How do you define leadership?

If you go to Amazon and search for leadership books, you will find 118,847 of them and the number is continuously growing.
People define leadership in many ways. It is defined as directing a group, the act of guiding, establishing clear vision and direction. One famous definition states that leadership is influence.

But if you go to the Scriptures, Jesus defined leadership differently.
He said, “Leadership is serving.”

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35.

Here are a few qualities of a servant leader.


You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1)

Paul writes a letter to Timothy and calls him son. He was not his biological son. He was a son in the faith. Timothy was Paul’s constant companion and took him under his wing to disciple him and raise him up as a leader.

By this time of his writing, Timothy was already leading the church in Ephesus. But the mentoring relationship continued even after Timothy has become a leader.

Leaders acknowledge the need for constant mentoring. Unfortunately, many when they take positions of leadership become too proud to listen to people’s advice and start asserting their own opinions. I like what someone said, “Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has one. And some of them stink.”

Do you have people who speak into your life? You need them.

Leadership begins with “follower-ship.” I realize that that’s not a word but I think it’s a good concept. (Those who are grammar Nazis, just bear with me.)


Paul told Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to be strong in grace?

It is to acknowledge that the only reason why we can achieve success is because of the empowering grace of God. The grace of God allows us to be who God called us to be and do what God has called us to do.

Timothy had a Jewish mom but a Gentile father. This was not an ideal situation. In fact, “half breeds” were looked down upon just like the Samaritans in those days. Yet God used Timothy to be a leader in the church in Ephesus.

As a leader, you might feel that God cannot use you because of your background, history, experience or lack of pedigree.

But remember this, God doesn’t call the qualified but He qualifies the called.

Paul understood this and emphasized to Timothy to be strong in the grace – to know that He enables us to be who God called us to be and do what He called us to do.


And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Timothy was a reliable follower who became a reliable leader. Paul mentioned people who were unreliable and deserted him (2 Timothy 4:10,16). But he commended Timothy for proving to be dependable. (Philippians 2:22)

Paul then tells Timothy to look for reliable men.

Remember, it’s hard to find reliable people if you don’t know what reliable means.
It’s equally difficult to encourage people to be reliable if you are not reliable yourself.

Reliability as a leader also means making tough decisions. Timothy was in a church that lost their first love (Revelation 2:4). In addition, they were starting to accommodate heretical teachings. Because of this, Timothy had to step up even as a young leader to make tough decisions.

Leaders make decisions.
Leaders make tough decisions.
Leaders make tough decisions no one wants to make.
Leaders take responsibility for the decisions they’ve made.


Leaders know that it’s never about them. They know that ultimately, their job is to work themselves out of their job.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Timothy visited Paul in Rome while he was incarcerated. Timothy at one point was incarcerated himself.

They both knew that they can’t be the leader forever. Because it was a major possibility that they could be jailed or executed, they needed to raise future leaders who can take the gospel and advance the kingdom of God.

“Go into leading with the idea of leaving.”

Pastor Steve and Deborah Murrell were only supposed to be in the Philippines for a month hoping to pass on the leadership of Victory to Filipinos. But what was supposed to be 1 month turned into a couple of decades. They led with the idea of leaving which resulted to an empowering culture.

Lead with the idea of leaving. It’s never about you.

I’m glad we have this as a core value and has been embedded in our corporate culture.

We are averse to the “Rock Star Pastor Philosophy.”
I’m glad that our pastors raised leaders (including me) and believed in us when no one did, allowing us to make dumb mistakes and learning from them.

We don’t have leaders that preach the whole day and if they get tired, take a video of them and that’s what’s shown in the afternoon and evening services.

I appreciate Pastor Steve teaching us that we are TO lead the next generation and lead WITH the next generation. The goal is to raise leaders who will be better than us.

Servant leaders know it’s never about them for there is only one name that is going to be made famous – JESUS (period).


Other blogs on Leadership:

1. Stuff My Dad Told Me by Joe Bonifacio

2. To Lead is to Lean, Learn, Live, and Love by Carla Bonifacio

3. Lead To Leaveby Paolo Punzalan

4. Raising Leaders Right In Your Home by Jen Punzalan

5. I Don’t Think So by Jekoy Valle

6. Deny Yourself by Dennis Sy

7. Failures and Beginnings by Sofia Paderes

8. WATERLINE: The marks of Leadership by Perci Paras

9. Influence by Charls de los Reyes

10. He Must Become Greater by Rinnah Ramirez


Humility is an interesting trait.

Once you claim you have it, you’ve actually lost it.

Some have an aversion to this trait.

Number 1, it is because we all have an “I” problem. We all struggle with pride in some shape or form. Admit it.

If you don’t agree, consider this. Notice who you usually look at first when there’s a group picture with you in it.

Another reason is that humility may be perceived as weak, insignificant, and subservient. We live in a world that wants to dominate. And being humble may look as if you are not in control.

In John 13, Jesus exemplifies servant leadership. This is where we see humility at its finest.

What made Jesus an amazing leader?


Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. (John 13:1)

It was clear to Him why He came and who He came for.

He made a declaration to His disciples, “I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

When a leader is clear on the purpose of his leadership, the focus is then taken off from self.

It doesn’t become about you. The goal is to serve the purpose.

It doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as the job gets done.


Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God. (John 13:3)

Jesus had all power and all authority.

Because He knew who He was, there was no pressure to prove Himself.

Insecure leaders are usually people who don’t know who they are called to be and what they are designed to do.

Jesus was secure in His identity. He knew who He was.

It is identity that establishes security.

I love what C.S. Lewis said,
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Lord, help us to lead with a clear purpose and being confident in our identity in Christ.


Discipleship 2013 conference was nothing short of phenomenal.

The opening presentation. Video testimonies of lives that Jesus transformed. Hilarious hosting by Dennis and Robert, Ariel and Gilbert. Powerful message by Steve Murrell. Amazing worship by the music team. Incredible updates and upgrades via web and baller USB.

But there was one that blessed my socks off.

He didn’t get on stage. He didn’t lead worship. He wasn’t in the band. He wasn’t even on the tech booth.

He used to be on stage. He used to be leading the worship. He would lead the band during conferences. But this time, he was sitting in the stands like a proud daddy.

Joel Barrios is a leader who truly serves. Many of the worship leaders we have today were raised by him. Scores of them, he influenced and trained.

This was his tweet:

A real picture of discipleship and leadership was what I saw.

As Steve Murrell would always say,

“A lot of leadership is getting out of the way. We are to lead in view of leaving.”

Joel has exemplified this.

And he is not even done. To this day, he continues to disciple, train and influence young men and women in the area of leading worship.

His tweet truly blessed me.

“…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant…” Matthew 20:26


Harold Sala is a man who is now 75 years old and has served in the ministry for 50 years.

Not very many reach that age, much less reach those ministry years. I came out of the seminar refreshed and challenged at the same time. He gave all of us a benchmark and a goal – to keep running the race marked out for us with extreme discipline and faithfulness. All that are only achievable by the grace of God.

Here are a few leadership thoughts I picked up.

“God’s work done God’s way

will never lack God’s supply.” – Hudson Taylor

Provision can be a deterrent to any leadership call. Hudson Taylor felt it. Any person in any leadership role will feel it.

But as God has made the call, it is He who will sustain and finish.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish

if you do not care who gets the credit.” — Harry Truman

People want to be acknowledged for their hard work. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if it becomes a consuming passion, then it hinders one from accomplishing work without the attention of others.

At that moment, it doesn’t become about fulfilling the task but about fulfilling it to get the applause of men.

“A man does not call a line crooked

unless he has some idea of a straight line.” – CS Lewis

We have been given a manual for life and leadership – the Bible.  It IS the standard and the authority for conduct and life.

As one leads, not referring to the standard will derail any attempt to make it to the goal – or at least anything that will make long term impact.

“You can’t love other people

when you are in love with yourself.” – Harold Sala

This one hit me hard.

It hit me hard because it’s the truth.

It is hard to lead with love if the focus of that love is self.  While it is not wrong to love and be grateful for who you are and what God has given, putting self above others can be detrimental to leading.

Jesus exemplified this type of leadership.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13


Recently, Forbes magazine and other tech magazines report that iPhone loyalty has gone down.

I’m no technology expert nor a leadership guru but I do have an observation I’d like to make.

This is the mistake we often make. When we build an organization around one leader, what happens when that charismatic, amazing, remarkable leader is gone?

But when we build an organization with dozens of amazing nameless leaders, the organization continues to grow without the one celebrity leader.

I realize that there are many reasons why an organization can take a downturn. But this is a major one.

This can be true with cellphone companies as it is true with ministries and churches.

That’s what we see in the book of Acts. The gospel continued to advance with ordinary people in the frontlines.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Listen to what Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great…

“…Our problem lies in the fact that our culture has fallen in love with the idea of the celebrity CEO. Charismatic egotists who swoop in to save companies grace the covers of major magazines because they are much more interesting to read and write about … This fuels the mistaken belief held by many directors that a high-profile, larger-than-life leader is required to make a company great. We keep putting people into positions of power who lack the inclination to become Level 5 leaders, and that is one key reason why so few companies ever make a sustained and verifiable shift from good to great.”

Ultimately, especially in a spiritual organization, there’s only one heroJESUS.

Something to think about …

Something to remember…


At the debriefing this evening, here were some of the reports that were very encouraging according to the team leaders.

1. RECEIVING TEAM (Tonie Aguilar)

“It was encouraging how God provided. There were moments when we were running out of canned goods and then someone tells us that carts of boxes are coming in filled with sardines. One time, we were low on supply of bottled water then 100 boxes would arrive.”

2. TRANSPORT (Emil Abello)

“People would walk in and volunteer their 4 x 4’s. They weren’t even from Victory or didn’t know anyone from Victory. It was cool how God would provide transportation. They wouldn’t even let us pay for the gasoline. They said, it was part of what they volunteered.”

3. DELIVERY (Miko Tangco)

“We were able to deliver relief packs to 12 areas which would include Taguig, Pasig, Caloocan, Quezon City, Marikina, Taytay, Cainta, Taytay… Since we had 376 volunteers, we were able to easily go in, drop the goods and go to the next area.”


“Ok naman kami…We were able to systematize the volunteer management. Since we had lots who came, we divided the time into one hour chunks. They would come in and sign up in the time they’d like to volunteer. This way, everyone had an opportunity to help out.”

5. PRAYER (Jonathan Camcam)

“This became the power source and lifeline of the whole relief ops. We were so inspired to keep praying and worshipping because we would get reports that when supplies were low, God would pull through with His provision. Glory!!!”

6. COMMUNICATIONS (Ramir Mallari)

“We had our volunteers in the communications department also out on the field. Many of them were our volunteer photographers who documented the delivery so that we can properly appreciate and thank all who donated.”

7. RELEASING (Elain Ojeda)

“We were able to deploy 10 teams. At the end of the day, we were able to release and deliver 6130 relief packs, not including the few hundreds that were picked up by the Taytay team.”


“We had a family who apologized and said that they couldn’t come earlier to donate. The reason they couldn’t come earlier was because their house too was flooded. After they were able to leave their house, they went straight to Every Nation building to donate. It’s amazing that they didn’t think about themselves first but the others whom they could help.”

9. ADMIN SUPPORT (Mae Perez)

“People have been generously been donating even online and through cash gifts. God continues to provide. I also stepped in the Worship and Prayer room and I wasn’t even there 2 minutes and I was already in tears because the presence of God was so thick.”

The testimonies go on and on and on and on and on. This post won’t be enough to tell you all that God has done.

To the rest of the team, you know who you are. Thank you thank you thank you.

To Mark Tusoy who had an egg eating contest with some of the volunteers on the side, that was insanely funny.

Our job’s not done but I know that with God’s grace, we will be able to continue what we’ve started.

Oh, one last thing, to our Operations Coordinator, Dennis Isleta, who has been ever so tireless, hardworking and organized … bro, YOU ARE THE MAN!!! Grabe ka. Astig na, angat pa.


“You are good, but not that good.”

This is one of the lines I keep hearing from him.

Everytime I get  a chance to have lunch with Joey Bonifacio, I take it.  There are lots of lessons to be learned from this man.  I am just so thankful I have mentors that I can go to and glean from their experiences in ministry, family and life in general.

One of the principles I have learned from him is the principle of FOCUS.  You can’t wear too many hats because the truth is, you only have one head.  You can’t juggle lots of balls because you’ll drop one soon enough.  And you can’t be driving in several lanes because there’s only one YOU to drive that ONE car.

Whether it’s in the area of business, ministry or family, focus is critical.

Your kids will only have one daddy (or mommy) they can have.
Your team only has one leader (if you’re the designated one) to lead.  If not, someone else will have to take that role.
Your business only has one CEO.  If not managing it will be nothing short of a nightmare.
Your small group only has one leader.  Otherwise, it can be confusing.

“At the end of the day, there’s only 24 hours and only 100% in one pie.  You’re good but not that good.” – Joey Bonifacio


(Blogger General’s Warning: Long Blog)

The year started with a word I felt God impressed in my heart – SHARPENING.

Then a conversation with Carlos Antonio sparked it even more.

I remember when my firstborn was about 3 or 4 years old, while in church talking to people, Pastor Steve set me aside to talk to me.

“Paolo, you’re a great dad.” (At this point, I whispered ‘uh-oh’ because I knew the sandwich principle was coming.)

“However, there might be some things you don’t see or even tolerate.  What you tolerate, you’ll never change.”

“When your son runs around the main auditorium and don’t control him, you may not notice but others are getting distracted.”

That moment, I understood what he was talking about.  It was tough to hear but as a new dad, I needed to hear it.

Since then, as a parent, leader and pastor, I’ve received numerous ‘feedback’ which now I am thankful for because it has helped me grow along the way.

Three verses come to mind.

1. Iron sharpens iron. (Prov. 27:17)

If we want to stay on the cutting edge of life, there will be friction.  Sparks will fly.  But it will be for the purpose of sharpening.

Once you stop being open to sharpening, that’s when we get dull.  Once that happens, we stop growing.

2. Open rebuke is better than hidden love. (Prov. 27:5)

You’d prefer people tell you upfront than them talk about it behind your back.

Pride is the number 1 enemy of correction.  We immediately dismiss it by saying, “well… I’m not the only one who does it.”  Or worse, we whisper under our breath saying, “I’m sure you’ve done this before too.”

But does that mean the correction is invalid?  By no means.

Pride is definitely a hindrance to receiving correction.  It really goes before a fall.

3. Speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15)

While this maybe the manner, it should also be the motivation.

The manner we should bring the ‘sharpening’ is to be with love.  Jesus came full of grace and truth.  Grace first before truth.

It’s not just the manner but also the motivation.  The reason why we give the feedback or correction is because we love the person.  We want that person to not stay the same way but to continue to grow and mature in his faith and in life.

The next time a person comes and gives correction, remember what Proverbs 12:1 says,  “Anyone who loves learning accepts correction,but a person who hates being corrected is stupid.”


Recently, we (Metro Manila pastors) had to prepare, review, revisit and recompute budgets for different ministry departments in the church for 2011.  We have a board that reviews, checks, evaluates and keeps everything in line to make sure we adhere to the highest standards of integrity and biblical stewardship.
As I’ve learned from our pastors and leaders through the years, here are a few guiding principles I work with regarding ministry budgeting.


God owns it all.  If everything is His, how much of it is ours?  Absolutely NONE.  We are merely stewards of what we have been entrusted with.  It is an awesome responsibility that is to be handled with ‘fear and trembling.’


God blesses us to be a blessing.  This has resonated in my heart since I was a new Christian.  That is why in my personal budgeting, I have no qualms with ‘belt-tightening’ because that would result in many avenues to bless others.
Even as a church, we ‘tithe’, give offerings, bless and help others (individuals and ministries).


I remember Pastor Steve asked me this question one time when I was still in charge of Kids Ministry at Fort Bonifacio, “Will you spend what you’re spending on in this particular church activity if it was coming from your own wallet?”
We have a responsibility, not to forget an accountability, to steward the finances we’ve been entrusted with.

There’s absolutely nothing that we deserve.  We are here because of the grace of God.  We cannot start thinking that because I’ve been in this for a long time, then I deserve something in return.
You and I deserve HELL, PUNISHMENT and ETERNAL SEPARATION from God.  That’s what we deserve.
One of the things we need to watch out for is the attitude of entitlement.  You don’t want to go there.  You can’t afford to and you shouldn’t.



Two weekends ago, we had our Leaders Appreciation 2010. It was fantastic. Pastor Dennis led the charge with Mae Perez working on the production/logistics. (BTW, what a team)

That day, we unvelied “JUST ONE”. The battle cry for next year is that each leader lead/train/raise even JUST ONE leader (to go through one2one, Victory Weekend, Making Disciples Training and Training for Victory). So by the end of 2011, we are trusting God to double the number of our Victory Group leaders.

Can this be done in one year? I believe so. Many if not all that came that not thought so too. With God’s grace and us working together, we can continue to see God’s kingdom advance in 2011 as we honor God and make disciples.

Here are a few pictures of what happened that evening.

The Dance Team from Victory Malate started the evening with a bang!

Our amazing hosts (Pastor Jeff, Donita Rose and James Muleta) led us through the program that night.

Jose "Quest" Villanueva sang the baptized version of JUST ONCE to making it JUST ONE!

Pastor Joey shares a powerful message from Isaiah 54 on ENLARGE, LENGTHEN and STRENGTHEN.

Premier Balladier Jeffrey Hidalgo encourages the Victory Group leaders with the song "You Raised Me Up".

"JUST ONE" notebooks for all our Victory Group leaders.

Here are other pictures from that event thanks to Anson Yu (click here), Anne Centeno (click here) and Alfred Albarracin (click here).