I’d like to teach you something that I learned as a kid growing up on a horse ranch. I call it the Manure Leadership Principle. I’m surprised how many Executive Pastors are familiar with manure since they also grew up on a farm or ranch. 

[Note: If you want to get the most out of this article, please follow these instructions. Try not to remind yourself how busy you are—just follow my instructions. You’ll thank me later.]

Read the following Scripture three times and then list five insights on leadership. Once you have pushed yourself to complete the exercise, then continue reading the article:

 “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” Proverbs 14:4

Your Leadership Insights:






I grew up on a farm that was just south of Wichita, Kansas, where my parents had a boarding stable for horses. My job in the family operation was to water and feed the horses before school and clean the stalls after school. If you know anything about large livestock, then you are familiar with manure. I certainly was then—and still am today. When I would board the school bus each morning to be taken to the Oatville Elementary School, not only did I smell like manure, but so did everyone else—including the bus driver. But to us, it was normal and just went with the territory of being farmers and ranchers.

Our family income was supplemented by the fees of the city folks who paid us to care for their animals. In other words, we were paid because we were not afraid to deal with manure. For us, dealing with manure meant income.

Are you ready for the principle?

If you really want to lead your staff as an Executive Pastor, then you cannot shy away from some of the mess that goes with leading people. People are referred to in the Bible as sheep. Caring for sheep comes with the understood principle that you will have to learn how to deal with the mess if you really want to care for and serve the sheep.

Let’s be a little more precise: working with your team/staff can get a little messy. You can oftentimes be tempted to avoid working with the difficult ones. I remind you, however, that these Pastors and other staff members are people; therefore, the position of Executive Pastor requires that you prefer a messy barn versus a clean one. The biblical principle in Proverbs states this fairly clearly: “No mess, no harvest.”

In other words, for your church to do its part in fulfilling the great mission, you will need to allow these messy people to come in and out of your office. I recognize the challenge and difficulty you’ll endure of another week, perhaps listening “to the drama.” It can be so draining and difficult. However, you must never forget that people matter to God. It is His deepest desire that He expresses love through your leadership.

This is what we do as leaders. We care for and serve messy leaders—because we need them more than they need us. As leaders, we need messes to fix, problems to solve, people with drama, etc. A clean barn is no place for a leader of your caliber.

I want to encourage you to get a little more manure on your boots and give God thanks for the people that He has brought under your influence. If you will notice, some of them think you are great, to some you’re not so great … and the rest are just nice.

Embrace your opportunity to use your position, your gifts, and your talents to be an inspiration to your staff. May I suggest that you read the following verse just a few more times, thinking about the individual members of your team—even the tough ones. Give thanks for each one of them. No manure, no harvest!

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. Proverbs 14:4