Bren McLean


Ministry: Burned Out Or Burned In

by on May.05, 2015, under Leadership

Burnout“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

(New York Times August 1 2010)

What a disturbing state of affairs! Men and women who are called by God (more often than not) to care and shepherd others, have been unable to sustain their vocation.

What causes this sort of mental, physical and spiritual deterioration? Here are my top 4 reasons:

  1. Distance from God

Jesus is the vine and He wants us to be connected to Him (John 15:5). How else will we bear fruit, or survive “the slings and arrows” of a broken world.

  1. All work, no play

Some people work more than 10-12 hours, 6-7 days per week, all in the name of ‘ministry’. Friends, this is just not sustainable.

Even God took a rest after six days of creating! The Sabbath (atleast one day per week) has always been reserved as a rest day, a chance to stop, take stock and be revitalised for another busy week

  1. Inability to delegate

Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything yourself. This approach to ministry has limitations and inadvertently leads to burnout.

The Old Testament gives us a great example of someone who learnt this lesson. Moses needed help, so Jethro advised him to identify capable leaders who could handle most of the disputes that Israel had (Exodus 18).

At St. Paul’s, our philosophy on effective leadership is

Discover – Develop – Deploy

Ie. Finding leaders; Training leaders; Empowering leaders

  1. Unrealistic expectations

Years ago I realised that it was impossible to please everybody all of the time. I would run myself ragged trying to. Now, I’m just happy if most of the people are pleased most of the time. Ha

After 7 years in ministry, I can honestly say that I still LOVE my job. Sure, it has its ups and downs, and some functions of the job can be tedious, but overall it is highly stimulating and rewarding. The creative team consists of over 100 gifted creatives, faithfully serving a congregation of over 1400 people. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48).


  1. Prayerfully work out what is a sustainable number of hours that you can work each week

  2. Block out times in your diary/calendar for non-work related activities. Eg. rest, reading, family time etc

  3. Find a mentor who will help to keep you accountable and healthy to “finish the race”

The web is full of statistics about the clergy and burnout. Here are some resources that help you not to become another statistic:

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by on May.21, 2014, under Church Life, Leadership

There are now over 1 million Apple applications available for your devices and surprisingly, many of the best are FREE. Whatever the platform, these apps make life easier, or just more fun.


Below are my top 10 FREE apps, by category:


Dropbox  – store up to 3GB on the cloud for free

Evernote a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving

Feedly – Since the demise of Google Reader, Feedly is the best way to collect the content of your favorite news sites, feeds, tumblr blogs and youtube channels

Hootsuite – Manages all of your social media on the one platform



Olive Tree – a suite of bible reading and bible study tools

Planning Center Online – PCO is the premier tool for planning services and scheduling volunteers



Allmusic – The one place for all information about bands and music artists

IMDb – The world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content

Shazam – Ever heard a song and wondered what was the title and who was the artist? Shazam miraculously has the answer

Spotify – The best radio and free music player on the market


What apps are in your top 10?


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by on Sep.25, 2013, under Leadership

encourage-synonymsA central theme of the Bible is love. We are urged to love because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus is the example of this sacrificial love (Philippians 2:5-11). Also, it honours God when we build people up, rather than tear them down.

One way to build people up, is to be an encourager. Great leaders possess the gift of encouragement and look for ways to affirm and support team members at every opportunity.

The Apostle Paul is a great example of a strong leader, who is powerfully anointed with this gift:

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 3:11

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2


Trevor Lund, from has written something on the topic that I also found very helpful.

8 simple things you can do to make a lasting impression:

1. Notice others

2. Make a personal comment

3. Emit positivity

4. Keep your eyes and ears open to the needs of others

5. Be wiling to give your time to something worthwhile

6. Be brave

7. Start your own “slush fund” for contributing to the lives of those who need it

8. Think of the long-term affects of your contributions


These are things that can bring light to the lives of others. Try them!



Be sincere. Genuine care and concern cannot be faked.



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by on Sep.17, 2013, under Leadership


The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development and inspiration for the sake of the local church.

Founded in 1992 by Willow Creek, the GLS is now presented in over 40 languages, in 90 countries! Leaders from all over the world gather together at hundreds of churches around the world to fuel their passion and sharpen their leadership skills.

GLS 2013 Promo Video:


Video presentations of key speakers are viewed outside the US, impacting some 140,000 delegates.  Willow Creek Australia partner with churches all over Australia and St Paul’s is pleased to host the GLS again in Sydney. This year, we will be hearing from world renowned speakers such as Bill Hybels, Oscar Murui, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni and Andy Stanley.

GLS 2013 Highlights:


Join us on 18-19 October 2013 for this profound leadership event. God wants us to keep growing and developing our gifts. If you learn only one thing at the GLS, it’s been a good investment!

As hosts, St Paul’s people receive a generous discount on registrations. Contact the office on  88581111 for the discount code.


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by on Apr.10, 2013, under Leadership

Ministry can not be done effectively on your own. As a church grows, there is a need for more workers to ‘bring in the harvest’. How do you know who is up to the task?

Leadership Road Sign

At spch, leaders have a mandate to discover, develop and deploy new leaders. Here’s 5 key qualities to consider when identifying new leaders for your team:


Moral or ethical quality


Of required skill, knowledge, qualification or capacity


The interaction of one personality with another


A fixed or firm belief


The behaviours and beliefs that define an organisation

* The first 3 have been ‘borrowed’ from the Bill Hybels book, AXIOM


Essentially, we need to be sure that the person shares the same values and beliefs of the leader, ministry team and church. All of these qualities are important. Too often, leaders hire for competence and find that they have to fire for character.

It’s better to take your time, to make sure that they will be a good fit. The damage caused by a rushed leadership appointment can be catastrophic.

What other qualities would you add?


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BOOK REVIEW: AXIOM Powerful Leadership Proverbs

by on Dec.19, 2012, under Leadership

My senior pastor gave us all a copy of AXIOM a couple of year’s ago. I’m keen to have another read over the holidays, because I remember it being such a profound collection of leadership proverbs.


“Toss out all your texts on leadership by theorists and read this masterpiece again and again. Bill serves up solid content, not cliches; axioms, not merely anecdotes. I love this book! The distilled wisdom is pure gold-classic Hybels.”
-Rick Warren


I completely agree. It is full of practical stuff for leaders of all ages.



The book is divided into 4 categories:

1. Vision and Strategy

eg. Hire 10’s

2. Teamwork and Communication

eg. Speed of the leader speed of the team

3. Activity and Assessment

eg. Find the critic’s kernel of truth

4. Personal Integrity

eg. Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t for hire


What are YOU looking forward to reading these holidays? Have a blessed and safe Christmas.

“Jesus is the reason for the season”



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by on Nov.20, 2012, under Church Life, Leadership

Wisdom is defined as:

1. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise

2. The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment

‘Wisdom literature’ refers to books of the bible such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. It is about how we apply the insights we have heard or have been taught, to situations in life. A distinctive characteristic of wisdom literature is the lack of a reference to Jesus or the history of salvation.

How is wisdom described in the bible?

“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding”.

Job 28:28 (cf. Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; Isaiah 11:2, 33:6)

In chapter 28, Job described many wonderful things. He spoke about discovery, people who have great skills and he spoke about the most beautiful things. More importantly, Job talks about the value of wisdom. Wisdom is precious, it is perfect and it is much better than anything else. Job also explains that only God knows true wisdom, the wisdom He has placed in the fabric of creation (21-27) and has revealed to humanity (v28).

For all of man’s achievements and abilities, he cannot answer the great question about the meaning and purpose of the righteous man (such as Job) who suffers. Nothing in this world can explain that. The answer to life’s great questions can only be understood by a Godly person.

Job needs to “fear the Lord” (and so do we). This is significant, because it is not only the central theme of wisdom literature, but the key to all Godly wisdom.

My prayer is that we can might always seek Godly wisdom. That we will be eager to ask God for guidance in ministry and “lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5-6



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by on Sep.11, 2012, under Leadership

The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development and inspiration for the sake of the local church.

Willow Creek Community Church host the GLS each year. Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels and Associate Jim Mellado are the driving force behind the event.

The GLS is now presented in over 40 languages, in 90 countries! Video presentations of key speakers are sent around the globe, impacting some 140,000 delegates. Some leaders in poor and disadvantaged areas even receive sponsorship, so that they might impact their local communities.

This year, spch is hosting the GLS in Sydney: 19-20 October 2012.

We are honoured to partner with the Willow Creek team, to host such a profound leadership event. God wants us to keep growing and developing our gifts. If you learn one thing at the GLS for ministry, it’s been a good investment!

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