What Great Ministry Leaders Get Right • Jimmy Dodd & Renaut van der Riet

Six Core Competencies You Need to Succeed in Your Calling

March 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2313-9

Ministry throws unexpected challenges at you. What if a little more training could help you navigate them successfully?

Though church leaders take courses in preaching and Christian education, when do they learn about personal limitations and the benefits of intimate friendships? Or what about conflict resolution? Knowledge gaps like these are often the primary factors that lead to frustration and burnout.

In What Great Ministry Leaders Get Right, Jimmy Dodd of PastorServe and Renaut van der Riet of Mosaic Church Winter Garden FL outline the six core competencies church leaders need to develop healthy, biblical, and sustainable leadership. Jimmy and Renaut address the critical lessons often missing from ministry training that all leaders need to successfully serve their congregations. Whether you’ve been in the pulpit for years or are just beginning your ministry education, every pastor can make sure they’re prepared for the real-world challenges of ministry.


Jimmy Dodd (B.A. Wheaton College; M.Div., Gordon-Conwell Seminary) is the founder and CEO of PastorServe. This organization works across denominational lines to strengthen the church by serving pastors. He is the author of Survive or Thrive, 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs, and Pastors Are People Too, co-authored with Larry Magnuson. Jimmy and his wife Sally have five children and three grandchildren. He enjoys reading, taking walks with his wife Sally and dog Finn, and cheering on his beloved Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, KS.

Renaut van der Riet is passionate about living, teaching, and leading in a way that shows the Gospel of Jesus to be true and beautiful. He lives out that passion first and foremost with his family. Of all the roles he fills, none is as important to him as being a husband to his wife, Brooke, and father to their eight children, four of whom are adopted from Ethiopia. In 2002, he and Brooke founded Mosaic Church in Winter Garden, FL. It has become a nationwide pacemaker for fostering and adoption and a sought after model of how ministries can respond to childhood special needs and trauma care. He is developing The ReStory, a project aimed at providing Gospel clarity to followers of Christ and extending them an invitation to consider how their lives might be different if they dared to believe Galatians 5:1 — “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”


Years ago, I encountered a statement about prayer that has haunted me ever since. It has become a window into my own soul. Richard Foster, in his classic book Celebration of Discipline, writes, “To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives.” Foster’s insight into prayer launched me into a personal journey of understanding the power and purpose of prayer beyond anything I could imagine.

I have discovered that a life submitted to Christ results in my soul desiring to be more like His. By the same token, a soul submitted to no one desires no change at all. In fact, a person obsessed with self, openly or secretly, resists change. The more I am submitted to Christ, the more deeply I desire change. The more deeply I desire change, the more consistent and authentic my personal, private prayer life becomes. As Foster suggests, prayer is a natural by-product of the heart that desires to be shaped by God’s transforming work. So, my personal, private prayer life is a direct reflection of my inner desire to change and become more like Jesus. Stated another way, my personal prayer reveals how much I really want my life to be about Jesus.

When my prayer life becomes inconsistent or inauthentic, it immediately alerts me to that something deep within my soul has shifted from being captivated by Jesus to being captivated by something else. Consistency in prayer is the gift for detecting soul erosion early.

Prayer is both a thermometer and a remedy. It is a thermometer in that its absence from our lives reflects deeper things about passion, intimacy, and trust. A prayerless life reveals that our eyes are fixed on the wrong prize. Prayer is also a remedy in that it re-connects us to the gospel and catapults us back into God’s world, God’s heart, and God’s love. Prayer safeguards our lives, our families, the church, and the gospel.

Prayer allows us to stay close to God. While God’s work is to do in us and through us whatever He sees fit, prayer is our work. We remain ever present on the spiritual frontier, and God handles the rest.

Participating in our own sanctification is one of the great privileges of every believer. Incredibly, the Lord promises to finish the work in us, while at the same time inviting us to participate in our sanctification. We have all the privilege of participation, yet the ultimate responsibility to make it happen lies with the Lord. It’s almost identical to the idea that if we are interested in what God will do in our lives, all we need to do is prayer. If we have a consistent and authentic prayer life with God, He gives us insight into our lives. Isn’t that crazy? He gives us the answers! We get to be an active participant in our own beautiful life journey.

Foster says, “A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain….The Disciplines are God’s way of getting us into the ground.”

Being competent in prayer and fasting is far less about soliciting God to do things for us and far more about placing ourselves in the soil where God does things in us. It is far less about asking God to do things for us and far more about revealing what is in us and asking Him to transform us. It is learning to dare the soul to believe the things God has already said and done and to submit to His renewing work.

This is why prayer and fasting are essential for any ministry leader. The presence or absence of our authentic, private, personal prayer and fasting lives is a thermometer displaying the heat of our intimacy with God. This is a must for anyone who seeks to have longevity in authentic gospel ministry. And this is where the true beauty of fasting becomes the companion to prayer in keeping our souls.


“In my 30+ years of working with pastors around the world, I’ve never seen this level of personal anxiety and insecurity, as we face the challenges and pressures of this kairos moment. We need strong local churches more than ever. What Great Ministry Leaders Get Right lays out the foundational qualities pastors and ministry leaders need in these challenging times. Based on years of dedicated research with hundreds of pastors, it’s full of practical examples and guidance that can fill in the gaps of what gets missed in seminary. Every one of us has weak spots in our pastoral leadership. This book can help us become more joyful, confident, and fruitful as we fulfill our part in building Christ’s kingdom.”
Kevin Palau
President and CEO of Luis Palau Association

“There are a thousand demands on a ministry leader’s time and attention. But what are the things that great ministry leaders do that make them truly effective? I’m grateful for my friends Jimmy and Renault for writing this What Great Ministry Leaders Get Right. It’s an important guide for any ministry leader who wants to do great work, not for their own glory, but for the glory of God and His coming kingdom.”
Ed Stetzer
Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College

“Though their load has never been greater, all too many pastors maintain their cars with more intentionality than their own lives and ministries. For pastors overdue for their ten-thousand-mile tune-up and needing a resource, this is your book. These twenty-four succinct—biblical, highly practical, and downright gripping—chapters will together give you the comprehensive self-evaluative tool you need.”
Nicholas Perrin
President of Trinity International University

“Many ministry leaders today are struggling with feelings of inadequacy as they try to live out their callings. Jimmy Dodd and Renaut van der Riet’s book, What Great Ministry Leaders Get Right, presents well-rounded and practical competencies that will help pastors lead from a place of spiritual, physical, and emotional health. This book will benefit leaders and serve as an essential supplement to seminary education.”
Doug Logan
President of Grimké Seminary
Associate Director of the Acts 29 Global Network
Author of On the Block: Developing a Biblical Picture for Missional Engagement