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No One Ever Told Me

No One Ever Told Me: Don’t Worry About Winning the Approval of Others



By Jim Beaird 

The young minister agreed to meet with me for breakfast on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. at the diner on Highway 301 near Salsburg. I had visited his church on occasion and felt he needed some encouragement. I arrived a bit early and ordered a cup of black coffee. At the appointed time, he stepped through the doorway and made his way to the table I’d chosen in the back of the room. I could tell he’d probably mulled over in his mind the real reason for the breakfast meeting. Taking off his coat, he sat across from me in the red vinyl-covered booth.  

“Good morning, Pastor,” I began. A smile still had not formed on his face. His eyes told me everything I already knew. 

“Good morning . . . uhm . . . .” Poor guy couldn’t remember my name. 

“Jim,” I said. “Same as yours.” A slight smile began to emerge from his otherwise blank expression. 

“So, I bet you wonder why I asked you here for breakfast,” I said, breaking the proverbial ice. 

“Well, yeah, I mean . . . it’s not everyday someone asks to meet with me—even though I’m the pastor. Usually . . . .” 

“Yeah, I know. Usually when they do ask you, they want to complain about something, or to set you straight, or to tell you that it’s not you, but they feel ‘led’ to move on to another church,” I said, not having to guess. His expression took on an even more ominous reflection of what was going on behind his hazel-brown eyes. 

“So,” he began, “what is the reason for this meeting?” He’d decided to ask right away so he’d know whether to stay for breakfast or not. I could sense his uneasiness as the server appeared with an empty coffee cup in one hand and a freshly brewed pot of bold coffee in the other.  

“He’ll have coffee and we’d like some menus,” I said, segueing into the purpose for our meeting. “It’s okay,” I said, looking directly into his eyes. He seemed resigned to stay and hear me out. The server poured a fresh cup and set it in front of him.  

“Cream or sugar?” he asked my friend. 

“He takes it black,” I said, answering the question before the pastor could utter a sound. 

We sat, sipping our coffees for the next few seconds before I began. 

Well, I’ve been in your shoes, … I know the struggle with ministry and the last thing young ministers usually need is someone constantly letting them know how they could do or say things better, right?”

“Look, I know the feeling when someone calls you and wants a meeting. Trust me, I know.” 

“I’m still in the dark,” he said, now a bit more relaxed. Just then, the menus arrived and within a minute, we’d placed our orders.  

“Well, I’ve been in your shoes,” I said flatly. “I know the struggle with ministry and the last thing young ministers usually need is someone constantly letting them know how they could do or say things better, right?” He measured his response, still holding his cards close to his chest. 

“Yeah, I guessed that was the reason for this meeting,” he said, sipping his coffee. Setting the cup on the table, he asked straight out, “What is the reason for this meeting? Have I done something . . . or said something wrong?” I could tell I needed to cut to the chase and set him at ease before his food arrived; otherwise, he’d not be able to enjoy it. 

“I only want you to know one thing you don’t know,” I began. I could see the ‘told-you-so’ look forming in his skeptical eyes as I began my explanation. “Like I said, these calls usually solicit opportunity for complaints or notification of an intention to worship elsewhere. That’s not why I’m here. I do know you well enough to offer criticism about how you do things or how you spend your time, but that’s not my purpose in meeting with you.” 

“Okay,” he said, “Then, if I might ask, why? I’m not trying to be rude or insensitive, I’m just curious.” 

“Here’s what I want you to know,” I replied, looking into his searching eyes. “I want you to know that I’ve got your back.” 

“What do you mean by that?” he asked, not a bit less reserved than before. 

“I mean, I’ve got your back. I’ve been praying for you—not that God would change your methods or style, but that He’d let you see people with less skeptical eyes. You’ve been hurt by things said to you by people who are supposed to be mature Christians, right?” I said, more of a statement than a question, because I knew the truth. 

“How did you know that?” he asked, his interest now piqued.  

“I just know,” I said, careful not to reveal too much, too soon. 

“You’ll never get criticism from me. You don’t need that. You need encouragement. You need to know there’s someone out there who believes in you and knows that someday you’ll be giving this same speech to a young minister facing what you’ve been through.” He sat silently as a telltale tear began to fill his eyelid. I knew he’d react that way. I knew what he needed to hear. At that moment, he let me in. 

“Just before our food arrives, let me say something else. You don’t need to worry about winning people’s approval. That’s a dead-end road. You’ll spend all your time trying to please people you can’t please and miss the real reason God called you into His service. You can’t touch people’s lives by thinking you have to coddle them or make them comfortable. Just be who God created you to be. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. God has given you a unique set of gifts. Be true to your calling and don’t compromise through overwork just to win the affections of a couple board members who could never themselves do what they expect from you. Learn to spend time with the Father and listen to what’s in His heart. You’ll find He expects less from you than those men on your board do.” 

Visible relief descended upon his features as he sipped from his cup and laid it aside to make room for the plate of eggs, potatoes, and bacon that arrived. I could see him beginning to loosen up a bit and knew that, together, we’d enjoy the rest of the morning. 

“Look at us,” he began. “Same breakfast, same coffee. That’s interesting.” 

“Like I told you, I already know you pretty well,” I said to my younger self, sitting across the familiar table in a booth in the back of the dated diner. “I know you pretty well.”

About the Author

Jim Beaird is the author of three books on leadership and three novels. His leadership series includes The Proximity Factor, The Providence Factor, and The Pursuit Factor. His novels include The Reunion, A Face in the Crowd, and Calculated Loss (book one of a three-part series). 

Jim and his wife, Kris, are retired and live in the Tampa Bay area. They have three married sons and seven grandchildren. Prior to retirement, Jim served as the executive director of the Southeast Region of Open Bible Churches. He and Kris have served together in ministry for 49 years. 

No One Ever Told Me

Run the Race to Finish



It’s easy to get excited about beginnings: the birth of something new, the start of a fresh place. But we often forget that both the beginning and end have a purpose. Finishing matters.  

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

2 Tim. 4:17 NLT

What a beautiful reminder that we are not running this race to win; we are running to finish. Friend, God has positioned you in this time and given you specific gifts and talents to serve Him. Your race is now and it’s important. You’ve been handed the baton of faith and entrusted to carry it forward as you run your part in God’s divine relay. Here are some reminders as you run your race: 

Train to endure

Do you remember what it’s like to run when you haven’t run in a long time? When you’re so out of shape that you can’t even run one mile without stopping several times to catch your breath? I am reminded of the intense training marathon runners go through. They train day by day, putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually, they can run many miles without stopping. This is because they build endurance and gradually adapt, allowing their bodies to train for the long haul. They don’t just train their bodies for endurance, but they also fuel their bodies properly to run the race. They change how they eat so their muscles can heal and rebound between runs, and they also store enough energy so they can function properly. 

Like that of a marathon runner, your race requires proper training, nutrition, and self-discipline. It’s not just about the output but also about the input. God’s Word strengthens you and sustains you through your journey, and prayer and intimacy are where you rest, fuel, and receive the supernatural power of healing to continue.  

Throw it off

I remember many times during a walk or a run when I realized I had a tiny rock in my shoe. Sure, I tried to ignore it, but until I took off my shoe to get rid of that little rock, it was impossible to focus on anything else. If not dealt with, the rock could rub my foot raw, cause wounds, or even worse, cost me the race. We all have things we need to throw off or get rid of. 

In the book of Hebrews we are challenged, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1 NIV). 

Maybe you’re in a season of transition in your race and the terrain is looking a little different. Just remember, how you leave a season will impact how you enter the next. If you leave offended, you start defensive. If you finish weak, you start fragile. If you leave healthy, you start strong. You are still running the race; what you pick up in one season is often carried into the next. Travel lightly! You cannot go where you are going without leaving where you have been. Once you’ve thrown off what you should not be holding on to, you are free to grasp new batons. Consider the power of carrying these batons into new places rather than dragging along the heaviness of old priorities, hurts and resentments, or sins and scars. 


Rest is vitally important when running the race. Sometimes to finish well, you need to rest. While you rest, Jesus moves. I have experienced amazing seasons of rest when I have seen God work in miraculous ways. A season of rest is just a season of catching your breath! There are seasons when you need to run, and then there are seasons when you need to stop and breathe… and that is okay. Some experiences are going to bruise you or knock the wind out of you. When that happens, take a moment and catch your breath. Remember, it’s not about winning the race – finishing is what matters!  

Rest, if done properly, allows you to examine the reasons for your tiredness and relinquish what is not yours to carry. The trials, challenges, disappointments, obstacles, and hurdles you face as you run will naturally impact you. It’s not easy to go the distance, is it? The battles can be fiercer and the terrain rockier than you anticipated. Maybe, as you read this, your lungs feel like they are going to burst, and your muscles are burning because you didn’t know this would be so hard. Yet here you are, determined and locking eyes with the One who has numbered your days. Train to endure, throw off all that burdens you, and rest when needed. Keep your eyes on Jesus and finish well!  

About the Author

Sarah Holsapple

Sarah Holsapple serves on staff at her church in Cedar Rapids, IA, as the Creative & Spiritual Development Director. She serves alongside her husband of almost 20 years, Pastor Harris, who is the Lead Pastor at First Open Bible. Sarah has been teaching and preaching for several years. She’s passionate about discipleship and women’s ministry and served as the Regional Women’s Director for Open Bible Central Region. One of her favorite things in life is being a mom to her two incredible children, Hudson and Lynnley Jo.  

The last several years for Sarah have been the hardest of her life. She truly knows the depths of heartbreak and what it feels like to wrestle through healing. She has seen God move in miraculous ways and has experienced great comfort in knowing that we serve a faithful God. Sarah feels great joy in sharing encouragement from the word of God, seeing lives changed and people set free! 

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No One Ever Told Me

Invest Anyway



Sometimes leaders come in unexpected packages.

Toward the beginning of 2023, I had three separate conversations with three different women in our church. Each of them brought up in one way or another that they desired to learn how to write a sermon.

Not exactly the emerging leaders I was looking for.

From a strategic perspective, I’ve always been encouraged to invest in younger leaders. Not that the older generation is unimportant, but it does makes sense that with limited time and resources, we should focus on raising up those emerging leaders who will be able to influence people for Jesus for decades to come. So, what was I supposed to do with these three women? Two have grandkids and all three are old enough to get a discount on their breakfast at IHOP.

There were younger people in the church I wanted to develop. There were other leaders to which I thought it would be smarter to devote my time. But after praying, I couldn’t shake it: God was clearly asking me to invest in these women.

Before long, I was meeting with the group in an upstairs classroom at the church, teaching them my approach to sermon development (an approach influenced by both Andy Stanley’s Communicating for a Change, and my dad, who is one of the best preachers I know).

They each completed the three-month-long class last fall, having written a sermon of their own. Each of their sermons reflected countless hours of prayer, Bible study, writing and re-writing and re-writing again. Now, whether they share at a mid-week service, a special event, or a Sunday morning, they each have a message burning in their hearts that they are ready to preach.

I am excited to see what comes next for them. But I’m also walking away with a new resolve: I want to invest where God is calling me to invest.

When God leads me to people I wouldn’t normally gravitate to, invest anyway. When it’s surprising and seems to contradict my leadership strategy books, invest anyway.

If you look at who Jesus called and invested in, His choices surely shocked a lot of people. When you look at who I was when He chose me, that was pretty shocking too. I’m so grateful Jesus didn’t cater to the opinions of others and chose me anyway. I’m also thankful for ministry leaders like my dad, my mentor Steve Moore, and my long-time pastor Gary Khan. When God prompted them, and even when my potential was hard to see, they invested anyway. 

Levi Thompson

Levi Thompson serves as the lead pastor at Desert Streams Church in Canyon Country, CA. Following a life-changing encounter with God at 17, Levi became passionate about facilitating transformative experiences with God for others and inspiring them to pursue their God-given destinies. Levi enjoys sharing life’s adventures and the ministry journey with his wife, Katie, and their two children, Noah (13) and Mia (8). 

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No One Ever Told Me

No One Ever Told Me: I am God’s Plan A 



By LeAnna McIntyre 

I have always enjoyed the story of Esther from the Bible, an unexpected hero for her people. An orphan girl just living her life, Esther found herself appointed queen of a whole kingdom. She exposed an evil plot, and because of that her people were saved. 

However, I did not relate much to this orphan girl in my younger years, and I don’t know how much I even tried. I am no queen. I simply was raised in a Christian home with parents who loved the Lord. I loved God and wanted to serve Him. I remember crying to my mom when I was young because we had heard a beautiful testimony of a woman whom God had rescued from drug addiction, and I didn’t know how my testimony could show God’s love that powerfully. 

I tried to fly under the radar. I am a wife of twenty-eight years to a wonderful husband. For years I was a stay-at-home, homeschool mother to four boys. I volunteered at our church in youth ministry, worship, and kids’ ministries. I just loved people and loved God.  

I attended Pacific Region’s Discover Ministry School simply because I wanted to serve better and know God in a deeper way. I had spent more of my life feeling insecure than confident. Pastoring was not something for which I was aiming. But when the opportunity came to lead our church, God gave me a passion for His Word and a love for the people in our community. I jumped in, afraid but wanting to do what God had for me. I am now surrounded by people who encourage me and support me, and God is doing great things at our church. 

At first, many people quoted to me Mordecai’s words to Esther: “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV). And then someone told me that I had said “yes” when others said “no.”  


The insecurity in my mind told me that somehow I became the pastor only because others said no, and without realizing it, I believed I was God’s “Plan “B,” a backup plan because “Plan A” didn’t work out. I didn’t know any other female lead pastors to look to, so I questioned every decision I made and yet tried to trust God to work out this backup plan toward His good. 

Now He is showing me that I am His Plan A for the call He has on my life. It’s a crazy thought, but I am coming to know and walk in it. I have learned a few things happen when you understand that you are God’s Plan A. 

First, you begin to look toward Him in a new way. If I am God’s plan A, that means He put me here. I am not an afterthought. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that He knows the plans He has for us. His plans are not for our harm, but rather to give us a hope and a future. 

Sometimes we read that verse and forget that the hope of that plan coming about comes from God as well. So, we must get close to Him, close enough to hear His heartbeat and recognize His voice. When things do not open up like we think they should, when they don’t come as fast as we would like, being close to Him keeps us from bitterness because we are not shaken by the things of this world. We are led by Him.  

Second, our boxing gloves come off. When you understand you are God’s Plan A for the purposes He has for you, you do not have to fight for that position. God is the one who called you; people did not give you that call. If you are called by Him, He will open doors and close doors as He sees fit. I do not want to walk through any door that He did not open. We must be careful to guard our hearts and not let bitterness or frustration motivate us to kick doors down or throw a fit in the hallway as we wait on Him. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Everything flows from what is in our hearts. What kind of ministry or purpose will you walk out if you get frustrated and start punching down doors? One that is grown from a place of bitterness will not speak Jesus to the nations or even our neighbors. God’s timing is perfect, so we need to follow that timing to truly walk out the purposes He has for us. 

Esther trusted God in the process. She was in the palace; she was queen; but she was just herself. You do not see her fighting anyone or forwarding her agenda. When she was told of the plot to kill her people, she fasted and prayed and instructed others to do so as well. She could have tried to kick down the door of the throne room, but without God’s favor and timing in that moment, she would have died. She was careful to be led by God. She was obedient to His voice even in the timing. 

What I wish I would have known earlier is that we are all a little like Esther. We are all being raised up for “such a time as this.” God could have put us anywhere in the timeline of the earth, and He chose now. We are God’s Plan A for this place in time. We get to walk in obedience, get close to Him, and watch Him work out the good purposes He has for us. I cannot wait to see what He has in store next! 

About the Author

LeAnna McIntyre serves at The Bridge Open Bible Church in Eugene, Oregon, where she has been lead pastor for the past two and one-half years. She has been married to her husband, Scott, for twenty-eight years and is the mother of four boys. LeAnna is passionate about prayer and worship and loving people well.  

To listen to LeAnna’s interview with President Randall Bach about her journey from fellow church member to lead pastor, go to Better Roads-LeAnna McIntyre


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