TILT: Small Shifts in Leadership that Make a Big Difference

TILT: Small Shifts in Leadership that Make a Big Difference

by Erik Rees, Jeff Jernigan

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A simple tilt can turn something ordinary and commonplace, something well understood and familiar, into a powerful and unalterably different force. Any leader can provide the tools and instruction to enable someone to serve. Classes will be taught and church programs will be staffed, but boredom and burnout are likely and turnover is high. With a few small changes, however, you can be a leader who inspires people to serve boldly and lead others to passionate ministry as well. This subtle shift from being a leader who equips people for ministry tasks to a leader who empowers people to become ministers themselves can have untold impact on the church and the wider community.

Each chapter looks at a leadership basic from a new angle, offering the tilt needed to lead others into true discipleship.With practical tools and exercises throughout the book, the reader is challenged to examine those things that keep us from releasing control and consequently prevent us from empowering others. 

Readers will rediscover hope and energy for their own ministry as they lead others to active and inspiring ministry as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426727504
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 02/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Erik Rees is Pastor of Evangelism and Assimilation at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He is a certified Life Planner and a trainer with Purpose Driven Ministries, and author of S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life.
Jeff Jernigan is Senior Pastor of West Community Friends Church in Corona, California. He also leads the Men's Division of Life Purpose Coaching Centers International and pioneered life and career planning for missionaried worldwide. His previous books include Leadership with Panache and The Church in Ruins.

Read an Excerpt


Small Shifts in Leadership that Make a Big Difference

By Erik Rees, Jeff Jernigan

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2010 Erik Rees and Jeff Jernigan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-2750-4


Becoming an Empowering Leader

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. —Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT

How willing are you to be honest about what really counts when it comes to success in ministry? If it were possible to identify with certainty the kind of leader you wanted to be, know you can be, and know that God has gifted you to be, would you be willing to ask the question? God has a game plan for each of us, and he is waiting to pour that game plan into us the moment we are honestly ready for answers.

Here is a secret: You already know the answers. They have been part of your design from the very beginning.

Like many committed people in ministry, I have fallen prey to the Mr. Potato Head syndrome. My experiences speaking, consulting, and ministering around the world have a common thread running through them. We have all the pieces to the puzzle already. In fact, all the pieces are in one box; but, like Mr. Potato Head, they have not been put together in the right places.

The concepts and principles in this book will help you find new passion, new purpose, and new ideas to help you grow your ministry and so fulfill God's plan for your life. You will discover and assemble all the pieces. Imagine the power to be released as you help others discover and fulfill their God-given strengths for service!

When your purpose breaks upon you with the clarity of a new vision, and you seize your purpose as the kind of leader God has designed and called you to be; your church, your ministry, whatever it happens to be, will forever be changed.

It starts with simply wanting to know God's plan, discovering his purpose for your life as a leader, and trusting God for the results. And what a wonderful companion we have on this journey of discovery! Jesus will reveal himself to us (John 14:21) and through his Spirit living in us, he will teach us all that we need to know (John 14:26).

I love to run. Competing in a race totally energizes me, and what I really enjoy is a long-distance run. It challenges me physically, mentally—even spiritually—as nothing else does. It reminds me, too, of what ministry can be like. A lot of us in ministry can relate to the marathon runner. Marathon runners will tell you there's a point in the race, somewhere about the twothirds mark, where they "hit the wall." Their physical endurance has been pushed to the limit. Their brain is telling their body it just can't go on—and their spirit is starting to listen. When a marathon runner is completely exhausted and there are still five or six miles to go, he finds out what he's really made of.

Maybe you're there right now. Your church or ministry isn't growing and you are completely exhausted. Physically, you are on the verge of burnout. Mentally, you are out of ideas. Spiritually, you are about to give up. All of us have been there at one time or another. And those who haven't will be there sooner or later. It's like running in place: Your legs are pumping but you're not getting anywhere.

Whether you are in that place of exhaustion now—ready to give up on your ministry—or you are looking to prevent a burnout you see headed your way, you are to be applauded for being proactive. Your reading choice says a lot about you and your desire to become the leader God created you to be.

You certainly are not alone. A recent study I conducted of more than one thousand church leaders found that 57 percent of them didn't have an avenue in ministry to express their Godgiven strengths and passions on a weekly basis. That news crushes my heart! This misalignment of design and duties leaves leaders feeling frustrated and fatigued rather than fulfilled and fruitful, which is what God desires for all of us to experience in our ministries. This book, first and foremost, is about finishing your race well, in victory!

Our desire is that God will give you the confidence to share your new ministry with those you lead. Through them God will move your ministry into a future far greater than you have imagined, even in your wildest dreams!

Training for the Race

One of the most empowering aspects of serving at Saddleback Church is that Pastor Rick Warren does not just tell us what we should do—he leads the way. He shows us how to release our members into ministry by setting the example. By motivating his staff in this way, Rick lets us know that we—and I—must also model this to our teams so they will follow our lead as we follow Rick's.

Who is the Rick Warren in your life? Who inspires you to want to be like him or her and in so doing look a little more like Jesus? Finding and focusing on a mentor to model your life after could be just the second wind you need to finish this marathon race called your ministry.

A mentor, intentional or unintentional, may be something you want to add to your personal development. Let's talk about what to subtract from what you do for a moment.

A principal reason many church leaders are not maximizing their strengths and passion is that they are doing too much. Admit it; many of us have serious control issues. One pastor said to me, "Erik, I would rather do it all."

"If you try to do it all," I told him, "you will end up doing nothing."

Do you see a wick coming out of your head or your feet? God didn't design us to burn the candle at both ends. Rather, the Bible calls church leaders to share their ministry, so the church can reach its full potential.

If you are one of those who want to do it all, you are in good company. Most church leaders I work with have some level of control issues. If they deny it, that's a good sign they are wrong.

Rick Warren told me about his experience of trying to do it all back when he was a young pastor. One day he woke up and found himself in a serious state of depression. It was there that God got hold of his heart and showed him his job was not to do it all, but to empower those he led to play their part. That way—and only that way—everything that needs doing can get done.

I admit it: I struggle with control issues in my life and ministry. (Just ask my wife!) I have a long way to go! My confession today as a broken man is that God is the hero of everything I do.

When God called me out of corporate America to join the Saddleback Church staff, my control issues were at an all-time high. I was used to doing everything by myself and for myself— but Saddleback Church did not operate that way. Over and over, Rick would pull me aside and say, "Erik, only you can be you, so let go and let God lead."

Today I see that embracing his sage advice was the first time I was asked to "tilt" my life and my leadership style. We explored the concept of a "servant leader," the idea that I didn't have to make it happen in order to get things done, the revolutionary thought that I should "let go" in order to provide more direction, and the reality that leadership is not just a skill but a quality of my character. It wasn't a complete overhaul—all the right ideas were there—but it sure was a different way of living them out! Having been taught these things over years of development, I thought I understood them; but I grew to realize that it was the words I understood and that true spiritual transformation is more than just mastering a vocabulary.

God used Rick to teach me some vital life and leadership lessons, all of which I share with you in this book. As God used him to teach me how to make God the hero of both my life and my leadership, I now want to pass those tips on to you. This is not about bragging, just sharing what has worked for me, what has kept me aligned with God's purpose, what has allowed God to work through me, and what can help you make it to the finish line standing up.

No matter where you are as a leader in ministry, you will benefit greatly from the journey ahead. Some of these benefits include: reduced stress, increased success, enhanced self-worth, boosted sense of significance, enlarged influence, strengthened staff/volunteers, and an expanded servant heart.

It's all about becoming the leader God designed you to be. This path has nothing to do with building a huge church; it has everything to do with honoring God with your leadership. Only by God's grace do we get to lead other people. As we lead people— and more important, as we accept them—God is glorified. The Bible says, "Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory" (Romans 15:7 NLT). So whether your ministry is to ten people or ten thousand, empowering people and glorifying God should always be your leadership goal.


It is impossible to fully understand the masterpiece of your life if you are disconnected from the Creator, the master artist who sees you always as a masterpiece no matter where you are in the process of being conformed to his image. Anything that is slowing you down or distracting you from being everything God created you to be needs to be removed as an obstacle. What things in your life get in the way? Where are you distracted by ministry tasks that ought to belong to someone else in the church? Are there areas of your life that need to be surrendered to God?

Jonah is a great example of a spiritual leader in need of realignment. He had things going pretty well for himself when God came along and gave him new orders. Jonah was going to be the first prophet sent to a foreign nation. In some respects Jonah could have viewed this as a promotion, an exciting gig, a new opportunity to spread truth in unbelieving parts of the world. Only, there is a problem: Jonah has other plans. You know the story: Jonah runs the other way and gets into a whale of a problem.

By the end of the story Jonah comes to an important realization. He says to himself, "Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness" (Jonah 2:8 NASB). In context, the vain idol Jonah refers to is his own opinion and judgment regarding what he should be doing and the direction his ministry should be moving in. He is misaligned with God's purposes for his life—a calling he has been uniquely prepared for and positioned to carry out.

When I get distracted by my plan to the point that I no longer see God's plan, two things usually happen: My plan becomes an idol in the sense that it replaces in my life what God has called me to in that moment. Moreover, I become exhausted trying to make my plan work. God equips and empowers me for his work, and when I am misaligned that empowerment is no longer there. No wonder I end days worn out rather than energized!

Just like getting our back realigned by a chiropractor or our car's wheels realigned by a mechanic, we must take the time to make sure we are totally aligned with God so he can give us the clarity and confidence to be who he made us to be and do what he desires us to do.

The amazing thing about an active lordship of Christ in your life is that you can see clearly what to seize, or take hold of, in the ministry he created you for! The Bible tells us that we were designed by God to make a difference for God. I truly hope that as you realign with God this "tilt" will empower you to see not only your unique design but also the specific difference he wants you to make in the world through your ministry.

Let yourself dream big for God's glory! Be ready to develop a core team of dedicated people around you to help make your kingdom dream come true! God will show you how to truly release his people to fulfill their purpose so the needs within the body of Christ can be met by the body of Christ. Notice that it is God releasing his people, not you releasing your people, for the exercise of their purpose in the body and not your purpose for them. As people are released into ministry, they will need help developing their strengths and passions. Simply put, you need to invest in them. At some point you will move away from equipping people to empowering them to fulfill their Godordained purpose.

A Place to Begin

Before you begin, take a moment to mark your starting place. Where are you today, right now, at the beginning of your adventure with God?

After years of working with churches and ministries, watching their progress carefully, I have discovered that most organizations tend to land in one of four categories when it comes to releasing their members into volunteer service. The classification is determined largely by the degree to which they invite others to serve with them and the degree to which they strategically invest in the lives of these faithful servants.

First, there is the Expressionless Ministry. Leaders in this ministry expend little or no effort inviting others to serve and do not invest in those who may be serving already. There is virtually no expression of ministry from the body of Christ. The professionals are doing all the work and members are not being invited to serve in ministry. So they just watch while the paid staff does it all. Because the members have limited resources to even discover what their God-given strengths and passions are, there is little likelihood they will find their best place to serve God.

Then, there is the Exhausted Ministry. This ministry spends lots of time and resources inviting others to serve with them, but invests little time and energy in those who are serving. People are always being challenged: "Come on! Serve the Lord with me!" A lot of work gets done, but 20 percent of the people are trying to do 80 percent of the work. Some are trying to do too much, and others are serving in the wrong positions. Too much of this, and you can find yourself right back at Expressionless Ministry when the square pegs get tired of working in round holes, wear out, and go home. Because no one is investing in the people with training and support, they get fatigued and frustrated, rather than feeling fulfilled and fruitful.

If you are successful at developing volunteers to understand their strengths and passions, you may find yourself working in an Equipped Ministry. This ministry spends a lot of time investing in people, but seldom invites them to serve. It's like they are all dressed up for a big dance, but there's no ballroom! People in this ministry have all the tools and have practiced the skills, but have no opportunity to apply what they have learned. They understand God has uniquely made them for a mission. But few ministry opportunities are offered, and what is offered doesn't tap into their individual strengths and passions, or fit them together as a team.

Finally, there is the released ministry, or Empowering Ministry. This ministry constantly invites people to serve in a wide variety of ways while maintaining a high level of investing. The people involved are excited about serving God in ministry through their strengths and passions. They experience great significance, satisfaction, and success. This can happen only if a place has been made for the members. If no current opportunity taps into their God-given strengths and passions, they are given permission to start something new.

Ministry Matrix

Use the following matrix to determine where your church is currently. This will help you determine your starting point as you look to tilt your ministry toward building an empowering culture of ministry.

These four categories do not represent anything new on the frontier of ministry growth. But here is the "tilt": Progressing your ministry from Expressionless to Equipped begins with reproducing your ministry in others, so that they are empowered to lead and serve as well.


Excerpted from Tilt by Erik Rees, Jeff Jernigan. Copyright © 2010 Erik Rees and Jeff Jernigan. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Bob Buford,
Chapter 1. Becoming an Empowering Leader,
Chapter 2. The Empowering Pathway,
Chapter 3. Motivation for Ministry,
Chapter 4. Igniting Your Vision,
Chapter 5. Guarding Your Vision,
Chapter 6. Finding Your Strengths and Style as a Leader,
Chapter 7. Releasing Your Team to Lead,
Chapter 8. Releasing Your Members to Serve,
Chapter 9. Connecting People and Needs,
Chapter 10. Value-Driven Behaviors,
Chapter 11. Influencing Change,
Chapter 12. Leading from the Tilt,
Chapter 13. Remaining on Course,
Chapter 14. Spiritual Transformation,
Appendix: Value-Driven Behaviors Card Sort,

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