye toward His future and toward helping others move into their future in the best way.

Purpose and Freedom

  • Jesus knew why he had come, to do His father’s will. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4.34) He was bothered when the disciples didn’t take his mission seriously. He was passionate about his work. He knew what needed to be done and did it. He worked hard.
  • Yet he lived with an amazing sense of balance. He was never in a hurry, compulsive, and never forced people to do what He wanted them to do. He gave them freedom to choose. He said followership was voluntary, no arm-twisting or guilt motivation. He didn’t force his agenda on others. He knew his purpose and knew if others would embrace His purpose for them it would be best for them. Yet he released them to make their own choices.

Strength and Sensitivity (especially toward women)

  • On the sensitivity side, Jesus elevated the status of woman so high that he even praised a woman for what was a purely a masculine role, sitting at the feet of a Rabbi (when Mary sat at his feet). Jesus accepted financial support from woman. He even defended a woman caught in adultery not to approve her adultery, but to expose the injustice of her accusers.
  • Yet he was forceful. He was blunt with his mother when she was out of line to ask Him to do some things not a part of His messianic plan. He affirmed Mary’s role when he indirectly confronted Martha’s compulsiveness. In John 4 He candidly pointed out to the woman at the well that she had 5 husbands. Jesus knew when to be sensitive with women and when He needed to be strong and not back down.

I believe pastors and leaders, too, must live within these tensions.

  • Which of these is your greatest strength?
  • Which is your greatest weakness?
  • What would you add to this list?

“I just learned 5 leadership tensions in Jesus’ life that apply to spiritual leadership.”(click here to tweet this quote)


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Acts of Kindness Every Pastor Needs

When I wrote the book 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them, I surveyed over 2,000 pastors through LifeWay Research and through an online survey through Christianity Today. In the CT survey, I asked pastors to share specific ways someone in their congregation ministered to them. Here’s a sample of what they wrote.

Acts of Kindness Every Pastor Needs Dr. Charles Stone

  • Defending me when someone attacks me verbally.
  • Commenting on their understanding of my challenges.
  • When hand-written notes come from godly people they mean so much.
  • I think the greatest affirmation I receive is when my congregation trusts me.
  • I would say it would be the time I received a homemade card from someone in the church telling me how much she appreciated me and that she was praying for me.These words of encouragement are priceless.
  • I don’t feel like I always have to be right, but I do like to have the opportunity to express my own views. Those who are most receptive to this are very affirming.
  • Asking me how they can pray for me. I’m not talking about the hurried, polite questions that may come on a hectic Sunday morning but when they genuinely ask.
  • The ministry of presence like when they sat with me in the hospital when my wife had emergency surgery.
  • When people go out of their way to really inquire how I’m doing.
  • Anything not related to Sunday. I get a lot of “great message, pastor” but I don’t know if it’s sincere. A phone call a few days later that refers to something I did affirms me.
  • The occasional person who tells me that “so and so” spoke kindly about me.
  • When I know I have the support of my leadership.
  • Those who know there is a spiritual and emotional cost to being a pastor even if they don’t really understand.
  • They have come into my life and family and done something totally unexpected, unexplainable, and absolutely needed (came and cleaned our house when were sick, fixed a meal for us when times were tough, etc.).
  • When a person takes the time to pay attention to my emotions I experience and conveys their desire to stand in prayer with me on issues that are troubling.

When a pastor faithfully serves and seldom receives encouragement from his or her church, his soul and passion often wither and die. This is the saddest response I received.

Most think the pastor needs no encouragement or affirmation but think that we should always be aware of his or her need for encouragement and affirmation. In 30 years of pastoring I would say that no more than a dozen times have people ever shown awareness.

If you are a pastor, what act of kindness from those in the church has encouraged you most?


“If you want to encourage your pastor, here’s how.” (tweet this quote by clicking here).


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5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Dogs

I love dogs. We’ve owned as many as four. Two currently make their home with us. Lulu (on the left) is a combination of a cat, a rat, and a dog. She’s as quick as a cat and looks like a hybrid rat-dog. She was a stray when we took her in “for just a few days until we find her owner.” We became the owners.

On the other hand, P-nut is our registered Chihuahua. He’s the oldest. He’s missing most of his teeth. And sometimes his lip gets stuck on his remaining molars so that he sports an Elvis look (no kidding).

When I reflect about our relationship with our dogs, I’m learning these five lessons from them that apply to me as a pastor or to any leader.

5 Leadership Lessons i Learned from my Dogs Dr. Charles Stone

  • Consistent: They are pretty much the same day in and day out. They don’t get moody. They’re not angry one minute and kind the next. They “show up” the same way every time I come home: they are glad to see me.
    • Leaders should be consistent with their followers. Your followers and/or staff shouldn’t have to wonder who’s going to show up each day. They shouldn’t have to wonder if you’ll be in a good mood or a bad mood.
  • Grateful: When I give them a treat, they are always glad to get it. Their tails wag, their body shakes with glee, and they truly appreciate that chicken sliver or doggie biscuit I toss them.
    • Leaders should be the most grateful people in every church, ministry, or organization. After all, we get the privilege of leading and influencing others toward a cause greater than ourselves. God puts leaders in places of leadership and when He does, gratefulness to Him should fill our hearts.
  • Baggage laden: This one may seem odd, but it’s true. When we picked up Lulu off the streets while we lived in California, we had no idea when or where she was born. All we knew was that she was skittish and skinny. We loved her, yet I can still simply raise my hand and she cowers. Apparently her prior owners beat her.
    • Every leader carries his or her own baggage. We don’t emerge from childhood without some broken places. Healthy leaders aren’t afraid to discover their broken places. When they do become self-aware of them, they seek help to repair them and realize that God can redeem them for good.
  • Content: Both P-nut and Lulu model contentment. I don’t believe they have a worry in the world. I believe they know that all their needs will be met. So, they don’t fret about where their next meal or comfy blanket will come from (they have several).
    • Leaders trust the Lord that He will provide, care for, and guide them in any circumstance. Hebrews 13.5 reminds us that … “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  • Restful: Both dogs know how to rest. In fact, they take multiple naps every day. When they get tired, they sleep.
    • Good leaders know and practice Sabbath rhythms. While they certainly work hard, they also get enough sleep, they take days off, they take vacations, and they quiet their souls before the Lord daily. As one friend often said we must, “Divert daily. Withdraw weekly. Abandon annually.”

If you have a dog, what lessons have you learned from it?


“I just learned 5 leadership lessons that a dog can teach us.” (tweet this quote by clicking here)


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