You have what it takes!

I jumped into ministry early in life. I was eighteen when I preached my first sermon and nineteen when I began serving as a Senior Pastor of a small rural Arkansas church. And when you enter ministry in a rather small, conservative, Calvinistic-ish Baptist denomination, you don’t hear a lot of positive messages about having what it takes.

We were always pretty careful to point to the need for absolute dependence upon God with zero self-reliance whatsoever. After all, we’re all just broken sinners, saved by grace, with nothing good to offer the world on our own apart from the work of God in our lives.

Saying something like, “You have what it takes!” might puff a young leader up and cause them to stumble into pride!!

But when this mentor who was quite dear to my heart hugged me around the neck and spoke gently into my ear, “I’m proud of you and you have what it takes to be a great husband and a great pastor,” it made an enormous difference in my life!

I’ve now come to a couple of conclusions, one theological and the other practical, in regard to this kind of positive talk.

On the theological level, I try to remind people that they have what it takes because 1.) God created them in his image, 2.) equipped them with a unique mix of gifts and abilities, and 3.) takes up residence in the innermost temple of our souls via the Holy Spirit to empower us for every task we’re ever assigned.

In other words, saying “you have what it takes” is a matter of recognizing both the creative and redemptive works of God in a person’s life.

And on a more practical level, we live in a culture absolutely starving for authentic affirmation! I’m not talking about mere flattery or fluffy platitudes devoid of real meaning. I mean that we are living through an epidemic of loneliness with a severe shortage of encouragement.

Both women and men are better in every aspect of their lives – at home, at work, at church, among friends, and in their communities – when they really believe that they have what it takes to successfully navigate all of these relationships.

Families get stronger when moms and dads realize they have what it takes to parent well. Schools educate kids more effectively when teachers know that they have what it takes to raise up the next generation. Companies make better products and more profits when their employees believe they have what it takes to do the job well.

But so many of us were taught to be stingy (or were simply never given examples of encouragement ourselves) that we now live in desperate need of this message.

So hear it as you read it.

You have what it takes!! You have what it takes to lead effectively, love other people, and make a dent in the problems around you.

So keep going, and find someone else who needs to hear it and pass the word along!

Keep on growing!



This Week’s Big Sermon Idea


The Way of Violence or the Way of Jesus

A sermon idea based on Acts 7:55-60 and assigned for the Fifth Sunday of Easter in the current Year A.

There is the way of violence, in which we are committed enough to our ideals to utilize power, force, and even violence to protect them. Or there is the Way of Jesus, who showed us that there is a love worth sharing even if it means laying down our very lives in the face of violence.

Read and/or Share the Full Article »

And… I also wrote a companion article about this message over at Walk Humble. Check it out!

READ: The Way of Violence Versus the Way of Jesus


Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass

My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:

Creative Sermon Series: The Summer of Love

From the Description:

This four-week series examines the four types of love as described in C. S. Lewis’s famous work The Four Loves. The four loves are storgē (affection), philia (friendship), eros (romance), and agapē (charity). Through analyzing biblical passages, we can find the relationship among these words and the Christian virtues and character that they reflect. In a culture that is misinformed about love, Lewis reveals how Scripture points to the various aspects of love that ultimately glorify God and reveal him to the world.

Check Out This Sermon Series »


Links for Leaders

FEATURED – I opened this week’s edition with a word of encouragement. I was inspired to do so in part by a great article by Dan Rather (yes, the journalist) and wanted to pass it along because, while we can’t turn a blind eye to the problems of a crazy world, we do need to keep noticing all the reasons to live hopefully.

Read: Cultivating Reasons For Hope

More links and resources:

If you have a resource relevant to pastors and church leaders that you’d like for me to include, feel free to message me. I can’t always promise inclusion but I’ll definitely take a look.


The Latest from Walk Humble

Walk Humble is where I host an ongoing conversation about life, faith, and relationships among people brave enough to admit they don’t have life all figured out yet.


The Way of Violence Verus the Way of Jesus

9 Ways My Wife Has “Saved” Me


Podcast Episode #004: Stop Trying to Fit In


Miss an Issue? Read The Reflectionary Archives!


About the Cover Art: Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash.