Top Ten Most Popular Posts!

The end of June marked the fourth anniversary of my blog, and this is my 200th post!

When I started, I wasn’t sure I really had anything unique to contribute to Christian leadership. However, one aspect of my personal calling is to use my public voice to share my exploration of how to be an authentic, faithful Christian leader, something I aspire to. Each post deals with something that I have experienced, read about, thought about, or heard about from others. You and I are learning together, and when you comment on a post, I learn from you. Thank you for commenting. 

In celebration, here are the all-time top ten posts based on page views (with their introductory paragraphs).

# 1: Empathy maps – A way to understand your donors and beneficiaries

Picture of a person wondering about something

“I’m a confused person”
by Carly. Picture is linked
to her Flickr page.

Ever wished you could get inside the head of a donor and find out what is really going on in this person’s life? How about a parishioner? Or people you help? Here’s a way to better understand the relationships your ministry has that will help you design more effective strategic plans.

#2: The unapologetic apology: Saying “I’m sorry” well


This is a real card you can order at

I find it annoying when someone says, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.” That’s no apology! They’re only sorry that someone took offense! In other words, the person who took offense has the problem, not the one who caused the offense. If no one was offended, the offender wouldn’t feel the need to apologize at all.

#3: The unique challenges of church boards

Toy people at a table

Used with permission.

Since January I’ve delivered a seminar called Serving as a Board Member right across Canada, and I’ve heard a lot about the problems boards experience. The striking thing I’ve learned from these stories is that the very worst problems seem to occur in churches. I know there are some very good church boards, but I mostly hear about the dysfunctional ones. Why are church boards so susceptible to problems? If we can understand the unique challenges inherent in church boards, we should be able to address the problems.

#4: Developing values, mission & vision statements for Christian ministries

Random black arrows with one red arrow

Used with permission.

Here are a few considerations for developing the three major strategic statements I’ve previously described (values, mission, vision) and some suggestions for how you can discern them in a God-honouring way that is faithful to your Christian identity.  (Here are the CCCC strategic statements.)

#5: Early warning signs for loss of integrity

Humorous warning sign

Used with permission from

Last winter, someone mentioned in passing that a local ministry leader had to step down because of a moral failure. I replied, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were an early warning signal which alerted people that they were near the edge of the slippery slope that ends with loss of integrity, so they could nip the problem in the bud?” Something like a trip wire in a prison yard, or the ‘fence’ of rules the Pharisees built around God’s law. These are supposed to keep people safely away from the true danger point. So I wondered, “Is there a point at which the disastrous long term consequences of an apparently innocent choice are not obvious? A point where people would choose differently if they could see ahead where this would take them?

#6: Design your own personal spiritual retreat


Used with permission.

Oswald Saunders says in Spiritual Leadership that the prime consideration in selecting kingdom leaders is spirituality. Any other criteria results in unspiritual administration and ultimately spiritual death for the ministry. I’ve posted about the public consequences of private spirituality, and now I’d like to suggest one way to keep your leadership spiritual – an annual personal spiritual leadership retreat.

#7: From worldly wisdom to godly wisdom

Open bible

Used with permission.

Leaders read lots of leadership books, both Christian and secular.  How do you tell which secular practices may be used in Christian ministry and which should not?   That’s the question!  At Arrow Leadership’s Gala, George Barna said something remarkable:

People lack trust in leaders because of the poor character demonstrated by so many leaders. My interviews with 6,000 Christian leaders show that one of the greatest struggles they have is demonstrating godly wisdom. The issue is how worldly wisdom aligns with godly wisdom and how to discern the difference.”

#8: The private life of a Christian leader

Stone wall

Used with permission

I chatted recently with a pastor* who is doing graduate research on how people hear absolute truth in preaching. His example was “Do not steal.” That is an absolute truth and you would think people would get it. But here’s how the conversation goes when he asks young people in his church “What do you call it when you take something that belongs to someone else without permission and don’t pay for it?”

“That’s stealing,” they say.

“Why is that wrong?” he asks, digging deeper.

“Because the Bible says in the Ten Commandments that you shouldn’t steal.” Sounds like a good enough answer, but here’s the kicker.

“So what do you call it when you download MP3 files for free that others have posted without permission?”

“Oh,” they say, “everybody does that.” They heard the absolute truth, but they chose to apply it to only part of their life. They isolated the area of their life that includes downloading MP3 files for free by constructing a wall around it and saying that that area is different, so different rules apply.

#9: Strategic planning and Christian ministry

I’ve just finished writing a workshop called A Christian Perspective on Strategy Development.  While writing it, I had a thought: Jesus, the ultimate leader, didn’t write a strategic plan for his disciples.

Vintage television set

Image courtesy of tungphoto at

I wondered, what might a strategic plan have looked like if the apostles had felt they needed to write one?  Let’s speculate with a “What if…” scenario.

(Don’t take the scenario too seriously folks, the serious point is at the end.)

If this were a TV show,  your screen would now mist over as you enter an alternate world and find yourself in Jerusalem the day after Pentecost.  As the mist clears, we see the apostles holding a strategic retreat.

#10: Discerning your call

Photo of John Pellowe with John Richardson after his 100th birthday

Pastor John Richardson
and myself on July 15, 2012.
He was born July 12, 1912!

My hero-in-the-faith, John Richardson, was called to ministry in 1959 at the age of 47. This wasn’t quite a mid-life career change since today he is a very healthy 97 year-old, but it was close to mid-life.  John was a senior manager at a textile company and could see that the industry had nowhere to go but to decline. While quietly looking for another management job, he was asked by the pastor of London Gospel Temple to come and help him at the church. John had no plans at all to enter ministry. He had no Bible college education or any other experience that would qualify him to be a pastor other than he was a man on fire for God. A call to ministry was really out of the blue for him. But when he considered his options, John discerned that God was indeed calling him to leave secular employment and enter full-time pastoral ministry. My call to ministry was not like John’s.

Happy reading!

Of course I’m biased and think I really have a Top 200 list to share with you!

If you are relatively new to this blog, the links to series, tags and categories will quickly lead you into your own exploration of Christian leadership.

God bless!

Thoughts on Top Ten Most Popular Posts!

  1. Darrell

    Hey John – I really appreciate having the ability to listen to your blogs instead of reading them! Very helpful for people with busy schedules!


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