Pack Light, Pack Right

Part 1: The Pastor’s Heart

Packing light and with the right tools of the trade is key to going the distance in both the high country and on the trail of life and leadership.

Peak Pastors is designed to help you do just this; to not merely lead better, but to BE better… to grow as followers of Jesus, spouses, parents and as leaders. We will do this by filling our packs with the essentials needed for optimal health in 4 essential areas… heart, soul, mind and strength.

Let’s break this down taking one essential at a time…

The Pastor’s Heart – This is all about family!

Every pastor I have known has struggled to invest in what I have always called their “home church.” No, not the local church they and others call home.

This is about the worship center

of the home… building healthy

relationships as spouses,

parents, & raising Christ-centered kids.

We all know the truth about home and ministry life. When we aren’t relationally healthy in our home life, we won’t be relationally healthy and effective in our church leadership life. However, when things at home are healthy, I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is no summit I can’t reach!

Together, let’s discover practical ways to invest in our marriages and parenting in the middle of what can all-too-quickly become the craziness of ministry life.

Speaking of which, here you go! Check out 3 Reasons Winning at Home is Easier than Winning at Home by Carey Nieuwhof @

So, how do you keep your heart focused on your home life? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread here or on our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page @

Simplify Part 2

We live and lead in a noisy world.

For most pastors (and leaders of any organization) there is no shortage of people giving their advice, opinion and, of course, constructive criticism. Add to this a non-stop stream of voices on social media, email and text, it quickly becomes non-stop noise.

How can you get control of this and infuse your life and leadership with less of this noise? Here are 3 simple steps…

Take control of the Who.

Unsubscribe to all email lists, subscriptions, podcasts, youtube channels, social media follows, etc, except those that you actually use weekly. I have unsubscribed some incredibly influential people simply because my leadership “sponge” (and gray matter!) is already on information overload. I think it’s called “too much of a good thing.”

Take control of the What.

You can’t always control what shows up on your news or social feeds, who calls or texts you on your phone, etc. However, you can control whether you are watching or listening to these devices in the first place.

Deliberately plan daily no-device down time. Carve out time for study in the Word and prayer. Schedule time with someone; a family member or core team member. Keep all devices out of sight. You will come to love this time and the world will go right on without you and your world will vastly improve because of it.

Take control of the When.

Whenever possible, choose to do what needs done first and connect with who needs connected with before entering the cyber world in any forum. In other words, prioritize who and what matters to you and your team.

I’ll be honest, I check my email early in the work day, usually first thing when I get to the office. If someone has connected and I need to respond, I can put it on the list. Then, it’s time to disconnect and check in with staff and spend some time doing what needs done. Later in the afternoon, usually after lunch with some core people and some more no-device down time, I check my emails again and respond.

When it comes to social media, writing and scheduling posts like this and checking out whats going on with the few I actively follow, it happens early or late, but the day belongs to people.

Simplifying is hard.

It won’t ever just “happen.” We have to borrow from the wisdom of sages like the late, great Dr. Dallas Willard who said to Dr. John Ortberg, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” When it comes to overcoming complexity and quieting the multitude of voices speaking into our lives, the same advice holds true.

Be ruthless.

Need some more insight into this? Two podcasts that lend some expert advice on this area of personal life and leadership management are interviews by Carey Nieuwhof with Rebekah Lyons and Dr. John Otberg .

While you’re at it, check out The High Impact Workplace at

Hope this helps encourage and equip you, your family and team!

Living & Leading at Elevation

images-6Can you go and grow too far, too high, and too fast as an organization? What does it mean to live and lead at elevation in the realtionships that matter most? Let me tell you a story…

We had been steadily hiking for about three hours, gaining elevation with every step from roughly 10,000 to over 12,000 feet. The views had been amazing and we were now gazing down on the Upper Colony Lake basin, still encompassed by the towering peaks of three “fourteeners…” Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Mt. Humboldt (see photo). A fourteener is mountaineering lingo for the 72 mountains in excess of 14,000 feet in North America. Not quite Everest or Denali, but far from your local state park stroll. To give perspective, we were above the tree line and several small ice fields are below our level on the opposite slope. We had been planning for months and would soon have completed the first of what we hoped would be many fourteeners to come.

The truth was that my heart was beating out of my chest and I couldn’t catch my breath. My head had been pounding for over an hour already and, if I lifted my head from the rocky trail too quickly, I saw “stars.” I was also in denial. I knew what I was experiencing was classic elevation sickness. My body had not had time to adapt to the elevation difference between the Bluegrass of Kentucky and the mountains of Colorado. I had been way too eager, insisting that we should “go for it” the day after getting to Grandpa’s Mountain, itself at a little over 8,000 feet. In short, I overestimated my ability and, worst of all, underestimated the mountain. Never underestimate the mountain.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and almost 70 degrees. Then, in minutes, dark clouds rolling over themselves and folding over the mountains let loose a volley of lightening that seemed to land all around us. The thunder was deafening as it echoed off the massive granite formations. Then it began to rain. Briefly. The momentary pause would have been welcomed if it hadn’t been so ominous, giving way to marble-sized hail. The temperature plummeted 20 degrees faster than anything I had experienced, and I grew up in Ohio. Welcome to the the Sangre de Christo high country.

IMG_7325We were exposed on the side of Mt. Humboldt in an area known as the switchbacks. Before the hail started we could see still see our campsite (see picture left), albeit a speck, and we knew we had to get low, fast. We scrambled to put on our rain gear and lift our packs over our heads to take the brunt of the intensive pounding. Ironically, it was a distraction from my throbbing head. Eventually we made it down to our soggy site, about the time the sky cleared and sun came back out… birds chirping and marmots scrambling among the rocks and brush, oblivious to it all. We were as exhausted as we were stunned at our ill-fated first attempt.

Do we stop and camp out for the night? Maybe take the 3 hour hike back to the old Jeep? Honestly, this sounded good. Still, we had started very early and it was only around noon, though it seemed much later. My son asked if I wanted to press on. He could tell I was in rough shape. We would still have to face the switchbacks, the steep ridge, the false summit, the saddle and then, the summit. Over 2,300 feet of hard hiking and technical scrambling to “bag the peak” and enjoy the view dared us to try. I insisted we could do it, praying to God for strength under my breath. We checked our gear, ate a power bar, hydrated and hit the trail.

Only half-way up the switchbacks I had already had to stop twice. My legs were so heavy and the 35 pound pack weighed on me like a ton of bricks. I was now experiencing “tunnel vision,” that dark “closing in” sense and very real lack of sight. “Am I having a heart attack? Maybe a stroke?” I remember thinking to myself, “If I don’t stop, Andrew will be left alone and they will have to call in a rescue helicopter to lift me out of here… how embarrassing.” Not that he wouldn’t be okay. At a fit 24 years old, he was in much better shape than me. I just hated the thought of letting him down. Still, I had already pressed on far beyond the bounds of common sense for an out of shape 47-year-old.

He now insisted with genuine concern and stated the obvious… “Dad, you don’t look very good. We better stop.” I gave up and gave in to the better part of valor… well after wisdom’s first calls. My symptoms lessened as we rested at the campsite for a while, packed up and began the hike down and out. My headache persisted but my energy increased and my pack seemed lighter as we decreased elevation. The sometimes bone-jarring four-wheel drive (more of a crawl) the rest of the way down was going to prove a welcomed respite. Little was said until we found ourselves back in town, debriefing at our favorite watering hole. A hard and humbling lesson learned.

Elevation matters in life, leadership and relationships. You can go higher, faster, you just can’t do it healthier. Only time at elevation will work it’s wonder as everyone and everything adjusts to each new, subtantial gain. What does this look like? How do you keep from getting a case of elevation sicknesss as a lead team, organization or family? Check out Living and Leading at Elevation Part 2 coming soon!


4 Questions for Solving Problems

imgres-5Face it, you and your lead team will face problems as you work to realize the vision God has given you. You are probably in the middle of solving one right now. The greater the vision, the larger the challenge. How do you address these problems in a way that positions you to be even more effective for Christ and His cause?

Here are 4 Questions to ask to help solve the problems you will face…

1) What’s Who’s the problem? The problem is rarely something. Someone is usually behind the problem. It may very well be the one bringing the problem to your attention. Or, you may be the problem and not know it.

Most problems are relational. How can you as a leader set the example? How can you hold yourself and others accountable and foster better relationships while solving the problem together? Don’t rush in to “fix it.” Take the time to discover who is involved, what is involved and how you can partner in making it right.

2) “How long have you felt this way?” The person with the problem (yourself included) may have stewed and brood over it so long they have turned something simple into something serious. In other words, they have turned a “mole-hill into a mountain.” Deal with the felt needs and then learn to process problems in a more timely manner, in the moments that matter.

The Apostle Paul gave some strong advice concerning timing and problem people to the church in Ephesus, Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:25-27, NIV)

 3) “What do you suggest?” Don’t enable people by allowing them to complain, criticize or even critique without bringing something of value to the table. Create a culture in your church or organization that holds everyone responsible for being part of the solution. Don’t focus on problem people. Focus on solving problems with people. 

4) “What does Scripture say?” People can and will argue with you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. Instead, appeal to the Word of God as your guide as you seek the most redemptive option. Find a relevant passage and discover how it applies to the very real situation you are in. I have yet to face a problem (or a problem person) that the Word of God was not able to address with clarity and bring harmony, if minds were teachable and hearts were pliable. See Matthew 18 for a refresher on relational problem solving procedures.

One final thought… don’t internalize. We often take things too personal as leaders. This only complicates things. You and your lead team very well may be to blame. If so, own it, deal with it, and move on. However, when you aren’t directly at fault, don’t get caught up in the emotion. Stay in a humble posture as you hold others accountable. Refuse to either internalize or enable as you face the problem and problem people with ample grace and firm intent.

How do you handle problems and the problem people who come with them? Share your suggestions in the Reply section below!

Sighting In

IMG_5563Not long ago I was helping my son, Andrew, sight in his compound bow. To “sight in” a bow means to align the site on the bow with the eye of the bowman and the arrow on the rest at the desired yardage (10, 20, 30 etc). Simple enough… right? When these are aligned, you can more consistently hit what you are aiming at. I couldn’t help but draw some parallels to keeping key relationships healthy as a leader.

First, you have to align the vertical pin. How’s your relationship with God? This isn’t a given. Are you studying His Word, listening to His voice in prayer? This is the most basic and important element to Christ-centered life and leadership. Without this staying in alignment everything else can be sighted in and  you will still watch your arrow dig up dirt… or fly way over-the-top of your target, lost deep in the woods.

Second, you must dial in the horizontal. How healthy are the relationships that matter? Do you remember what those are? (Hint: Spouse, kids, the lost, lead team…) This means adjusting your schedule to spend not merely quality time, but quantity time listening, laughing, loving and, did I mention listening? This one can get out of alignment fast for the servant leader. It is too easy to neglect these essential relationships because we are focused on leading others in their vertical alignment with the Lord or otherwise driving the vision of our organizations. Don’t. Keep your horizontal relationships aligned and aim for Jesus with those that matter.

So, where are you aiming?  We may blame it on the wind but, more times than not, we end up hitting what we are aiming at. Remember, it’s never too late to adjust your aim!

Finally, do the above keeping in mind the distance you are traveling together. Where are these relationships at today? Where are they going in the weeks and months to come? How will you stay intentional about growing in these in the long run? Keep aiming and keep letting those arrows fly because the only thing to fly faster will be time itself.

For you archers out there… yes, there is more to sighting in than meets the eye. The most important may be what is called your “anchor point.” This is the place where you draw the string to each and every time. Some draw back to the corner of their mouths, or tip of their nose or back to their ear. What matters is having an anchor point that is the constant in the equation. What is your anchor point? You already know this one…

“We have this hope as an anchor to the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20, NIV
Sighting in with you,
PS – “Aim small, miss small.” What does this mean to you?