Mistake Leaders Make #5: Busyness instead of Visioning

Busyness is the new spirituality – Fred Smith

As I was reading chapter 5 of the book Mistakes Leaders Make (Re:Lit) by Dave Kraft, he discussed about how some leaders are good at being busy but not actually leading. In some cases with religious organization and churches, we tend to look for those who are available and ask them to lead the church, a certain ministry or a department in church. The problem with this kind of practice is we tend to attract people who are good doers but not necessarily great leaders.

I learned this principle when I started leading the youth ministry. As a volunteer, I was good at doing things. When my youth pastor wants something done, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. I was a good doer. But when I was given leadership responsibilities – I realized that I need a certain level of leadership skill to make things happen. And as I look back, I realized the reason I was doing what I was doing before when I was a volunteer, is because my leader then was actually a great leader who inspired me to achieve greater things.

An unforgettable experience I had one time with my leader and pastor, Ferdie Cabiling, was during one of our meetings I told him how I was being invited left and right to speak in different organizations and churches. I wanted him to give me a pat in the back for doing something so “significant”.

But I thank God for his visionary leadership. He said, “great job Dennis” and then proceeds to take out a piece of paper and said, ” Can you list down the people you are currently discipling?”

I was schooled that day. Schooled for my own good. I was busy but I was not leading anyone. Since that day, I have reminded myself that a leader is a visionary. He talks about the vision, he leads with the vision and he energizes others with the vision of his organization.

Marcus Buckingham said in his book The One Thing You Need to Know: … About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success

What defines a leader is his/her preoccupation with the future…leaders are fascinated by the future…Whenever a person strives to help others see a better future, there is leadership…you do it because you can’t help it. You do it because you see the future so vividly, so distinctly that you can’t get it out of your head.”


Mistakes Leaders Make #4: Pleasing People

” I don’t know what the secret to success is, but I know what the secret to failure is and that’s trying to keep everybody happy.” – Bill Cosby

Don’t live your life impressing everyone or anyone, including you. We cannot please anyone. You talk about God’s love – some would agree, some won’t. You talk about and challenge people to make disciples – some people would say your a visionary leader and some would say you are too pushy. So what do you do?

If you succumb to the temptation to please everyone – you won’t do anything significant in life. I remember a time when somebody was questioning the vision of Victory to go to the nations. He said, ” Why go to the nations when there are millions of people who haven’t heard the gospel in the Philippines?” I thank God that Pastor Steve and the leadership of the church stood their ground. They heard from the Lord and went all out in planting churches around the world. Today Victory is the largest missionary sending church in the Philippines. Because they did not lead to please people we are able to raise world class missionaries who then trained local leaders in the mission field to become the senior pastors in their nation.

Galatians 1:10English Standard Version (ESV)

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[a] of Christ.

For the local church pastor, that means we have to create a culture where there is no fear to make mistakes. Leadership should be empowering not frightening. Leaders lead, tyrants rule with fear. Also we should all work towards a culture where everyone is focused on a clear goal, vision and purpose. Our core values must be intact and it must be seen in our vision as a church or organization.

You can buy the book at Amazon:


Reasons Behind our Faith

Everybody in this world stands for something. Some stand for things we don’t believe in and that is where we live in today. With so many beliefs and school of thoughts, we have to learn as Christians to engage our culture.

I am no apologetics expert, I might leave that to my friend Joseph Bonifacio and Pastor Rice Broocks – though it would be helpful to read books like God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty or Tim Keller’s The Reason for God or visit William Lane Craig’s website Reason for Living.

As a nation, we have been founded by the word of God. The people who wrote the constitution of the Philippines acknowledged there was a God and even asked for the aid of Almighty God to help build the laws and constitution of the land. It says a lot about us as a nation. The implication in the 1987 preamble of the Constitution of the Philippines acknowledges that there is a God, He is sovereign above all and that we need His help. Being guided by God our lawmakers and leaders of the land made sure that God was not forced into our nation because not all believe in God.

books-1It is now 2014. The internet has changed the game of spreading ideas. More and more we see secularism and humanism enter our culture, our songs, our entertainment, our literature and our politics. We are in an era where different world views abound which means there will come a time different world views would be clashing.
With that premise, we as believers of God  should learn to look for reasons behind our faith and skeptics who might be reading this blog, must also learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning.

Tim Keller said it well in his book Reason for God,

You cannot doubt Belief A from a position of faith in Belief B. For example if you doubt Christianity because “There can’t be just one true religion,” you must recognize that this statement is itself an act of faith. No one can prove it empirically, and it is not a universal truth that everyone accepts. If you went to Middle East and said, “There can’t be just one true religion,” nearly everyone would say, “Why not?” The reason you doubt Christianity’s Belief A is because you hold unprovable Belief B. Every doubt, therefore, is based on a leap of faith.

Some people say, “I don’t believe in Christianity because I can’t accept the existence of moral absolutes. Everyone should determine moral truth for him- or herself.” Is that a statement they can prove to someone who doesn’t share it? No, it is a leap of faith, a deep belief that individual rights operate not only in the political sphere but also in the moral. There is no empirical proof for such a position. So the doubt (of moral absolutes) is a leap.

Some will respond to all of this, ” My doubts are not based on a leap of faith. I have no beliefs about God one way or another. I simply feel no need for God and I am not interested in thinking about it.” But hidden beneath this feeling is the very modern American belief that the existence of God os a matter of indifference unless it intersects with my emotional needs. The speaker is betting his or her life that no God exists who would hold you accountable for your beliefs and behavior if you didn’t feel the need for him. That may be true or it may not be true, but, again, it is quite a leap of faith.

Taken from Reason for God, page xviii, Tim Keller


Mistakes Leaders Make #3: Pride

John Stott said that pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend. It is our greatest enemy because most of the time we can’t see our pride. That’s why we are proud because we can’t see that we have moved away from humility.

I thank God for my wife who is my pride checker. I thank God for the Holy Spirit that quickens me when I move in pride or if I have the spirit of pride.


Matthew 23:11-12English Standard Version (ESV)

11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Gary Thomas in his book Thirsting for God said,

All the saints are convinced that sincere humility is the foundation of all virtues. This is because humility is the daughter of pure charity, and humility is nothing else but truth. There are only two truths in the world, that God is all, and the creature is nothing.

Now that is a strong quote to keep us grounded in humility. Mistake 3 and 2 are close cousins. Pride is thinking highly of myself that I wish people were more like me. Envy is wishing I were like other people.

Another thing to look for especially among next generation leaders especially the gifted and successful leaders according to Dave Kraft is this thinking:

It seems to me that the reason leaders, especially young, gifted, and early on successful leaders, do not repent of pride more often is because many are willing to overlook pride and self-centeredness in themselves and others as long as results are being achieved.

I have seen leaders publicly admit to pride but never address it or truly repent of it. Often their followers are so enamored by the success being achieved that they are willing to ignore the public, in spite of God’s clear denunciation of it in his leaders and despite the damage it causes.

Ideas are based on the book Mistakes Leaders Make (Re:Lit) by Dave Kraft.

Mistakes Leaders Make #2: Comparing instead of Contentment

In my last blog I shared about mistake number one: replacing Jesus with ministry and today let me share with you the 2nd mistake most leaders commit.


comparison1In a world where achievements and stats are often displayed for the world to see (whether it is pinterest, instagram, church websites), most of us tend to look and covet for the success of church ministries in our city.  That is a wrong move.  Do not compare somebody else’s highlight reel to your reality.

Even within the church, we tend to compare the programs, achievements, success and failures of different departments creating a very hostile environment for pastors and leaders to fail. One of the biggest room we should have in church today is the room for improvement. The mentality with this mistake is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

James 3:14-16English Standard Version (ESV)

14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

We have to be content with who we are, where we are, what we are doing and what God is doing through us. Church ministry and leadership does not define us. Jesus defines us. We must be clear about that.

Now self analysis and feedback is different. We need to practice the discipline of comparing ourselves to ourselves.

Dave Kraft said that it is good to compare what is happening through me and in me with what could potentially happen. It is good to compare where I am in my growth and ministry and ministry effectiveness with where it is possible to be, with God’s grace.

Church leader, wherever you are in your ministry, find contentment not in your work but in Christ. Let Christ define you and not your work. Stop comparing and ask God to give you the strength to be content with who you are.

What Kind of Tolerance? What Every Christian should Know

As a blogger maintaining a Christian website, there are times you are also compelled to write what is happening in our culture today. Today there is a great fear among Christians to speak up because we might be labeled as self-righteous and intolerant. A buzzword in social media today. But you have to understand what TOLERANCE really means:

Jonathan Parnell writes about tolerance that I think every Christian should read: Here is his blog on tolerance:

Views that advocate same-sex marriage are free to exist, but they are wrong.

Now, stop. Read the above sentence again. Are you okay with it?

Chances are how you feel about that statement indicates your understanding (or misunderstanding) of tolerance. D. A. Carson, in his book, The Intolerance of Tolerance, explains that Western culture isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders when it comes to knowing what tolerance is. He distinguishes two different concepts of this word: old tolerance and new tolerance.

Old tolerance — that is, before the onslaught of postmodernism — defines the concept as to “accept the existence of different views.” New tolerance, however, defines tolerance as to “accept different views.” More than just accepting a view’s existence, new tolerance adds that you’d better not say it’s wrong either. New tolerance demands that we consider every opinion to be equally valid. The only wrong is to say that everything’s not right. Just wait, it gets more complicated.

This new tolerance can only occur when folks deny objective truth, which of course, is all talk and no muscle. So it’s no surprise that the whole concept of “new tolerance” is contradictory.

First, it refuses to tolerate anything that doesn’t agree to its understanding of tolerance. You see, “new tolerance” has a right and wrong, too, it’s just that what’s wrong is to say there’s such a thing as right and wrong. Capisce?

Second, “new tolerance” considers views directly opposed to one another to be equally valid. But, really? Jesus either rose from the dead or he didn’t. To be sure, he didn’t do both, which means: somebody gets this wrong. Not like “sorta, kinda, maybe” wrong. But dead wrong.

Be all this as it may, “new tolerance” has become a god in our society, the Most High of moral virtues, such that “the supreme sin is intolerance” (Carson, 12). Said another way, Western culture’s anti-god is to speak from absolutes, to be so doggone dogmatic, to say “this is right, that is wrong.” So you see, Dan Cathy’s support for traditional marriage isn’t really what makes folks mad, it’s that he has publicly refused to bow down to their god. Rome called them Christians, America calls them bigots. And for sure, this ain’t your mother’s kind of tolerance.

Mistakes Leaders Make Blog Series #1: Replacing Jesus

One of the best books I’ve read on leadership was written by a veteran pastor who has been in ministry for decades. Pastor Dave Kraft wrote a book called, Mistakes Leaders Make (Re:Lit), which I recommend every Christian leader reads. It actually mirrors the challenges and temptations we face as pastors and church leaders.

So let me start with mistake number 1.


When Jesus takes a back seat in ministry and church – we are headed for trouble. It means we have forgotten why we started church in the first place, or why we are leading church.

All of us start really well in ministry but once we get comfortable and achieve either success or frustrations – we tend to replace Jesus with ministry. I have seen a lot of church leaders and staff,once they entered into full time ministry, lose their passion for Jesus. It’s intriguing how we can work inside the church and forget Jesus.

One of my pastor friend who fell into sin said something that still haunts me. He said, ” I can make a church grow without Jesus.”

booksWe can actually replace Jesus with marketing, slick strategies and church business as usual but the effects of it would be a form of religion devoid of power. Our affection for Jesus can be replaced by achievement for Jesus and sometimes it so subtle that we won’t recognize how far we are now for Jesus. We can give our life and work to the work of the Lord while neglecting the Lord.

Dave Kraft said, ” We can start to rely on ministry instead of Jesus to meet deep needs in our own lives. I am convinced that many people move into leadership roles because of people needing them or because being in control satisfies something missing in their own sense of value and worth.” 

Now that is a thought worth chewing on. How about you have you replace Jesus with ministry?

On Confronting Sin

One of the toughest thing a Christian leader faces in discipleship is to confront sin in a person’s life. Some hesitate because of the fear it might offend or it might hurt the person’s feeling and that he might not come back to church if confronted or corrected.

In my 7 years pastoring Greenhills, I have the hard task of confronting certain people in church who are sinning and it is not something I love to do but because for the love of God and His people, I need to do it.

Again let me repeat that – confronting sin is not something I love to do but because of my love for God and His people, I need to do it.

So what are we to do?

The simple answer is to lovingly confront. That means spell out the sin but don’t get mad at the one sinning. The people we are leading needs to know if they are sinning. Now we are not the Holy Spirit which means we can’t force their response. Some might repent of their sin, others might be offended and leave church – again we are not the Holy Spirit so let’s not act like one. Just stick to Scripture when pointing out a sin. Get them back to the Word and not to our own opinion of the matter.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, ” Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.”

If the Church refuses to face the stern reality of sin, it will gain no credence when it talks of forgiveness. Such a Church sins against its sacred trust and walks unworthily of the gospel. It is an unholy Church, squandering the precious treasure of the Lord’s forgiveness.


We All Need Prayer Partners

1001151_10200106352770883_1711335007_nIt was almost four years ago when one of our Victory Group leader Estela de Jesus approached me asking if she could help lead and mobilize the church to prayer by forming prayer teams. She also took on the task of being a prayer partner to me and my family.

When Tita Estela started a small prayer group three years ago, we would never imagine that what started out as a small prayer group of 3 and 4 has now been a weekly prayer meeting gathering of close to 200 people praying every Wednesday.

Through Estela’s leadership, she has helped and equipped Christians, young and old, to tap into the power of prayer. Now mind you, Estela is a busy woman. She is a business woman, a house wife, a productive Victory Group Leader and with all that she devoted time to see prayer is practiced in her local church.

The church is blessed with people like her – who saw a need and took action. She did not need the prodding or the encouragement – she just did her part.

Same with discipleship. When a lot of older people would say it’s our time to relax in the ministry, she started discipling young women and singles, mothers and anyone willing to be discipled. Most of our fruitful leaders in church where discipled by Estela.

But more than her ministry, what I am thankful for is that Estela is a friend. She has been a constant encourager to me and Thammie, helping us navigate through our 3rd decade of existence and our marriage. Estela and Boni, are mentors. They have helped us in our faith journey and leadership journey.

We are blessed by your life.