3 Prayers I’m Praying for 2015


This image by winnond courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

This image by winnond courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Disciples Church with Stu Streeter and shared a message from Ephesians 1 titled, “Waking Up to Your Worth.” Then last night at Jesus Culture Sacramento we had the privilege of having Bishop Parnell Lovelace from Center of Praise who just happened to speak, pray and encourage us from the same text as well.

I believe these simple prayers I created for Disciples Church and for myself will awaken you to a greater awareness of the power of God that is within you and the promises of God that await you!

  1. The Prayer of Revelation

 Ephesians 1:17 – asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

Paul prays specifically for three things that will help bring revelation to our lives.

  • He prays for a spirit of wisdom. Having the spirit of wisdom reveals how God is wanting to work.
  • He prays for a spirit of understanding. Having a spirit of understanding reveals why God works the way He does.
  • He prays for knowledge. Having knowledge given by the Holy Spirit is having clarity and correct knowledge about who God is. A revelation of His character.

 Prayer: Thank you for Your work in my life, now I ask that you give me wisdom and greater understanding so that I can allow what your working in me to grow and cause me to know you more.

   2. The Prayer of Evaluation

Ephesians 1:18 - I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people. 

Have you ever tried to do something simple in the dark. Darkness makes the most simple things difficult.  Paul prays that we wouldn’t be in the dark about the person and work of the Holy Sprit inside of us.

  • The Holy Spirit will shed light on your future
  • The Holy Spirit will shed light on what He’s calling you to do
  • The Holy Spirit will shed light on the resources that are available to you to help you in your everyday life.

That’s why they call the Holy Spirit the Helper.  He wants to help you and He helps us by turning the light on for us in areas that we need assistance in such as:

  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Finances
  • Personal Breakthrough
  • Calling

Prayer:  Thank you for person of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of me. I’m asking that you would shed light on my future, my calling and that you would equip me with every good thing that I need for my everyday life.

  1. The Prayer of Elevation

 Ephesians 1:19-20 - I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Paul prays a prayer of resurrection over the Ephesians. He prays that the same power that raised Christ from the dead would begin to rise inside of them. Do you have dreams that need to be resurrected? Relationships that need resurrection life? Are you lacking power to overcome the thing that has you down? Are you ready to go to higher heights in Christ by raising your expectation level? Pray the following prayer!

Prayer of Elevation: Thank you for the greatness of Your power that is working on the inside of me that cause my desires and dreams to be doable, my faith to be unshakable and the impossible things that I’m facing possible. Raise the level of my influence and expectancy in 2015 with same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

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The Deadliest SIN of Leadership


Image courtesy of kongsky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of kongsky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Banners of headlines about leaders who have fallen from the graces of those they lead are constantly being waved across the media outlets we all indulge at times. It has really become a common occurrence to see professional athletes exposed, pastors and ministry leaders confess, business men caught in fraud and political leaders tangled in scandal.

However; what we read in the headlines is more often than not the fruit of “small sins” that leaders admittedly ignore, overlook or even justify leading up to a major crash that shocks their followers.  In fact, long before a person of influence misses the mark in leadership and hits the headlines they’ve most likely committed the most deadliest SIN of leadership that frequently goes unseen and unnoticed until it’s too late. The BIG SIN of leadership is actually made up of three “small sins” that I’ve identified.

The Sin of Separation – When God calls someone to lead he sets them apart. To live your life as a leader set apart is the furthest thing from living a separate life. Leadership is a call to influence people not separate yourself from them.

The Gospel of John tells us that the Word became human and lived here on earth among us.  As leaders this is our example from the life of Jesus. Leaders don’t live above their followers, they actually can be found among their followers.  Leaders committing the sin of separation often begin setting themselves above and live life at a distance instead of among the ones they have been called to.

The Sin of Isolation – My friend and pastor, Banning Liebscher says it this way, “Isolation is a killer for leaders!” Isolation is the place leaders can be located after living a separate life. The isolated place is created by living life above others, disconnected and secluded.  Leaders are called to lead in community not outside of it.  When leaders isolate they cut their lives off from strength, accountability, wisdom and safety. Leaders that are isolated often can be found on the edge of burn out, trying to do life alone, attempting to solve problems by themselves, overwhelmed and ultimately overcome.

The Sin of Negotiation – Negotiation is the act or practice of each side giving up something in order to reach an agreement. Leaders that act upon the sin of negotiation have often given up their integrity, their values, their character to enter into a compromising agreement with the enemy. We see the devil himself trying to entice Jesus by negotiating truth. Jesus reminded the devil that the truth wasn’t negotiable and that it was written ‘people need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’ Leaders that negotiate and agree with things that are not true will self destruct as leaders.

The deadliest sin of leadership is actually made up of several small transgressions that happen along the way and what we witness in the end as the fall from grace. If your leading and you are being tempted to separate, isolate or negotiate reach out to those among you, connect yourself to a healthy transparent community and refuse to enter into an agreement with your adversary. Live and lead in the truth that will bring freedom to your leadership.

How have you as a leader avoided the sins of separation, isolation and negotiation?

How to Get Unstuck


stuck_in_mud_2_004

Many years ago my wife and I were headed to South Lake Tahoe to speak at a youth winter retreat. The weather conditions were forecasted to be extreme, but we figured with snow chains nothing could stop us. Except a blizzard!  We were caught in a snow storm on Highway 50 and as we made the approach to climb the summit the highway was completely shut down. There we sat parked on Highway 50 for hours. A three hour drive from Santa Rosa turned into an 6 hour sleep over. When the roads were opened the adventure had just began. As we made our way to South Lake Tahoe and arrived around 2:00am, the 10 car caravan we were a part of pulled over to account for everyone. We were the 10th car and as I was checking and adjusting my tire chains they obviously didn’t see that I was out of my car and left us behind. We were only 10 minutes from the cabin, so I frantically tightened my chains, jumped back in the car, but it was too late we had lost them. Mind you this is the day of no cell phones, GPS, and all the street signs were covered with snow so we were literally lost (imagine that). As we hurried up the hill to find our caravan the chain I tightened came loose and we spun out into a snow bank. My wife, Amy was really loving me at this point, but needless to say we were stuck again helplessly with little hope of being found.

As a leader getting stuck can be frustrating and humiliating, but staying stuck can be even more shameful. I heard a great quote from Jon Acuff on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast that describes being stuck perfectly:

In stuck moments shame gets really loud. @JonAcuff

So how do leaders get their lives unstuck? How do they get their organizations out of the deep ruts of embarrassment and chagrin?

My answer to these questions may seem over simplified but as I observe the leadership landscape in front of me it has become apparent to me that leaders who find themselves stuck must find the favor of God for their unfavorable situations.

Many leaders I talk to are trying to get unstuck without any favor at all. My biblical definition of favor flows from God’s reply to Moses’ prayer in Exodus 33:13-14:

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

When we find favor we ultimately experience God’s presence and confidently enter into His rest. This is the kind of favor that helps us get leaders unstuck: Knowing that God is with me and understanding that He is for me!

I believe favor can be found by leaders who are willing to look for it. Observe the lives of some of our heroes of the faith:

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord when there seemed to be no favor to be found! Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s eyes, then in the eyes of the prison warden!  Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz and Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her!  All received favor in unfavorable situations. These heroes of the faith found favor because they were looking for it in unfavorable places.

In regards to your favor-less situation. God is inviting you to places you are not invited. Places no one expects you to be. Platforms no one expects you to be on and conversations no one expects you to be a part of.  It’s in these instances that we need to find God’s favor when all the odds are stacked against us!

Let me give you three places where you can look for and find favor:

1. You’re going to find favor in unfavorable situations! You don’t need favor if your not facing unfavorable conditions. God wants to release to your leadership a fresh faith that goes out and finds favor to face the unfavorable. Leaders that are waiting for favor to find them before facing the unfavorable are in for a long wait!

2. You’re going to find favor among friends! Friendships are such a key when it comes to favor. The favor I’m experiencing now in my life started with relationships when I was 17 years old. If you have never asked a friend for a favor your missing out on how the Kingdom works. One of the things that makes finding favor impossible is the inability to find forgiveness for friendships that have gone bad. Favor flows from relationships. When you isolate yourself as a leader to do it by yourself your not doing yourself or your organization any favors! 

3. You’re going to find favor with God – Finding favor you means that you have found His presence and rest in all your endeavors. If you are worried, stressed, feel betrayed, or feeling like you don’t deserve anything good from God; which by the way all the heroes mentioned above were tempted to respond to their situations in one of these ways, you may need to change the way your are thinking (repent) about your situation. When we turn from our way of doing things we will find God favor in every situation and with everyone we are dealing with.

Two hours later at 4:00am, out of nowhere, a taxi pulled up to our car stuck nose first in the snow bank and only said he would call a tow truck on his CB radio (remember those?). Twenty minutes later we were pulled out for free and found our way to the cabin. We would have never found our way if we didn’t find favor first!

In what situation do you find yourself stuck in that you need God’s favor to get you out?

 

 

 

What NOT to Do With Your Weakness


Image courtesy of marin @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marin @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over the years I’ve been acutely aware of my weaknesses that have surfaced in my leadership ability. At the same time I always knew that coaching and assessments could help me get beyond my weaknesses, but I could never quite could convince others that it was worth the investment to do so. Over the last 11 months I’ve been able to take advantage of these things and have been able to effectively confront my weaknesses that have been constraining me as a leader. Through this I’ve learned some valuable things about what NOT to do with your weakness.

1. Don’t Ignore ItAs a leader, you have to have a willingness to confront your weaknesses.  I’ve read in leadership books to not pay attention to your weakness but focus on your strengths. I’m not saying that we should give all our time to focus on our weakness, yet if we completely ignore our weakness it will begin to sap our strength! When I acknowledge my weakness I now create an openness to get some outside help from God and others.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

2. Don’t Hide It – When you hide your weakness you not only are hurting yourself, you will begin hurting your organization. A prime example of this in my own life is my tendency to be quiet in meetings that I’m a part of. I will often go into meetings and listen intently and because I’m a processor I will not give any feedback until the following day. The problem with that approach to meetings is that some decisions need to be made now and not tomorrow. Now that I realize that I’m invited to meetings because they need me to speak into things I make up my mind before I sit down that I’m going to say something. It might be irrelevant but I make it point to confront my weakness by speaking up and making my thoughts known even if they are totally processed. I’m practicing thinking out loud!

3. Don’t Use it as an Excuse - Being aware of your weakness doesn’t give you an excuse to do nothing about it. When we exercise our weakness we get stronger.  I recently started doing CrossFit again. I became aware of my weakness as soon as the clock started. I could stop the work out and say, “I can’t do it” or I can suck it up,  do what I can do, experience the pain of my weakness and over time become stronger.  Recently I took an assessment that identified things that were constraining my leadership. I knew all about these constraints because they have confronted by ability to lead for years. The difference this time is that after the assessment I developed an “exercise plan” to address these constraints that will eventually make me a stronger leader when I take action.

Awareness of weakness is not enough. A willingness to confront our weaknesses with action is required. Don’t ignore it, don’t hide it and don’t excuse it. Do something about it!

What weaknesses are constraining you as a leader?

What it Takes to be a Builder


 Image by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have heard the verse above taken out of context so many times to remove oneself from having any responsibility in building God’s church. It goes something like this…“God said, I will build my church.”

Actually that’s only some of what God said. Matthew 16:18 in its entirety says:

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18

Imagine being in Peter’s shoes, face to face with Jesus when these words were spoken. I think He got it! I think Peter took it personal and passionately because of his zeal for building God’s house we see throughout his ministry. When God desires to build something He always has someone in mind He can build with!

A quick breakdown of this verse shows that God looks for people to build on. He was referring to Peter when he said, “and on this ROCK I will build my church.” The word rock is being used metaphorically to depict a man like a rock, by reason of his firmness and strength of soul. Here we begin to see what it takes to be a builder.

1. Builders have a certainty about what they are building. They are not uncertain. Builders are firm with their decisions and have the emotional and mental capacity to build according to God’s blueprint and timeline.  I think of what the scriptures say about Noah; that he did everything exactly as God commanded him when building the ark. Builders are clear about what God has called them to build, believe it and build it. 

2. Builders have the confidence and character to build what they’ve been called to build.  The word BUILD that Jesus uses means to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness. . Jesus’ introduces a growth strategy to build with godly, gifted men and women willing to work! These are the qualities of those He builds with:

  • WisdomBuilders know where to build!

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” – Matthew 7:24

  • AffectionBuilders have a passion for what they are building!

“Passion for your house burns within me, so those who insult you are also insulting me.” – Psalm 69:9

  • Grace - Builders always find favor!

“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me….And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.” – Nehemiah 1:11, 2:8

  • Virtue – Builders build with a spirit of excellence! I wanted to add something here. Sometimes we get excellence mixed up with extravagance.  Builders that have a spirit of excellent do things right with integrity. It is revealed in the the work they do not the materials they buy.  Virtue is what gives things there value.

…because his divine power has bestowed on us all [things] [that are] necessary for life and godliness, through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence of character… – 2 Peter 1:3

  • Holiness – Builders say YES to whatever God calls them to build and however God wants to build it!

Your written testimonies are completely reliable. O LORD, holiness is what makes your house beautiful for days without end. – Psalm 93:5

  • Blessed – Builders are blessed by God!

Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them. – Exodus 39:43

God desires to build with us. We cannot be afraid of using our abilities to accomplish impossibilities together with God!

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building – 1 Corinthians 3:9

Let us rise up and build!

 

Church Launching vs. Church Planting


Image by by ratch0013 courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image by by ratch0013 courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve had the opportunity now to be on both sides of starting a church: church planting and church launching.  Though I am only officially 6 weeks in the Jesus Culture Sacramento launch there are some key differences when you compare the two.  I came to some of these conclusions from my failed church planting attempts (2 of them), but they have been confirmed during this launching experience.

1. A church that has been launched originated from a launching pad.  

Lift off for the space shuttle has everything to do with the thrust of the engines. The total thrust at launch for the space shuttle is about 7.8 million pounds. To achieve orbit, the shuttle must accelerate from zero to a speed of almost 18,000 miles per hour. 

Church launches have a sending church that thrusts them full throttle into the harvest field. Sending churches give church launches the velocity and speed it needs to break barriers immediately that a church planter might be up against for years. This velocity and speed can be created by a variety of things yet two essential boosters that ignite a church launch and thrust it forward are a team of people and finances.  Church planters often have to raise their own support and find their own people when they are connected to a church that doesn’t have a vision to send and thrust out laborers into the harvest.

2. A church that has been launched can focus on vision and not survival. When a church has been launched well it can focus on the vision and mission that it has been sent to accomplish. I’ve talked to several church launchers over the past 10 years. They are not worried about taking care of their family, where their next pay check is coming from or how much has been given in the weekly offering. They have been freed up to focus on doing what God has called them to do. That doesn’t mean church launchers will not have financial challenges because there are those challenges at every level. Church planters though are often consumed constantly with the critical needs of the now and struggle to see beyond what’s right in front of them never having time to look ahead.

3. A church that has been launched cultivates community from the outside in. I have to admit the church planter stories that start with only 8 people in a living room and experience unprecedented growth and are now at mega church level status are inspiring. I have always wanted that to be my story.  However, what I’m currently experiencing in church launching is amazing to see. There is much to be said about the ability to gather a crowd and create and cultivate a thriving community and core team. In a lot of ways it can be more difficult, but at the same time it creates more opportunity for the “outsider” to belong to a family. Church planting often requires a committed core that is often burned out in the first 3-5 years. Because of that many times it is said about church planting teams; that those who start with you wont be around in 5 years. Church launching gives you the ability to enjoy your community and not just employ your community with endless tasks.

I know that everyone’s experience is difference, but these are just a few observations I’ve made over the last 6 weeks. I know that many church planters have great experiences and success stories to share and I would love to hear them.

I looking forward to sharing about my church launching experience with Jesus Culture Sacramento in the future.

Have you ever been a part of a church launch? What was different? 

Why We Need More Managers


Blog_Too-many-Chiefs-and-Not-enough-Indians

You may be familiar with the following proverbial sayings:

  • There’s to many chefs in the kitchen.
  • There’s too many chiefs and not enough Indians. 

The wisdom behind these proverbs for any organization is that when too many people want to be the leader, there is no one to follow up with the detail work. 

Everyone wants to be a leader these days. It’s admirable yet I don’t think it’s attainable. It sounds great but it’s not sustainable. Leadership sounds like a higher calling, but in all reality it’s just a different calling. 

I write this because great leaders have great managers around them. Many times when there is chaos in the leadership of an organization it’s because everyone has there eyes on the destiny but few pay attention to the details. That’s why you’ve heard it said that destiny is in the details. Leader’s cast a vision for where we are going, true managers tell you how we’re going to get there.

I found it interesting that this is the case commonly seen throughout scripture as well. God would speak to a leader or a dreamer then would call interpreters of those dreams, managers, visionaries and designers to make the revelation a reality. A dream that is not managed well is a mess and can often lead to missing the potential of the promise God has given.

Somehow in church world we’ve demoted the importance of a manager to a second class leadership position, yet how we manage is the biblical qualifications for leadership.

2 For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be able to teach. 3 He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. 4 He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. 5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? – 1 Timothy 3:2-5

A lot of the things I find on the topic of leadership vs. management many times presents the manager as being some kind of status quo, sub par leader. However, I did find a summary comparison by John Kotter and Peter Northouse in a post at The Nelson Touch Blog  that I thought reflected and represented both roles well that I’d like to leave you with:

leadership-versus-management

* From Peter G. Northouse’s Leadership: Theory and Practice, Fourth Edition (2007) in which he draws from John Kotter’s A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, (1990).

Leaders and managers are both high producers it’s just important to understand the difference and importance of what they both produce.

Are you more of a manager or a leader?  A dreamer or detailer?

Dealing with Disgrace


Image by patrisyu courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image by patrisyu courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

When the Holy Spirit repeatedly highlights a word, a phrase, or a verse while I’m reading my Bible it gets my attention. The word DISGRACE began to jump out at me several times over a couple of days, and as I always do I asked the Lord to confirm if He indeed was speaking to me. I then opened my YouVersion app after that brief prayer for confirmation and read  Isaiah 54:4-

Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you…

There are several angles on the definition of disgrace but one stood out to me. Disgrace is the loss of favor or standing.  I broke the word down even more and was reminded that the prefix dis means opposite or absence of.  I then dug even deeper to unearth the biblical meaning which is defined; to sink or drop down, languish (to live in a state of decreasing vitality), wither and fall, fade away.

When you seemingly sense a loss of favor with the Father, when you feel as though the grace of God is absent from your life, when you feel your faith withering I would dare to say unless there is some undetected pride in your life the enemy is opposing the work of grace in your life. James tells us that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6, NIV). 

If we are not careful, we can find ourselves dealing with disgrace because we’ve allowed the enemy to dispute who we are in Christ and displace us from living in our God given authority. When the enemy opposes our identity and authority in Christ it opens the door to insecure feelings of disgrace and shame.

You may notice there is an evident absence of grace flowing in your life. You can’t find favor, it seems as though you are being resisted in every way, nothing is coming easy, every door seems closed, you can’t find your groove! Life is a constant grind.

So what do you do when you find yourself in the description above?

Dealing with feelings of disgrace requires me to do nothing on my own, but by faith receive the grace that God continually gives. Grace is a constant gift that keeps flowing from the the throne referred to in Hebrews 4:16:

We may come near, then, with freedom, to the throne of the grace, that we may receive kindness, and find grace — for seasonable help. – Young’s Literal Translation

Dealing with Disgrace

1. When you feel like there is an absence of God’s grace in your life, seek God’s presence where grace is found. God’s presence raises the faith level in my heart to receive the grace that I need.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…(Ephesians 2:8)

2. When favor seems to be fading realize a new season is coming. As the glory of a flower fades and withers when seasons change don’t fear if you see a favor filled season come to an end. The truth is God’s grace never ends, but seasons do. Yesterday’s favor will help you overcome tomorrow’s fear.  Grace sometimes seems to lift when God desires a shift in our lives. Favor seems to fade, but can always be found in the next season your stepping into.

Today, deal with disgrace with the divine grace that God makes available to us. There is no requirement to His endless resource of favor. It by faith we receive everything we need for season of life we are in.

What are you dealing with that you could use some divine help?

Becoming a Q2 Organization


quadrant-4-time-management

We spend time in one of four ways, depending on the two factors that define an activity: urgent and important. Urgent means it requires immediate attention. Urgent things act on us and are usually visible.A ringing phone is urgent. Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. It contributes to our mission, values and high-priority goals.We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity.

We had the opportunity to have Danny Silk speak to the Jesus Culture staff yesterday on the subject of Destiny Management. It was an introduction to the Four Quadrant Time Management system by Stephen Covey found in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I first learned this system through personal life management training I received about 15 years ago. It changed my personal life and the way I approached ministry. Before then my life and ministry was like a fire drill. I was on call and on the run all the time reacting to life and ministry’s demands instead of intentionally designing my life. God is an intelligent designer and His desire is for us to be intentional and intelligent when it comes to designing the lives we lead. 

Becoming a Quadrant 2 organization begins with my personal life.  The principles of Destiny Management that I was reminded of yesterday have become a part of who I am. It’s no longer something I have to learn. Instead, it’s something I live and that is reflected now in my professional life. That does not mean that I have these management skills completely mastered, but it does mean that I’ve learned how to master my calendar, my priorities and processes that assist me in becoming a better leader.

Becoming a Q2 organization begins with identifying priorities. Priorities are something that are more important than other things and that need to be done or dealt with first. Dealing with the most important things first brings freedom to your personal and professional life. For example; as I have made my family a priority it’s easier for me to say no to things that are not as important. On Friday nights you will not see me at a prayer meeting or any other church related event as in times past, but you will find me at the top of the bleachers on the 40 yard line with my family watching my son play football every Friday night!

The same thing will happen as your organization becomes more effective in establishing its priorities.The hardest thing for organizations is knowing what to say NO to.  God didn’t call us to say YES to everything. When you know what’s first it’s easier to identify what to say YES and what to say NO to.

Becoming a Q2 organization begins with planning. When I know what’s first, I then can fashion my planning around priorities. This is reflected on a calendar. You may be familiar with the old saying, “if you want to know a person’s priorities look at their bank statement.” The same is true for an organization. If you want to know an organization’s priorities look at their calendar. If the priorities are not clearly seen on the calendar it’s an indicator that there is no clarity. Planning brings clarity to what your priorities are! Before I learned these life management skills I had no calendar so when something “came up” I was always available. Much to my chagrin when my kids were real young ministry demands trumped family time too many times.

As an organization if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Many don’t take enough time to manage their time. An organization that plans ahead will stay ahead and make better decisions that are more thought through.

Becoming a Q2 organization begins with processes. A process is a series of purposeful actions that lead you to what has been promised. Processes are priceless to an organization because they are the key to productivity. They move people and things forward faster. Many organizations never reach their promises, their goals, their desired results because there are no processes in place to take them where they want to go. This often is a tension to be managed in organizations.

Some will resist processes because they mistake them as red tape, others will insist on processes so they can have control. Notice the tension? Good processes however avoid both extremes. Good processes are never rigid and are marked with gradual changes that benefit those who follow them. At the same time good processes should not be implemented to control people, but to put people in control of their destiny. When good processes are created great outcomes come forth.

If you want to be productive and effective as an organization you have to be intentional and intelligent in designing your destiny. It begins with you establishing priorities, planning and processes both in your personal and professional life.

What is one life management principle that has propelled you personally and or professionally?

Recognizing an Attack from the Enemy


Image by digitalart courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by digitalart courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the late 90’s when spiritual warfare was a hot topic I attended a seminar on the subject where I heard a statistic that claimed 80% of what Christians call spiritual warfare is really just disobedience to God’s Word and God’s will. At the time it sounded right and even logical , so for years that has always been tucked away in my brain when I hear someone say that the enemy is attacking them.

For the most part I can say that was true for me. The only time that I can recall experiencing “spiritual warfare” was when I was fighting and struggling with God’s will for my life until recently. I’m writing this post today because I didn’t recognize the enemies attack. I didn’t see the satanic schemes coming until it was almost too late. I am living my life in obedience to His Word and I am submitted to His will, so I was blindsided when things broke out.

Without going into great detail about the circumstances that caused the warfare I wanted to share the indicators that should have tipped me off and help me recognize that I was being spiritually assaulted.

1. I Had No Clarity – Where you don’t have clarity the enemy has the opportunity to bring confusion and chaos.

1 Corinthians 14:33- For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Clearly the enemy has written the original manuscript on confusion and chaos, so when things are not in order he looks to bring disorder, disturbances and instability. Instability is defined as the tendency to change your behavior very quickly or to react to things in an extremely emotional way. When confusion comes you begin to doubt what you believe about yourself and others. What you believe changes how you behave. I found myself extremely emotional and reactive.

2. I Experienced an Untimely & Odd Sickness – I got a case of shingles that ended up only lasting 4 days when I was originally told 2-4 weeks.

Luke 2:13 – And there was a woman who for eighteen years had a sickness caused by a spirit.

Luke recognized that some sickness is caused by a spirit of infirmity. I am convinced that my sickness was part of a spiritual attack because what it prevented and how quick I recovered.  My wife and I were suppose get some much needed away time that didn’t happen. This was very discouraging for my wife and I. Secondly, I was told that shingles was going to be painful, yet coupled with taking the meds the doctor prescribed and believing God for healing in 4 days scabs began to form ( a sign that your on the mend.) A week after I was diagnosed I was totally delivered from sickness.

3. I Was Extremely Frustrated – This was interesting because now that I look back I wasn’t mad or upset with anyone. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was angry with something. Frustration is something that causes feelings of anger and annoyance. I was annoyed with the enemies ploys but didn’t identify the enemy as the source of my frustration.

I failed to see what Job saw when he said, “I know that you can do everything, that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” 

4. I Had a Good Friend that Recognized my Reality - Out of desperation I contacted a friend who has been a voice of encouragement and strength to me throughout my entire Christian walk. Without knowing what was going on, as soon as he saw me he discerned that this wasn’t the Dean he was used to encountering and that I was going through a spiritual storm. He said it was the first time he met with me that he didn’t see purpose in my eyes (no clarity). The next two hours his prophetic insight and counsel helped me “elevate above the storm.” To make a long story short I was set free as he spoke in truth and power over my life.

Ephesians 6:10-13 - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

 

I humbly submit to you that I didn’t recognize the enemies attack. I think sometimes I forget that I am in a war, a spiritual war that I cannot see. It’s a battle we all fight, a battle Jesus Christ has won for us. I’m just asking God to open my eyes to the unseen so that I am not leaning on my own understanding!

2 Kings 6:19 - And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

 

3 Solutions for Dismantling Ministry Silos


Image by xedos4 courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by xedos4 courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever been a part of staff that calls themselves a team yet the ministries each “team” member oversees are in constant competition with one another?

Undoubtedly, you’ve witnessed this competitive struggle. Fundraisers for each department fight for a spot on the annual calendar. Space for blurbs in the bulletin a constant battle.  Airtime for Sunday morning announcements an all out frontal assault and room requests launching logistical land warfare.

When this competitive combat is allowed to exist it creates ministry silos. The word silo is derived from the Greek work siros, meaning “pit for holding grain.” Ministry silos then can be described as what I refer to as a P.I.T. (Program In Trouble) that is more focused on holding onto something than releasing something.  Ministry silos create need focused departments that are more focused on what it can get than what it can give. More money, more paid staff, more visibility, more volunteers, more of this and more of that.

Ministry silos do not cultivate an environment where teams thrive. Instead, they produce unhealthy competitive climates that pit so called team members against each other. Here are some solutions I helped one church with in dismantling their ministry silos to bring about ministry synergy; moving them from competition to combined action: 

1. Shed the Solo Mentality – The solo mentality is a mindset that if something must be done it’s up to me (or my department) and only me (or my department) to get it done. “If its gonna be, it’s up to me.”  This mentality results in having a staff  full of solo performers rather than a staff full of people producers. Ministry is too tough to do in this state of mind because it traps staff into territorial thinking. I’ve heard the craziest things come out of the mouth of ministry teams such as “my people, my room, my equipment, my job.” Dismantling ministry solos starts with casting down the solo mentality. You have to take your staff from me to we.

2. Shape the Definition of Success – If one ministry is thriving while other ministries are barely surviving your ministry team as a whole is not successful. Ministry silos highlight and celebrate the solo performance rather than what the entire team is producing. We praise God that 50 people gave their hearts to Jesus through the Community Outreach Department Director’s efforts, but the fact that the Assimilation Team is overwhelmed and under staffed to handle such a response is the Assimilation Director’s problem. In this scenario we see one team member’s success is another team member’s stress. True team success is when all team members are thriving, healthy and their ministries are working towards the common goal and outcome.

3. Shore Up the Weaker Member & Ministry – To shore up something is to make it stronger. Every staff member has strengths and weaknesses that they bring to a team. As a team you have a choice to let an individual remain in their struggle or you have an opportunity to loan them your strength.  To keep your strength to yourself while another team member struggles in weakness will keep you team from winning. It is a true sign that you are stuck in a silo when you allow a fellow team member to fly solo. It may even be a sin knowing that what your holding onto could help someone if you released it.  Shoring up a weaker team member or ministry not only makes the person or program stronger it strengthens the entire team.

What are some other solutions for dismantling ministry silos?

Conquering Your Constraints


Image courtesy of  khunaspix @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of khunaspix @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A constraint is defined as a limitation or restriction. We all have them and make a choice to live with them or loose ourselves from them. I am personally in the process of confronting some of my limitations as a leader and wanted to share my journey with you with hope that it will encourage some of you to do the same.

I have discovered that it is so easy to grow comfortable with the the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that constrain us rather than finding the courage to confront them. I understand now that if you don’t confront the lies that constrain you as a leader, you will conform to those lies. It is necessary to grasp that negative thinking can negate your leadership. Wrong attitudes can cultivate wrong actions,  and bad behavior can blow up your leadership instantly.

First, to conquer your constraints you have to be willing to acknowledge them as the Apostle Paul did:

“Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

This verse reveals to us that acknowledging our weakness gives us access to Christ’s power to conquer it. Paul said that God’s power worked best when he boasted about his weakness. We hate the thought of this powerful truth because we like to hide our weaknesses, bury our struggles and ignore the things that our limiting and restricting us. Instead of embracing our weaknesses we are embarrassed by them.

Acknowledging your weakness gives you access to God’s power, but you only gain access to God’s power when you take action in the midst of being confronted by your weakness. I’ve acknowledged my weakness plenty of times yet ignored the action that I needed to take to conquer it.  Instead of accessing the power that was available to me to overcome my weakness I avoided confronting my weakness and made a choice to grow comfortable with it. When you grow comfortable with your constraints they will blind you to  your need for a breakthrough. 

Lastly, to conquer your constraints you have to be accountable. There has to be a willingness to open up to others about your weakness. I want people to know that I rather not speak up even though I know I should. I rather keep the peace than cause a problem, and that when I’m not confident when I’m not accessing God’s power that is always available to me when I’m faced with the fear of my constraints.

I am finding freedom in this process. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way to breaking free of every limitation and everything that’s restricting my life and leadership.

What constraints do you need to acknowledge, take action and make yourself accountable for?

 

 

How to Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the western world we don’t like our Christianity uncomfortable. If we are honest we want comfortable Christianity.  We want safe missions trips absent of any danger.  We want calculated risks where no faith is required.  We want vision that doesn’t cost us too much.  We want promises to come to pass without prayer and persistence.  We want the amenities of Christianity without dealing with our enemies.  We want spiritual rewards without self sacrifice.  We want a church that doesn’t have any challenges and requires no contribution.

In contrast Jesus told his disciples He was sending The Comforter because their uncomfortable Christianity required the Holy Spirit, who provided supernatural comfort in the midst of persecution, trials and tribulations in their pursuit to preach the gospel. One of the most overlooked functions of the Holy Spirit is to release divine strength needed to enable to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.

I believe the reason this particular function of the Holy Spirit is overlooked is because it is not needed with our western brand of the gospel.  The church will never see it’s need for a Comforter if the goal of our gospel is a comfortable life.  If our primary pursuit as Christians is a comfortable life we will never encounter the Comforter releasing divine help, relief, aid and counsel in the midst of the world’s complex crisis and chaos.  

Comfort is a pleasurable pursuit, but the Comforter is a person pursuing you in the midst of the uncomfortable. He is the God of all comfort but our goal should never be comfort.  Comfort should never be our god because the Comforter is our God.  

I believe things are getting very uncomfortable for comfortable Christianity to exist and that God is disrupting the lives of Christians who have disconnected themselves from engaging the uncomfortable life Jesus calls us to. We need to understand once again the supernatural provisions that the Comforter brings to us and through us for a world that desperately needs Jesus Christ.

Scripturally The God of ALL Comfort is always found in the context of ALL hell breaking loose.  Great Comfort is always coupled in context of Great Conflict. Here is just one of many examples found in the Gospels.

 John 15:18 If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also…. ‘They hated Me without a cause…26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

The Apostle Paul was familiar with supernatural comfort superseding his circumstances so he could continue to preach and teach the Good News. 

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

The Uncomfortable Life requires divine intervention and demonstration from the Comforter. With all the conflict that is currently breaking out in our nation and world as Christians we cannot shrink back, shrug our shoulders and shut our mouth. The bible promises when we don’t know what to say the Comforter will tell us, when we don’t where to go the Comforter will guide us, and when we are being intimidated and threatened the Comforter will supernaturally empower us.

If we want to get more acquainted with the Holy Spirit we can’t ignore the problems around us, we must confront them.  If we want the Holy Spirit to come upon us in power, we have to come out of our comfort zones. I believe God is inviting us to take step towards the uncomfortable so that we can witness the uncommon.

 What can you do today to take a step out of your comfort zone?

Overcoming Organizational Bottlnecks


Image by winnond courtesy of @FreeDigitalphotos.net

Image by winnond courtesy of @FreeDigitalphotos.net

I remember distinctively wrestling with the Lord about whether or not to take the opportunity.  In my heart I wanted something fresh, genuine and healthy. What I felt during the interview process was a lot of control, heavy handed, unhealthy leadership. The Lord had his way and it probably was one of the most memorable leadership journeys I have ever taken when I accepted the position.

One of the most valuable things I learned in this particular experience was how to overcome organizational bottlenecks. An organization will never function at its full potential when bottlenecks are present. They are easy to identify but very difficult to remove. When bottlenecks are not addressed they will belittle people, create bureaucracy, and centralize power.

Here are three ways I was able to help our organization break loose from bottlenecking.

1.  Value People over Processes – If  processes don’t empower people they will devour people. I recall some of our processes such as annual calendaring for our volunteers requiring a 40 hour work week to accomplish (I’m not joking). There were so many forms that it caused more frustration than freedom. Our check request process was a 2-3 week process that wasn’t working in a PayPal world and so our bottlenecks never produced the best outcomes for our people. Overcoming bottlenecking processes happens when we create processes that help produce better outcomes for people. Never elevate your processes over people. Instead allow your processes to elevate your people’s productivity.

2.  Choose Common Sense  Systems over Complicated Structures – Bureaucracy blinds and organization to better ways of doing things. It elevates structure over systems. It makes simple things super complex, doable things difficult and good ideas impossible. The creative life of an organization will always be restricted by bureaucratic bottlenecks. If an organization is not open to changing it’s structure it will never choose better systems. Common sense creates a culture that is always looking for ways to do things better.

3. Distribute Power within Your Organization – If only one person is powerful in your organization, everyone else is powerless. Leaders that have a ton of responsibility with no power to make decisions or spend money are not leaders at all. They are not even managers. They are employees that are not empowered. To be completely honest they work for you and not with you. By distributing power throughout your organization bottlenecks break wide open. When you level the playing field your organization goes to the next level.

Have you ever experienced being belittled by a bottleneck? How did you overcome it?

 

Speaking at REVIVE Conference


Excited to be back at New Life speaking at REVIVE, a conference I helped create 5 years ago with some of my favorite people – Sean Smith and Havilah Cunnington. A FREE conference to benefit the greater Body of Christ in Sacramento! Hope to see you there! Details at aboutnewlife.com

Is There More to Life than Becoming a Leader


Image courtesy of Victor Habbick @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I discovered last week that leadership is overrated.  For all you leadership junkies like me that just choked on your bagel, relax for just a few minutes as I lead you down the path of my discovery.

For many leadership is at the pinnacle of their pursuit. It is their number one priority, their goal, for some, possibly even their god. How could this be? We’ve been told that becoming a better leader will produce the outcomes we all long to see in our lives. Great leaders have magnificent marriages, overachieving kids, flourishing financial portfolios, thriving businesses or organizations, and a list of award winning accomplishments as a result of their superb leadership.

But what if there was more to life than just becoming the best leader YOU could be? Last week I discovered during a staff training day the one thing better than becoming a leader, and that is becoming a multiplier. 

Most have learned as I have the goal of every leader should be to multiply themselves, yet many leaders get caught in the trap of waiting until the end of their careers to identify someone that will continue their leadership legacy. A life of great leadership can be marred by the mistake of not multiplying oneself.  Think of how many succession plans have failed, organizational transitions that have went south, or generational batons that have been dropped.

So let me finish my bagel choking statement I made at the beginning of this post.  Leadership is overrated if it cannot be duplicated.  Living your life as a multiplier maximizes the life of others through your everyday behaviors. It’s not an action plan at the end of a leader’s career, it’s a lifestyle that is modeled and multiplied. A multiplier is focused on creating more of who they are or better than they are in the life of others. A multiplier’s life is duplicatable and maximizes the best outcomes for the people they invest in.

The life of a multiplier is clearly modeled in scripture. From the very outset of his ministry Jesus had multiplication in mind when he said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  The prayers that fueled Jesus’ ministry were prayers of multiplication when he instructed his disciples to “pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Jesus cast vision for multiplication when he promised  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

The Apostle Paul clearly saw Jesus’ model and multiplied himself many times over as he encouraged others to “imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Most notably he multiplied himself in the life of Timothy.

Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:16-17.

So more than becoming a leader, become a multiplier. Duplicate your life in the life of someone else and let your leadership legacy live on.

Who is currently in your life that you can invest and multiply your life in?

 

3 BIG Myths of the Organic Church


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In 1998 I was handed a book by my Senior Pastor that would change the way I viewed church and deposit a vision in my heart for a church that wasn’t program based. That book was “Where Do We Go From Here?” by Dr. Ralph Neighbour. I would later that year end up moving to Houston to be a part of a church planting team led by Dr. Neighbour and his wife Ruthie. Though that planting effort was short lived the desire to see something more organic emerge from our traditional ecclesiology has never faded. The pursuit of the organic church is elusive because we have failed to clearly define what it means to be organic; possibly fearing to taint even the pure perception of the word or hesitant to put our fingerprints on something we think only God should be touching.

In order to bring clarity, sometimes it is helpful to identify the misconceptions of a word or phrase. so first let me define organic and then present some myths about the organic church.

One of the definitions of organic we are most familiar with and that I will use for this post is how it relates to organic produce or food production. In this context organic is the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides.

This definition actually implies that organic is so much more than 100% spontaneous and all natural.  In all reality organic production requires more planning and sweat equity to produce the desired product. With that said let me attempt to lay out some myths I’ve experienced with the concept of the organic church.

Myth #1 – Organic Church is not organized. Organic can only be derived from a living organism. An organism is a system with many parts that depend on each other and work together. Organic is not spontaneous, but strategic and a part of God’s plan. Organic church is by intelligent design not an undirected process of evolution. When God created life He made it complex and calculated so there would be know doubt who The Creator was. Organic Church should have the signature of The Creator on it. Obvious to all that it is a work of His hands.  Organic is not a hands off approach, it’s hands on!

Myth #2 – Organic Church is system free.  This myth shifts all responsibility to others instead of one another. To be organic is to be free of religious formulas, church growth methods and gimmicks. Systems however assist getting people to trust and depend on one another as they work together towards a greater cause or vision for a community. Healthy systems create and enhance  healthy organic church communities. Without systems you really are more of an evolutionist who believes that chaos can produce healthy organized life. 

Myth #3 – Organic Church isn’t messy.  When ever you go organic you can guarantee crap is involved. Organic farming uses green manures, animal manures and crop rotations to fertilize the soil and maximize biological activity and maintain long-term soil health.  I make mention of this because if you’re going organic you might want to grab a shovel. In order to maximize the life of your organic church community you are going to have to get knee deep in crap. People’s crap…sorry for being so blunt.  Organic church is a call to life on life. Life that can get messy at times, life that stinks at times, but ultimately it is the fertilizer that causes us to grow mature in Christ and with one another.

Organic is the complexity of life simplified in Christ. Pursue it and embrace it and get ready to go to work!

If you enjoyed this post, please follow my blog or  LIKE my Facebook page in the right hand column.

 

 

 

Best Leadership Tweets of JCLA


BWfNFdrz_400x400 Scott and his wife Karen are the founding pastors of Real Life Church in Sacramento, CA. He writes at his personal blog ScottHagan.org and regularly shares his free values driven leadership content on his Facebook page note2leaders.

25 One Liners from My Jesus Culture LA Notes


John Gray

I love taking notes at church and conferences, but before I started blogging I really didn’t know what to do with them. This morning I wanted to share and inspire you with the top one liners I jotted down during the weekend.

There is a story of God unfolding in America right now! @thebanning

It’s impossible to be hopeless when you know the story of God. @thebanning

When God intends to move somewhere He sets apart someone! @thebanning

God wants to use your life in the coming awakening. @thebanning

The church is looking for better methods but God is looking for better men and women. @thebanning

You can’t avoid holiness, you have to embrace it. @thebanning

Holiness is not a list of rules and regulations it’s a revelation that I’ve been set apart unto God. @thebanning

God is a God of 100%. @thebanning

Holiness is a relationship. @thebanning

Christianity is one massive YES! @thebanning

I see a generation giving themselves FULLY to God in the midst of options. @thebanning

What you’ve gone through is to help those now going through. @_ScottHagan

Great leaders pay attention, careless leaders seek attention. @_ScottHagan

In these last days it’s courage not creativity. @_ScottHagan

The love that presses in must overwhelm that pain that pushes back. @_ScottHagan

When you are going through the motions nothing ever happens. @_ScottHagan

Level 2 faith calls the marginal the miracle. @_ScottHagan

Gone are the days of safe church @RealJohnGray

The sound of worship can shift culture. @RealJohnGray

The blood that saved you, saved me… we are blood brothers. @RealJohnGray

Perfection is not the aim being perfected is the aim. @RealJohnGray

Can you sing in your midnight? @RealJohnGray

Don’t ever minimize your worship to make someone else feel comfortable. @RealJohnGray

Real power can whisper.@RealJohnGray

How many believers live in the tombs of their bad decisions? @RealJohnGray

Do me a favor be encouraged and tweet some of these today and encourage somebody else!

 

 

 

How to Teach the Amazing Truth of the Gospel


We are reminded in my interview with Banning Liebscher, founder and director of Jesus Culture, that teaching and preaching the most important message in the entire world effectively has nothing to do with us but everything to do with the power of the Holy Spirit in us and upon us!

When it comes to teaching the truth of the Gospel, Jesus set the bar high!

Matthew 7:28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Jesus teaching ministry flowed from the heart of the Father. He was anointed and authorized to preach “Good News to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Here are some steps everyone can take implement in teaching the amazing truth of the gospel:

1.  Receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon your life. God’s desire is to continually increase the power of the Holy Spirit in your life and ministry. Who God appoints He anoints. God’s desire is to mark your life with courage and power.

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. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. Acts 4:14-15

2. Realize that God sees you as an amazing son or daughter! God’s love is expressed through a personal relationship with His children not a performance based relationship.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

3. Risk stepping out of your comfort zone. We will never see the amazing truth of the Gospel at work unless we take risks to see God’s power released in us and through us.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God. Acts 3:6-8

 

 

How to Get a Month Ahead in Your Message Planning


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It’s Friday, you had some unexpected interruptions and now you are pressed for time in preparing your message. You frantically surf the internet for a free sermon you can download, digest and deliver by Sunday, but you forgot your wife planned for friends to come over for a late Saturday afternoon BBQ. Bummer for you!

That is unless you’ve finally figured out how to get ahead and stay ahead. Last year I posted a blog 5 Free Creative Sermon Series Ideas. It is by far the all time most viewed post on my blog with multiple views per week and the bulk of those views coming on Friday & Saturday night! Why do you think that is? We all know why. Pastors are looking for some help! Many don’t have the luxury of having a creative team around them or someone who can help them with a projected preaching calendar. Instead, they find themselves in a sermon prep frenzy each week instead of confidently and calmly looking ahead.

If your looking for some free sermons hopefully one of the five free sermons can help you out, but if you are willing to make a small investment you will not only have content for this weeks sermon you will have your  messages for following three weeks laid out as well. Let me tell you right up front that I’m not gaining anything personally for blogging about the product except the gratification knowing how much this investment can free you up and improve your preaching and teaching.

Two weeks ago you could only purchase 40 sessions of Jesus Culture’s Emerge Kingdom or Identity resource in it’s entirety for $199.  Now, for $29 you can have access to Emerge Kingdom or Identity 4 weeks at a time, making it really affordable.

It comes with everything you need to put together a message filled with rich content and resources that will assist you in adding your own flair to it. Check it at www.jesusculture.com/emerge out and let this resource take some pressure off.

How to Tackle Trust Issues on Your Team


I was a new staff member, unaware of any trust issues, really enjoying the book 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lenconi that we were reading and discussing as a staff. That is until we got to Part Two.  Part Two brought up the issue of trust; specifically the absence of it. In Lenconi’s fable the absence of trust is defined as the failure on the part of team members to understand and open up to one another. It was clearly evident at this point when all the conversation stopped that we had struck a chord within the broken soul of our team. The book was shelved and so was any further conversation about the subject. Awkward!

Trust is at the very foundation of team building. You can’t build anything significant when trust issues exist amongst a team.

Trust is powerful! It is a belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest and effective. Trust issues exist when wrong beliefs about a team member portray them as something other than these positive characteristics that are listed above. When bad beliefs about others go unchecked they build walls between team members instead of bridges.

To say someone is not trustworthy is to say they are unreliable, bad, dishonest and ineffective. That is the power of belief. It can turn someone who you should trust into a person that is a total bust. When trust is absent from a team distrust is present. Distrust breeds disrespect, disappointment, disillusion, discouragement and a disconnectedness among teams.

It is interesting that distrust is defined as a feeling that someone or something is not honest and cannot be trusted. Notice the contrast between trust and distrust. Trust is based on belief and distrust is based on feelings. We can only experience the best in someone when we’ve believed the best about someone. Feelings on the other hand will mislead us in drawing wrong conclusions about others.

 So how do we tackle trust issues that are trampling team unity, synergy and cohesiveness?

1. Affirm Your Beliefs Publicly about Your Team – If you don’t acknowledge publicly the good things a person brings to your team you open the door to form wrong feelings about a person privately. Teams that don’t affirm one another are usually teams that being misled by their feelings and therefore experiencing emotional highs and lows constantly.

2. Celebrate Your Team Members – You have to find reasons to celebrate each and every team member not just the team leader. A team member that isn’t celebrated is a team member that doesn’t feel appreciated. Birthdays and anniversaries are given opportunities to celebrate others. I know many organizations that “feel” like they can’t afford to celebrate these simple things, but to be completely honest you can’t afford not to. A 5 year work anniversary should be celebrated! A 20 year wedding anniversary should be celebrated! A job well done should be celebrated! Teams that celebrate typically are teams that accelerate!

3. Deepen Your Relationships with Your Team – There are a lot of differing opinions about this but as it relates to ministry and the church but I’m going to say it anyway. Teams that are relationally superficial will never do anything supernatural!  To deepen your relationships you have to move past the formal into the familiar. You have to take relational risks with the people around you. Spending time outside the office, double dates, trips, bbq’s, whatever excuse you can find to go deeper it’s worth the risk. If the team that you are a part of can’t be likened to a family then relationally your team isn’t going to stick together. In fact it could get ugly!

Trust issues are the most difficult issues to tackle on a team, church or organization. They will run over you, trample you and stomp you if they are not confronted. You cant tackle them alone but you can tackle them as a team!

How have you cultivated trust within your team?

The UNLEARNING Process


Image courtesy of by Idea go @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of by Idea go @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been taught over the years that leaders should always be learning. However, I’ve discovered that it is equally important to commit to the unlearning process as a leader. To unlearn is to put out of one’s knowledge or memory, to undo the effect of, discard the habit of some formed behavior.

Learned behavior can become a barrier to your leadership. Biblically we would call these strongholds; wrong attitudes that have been formed into unhealthy mindsets that are difficult to dismantle. Eugene Peterson says it this way in The Message in 1 Corinthians 10:5 -
We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. 
So how do we commit and submit  ourselves to the unlearning process as leaders?
1. Make room for NEW thinking – Old attitudes are dismantled by new thoughts and ideas. Unlearning the way you’ve done things for the last 10 years can unleash the new innovative way you do something for the next 10 years. If something that has always worked is not working it may be that there is a better way to do it if you allow room for fresh ideas.
2. Get NEW perspective – Better outcomes require different outlooks. Unlearning will require you to consider what others are telling you. A leader that is unlearning is open to listening to different perspectives.
3. Allow God to do a NEW thing! - God is the author of all things NEW!  The idea, system, method or structure you need might not look like anything someone else is doing or that you’ve done. A good starting place to see a NEW thing happen is to ask God what He’s wanting to do or already doing.
For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? (Isaiah 41:7)
The brand NEW will help you with your breakthrough! Unlearning the old and embracing the new is key for advancing leaders and moving their organizations forward into the future.
Is there anything you need to unlearn?

Cultivating Kingdom Culture


black-hole1The word culture as it relates to this post is defined as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution or organization.

Kingdom culture is cultivated and released by the human heart through heart attitudes. Attitudes create an atmosphere where values are formed, vision is realized and vessels are empowered to bring God glory.

That is why culture, a set of shared attitudes, is the most powerful factor in any church, ministry or organization.  Many times as leaders we are trying to produce an outward action before we’ve cultivated the inward attitude of the hearts of people that ultimately creates the activity or outcome we want to see.

At the heart of Kingdom culture is the hearts of people. Vision and strategy is what flows from the heart of people centered on the King of the Kingdom. This culture is created when the greatest commandment is given the greatest priority:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  – Luke 10:27

The most valuable asset in Kingdom culture is our response to God and our relationships with people.  Healthy hearts aligned with the King produce Kingdom attitudes that create awesome atmospheres people want to be a part of.  If the air is clean and healthy, people thrive and the vision and strategy prosper, but if the atmosphere is toxic because the output of our hearts isn’t healthy, energy subsides, creativity lags, conflicts multiply, and production declines.

My case and point is the Oakland Raiders.  Over the years the stigma of the Raiders being the bad boys of the NFL has stifled their success. This bad attitude of the ownership, players and even fans for the last 12 years has created a toxic atmosphere that has produced a team that no one wants to coach, play for, or watch. The attitude of the organization has created an atmosphere that has caused a legendary team to miss playoffs for 12 consecutive years. Attitude is everything!

Here are some suggestions that can help you cultivate a CULTURE that expresses attitudes and produces atmospheres that best represent your Christ Jesus the King.

Celebrate Your Wins

Romans 12:15- Rejoice with those who rejoice

1 Corinthians 12:26- And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Unite your Hearts

Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Love like Jesus

1 Cotinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Trust Your Leadership

1 Thessalonians 5:12- Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders inthe Lord’s work. They work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong.

Hebrews 13:7- Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do.

Hebrews 13:17- Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

Undaunted when faced with opposition

I have to share this definition because unhealthy cultures do not have this shared quality. Undaunted means not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment. 

Joshua 1:5-7 – No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous…

Reward & Appreciate People

Imagine if  your were Timothy and Paul said these things about you!

1 Corinthians 4:17- That is the very reason I am sending Timothy — to help you do this. For he is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord. He will remind you of what I teach about Christ Jesus in all the churches wherever I go.

Philippians 2:20, 22- I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has helped me in preaching the Good News.

Examine Your Heart & Be an Example to Others

Proverbs 4:23- Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Matthew 12:34-35- 34You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart.

Psalm 26:2- Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. When you take time to do this, you will not only create culture, you will sustain it!

Creating Kingdom CULTURE is hard work, but as Dr. Sam Chand says, “Culture, if not healthy, will eat strategy and vision for lunch.”

If you like this post please share it, LIKE it, Tweet it! Thanks for taking the time to read it.

383 Pages of Hope & Encouragement


HQ GraphicI learned about Ray Johnston’s book Hope Quotient by attending the Folsom Bayside Campus and was delighted when I found it was available on BookLookBloggers.com for free in exchange for this review.

Ray doesn’t just tell you to be encouraged he shows you many practical steps on how to stay encouraged by raising your HQ (Hope Quotient).

The book is centered around seven principles that will increase your hope levels as a leader so that you can unleash hope others. If we don’t have hope in our own lives we will be unable to offer hope to anyone else. Here are the 7 factors that raise your HQ:

1. Recharge your batteries. Nobody does well running on empty.

2. Raise your expectations. You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you expect.

3. Refocus on the future. It’s time to throw away your rearview mirror. No one goes forward well when they are looking back.

4. Play to your strengths. Be yourself; everyone else is taken.

5. Refuse to go it alone. Never underestimate the power of support.

6. Replace burnout with balance. Burning the candle at both ends isn’t as bright as you think.

7. Play great defense. Avoid these five toxic hope killers that can threaten your future.

This book will have you laughing, thinking, highlighting and praying seriously about what you need to do to raise your HQ. If you are in a place of discouragement, need a better outlook, or just want to keep your HQ level where it is I would definitely recommend this book to you. When you purchase the book there is also a free HQ assessment you can take to see where your hope levels are at! The book can also be used as a 50 Days of Unleashing Hope Campaign in your church which was put together by Bayside, so it’s proven.

What’s on your reading list this summer?

 

 

The 10 Most Believed Lies About Leadership


Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1.  Leadership is a Lonely Road – Leaders that find themselves on a lonely road are not on the road to successful leadership they are on the road to devastation and isolation. Leaders cannot sustain the pressures that come with leading alone. Though leaders many times will take the road less traveled, it doesn’t mean no one goes with them. Healthy leaders are surrounded by healthy relationships.

2. Leadership is Power – Power driven leaders drive people from their organizations. Leaders are only as powerful as the people who are following them. A leader that leads by power and position is a leader that often bankrupts people of their value and worth to an organization. The power driven leader makes it all about them, but genuine leadership is concerned about the success of others.

3. Leadership must have an Element of Mystery – Leaders who believe they must be somewhat mysterious in my opinion have serious issues. This idea emerged out of the idea that if people become too familiar with a leader that it will somehow nullify their ability to lead effectively. Leaders thrive when they create cultures of transparency, authenticity and accessibility. Mystery is not a quality of healthy leadership, it’s an indicator that a leader has totally missed what leadership is all about, serving others.

4. Leadership is for Everyone – Leadership is for anyone, but not for everyone. Leadership cannot happen without a contingency of followers. As John Maxwell says, “If you think you are a leader and no one is following you, you are just going for a walk.” I first ran across this leadership lie in the in the late 90’s. I believe the opposite is true. Everyone is called to follow, not everyone is gifted with the innate ability to lead others.  Can leadership be learned by anyone? You bet, but to become a leader you must be chosen to be one or make a choice to become one. Leadership is a gift that not everyone is graced with. If we are really honest there are many who have deemed themselves as leaders that are operating outside the graces of what God has called them to. Some people are passionate followers and are content with being led by great leaders choosing to follow rather than lead.

5. Leadership is without Struggle. A leader’s strength is developed in the struggle not without struggle. I like how Steven Snyder in his book, “Leadership and the Art of Struggle” exposes this lie:

“Fulfilling your potential as a leader requires that you think differently about leadership. You must recast your struggles as positive learning experiences and view them as necessary steps in your development as a leader. You must look at leadership through an entirely different lens.”

Viewing struggles as an opportunity instead of an obstacle is essential in leadership.

6. Leadership means Everyone Agrees. Great leaders will have to make difficult decisions.  It is rare for a leader to have 100% buy in 100% of the time. Leading by consensus kills progressive cultures.  Leaders are often presented opportunities that have an expiration date that require prompt decisions.  Having to consult boards, staffs and committees can be wise but it can also cause leaders to miss windows of opportunity and see doors close. There has to be process for leadership to make quick and timely decisions. Momentum is lost through long drawn out decision making processes.

7. Leadership is for the Elite. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Apostle Paul’s words debunks this leadership lie directly:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30, The Message)

Life presents anyone an equal opportunity to become a leader. Not everyone will choose to be or should be a leader, but everyone can be.  It doesn’t matter your age, gender, race or where you were born. What matters is realizing what you were born for. Leading your life with purpose is not just for the privileged.

8. Leadership comes with Rights. The longer you are in leadership the more your responsibilities will increase while simultaneously your rights decrease. Responsibility always is increasing in the lives of maturing leaders. “Too much is given, much is required.” You will not be given much if you are not willing to give up your rights. Holding on to your rights will reduce your productivity and influence as a leader.

9. Leadership Means Having It All Together- The greatest trap for leaders is to think they can’t show any signs of personal weakness. Their marriage must be perfect, their kids must be perfect, their finances must be perfect and so on. Leadership means I’m being perfected in my pursuit of becoming a better leader. It means that I’m living my life up front as an example with both my weaknesses and strengths.

10.  Leadership is Everything  – If everything depends on leadership then nothing else matters. We’ve all heard the saying “everything rises and falls on leadership.” To say that this is 100% true all the time is to say that there are never any other determining factors of outcomes. Leadership is one of many things that determine the results of a successful organization. There are other factors such as timing, resources, location, and what I call the God factor. To say leadership is everything overlooks the importance that other determining factors play.

What leadership lies have you believed or have I not included? What do you think should or shouldn’t be on my list? If you like my content please subscribe to my blog and LIKE my Facebook page! Thanks for your support!

 

3 Ways to Fight for Joy


Image courtesy of farconville    @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of farconville
@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Joy is defined as a source or cause of great happiness. When our lives are filled with joy it is a result of tapping into the source or cause that provides such great happiness. Genuine joy is not based on my outward circumstances but my inward strength. That strength in my life is supplied by the hope I have in Christ.

When I find myself discouraged or fighting to keep my joy it is an indicator that I’m doing things in my own strength and NOT looking to Him to supply me with the hope that only He can give me that results in a happy life.

Here are 3 ways that I fight for joy in my life:

1. You Have to Find Hope - In the midst of everything that might be going wrong in our lives we have to find hope. I will never forget the definition of hope I first heard as a new Christian at the age of 17. Hope is the confident joyful expectation we can always have in Christ. Hope releases an inward confidence, joy and an expectation that helps me to conquer or overcome any obstacle that is attempting to kill my joy. The reason I can be happy even in the most hopeless situations is because what is attacking my joy from the outside does not determine my outcome when my joy is anchored in hope.

2. You Have to Find Faith – My favorite definition for faith comes from the example of Abraham’s faith described in Romans 4:21. Abraham was fully convinced that what He (God) had promised He (God) was also able to perform! I find faith on a regular basis in two common places and so can you. Faith can be found in God’s promises. Turning the pages of your Bible puts the promises of God right at your finger tips. God’s promises fight the doubt that attempts to dash your dreams. The second place I find faith is in the place of praise. Praise is the language of faith.  When I sing God’s praises He raises my expectations and my heart is filled with hope.  A couple years ago God spoke to my heart and said the volume of your praise must be louder than the voices of your problems. Praise releases faith to see the victory on the other side of the mountains we are facing.

3. You Have to Find Love - Keeping your joy is much easier when we have a friend walking with us through the things that try to kill our joy. Finding a friend that says the right thing at the right time or maybe having a friend that is just a good listener and can pray with us and for us is key when we our fighting to keep our joy. Unconditional love from a friend brings joylessness to an end! Most people that have lost their joy have lost connection with people that can bring strength to their life.

If you find yourself without joy I encourage you to do whatever it takes to find hope, faith and love in your life this week. Keep fighting, don’t give up because those who seek it will find it!

What are some ways  you fight to keep your joy?

 

 

 

How I Overcame an Obvious Oops


Image courtesy of digitalart @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week I received an email on Friday late afternoon requesting documentation that was supposed to be completed by the weekend. Panic flooded my soul as I scanned my inbox for the attachment that had gotten buried by the back and forth correspondence. Sure enough there it was, as plain as day with the simple instructions to fill out and return. So simple, yet a dumb mistake.

We’ve all been there. The realization that you screwed up, completely blew it, forgot about it, or overlooked it. Nothing quite matches the personal feeling of a sinking heart reeling from an obvious oops. Mistakes; we all make them and will continue to have moments that are marked by embarrassing mishaps, but how do we overcome them? 

“I” Didn’t Come Up with an Excuse –  There is only one thing worse than a lame mistake and that is a lame excuse. Our sin nature loves to look for something or someone else to blame. Shifting the blame causes you to look like a lame leader. When I realized I had messed up I could have come up with a pretty good reason for why I was not responsible for the oversight, however I chose to take a different route.

“I” Owned It –  I got honest with my oops. I completely missed the attachment on the email earlier in the week that gave me more than enough time to complete the task. When we make a mistake we have an opportunity to take it or fake it. We can take responsibility or fake it and act like it wasn’t our fault. Taking ownership of our oops can help us correct things quickly and get things back on track.

“I” Called Immediately -  When I received the email asking if I had received the attachment I didn’t hit reply or send back a text message. I immediately called her to tell her I dropped the ball. Although she almost dropped my call, I assured her even though I wasn’t certain I could get it done that I would do my best to get the contract to her as soon as possible. When you find out you’ve made a mistake make a personal call. I was able to start correcting my mistake in a moment rather than wasting valuable minutes going back and forth with email and text messages.

“I” Asked My Team for Help – After I made the call I was not in a position to act on the promise I had just made, so I called my team. At the time I didn’t know how my coworkers would respond to my request for help. There were only a few hours left in their Friday and I’m sure they had more pressing things to get done than solve the problem I created. What I discovered is that when you humble yourself your team will help you. There was no way I was going solve this problem by myself. I needed my friends and they had my back. There is no better feeling when we have failed to have your pick you up from the fall. Correcting problems often takes collaboration that flows from community.

“We” Overcame the Oops!  When “I” got out of the way and didn’t try to preserve myself the problem started getting solved. There is safety and wisdom in taking responsibility, confronting issues and humbling ourselves in overcoming the oops we encounter. Humility helps bring solutions, but pride will just causes more problems.

What can you take away from my OOPS?

 

The 2 Most Important Leadership Actions I Practice


Image courtesy of basketman @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of basketman @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No matter what level of leadership you currently find yourself at, there are important actions that every leader should be consistently practicing as they continue to enhance their leadership skills. Here are the 2 most important leadership actions I continually practice as a growing leader.

1. I Keep LearningAs a leader if you stop learning you stop growing. The wonderful thing about leadership is that you never know it all. No matter how many of John Maxwell’s books you’ve read, leadership conferences you’ve attended, years of leadership experience you possess there is alway more room to grow as a leader. Leaders that stop learning lose the burning desire that is required to lead boldly, bring innovative change and continue to carry and cast fresh vision to those they lead.

Proverbs 9:9 – Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

2. I Keep Listening – A leader that doesn’t listen is a leader that doesn’t last because when leaders stop listening people stop following. Leaders must be active listeners. To be an active listener doesn’t mean you need to act on everything you hear, yet it’s understanding the importance that everything you do hear has an element of truth that can help you as a leader. As a leader I have made it a consistent practice to hear the compliments as well as the complaints. I’ve had people yell at me because they were upset and something and was still able to pull something positive out of what seemed to be a negative situation. I’ve listened to criticism and allowed it to become a catalyst for something good to happen. Leaders that listen are leaders that are one step ahead and continue to stay ahead conflict and concerns.

Proverbs 1:5 – …Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.

I have found that as I keep learning and listening I can continue to take my leadership to the next level and be the leader God has called me to be.

What practices as a leader do you consistently act upon that continue to help you grow as a leader?

Are We Bowing Down to the god of Growth?


catalyst-31

Ten years ago the conversation changed from getting people saved to getting churches to grow. One could argue that getting churches to grow depends upon getting people saved and there is no doubt that many growing churches are seeing numerous conversions and water baptisms. However, I believe it is the exception to what’s happening in churches across the nation.

For most church leaders it seems that getting people saved has become secondary to seeing their churches grow. We are talking more about how many are being seated in our churches than how many are being saved and sent by our churches. In fact we have created a culture within church world that only celebrates, elevates and platforms leaders that have thousands of followers. Take a moment to recall the last time you went to a church leadership conference and heard from someone who wasn’t an author, a regular conference speaker, a successful church planter, or someone that hasn’t done some great exploit in the last 18 months. Bottom line is you haven’t.

Just yesterday I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts that advertised “The Double Conference.” It was specifically for Pastors that want to see their church double in size over the next year. I’m not criticizing the concept of the conference because I know the leader hosting the conference understands that when leaders grow their organizations grow. What I’m concerned about is that the pursuit of “double” has overtaken the pursuit of the Divine. 

Today leaders are generally more concerned about producing growth than they are about presenting the Gospel. Think about some of your own conversations lately. When is the last time you critiqued your presentation of the Gospel? 

If we are not careful our pursuit of God’s Divine Presence will be exchanged for Growth Driven Principles! Please hear me when I say that like Pastor Benny Perez addressed in his book, I believe it’s a “Both And” not an either or.

Pastor Benny talks about the tension of a “Both And” culture in our churches:

Should we be missional or attractional? Do we need to pray more or do we need new strategies? Is it Good Deeds or Good news? Does the Bible teach prosperity or generosity? Changing lives isn’t about easy answers. 

I’m all about growing but is it worth the price pastors and leaders are paying. We are sacrificing our families, our health, our sanity, even our churches in this principled pursuit.  I was impacted by a comment that Francis Chan, a former mega church pastor,  made at a pastors gathering I attended last year. He said he really didn’t know if God had designed leaders to handle and live under the pressures that the mega church brings.

His statement went against the grain of the current leadership mindset in the church, but I would have to agree. I don’t believe God created us to live under the constant, day in and day out pressure that exponential growth can bring if it’s only principle driven.  God doesn’t want living under unhealthy pressure, He wants us living and leading from His presence. 

So, are we bowing down to the god of Growth? Are we more consumed and caught up with numeric barriers than the spiritual barriers that are keeping people from experiencing salvation? Are we seeking His presence first or are we quick to pick up the hottest book that has the principles we so think we need?

I’m thinking out loud this morning, but would like to gather your thoughts as well. Please leave a comment, LIKE the Backseat Leader Facebook Page. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

 

10 Things I Would Have Done Differently as a Church Planter


Image Courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In 2003 we planted a church. In 2004 we closed the doors. Here’s 10 things I would have done differently.

1. I would taken a more rigorous church planter’s assessment – I often joke that if someone would have just looked at my checkbook they would have stopped me from my attempt to plant a church. I’m sure other indicators would have surfaced as well, but a good assessment would have either helped delay us until we were really prepared or prevented us from doing one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

2. I would have been more patient and processed more with my Senior Pastor – I guess looking back I laugh a lot because I joke about this to with my lifelong Pastor and friend, Greg Simas, “why didn’t you stop me?” I would have taken more time to  ask him more questions like:

  • Do you think I’m ready?
  • How hard has it been for you to plant?
  • Is the timing right?
  • Where should I plant?
  • Can the church send us?

My impatience of feeling like I was done with youth ministry only gave me a couple options and since I felt that God gave me a desire to plant a church that’s what I pursued.

3. I would not planted with the domination I was affiliated with. In 2002 the denomination we were associated with at the time had not developed a proven church planting strategy. We received what I call a “pentecostal pat on the back” and their blessing which at the time that’s all I thought I needed. A church planter needs more than required approval. They need real assistance. I would have sought out a church planting organization or movement that was better equipped to equip me and had the vision and knowledge on how to plant a church successfully.

4. I would have spent a year on just getting supporters and raising support. I would have focused more time on learning how to raise funds and would have had definite goals in place of how many supporters I needed to fund the plant so that I could give my undivided attention to the work. As you may know a church planter that has to work an additional job is less likely to get the church established. At one time I was working 3 jobs!

5. I would have gathered a much larger team with closer friends.  I think in order to gather a team you have to have to things working for you. Your timing has to be right and your location needs to be strategic. I think I missed the best timing when we didn’t plant after being 9 years at a church we loved and  what was ultimately our first ministry transition in 1998. Because of missing the timing I think we missed the best opportunity to gather a team with our closest friends that would have followed our lead.

6. I would not plant two hours away from my hometown or home church. We planted 2.5 hours away from my hometown and the church that sent us which meant no one went with us. I read some bad info in my twenties that said a church planter should plant a minimum of 100 miles away from their home church. We know today that was written by someone who was territorial not apostolic.

7. I would not have quit. When I meet with church planters today I encourage them not to quit like I did. Good things will happen if you are persistent, but you have to stay encouraged. I allowed myself to become discouraged.

8. I would not have launched prematurely. Our family experienced 5 major life changes in a 1 year period. We moved to a different city, we purchased our first home, we got new jobs, the kids went to different schools, and we decided to pull off the biggest challenge of all on top of that in planting a church. Dumb. I should not have launched right away and in fact that was the plan, but I got impatient. I’m pretty good at that.

9. I would have partnered with a church that had a real vision to plant churches. I can’t stress how important this is. There is a big difference between a supporting church than a sending church. A supporting church keeps you afloat, a sending church buys you the boat! You need a church behind you that’s all in. If you fail they fail, if you succeed they succeed. There are many ways to approach partnership, but your sending church should have a vision and proven strategy to plant churches.

10. I would have asked my wife more questions. Amy has been a constant supporter of me the last 22 years of our marriage and 20 years in ministry. There is no way anyone can last in ministry without a spouse who is called to ministry. Somehow I think I took on more responsibility than was required. I should have shared more of it with her. Not that I didn’t include her, but I think when things got tough I isolated myself and tried to do it all by myself  “come hell or high water.” Pride doesn’t always boast and shout, sometimes it isolates and manifests itself in a spirit of independence. I may have had a form of pride in my life that caused me to internalize too much.

After we closed the church plant I went through the two most difficult years of my life. I think if I would have done some things differently we either wouldn’t have planted or waited until we were better prepared. I’m still a planter at heart and I’m excited to be a part of my 3rd church planting team experience with Jesus Culture Sacramento. I’m sure I’ll be writing a post in the future about 10 things we did right!

If you are a church planter what is something you would have done differently?

Book Review: Crash The Chatterbox


ctch-header-bookAnother amazing read by Pastor Steven Furtick!  After reading Crash the Chatterbox I feel like I’ve just stepped out of the cage of a UFC title fight! This book will help you to confront the enemies constant whispers of discouragement, defeat and delusion and lies. Furtick doesn’t give the reader a quick fix or proven formula to quieting the opposing voice but he fuels the reader a fighting strategy that will assist you in slugging out your victory.

This book is about hearing God’s voice above all others and cranking up the volume of His victorious voice while violently crashing the chatterbox that never shuts up. If you are constantly in a battle with your mind, you are living with condemnation, like to throw pity parties or you are just weary in the day to day fight this book will inspire you to go at it with everything you’ve got.

Don’t let a battle you are afraid to fight keep you from a victory that already been won!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review, but this is a book that I would definitely purchase for my personal library!

What book are you currently reading? I’m looking for my next book!

 

10 Things I Would Have Done Differently as a Youth Pastor


 

 Image by khunaspix courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by khunaspix courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is not a list of regrets, but as we mature hopefully we are getting wiser. Here are 10 things I would do differently as youth pastor almost 20 years later. Here we go!

1.  I would have been more transparent in dealing with my personal issues – I was only 23 when I began in ministry. A rookie and a newlywed! I had matured a lot in between the ages of 19-22, but I was still a young work in process (still am). I wish I would have been more deliberate in talking about my shortcomings with youth more than my strengths. Over the last 15-20 years, I now know that God is most powerful when I am most vulnerable.  God uses our weakness to release grace and perfect His strength in our lives. When we hide our weakness we resist His grace and strength.

2.  I would have honed in on my strengths sooner – I was a Jack of All trades Master of None. I could do everything pretty well, but I should have taken some time to master my strengths. It’s only been in the last 4-5 years that I’ve really narrowed my focus on doing a few things really well such as communication, writing and creative planning. One of the key lessons I’ve learned is that when you can do everything you won’t delegate anything. This has caused me to thrive in ministry rather than just survive in ministry.

3.  I would have worked on becoming a better communicator much sooner than I did. Many youth pastors think they are the best communicators on the planet. I thought I was pretty good myself. When I’ve gone back to listen to some of my old messages it’s really embarrassing. We have a huge responsibility in communicating the most important message known to mankind and how we communicate it is really important. I don’t think you ever totally arrive but I have become a better story teller, a better craftsman, more creative and a better closer by getting some coaching and studying some of my favorite speakers, listening to podcasts, etc.

4.  I would have took my teens on more missions trips. I have not witnessed a more transformational experience than leading others on a missions trip. I have come to learn that faith works best in foreign places. Even in my most recent trips I’ve seen youth (not limited to youth) that are complacent become radically committed to Christ after going on 10 day a trip. Mission trips expose youth to real places of need that require real faith to survive. When they see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, hear it they are changed by it!

5.  I would have spent more time focusing on relationships than the Big Event. I was a big event expert, but looking back I would have become a relationship expert. Some of my best memories and I think most impacting times in youth ministry were when I was focusing on just one or a few teens, in a van, on a trip, eating late night drive thru fast food, laughing, talking, listening, ministering. Those moments are easily missed when your ministry is event driven because you don’t have time or make time for that. Though I think I had both, I think the Big Event can be a Big Mistake if that’s all your youth ministry is about. 

6.  I would have better prepared/discipled our teens for real life. Hindsight is 20/20 but I think I would have been more intentional on preparing the teens that were under my care with the things they would facing, decisions they would have to be making in their early adult years. If your thinking, “that’s a no brainer”, then I challenge you to ask yourself this question: “In the next 3-5 years, what might my youth be facing that I’m not addressing in my youth ministry?” 

7.  I would have put more value on myself. I have never based ministry decisions on money, but looking back I would have placed more value on my abilities and productivity. I didn’t realize how much I was worth until I was considering on making a transition from my first church. It was then that the church more than doubled my salary. It was generous, but it revealed to me that I was more valuable than I thought. If you don’t value what you do, others will discount what you do. Like I said money has never been a motivator, we soon left after enjoying a huge raise for a few months.

8.  I would have stayed and stuck it out. Starting over sucks! As a youth pastor nothing will make more of a difference in your ministry than longevity. The longer you stay the more fruit you will see. I don’t have to tell you what the average youth pastor tenure is for you to know that it’s never long enough. I wish I would have stuck it out through a difficult situation rather than leaving.

9.  I would not have financed my youth ministry events. I never had a credit card until I started in ministry. I put my first missions trip on Master Card and early on took my money out of the Master’s hands! My lack of stewardship proved to be my lack of faith in God’s provision for my life and ministry. I didn’t have anything to show for my “purchases” except some good events and a lot of debt. It took me years to dig out and it is still difficult at times to resist paying for something I can’t afford to do. Don’t pay for what God orders, trust Him for the miracle.

10.  I would have did something with the dreams God gave me. I never have dreamed like I did during my first youth ministry job. God gave me dreams that to be honest I didn’t know what to with at the time. Looking back with no regrets I realize God was asking me to do something that at the time I didn’t have the courage to do. There are some dreams that have expiration dates and unfortunately I let those dreams expire. Can God redeem dreams? You bet he can, but when He gives us dreams we have the responsibility of not letting them die (sometimes God does require our dreams to die, but what I’m talking about here is different). I don’t know if God will ever resurrect these specific dreams, but I do know that He specializes in bringing dead things to life.

With that said I would do the same thing all over again to meet the people I have met, make the friends I’ve made, and go the places I’ve gone. I’m grateful that God can turn our mistakes into miracles, bad decisions into a better destiny, and take our weaknesses and do wonders. I am forever grateful for all of you that may be reading this and have been a part of my life. For those of you that are just getting your feet wet in youth ministry I hope you can learn from some of the things that I would do differently today.

What would you do differently in your life or ministry if you got a redo?

 

 

Working Better Behind the 8 Ball


Image Courtesy of James Barker @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of James Barker @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever said this phrase? “I’m behind the 8 ball!”

There are ongoing arguments about when and how this phrase originated, but if you’ve played a few games of pool there is no mistaking what it means. Documented as early as 1931 in the New York Times, behind the 8 ball means that you or someone you know is in a tight spot, but interestingly enough, not unlikely to win.

When I’ve said that phrase it usually meant I was facing a fast coming deadline with no time to lose and no room for error if I wanted to be victorious with the assigned task. Most of you I’m sure have been in that place where you can’t afford to scratch!

I love the predicament this phrase portrays because when Backseat Leaders  find themselves behind the 8 ball, they find ways to win. Like a pool shark, BackSeat Leaders are looking at every possible angle to call out and make a shot that ends in victory.

Some would call it lucky, but I would call it a skill that very few people can appreciate or even recognize.  Backseat Leaders have the ability to get a monumental task done in a minimal amount of time that releases momentum in a ministry or organization. These tasks come with many obstacles to overcome, mountains to climb and bottomed out budgets that require a lot of ingenuity.

BackSeat Leaders however thrive when they are behind the 8 Ball! They have a track record for getting things done when the stakes are high. They tend to feed off of the stress and pressure that can be created by project timelines and deadlines, yet they don’t waver. Instead, they know how to work their way out of a tight spot and get a win that everyone may not appreciate, but ALL can celebrate.

If a primary leader finds themselves in a difficult position, a bad situation, a problem that looks like a definite loss, they can turn to their BackSeat Leader in a tight spot.  BackSeat Leaders are breakthrough leaders. They find solutions, implement ideas, work endlessly for the greater good of the primary leader and the team they support. No job is too big, or too small. If it’s important for the leader it’s important to them. They will not scratch, but  will score critical victories for primary leaders and the people they lead.

If you are enjoying reading this series on The BackSeat Leader: Leading Better from Behind would you take a moment to rate this post or leave a comment. I appreciate your help and would love to know if you can relate to the BackSeat Leader concept! For a regular flow of quality leadership material I’m gleaning off of please LIKE The Backseat Leader Facebook page too!

What is it about being behind the 8 ball that you enjoy?

How Better Leaders are Built Behind the Scenes


Image courtesy of imagery majestic @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagery majestic @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A BackSeat Leader’s joy is derived from behind the scenes jobs that are unseen that most often go unnoticed without any recognition or immediate reward. How can one be so joyful about this behind the scenes leadership journey?

BackSeat Leaders understand that the journey to leadership is more about the development of their character. They have discovered a promising path that has no ladders to climb, hoops to jump through, or requires them to compromise their values and what’s important to them. I call this God’s  leadership development plan.

Through out history, God has raised up leaders that nobody saw coming:

  • Abraham became a promising leader well past his “best” years.
  • Joseph passed the test of the pit, Potiphar’s wife and the prison before he became a prominent leader.
  • Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock before he became Israel’s deliverer.
  • Joshua’s courageous faith was sparked on a secret missions trip into Canaan long before he became the courageous leader that led the children of Israel to cross the Jordan to possess it.
  • Gideon was hiding from the enemy in a winepress, threshing wheat and considered himself a big zero before the Angel of the Lord called him to be a “mighty hero.”
  • David protected his father’s sheep, killing a lion and a bear before he ever killed Goliath.

Today, God is still raising up leaders that nobody sees coming through the ranks. They are content with their current assignment. Serving what seems to be unimportant.  Diligently doing their duties for no one to see. Faithfully showing up when no one else does.  For BackSeat Leaders it may not be where they want to be, but they are learning all they can to become the leader God is calling them to be. BackSeat Leader’s that are being built behind the scenes are on God’s radar and here’s why.

1. BackSeat Leaders have first been great with little things. It takes great faith to believe God for great things when you’ve been asked to be faithful in the little things. God’s word makes it very clear. Be faithful with little and you will be trusted with much. BackSeat leaders don’t discount small things. They understand the small things will lead to bigger things.

2. BackSeat Leaders have a servants heart.  God promotes leaders that have a heart to serve. If one were to spiritually dissect a servants heart they would first find humility. God elevates the humble leader and resists the proud leader. The lower you go as a leader the higher God will take you. That does not mean he will necessarily put you on the center stage, but it does mean you will be in the center of His will has a leader.

3.  BackSeat Leaders have passed many tests. Look again at the list of leaders above. Everyone of those biblical heroes had to pass a test before they became great leaders. Abraham had to pass the “Im too old test.” Joseph had to pass the “life’s not fair test.” Moses had to pass the “I’m working for my Father-in-Law test.” Joshua had to pass the “discouragement test.” Gideon had to pass the “I’m from the other side of the tracks test.” David had to pass the “why am I always being overlooked test.” God had a unique test for each of these history making leaders and He is still handing those tests out today.

The greatest accomplishment for a Backseat Leader is traveling on this leadership journey knowing that God is with them every step of the way. Let me encourage you if you are in the BackSeat at this very moment. God sees what nobody else sees. God wants you to be satisfied in the season you are in,  and you are going to pass the test you are currently taking.  God leadership program is not without reward!

What brings you the most satisfaction when you are working behind the scenes?

 

Becoming a Backseat Leader


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A couple of weeks ago I purchased what had to be a late nineteen-eighties something teaching of John Maxwell called “Second and Satisfied.” It was classic leadership from Maxwell that highlighted the qualities of  what he referred to as “second” leaders who supported their primary leader. His list included his wife, his secretary, and his right hand man for many years Dan Reiland. He stressed the importance of each of these individuals and how without them his leadership would be incomplete and his success would be very limited. The question emerged as I was listening and reflecting on my personal leadership journey:

How do you become a BackSeat Leader that is thought of as the backbone or the “go to” person for a leader and their organization?

The word become means to begin to have a specified quality. When I think of where the qualities of BackSeat Leadership specifically begin the first word that comes to mind is servanthood.  Service for the Backseat Leader is the road to greatness. They find great joy and strength in serving diligently, most of the time without recognition or retribution. BackSeat Leaders are usually the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. They’ve checked their ego’s at the door and see themselves as an equal partner and not the essential person in the scheme of things. They are thrilled about the idea of people working with them and not people working for them. The are great team players and will always put the teams best interest ahead of their own even if it is to their detriment. They will take one for the team in a heartbeat, without hesitation!

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant. – Matthew 20:26 (ESV)

I was somewhat forced to start forming this attitude of a servant in my life even before I became a Christian. It was the last football game of my senior high school season. It was a win or go home situation. I was focused and pumped up during my pre-game ritual when I was approached by our head football coach. He asked if I’d be okay with not playing most of the game for match up purposes. I was physically undersized and the junior behind me was a better match up on paper. Though I was devastated, I humbly accepted my roll and only played on special teams the entire game. We ended up winning the game because the other team missed  a game winning field goal with time running out. Though it was a huge blow to my ego at the time, our team winning the league championship to this day is still one of those great memories and moments in my life.

I share this story because it was a humbling experience I rather not reveal. BackSeat Leaders grasp and embrace the quality humility. They don’t see them selves better than other people, but they pride themselves in making others better. No other person throughout history demonstrated this better than Jesus Christ.

Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus… - Philippians 2:3-5 (CEB)

As I consider the becoming of a BackSeat Leader it’s really about what they are not becoming. A BackSeat Leader is secure in being second. They are more interested in towels than titles and more concerned about their own personal satisfaction than their paid salary. Their becoming really is an unbecoming of what the world defines as successful leader.  

Do you see yourself as a BackSeat Leader or a Primary Leader? Please leave a comment. I would love to know more about the kind of leader you see yourself as.

3 Reasons You Need a Backseat Leader Behind You!


Image Courtesy of  Kenneth Cratty @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Kenneth Cratty @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BackSeat Leader’s are not to be confused with backseat drivers. Backseat drivers are annoying, often chirping in a driver’s ear about  their inconsistencies in regards to their driving. Leader’s don’t need critics in their backseat, they need co-laborers that will compliment their leadership style. 

BackSeat Leaders are invaluable to primary leaders and their organizations in getting them to arrive where they want to go.  Many leaders are recognizing their need for a BackSeat Leader and it is fast becoming the first position considered when it’s time to hire.

Why are BackSeat Leaders such a hot commodity?

1. BackSeat Leaders allow primary leaders to do more with their dreams. Most primary leaders are dreamers that are drowning in the details. Dreamers visualize, but many times cannot organize a plan on how to arrive to see their dreams fulfilled. Every leader who dreams big dreams needs a BackSeat Leader that can bring direction and detail to the dream.

The biblical character Joseph was the most infamous BackSeat Leader of his day. No one could help Pharaoh interpret his dreams until they were reminded by a forgetful butler who had experienced firsthand Joseph’s ability to help interpret dreams. Pharaoh immediately summoned Joseph from the prison, tells him his dream and Joseph gives advice that would promote him to 2nd in command.

Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years.  And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.  (Genesis 41:34-37)

BackSeat Leaders have a God given ability to inform others what they need to do with their dreams. Pharaoh recognized the value of having a visionary (one who sees the details of the dream) and prominently promoted Joseph.

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.  And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt.  Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41-44)

2. BackSeat Leaders have a perspective that primary leaders don’t have. So many pressures come with being the primary leader of an organization that it is often difficult to see past the pressures and expectations that accompany their dreams. Pharaoh only saw fat cows and skinny cows, plump heads of grain and thin heads of grain that kept him up at night. Joseph saw seven years of plenty and seven years of famine and directions on what needed to be done.

Many dreamers toil sleeplessly at night, wrestling with their dreams because they don’t have a dependable BackSeat Leader that can specifically give divine guidance in determining the direction and details of their dreams. 

3. BackSeat Leaders take responsibility and ownership of the primary leader’s dreams.  When given authority, BackSeat Leaders will take responsibility and ownership of a primary leader’s dream. They are not just cheerleaders or spectators. BackSeat Leaders are doers of the dream!

And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt… so he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them. Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable. (Genesis 41:46-49)

I love Pharaoh’s response to the cry of the people when the famine hits hard! “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.”  BackSeat Leaders are the “go to” people when it comes to your dreams because they know what to do with your dreams. They’ve taken ownership and responsibility of your dreams as if they were their own.

What are some other benefits of having a BackSeat Leader behind you? Also, if you enjoyed this post it would be really encouraging if you rated it or ‘LIKED’ TheBackseatLeader Facebook page (right hand column)! Thank you!!!

 

Why You Should Consider Taking a BackSeat?


Image Courtesy of stockimages @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of stockimages @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The backseat of many ministries, churches and organizations are vacant, waiting to be filled and fueled by leaders that are willing to lead from behind. Still, leaders young and old alike succumb to cultural pressures that tell us that true success is defined by being the the lead man or woman.

When I was cutting my teeth on my new found faith in my young adult years, my senior pastor was 28 years old. Nothing was ever said to me, but somehow I formed a false idea that if I wasn’t leading my own thing by the age of 28 it was a major fail. A few years later the nature of being a youth pastor gave me some of the autonomy I thought I was destined for, but down deep I wanted to be a leading something by the time I was 28. I wanted to be God’s man for God’s plan! 

Because of my incorrect thinking I made two wrong decisions. Both decisions involved church planting ventures. The first wrong decision I made was when I was 28 (Go Figure!). I made a choice to move my family from California to Texas to be a part of a church planting team led by a popular minister only to have him call the church plant off three months into it. The second was when I was 33 (Jesus started his ministry at 33 years of age right?). We had moved back to California, close to family and to work with a church that had been planted 4 years earlier by my former youth pastor. At that time I had agreed to come and be the youth pastor with the idea of planting another church when the church was able, yet at the 4 year mark I got impatient and “planted” prematurely.

Now, I just want to take a moment and mention that God can take any wrong and make it right! The things you go through get you to the place God wants you to be. So I’m not currently living with any regret just in case your wondering. (I will save this bunny trail for another post).

Eighteen months into my premature church plant we closed the doors and I crashed personally. It was two of the most difficult years of my life. For the first time I was out of ministry working in the marketplace discouraged, depressed and defeated hoping to get another opportunity without a major move involved at a church somewhere in the Sacramento area. That’s when a door was opened to me at New Life.

What New Life initially offered me was far from my dream job, but wanting to get back into a ministry environment I accepted the offer to be there community relations, marketing guy. I’m still not sure of the portfolio, but it had purpose and passion connected to it. Over the next three to four years through a series of events I would be promoted to executive pastor. It was from this place of promotion that I found fulfillment in every way.

Now even though it would it appear as though I “climbed the ladder” to the executive spot, internally in my heart I took a backseat. From the pain of  wanting to be the lead pastor of a church plant that didn’t go as expected, it became clear that God didn’t want me leading from the front, but from behind. I vowed to myself and God that I would be the best second man anyone could have.  For the next several years I took the backseat and God took me to places I would have never gone, connected with people I would have never met, and experienced some of my most fruitful years of ministry.

Leadership in our day has been romanticized, especially in church and ministry circles. The best leaders are the guys leading thousands, planting the fastest growing churches in America, speaking at all the major conferences. Yes that can be the result of good leadership, but it also can cause you to lust after something that was never meant for you. Many young leaders in my opinion are lusting after a leadership persona that is romantic and not realistic. In fact, many of the leaders we see up front have amazing leaders behind them.

I truly believe that God is looking to promote people who are willing to take the backseat. It’s how His kingdom works! It is the place where the only way to get higher is to get humble. The lower you get the higher God takes you. The more you lose yourself, the more you find fulfillment in your leading.

If your tired of climbing the leadership ladder to supposed success, I encourage you to take a backseat. Trust God, trust the leader God is calling you to support, and lead courageously from behind.

Is God calling you to take the backseat? By the way if you like this post I would appreciate if you took time to LIKE my Facebook page by clicking on LIKE in the right hand column! 

 

Is There Such a Thing as Stress Free Ministry?


Napping on a Louisiana Porch Swing

Napping on a Louisiana Porch Swing

I actually didn’t realize how stressed out I was until I went on a vacation last October. I went to visit my Uncle O.C. in the small town of Anacoco, Louisiana. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s why enjoy it so much. It’s the most relaxing place I go and somewhere that’s near and dear to my heart because of my family who lives there.

I didn’t realize it at first but during my last stay I noticed something odd. I was sleeping through the night! Now mind you, your lucky to get a signal on your cell phone and at my Uncle’s house, there is no WiFi, so the chances you will get a good night’s sleep are favorable. For seven consecutive nights I slept from the time I put my head on the pillow until the time I woke up. I couldn’t believe it. I know this sounds crazy, but at that time I could not remember sleeping through the night in at least 3 years.  I felt good and I felt refreshed.

I somehow managed to completely unplug and even though I enjoyed those seven nights of sound sleep, it bothered me that I couldn’t get that same sleep at home. What was robbing me of my sleep for the last three years?

Stress, we have all experienced it and for the most part we choose to live with some type of stress in our lives everyday. Stress is defined as a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. To some degree I learned to live with what I label ministry tension. In fact, I fed off of ministry tension so much that I didn’t even recognize it as stress until I removed myself from it. The signs were all there as I was personally always overly concerned, uneasy, worried, aggravated, angry, annoyed, irritated and troubled all at the same time.  Sounds like joyful ministry doesn’t it, so what changed?

I changed. Tension can only exist when two balancing forces are causing something to extend or be stretched. I was at fault. I was the reason for the ministry tension. I was trying to be a balancing force yet it was beyond me and because of it I was over extended and fully stretched and ready to snap. I surrendered, I laid it down, I needed a change.  Nothing else needed to change except me, so I did. I made a difficult decision to resign. I’m not recommending to resign because of stress, but it can be an indicator that you are trying to do too much in your own strength. I could have kept going, but when I took a step back I saw many signs that my tenure was coming to a close. I was reluctant because of my loyalty, but the writing was clearly written on the wall.

Is there such a thing as stress free ministry? As I mentioned above, I think we experience stress everyday. It’s how we handle it that either helps us or hurts us. Stress free ministry is sort of an oxymoron. I don’t think ministry can ever be completely stress free, but I do believe we can free ourselves from stress in ministry.

We can do this by relieving ourselves of two unhealthy tensions that are most often experienced in ministry.

Relational Tension will wear you out. It’s the main reason Jesus taught us to daily forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Forgiveness helps you to keep moving forward despite people’s shortcomings. If you have never thought of forgiveness as a daily discipline I would challenge you to examine Jesus’ teaching. Take a look at these verses:

Matthew 6:14 – “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

Matthew 18:21 – Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!

Forgiving people daily will release you to a freedom that moves you forward. Relational hang ups on teams often have them focused on what happened in the past. The root of “forgive” is the Latin word “perdonare,” meaning “to give completely, without reservation.” It is where we get the word pardon. When team members give themselves completely, without reservation trust is built and teams are transformed.    

Financial Tension is a huge stressor for ministry staff. There is an unspoken expectation to always tighten the belt, cut back and freeze spending. In my experience the belt is pulled as tight as it gets, there’s nothing more to cut and most departmental budgets have freezer burn they’ve been frozen for so long. On top of that staff members in many cases are expected to raise their own funds for their departments and maintain a standard of ministry excellence. These unfair expectations combined with the low wage that accompanies their job descriptions causes a tension that is unhealthy.

I recently heard a great story about a church that took great care of a new hire. You may not know that the mentality behind most church hires is, “what is the least we can pay this individual.” This church had transformed their thinking. They experienced a lot of turnover on their staff due to this flawed ministry mentality, so when it came to hire their next staff member they paid the maximum for the particular position. Now they are creating a culture that has made it hard to leave. When staffs are paid well financial stress is not allowed to dwell within a ministry.  I had to laugh when I saw the below graphic posted on Facebook. I love the heart motivation behind it, but too many times churches adopt it as a motto for their pastoral staff who are already sacrificing at great lengths.

A Common Unhealthy Mindset for Churches

A Common Unhealthy Mindset for Churches

 When is the last time you had a good nights sleep? Sleepless nights are a sign that your days are filled with stress. These types of things are not always the easiest things to admit but when we deal with relational stress and financial stress we create healthy environments for our those we are responsible for.  With that said, the only person that can change is you. What do you need to change in order to relieve yourself from the current stress your experiencing in your life right now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s in the Back Seat?


Photo By: Catharina Fyrberg (fotograf@catharinafyrberg.se)

Photo By: Catharina Fyrberg (fotograf@catharinafyrberg.se)

When I first started driving, there were not many moments that I can recall where I rolled up on a car to see who was sitting in the back seat. In fact, many times the back windows were tinted, so if you wanted to get an idea about who the other passengers might be in the car you had to get a glimpse of who was sitting in the front. The people in the front seats were indicators of who occupied the back seats.

This principle applies to churches and businesses alike.  If you like what you see in the front seat of an organization, there is likely to be at least one incredible leader occupying the back seat. BackSeat Leaders are often unnoticeable at first sight, but once you examine the organization a little closer you can usually find backseat leaders behind the scenes, administrating vision, funding the dream and making the front man or woman in the organization look like a genius.

Throughout history  there have been notable backseat leaders that without their influence the leaders we know by name would be unknown to us. Let’s take a moment and reflect on some of the greatest  back seat and front seat relationships ever formed.

The electric light bulb catapulted Thomas Edison to fame and fortune. But Edison, like many entrepreneurs with more ideas than capital, needed financial partners to fund his inventions. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, Edison received funding from a group of wealthy investors, including J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family, helping lay the groundwork for what eventually became the Edison Electric Light Co. In 1879.

We hear a lot about the Wright brothers who built their first airplane in 1903 which was followed by the first historic flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. What you don’t hear about is their father who gave them a toy helicopter with twirling blades powered by a rubber band in 1878. The brothers later credited their father’s gift with sparking their interest in flight.

When we thing of Apple we immediately think of Steve Jobs, and rightly so. However, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, with Wozniak handling the technical side of things and Jobs handling the marketing. By these two men coming together and combining their gifts and talents, Apple revolutionized the computer industry where both made their fortunes.

These are just a few examples of what happens when we take time to look in the back seat! If you ever consider yourself unsuccessful because you don’t get to sit in the front seat be inspired by those who have sat or are sitting in the back seat! They are some of the most influential people are world has ever known.

Can you think of any great partnerships that have influenced our society? 

References:

Eight Famous Partnerships That Really Worked

Famous Partnerships

Book Review: You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader


You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a book review as I have been focusing mostly on reading scripture the past year. However, I happened to find a gem of a book written by author Mark Sandborn entitled, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader. 

Influence and inspiration come from the person, not the position. – Mark Sandborn

This is a refreshing book on leadership filled with what I call leadership gold! It is only 81 pages, so you can finish it in one sitting, but what grabbed me the most book is the fresh content and insight that separates it from most leadership books.

Most of us have heard that leadership is influence, yet in my opinion most of what we call influence can border on the lines of manipulation and flattery. You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader includes real life stories and tried and true principles that empower everyone to become an influential leader no matter where they are on the org chart or what job description they’ve been given. The type of leadership Sandborn promotes is humble, honest and hardworking.

I highly recommend for you to read this book with your team. It will inspire healthy discussion and continue to cultivate the healthy leader in you and those around you!

In was given a free download of this book in exchange for my review!

What are your favorite leadership books?

Why Everyone Wants to be in the Front Seat


Image Courtesy of Ambro @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Ambro @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve seen some of the best fights and wrestling matches between my family members and friends battling over who was going to sit in in the front seat. We attempted to implement the “SHOTGUN” rule, but it never quite solved the issue without some kind of power struggle.

 That same power struggle for the front seat continues as many ambitious leaders still attempt to climb the ladder, jockey for position, or play political games to emerge as the front man in their ministries and organizations. Recently, I did a Google search on the topic that unearthed 453,000 results confirming the gut feeling I had about this unhealthy epidemic in leadership. Some of the titles included:

The desire to be seated in places of power within ministries and organizations has been evident for thousands  of years. There is a story in the New Testament Gospels that describe a power move by two of Jesus’ disciples James and John.

Mark 10:35  Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” 

So why has the struggle continued for so long? The struggle for the front seat is a pursuit of significance, power and security. Even when my cousins were wrestling for the front seat, a pecking order would be established, control of the radio station we listened to would be decided, and lets just be honest; their is just something that is cool about sitting in the front seat with the window rolled down and your right arm hanging out the window.

Everyone is crying out “shotgun” for the front seat for one of the following reasons:

The Seat of Significance – A seat that tells people I’m important. It is pursued by the positional leader who get their value and worth from a title.

The Seat of Power – A seat that lets people know I’m in control. Instead of influencing people this leader longs for power and decision making without anyones input.

The Seat of Security – A seat that only focused on my needs being met and not others. Leaders looking for security will obtain it at the expense of others.

These are brief definitions but they are at the root of the struggle.  The good news is you don’t have to participate. Those willing to take the backseat can discover a better way to find their identity, influence their organization, and reap the rewards without climbing, jockeying or playing the game. Join me in this NEW blog series as I share my own personal journey over the next few months about how to lead better from behind.

Can you relate to the struggle for the front seat? 

 

How to Choke the Life Out of Your Organization


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know this post may only appeal to a small niche, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this issue over the weekend.

If you want to choke the life out of your organization hire positional leaders instead of servant leaders.

Here are six contrasts between a positional leader and a servant leader:

A positional leader determines their success based on where they are at on the org chart, the servant leader’s success is based on charting the course and understanding where the organization is at . The positional leader has a hard time looking beyond themselves, but a servant is first concerned about the status of the organization.

A positional leader is defined by a title, a servant leader is defined by a towel. A positional leader is always the last to show up and the first to leave.  No job is too small for a servant leader, they will do whatever it takes to see the organization succeed.

A positional leader leads from the past, a servant leader leads for the present. A positional leader will be sure to tell you about all of their accolades and all they have achieved, but a servant leader never settles for personal success and desire the other’s success more than their own.

A positional leader is focused on their paycheck, a servant leader is focused on the purpose of the organization. You can never pay a positional leader enough because they over value their worth. On the contrary, you cannot afford to lose a servant leader because they bring value to your organization. Think about that one.

A positional leader is more concerned about policy, a servant leader is more concerned about people. Their is always a tension between policy and people, but when in doubt policy should never win over relationship with people. Policies should be created as guidelines, not defining lines. Policies should be broken before people are broken.

A positional leader wants to control people, a servant leader wants to empower people. A positional leader leads with fear tactics and distances himself from others, a servant leader is motivated by love and  leads by laying his life down for others.

Is your organization in a choke hold? It’s not okay!  

Avoiding Awkward Transitions


Image by graur razvan ionut courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by graur razvan ionut courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Making a transition in ministry has always created awkward moments for me, so when I recently made a move in ministry I was expecting the inevitable, yet it never happened. As I reflect on what made this step different than any other transition I’ve made, there are some important principles and practices I learned from my friend and pastor, Mark Tucker that made this a smooth and healthy transition.

1. Desire God’s Best for Your Staff – It is important for leaders to understand that they do not own their staff members. The leaders that come to us are on loan to us from God. Much like a parents perspective about their children should be, we are only stewards of what God has given to us for a specific amount of time. A leaders number one desire  for their staff should never be what can they do for me, but how can I help them get to their destiny. Pastor Mark expressed this with me from the very beginning, that he wanted nothing but God’s will for me and my family.

2. Discuss the Opportunity Openly and Honestly with Your Pastor – I am appalled when I hear about stories of supporting staff members, who are a presented with a good opportunity, openly share it with their pastor and they are accused of being disloyal and suddenly terminated because of it. This should not be the case in the Kingdom. If staff members can’t go to their leader to discuss opportunities for their lives where can they go? Pastors have a responsibility to be a sounding board for their staff. When discussion about transition is on the table it allows a Pastor to be included in the process and takes the element of shock and surprise out of the equation. It also opens the door for the Pastor to possibly make an attempt to keep the staff member and make it hard for them to consider anything else. When there is nothing to hide awkwardness is easy to avoid. Pastor Mark was approachable and we had some real healthy conversations during this process.

3. Make the Transition Your Decision – When healthy transition principles are not in place many staff members will use a transition to take cheap shots at a Pastor and the church on their way out. If you are being led into transition don’t make the transition about anything else except what God is doing in you. If God is leading you to take a step out don’t leave a list of complaints and concerns on your way out. Transition is ultimately your decision! Even in the most difficult situations I have come to understand that if God isn’t calling to leave there is lesson He has for you to learn.

4. Cross the Bridge, but Don’t Burn It – A healthy transition may hurt, but it should never harm any party involved. It’s difficult but it should but never be destructive. When you invest your life into a church, you should always want the best for that church. Since making this transition I’ve made myself available to Pastor Mark and other staff to help the church in anyway I possibly can. Why? Transitions are not an end if your friends!

These principles put me in a position to avoid an awkward transition. Much is to be said about a leader like Pastor Mark who allowed this type of process to unfold. For that I am grateful.

Have you ever experienced an awkward transition? What made it awkward? 

How to Change Your Atmosphere


Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Culture is defined as the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. The characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time. The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.

I think culture is one of the most misunderstood things in the church today.  We talk about being culturally relevant:

  • Music Style
  • Preaching Style
  • Service Style
  • Ministry Style
  • Leadership Style

All these things are important but they help shape culture they don’t create it.

Kingdom Culture is cultivated and released by the human heart through heart attitudes. Attitudes create an atmosphere where values are formed, vision is realized and vessels are released to bring God glory.

That is why culture, a set of shared attitudes, is the most powerful factor in any church, ministry or organization.

“The fact is, culture eats strategy for lunch. You can have a good strategy in place, but if you don’t have the culture and the enabling systems, the negative culture of the organization will defeat the strategy.” – Executive Leadership Magazine

Vision and Strategy are about what we want to produce. Culture is about people.

The most valuable asset in the any organization is the way people are treated, the way we treat others, and the response to leadership that God has put in place.

If the air (atmosphere) is clean and healthy, people thrive and the vision and strategy prosper, but if the atmosphere is toxic because the output of our hearts isn’t healthy, energy subsides,creativity lags, conflicts multiply, and production declines.

My case and point is the Oakland Raiders. They’ve lived up to the atmosphere they’ve created and they haven’t made the playoffs since 2002.  Attitude creates Atmosphere! 

 

John Maxwell has said, “that if you want to change your altitude, change your attitude.” If you want to see the culture of your home, business, church, organization change, it has nothing to do with the furniture, motivational art, or color of the walls. It has to do with attitudes deep seeded in the hearts of people. When the heart attitudes of people change it creates atmospheres people want to be in.

What can you do this week to change your attitude and create and a positive atmosphere? 

How to Lead Large – Part III


Image courtesy of Ambro @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To summarize the previous two posts in this series, the ability to lead large starts with  Christ being the cornerstone of your character and foundation.  The stronger the foundation the greater potential you have to expand your capacity as a leader!  Secondly, chemistry happens when healthy interaction between the people around you takes place, allowing you to trust and empower your team. It’s when great attitudes create great atmospheres that cause Christ exalting cultures to be established.

Community is the last key to leading at larger levels and yet the most elusive because community is often created when your personal character and team chemistry is being tested. If your character and team chemistry is never tested it can never be trusted and trust is the ultimate sign of when a deeper community is being fashioned in you and those around you. Community is defined a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. 

There has to be a common unity in order to experience community. We see a glimpse of this happening in Acts 2:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.And the Lord added to their numberdaily those who were being saved. 

How do we get there?

As I previously mentioned, community is a result of many tests that lead people to deeper trust levels. Here are three tests that produce true community:

Healthy Conflict: There is no way to experience the community our hearts long for and need without healthy conflict. Healthy conflict requires conflict resolution skills that helps us address issues instead of avoid them. Ignoring issues and not dealing with them establishes a false peace where relationships are strained, silence separates and misery is multiplied. Healthy conflict allows us to express our concerns without suffering the consequences of backbiting and bickering.

Constructive Criticism: Criticism is one of the most difficult things to handle as a leader unless you know that someone is looking out for your best interest. As a leader in community, I don’t wait for constructive criticism to come to me, instead; I invite it into my life on a regular basis. You might refer to this practice as getting feedback. Questions like:

  • How can I better serve you?
  • What could I have said to make it clearer?
  • Where do you think we are falling short? 
  • Why are we stuck?

These are all invitations for leaders to step into deeper levels of community with those around them when the questions are answered honestly.

Loving Confrontation: In order for trust to be cultivated in a team the truth cannot be withheld. If someone is doing a poor job or their performance is lacking they need to be told the truth not coddled. As a leader if I fail to tell you the truth in love you will never grow in your leadership. In fact, if you are not growing as a leader because of my lack of loving confrontation you will become a lid on whatever part of the organization you oversee. Biblical love will always blow the low lids off our leadership limitations!

When you successfully implement these three things into your leadership skill set you will lead those your are leading into true community where health, edification and love are released in powerful demonstration.

What are some of the reasons you think we avoid conflict, fail to invite feedback and resist telling the truth as leaders if we know down deep the end result will lead us into a tighter community?

 

How to Lead Large – Part II


Image Courtesy of renjith krishnan @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of renjith krishnan @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week I kicked off the How to Lead Large blog series by addressing the importance of having character at the foundation of your life as a leader. Ultimately, your character will determine your capacity as a leader more than anything else.  

Equally important in leading large however; is the way you treat others. Jesus said that the the second commandment is as equally important as the first when he said: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” From a leadership perspective Jesus was telling us to love others like we love Him. Making people a priority, like we make the Lord a priority, is key to creating team chemistry. If you truly love yourself, you will always give your whole heart, mind, soul and strength to the Lord. If you love as a leader, you will give your whole heart, mind, soul and strength to people.  When you demonstrate love as a leader you will create a chemistry among your team. Chemistry is defined as the interaction between people working together; specifically:  such interaction when harmonious or effective.

What kind of love am I talking about?

1 Corinthians 13: 4- 8 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Leading with this kind of love will cause you and those around you to lead larger! We see this type of chemistry being promoted throughout the Pauline Epistles.

Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.

Philippians 2:1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. 5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus…

Just a quick observation about things you are seeing in these scriptures. Great attitudes create great atmospheres and great chemistry creates a Christ exalting culture!

Colossians 3:11 Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. 

There is a lot of buzz about authentic community in the Body of Christ, but many never experience it because they ignore the importance of chemistry between people. You can love the Lord all you want, but if you fail to understand as a leader that your relationship with others and how those around you treat others is just as important you will never lead large. Good team chemistry will always expand your capacity to lead large.

Has the lack of chemistry ever stunted your growth as a leader?

How to Lead Large


Image courtesy of  by satit_srihin @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of by satit_srihin @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At the beginning of the year most of us have set Big Hairy Audacious Goals we are aiming to accomplish. Setting big goals, pursuing our dreams and becoming the person we believe we can be is a part of the fabric of our culture. Achieving our goals and dreams however have a lot to do with expanding our capacity to lead large.

Leading larger begins with ourself, our attitudes and then our relationship with others. There are 3 key components that cause us to enlarge our capacity which include character, chemistry and community. I will expand on all three components in future posts, but today we will look at character.

Leading Larger begins with Character - Expanding your personal capacity to lead begins with acknowledging the things that are personally restricting you. The Apostle Paul made a startling statement to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 6:12 when he said, “You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.” Many times our limitations our set by our own affections, or the things hidden and deep rooted in our heart. I can want to lose weight, but my addiction to carbs restrict me from dropping the pounds. I want to conquer my quick temper, but if I’m unwilling to cultivate patience I restrict myself with frustration.

Character is Christ manifesting His image by His power in us and through us. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and not of our own will power. His power is demonstrated by pure hearts, renewed minds, and restored souls. Paul declares what can happen to a believer who is not restricted by their own affections, but instead lives according to the power that works in us in Ephesians 3:20.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…

These are the questions I am asking myself this year. Am I living according to the power that works in us? Is there an area of my life where I have been restricting myself from seeing the fruit of the Spirit flourish in my life? My goal for Character development starts with God’s standard not the one I’ve settled for.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-25

Without character I will crash as a leader. At the foundation of my leadership Christ must be the cornerstone. When I lay Him as my foundation I have character that will not crack under any circumstances. Leading large may cause you to level what you’ve been building, so the Master Builder can prepare you according to His standard and not your own.

Please leave a comment on your thoughts about this post and if you haven’t ‘LIKED’ the my Facebook page or signed up to follow my blog, please do so to receive things that are encouraging me in my personal leadership pursuit.

 

 

 

 

How to Make Prayer Practical


PrayerPlan

I heard two great messages on prayer yesterday as many churches across the nation kick off the year with fasting and prayer campaigns.  I began to reflect on how I initially made my prayer life practical for everyday life.

Prayer can be a monstrous task for many. Finding the time, not knowing what to pray, wondering if your prayers are being heard, or just getting through a prayer time without being distracted are just some of the obstacles that come our way when we are pursuing consistency in our prayer lives.

As I look back there were a few things that were key in making my prayer life practical for everyday life.  Here are three things you can do today as well as one new thing I’m trying this year for the very first time.

1. Make Prayer Personal – A personal prayer life begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ begins with an honest conversation with God about your shortcomings, acknowledging the sacrifice that He made for those shortcomings through His death, burial and resurrection, and surrendering your life in order to live out His plan and purpose He has for you. When I first became a Christian it was initially hard for me to grasp that I could have a personal relationship with God, but when I began to understand that He came to this world to save it and not condemn it,  my view of God changed. My view of God was hindering my view of prayer. Misconceptions about God can make prayer difficult. 

2. Make Prayer a Priority - Jesus said,  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” There is power in putting prayer on top of your list. Prayer is the humble act that causes us to know Him more and helps us to see Him working on our behalf throughout the day. God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud! Praying after your day is done isn’t always avoidable, but it can be an indicator that your okay with doing life without Him!

3. Make Prayer Routine – I remember when 15 minutes in prayer felt like 15 days! Then when I enrolled in a two year discipleship program they required that you pray 30 minutes a day. At that time that translated into eternity. When making prayer a routine I quickly learned that you needed a model. I was introduced to Jesus’ response to the disciples after they asked, “Teach us to pray.” There are many prayer models that will help you establish a routine, but beginning with Jesus’ prayer model is a great place to start:

“When you pray, say: ” ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.

Models will help mold your prayer life into something enjoyable and something to look forward to.

4. Make a Prayer List – For the first time I’m going digital with my prayer list. I’m making a personal and detailed prayer list with the PrayPlan app.

With a simple and easy to use interface, PrayPlan is built to help keep your prayer life on track.

App Features include: Categories, answered prayers, reminders, etc. I am really enjoying this app so far and it was only a $1.99

If you’ve been unable make prayer practical, start with some of these suggestions. I will be following up with some more practical prayer helps as I’m setting the next several weeks to take my prayer life to new levels.

What practical steps have you take to make your prayer life rewarding?