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?

Top 10 Posts of 2013


2013 has been an incredible year for The BackSeat Leader Blog! I want to thank the BackSeat Leader Community’s views, comments and feedback on my posts which has personally help me develop my blogging skills. This year my posts were featured on SmallGroupChurches.com , ChurchLeaders.com, andFaithVillage.com. I was invited to do a segment on the Jesus Culture Leadership Podcast called The Dean’s List and I was recently asked to contribute to the Enrichment Journal in 2014.

I’m looking forward with much anticipation and expectation to 2014 to see what God has in store, but just in case you missed the best of 2013 let me give you my Top 10 Posts of 2013:

Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. 5 Free Creative Sermon Ideas - I wanted to give away some of my best sermon ideas to help pastors with the creative process because most pastors don’t have the benefit of a creative team around them. I’m not sure how many pastors that have visited this post are using the material, but it has received over 2,150 views.

Photo taken by Brian Baer sabeephotos@sacbee.com

Photo taken by Brian Baer sabeephotos@sacbee.com

2. Pursuit of Perfection - I am most proud of this post because it is one of my most recent posts about my observation watching my son’s football team, the Folsom Bulldogs go all the way to the Nor Cal Championship undefeated, finishing with a 14-1 record.

Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. 3 Reasons Why You Stopped Going to Church - There’s not only 3 reasons, but this post included the 3 most frequent reasons I hear for those that decide to stop going to church.

Celebrating 50 Years

4. How to Create a Time Capsule for Your Church – New Life Community Church celebrated 50 years in 2013! This is our journey on how we captured and celebrated 50 years of history so we could begin focusing on The Next 50.

Image Courtesy of njaj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of njaj 

5. The Top 5 Unspoken Struggles in Your Church – Short and to the point, this post reveals what people who are attending your church don’t want to talk about.

Francis Chan & Ray Johnston

6. Why Every Pastor Wishes They Were Like Francis Chan - Every time I hear Francis Chan I leave totally inspired. Francis just wears his spiritual passion on his sleeves and rends his heart so everyone can see. I was so moved a pastors breakfast I attended,  I thought that it would be fun to write a post that captured what I think a lot of people think after hearing him…”I wan to be like Francis Chan.”

friendly-church

7. Why Friendly Churches Don’t Grow - I challenge pastors and leaders to take the friendliness of their churches beyond the front door in order to close the backdoor.  Friendly must be more than a handshake and a smile if we are going to get beyond the superficial.

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8. How to Approach Your Pastor About Your Concerns - Featured on ChurchLeaders.com this post addresses the unscriptural approach of writing your pastor an anonymous letter and shows the steps one can take to address their issues in a biblical way.

saint-paul

9. 7 Steps to Successful Sermon Prep - A lot of pastors wrestle with sermon prep. I flesh out my routine that I learned and adapted from others, so that others could take some practical steps in improving their preparation time.

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10. Random Thoughts on Our Way to Calcutta – I took several first timers on a missions trip to Calcutta, India earlier this year and I wanted to know what they were thinking on our long flight. I passed around a notebook and this a look inside their mind!

Thank you again, have a Happy and Safe New Year, and be looking for The Backseat Leader to take it to the next level in 2014!

Please leave an encouraging comment if you’ve enjoyed my weekly posts!

How to Simplify the Kind of Goals You’re Setting for 2014


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve seen a lot of posts and podcasts centered on giving instruction on how to set personal goals for 2014, but there is not much out there concerning what kind of goals people should be setting for themselves.  Here are three areas of focus that will help you determine what your goals are and simplify and achieve the goals you set for the upcoming year.

I generally set goals that focus on 5 areas everyone has in common. My goal setting pattern is derived from the the greatest commandment that Jesus gave in scripture, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  This helps me sort, simplify and prioritize my goals according to the Golden Rule.

1. Passionate Goals – When setting passionate goals I first consider my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If my heart, the spiritual hub of my life, is in alignment with God’s heart I have found that the other goals I set  are much easier to determine.  I’m asking God what He wants me to accomplish in my life instead of coming up with goals on my own and asking him to help me accomplish them. My passion goals will tend to focus on my spiritual life. For example these goals may include reading the bible through in a year, journaling, scheduled times of fasting and prayer, quiet times, etc. Spiritual goals really light a fire of passion in our hearts that help bring clarity in setting goals.

2. Soul Goals – When considering goals for the soul I examine my emotional health. If you are not emotionally healthy you will not make good decisions in the upcoming year. Am I stressed? Am I quick tempered? How am I treating my wife, my kids? Am I surrounded by healthy people? Answering these questions honestly will help you determine goals for wholeness. This may look like a sabbatical, an extended vacation, a planned day off, a family night, a date night, attending a support group or small group in your church. Soul goals help us get in a better place emotionally. Emotional stress is one of the leading goal killers.

3. Physical Goals - I always try to start my physical goals after Halloween after the candy binge because I don’t want gain 10-15 pounds during Thanksgiving and Christmas. This last year I had a lot of back issues that I want to avoid this year, so I had a goal to find a new exercise that worked for me. For the last couple of months I’ve been cycling my way to better health. I then set a goal of exercising three times a week which I’ve accomplished three weeks in a row! I’m in a groove and I’m thinking about upping my goal to 4-5 times a week. I have discovered when I’m feeling good physically it helps me emotionally with stress. I will even prayer during my workouts which benefits my passionate goals.

4. Mental Goals -  A lifestyle of learning is what I set my mental goals around. My mental goals are not just to obtain more knowledge, but include real life experiences that make be wiser not just smarter. Mental goals include reading books and blogs, being mentored by people that inspire me, writing posts for my personal blog which helps me to clear my mind and extract the extraordinary from my everyday life.  When I set goals to learn I grow to new levels of understanding.

5. Others Focused Goals – “Others focused” goals usually are based on my ministry or service to others. What can I do to help others accomplish their goals? From helping friends start their own blogs, to helping them with creative ideas and the skills and talents I’ve been blessed with. When I set “others focused” goals many times others will help me with my goals. I believe that you reap what you sow. I do a lot of sowing into others, knowing that you can’t go wrong when helping other people.

These are 5 things I’ve identified that have helped me simplify what kind of personal goals I set for myself. I hope that it will help you this upcoming year in determining what areas you should be focusing on.

What are some of your goals for 2014? Did this post help you at all? Would love to get your feedback on this post! Have an incredible week!

The Pursuit of Perfection


Photo taken by Brian Baer sabeephotos@sacbee.com

Photo taken by Brian Baer sabeephotos@sacbee.com

We all have are flaws, flops and failures on our journey to a personally desired result. Those desired results are usually a goal or dream that represent a better person or personal improvement in an area where we often see ourselves falling short.  I call this struggle of a journey the pursuit of perfection. Not that I’m trying to claim perfection or mastery of anything in my lifetime, but that I learn to submit myself and enjoy the process of being perfected.

To be perfect can be an unrealistic burden. It is the state of being entirely without fault or defect, satisfying all requirements and lacking in no essential detail. It is an unfair standard that can be deceiving and delusional if we think the pursuit of perfection does not include challenges, conflict,  obstacles and set backs. It is this kind of thinking that distracts and derails us and causes us to give up on obtainable desires deep within our heart.

I’ve learned a lot about the pursuit of perfection this year from my son’s high school football team. This last weekend they clinched their second consecutive section championship with a “perfect” record of 14-0. It has been a record breaking season for the team and though they are undefeated a perfect season did not come without blemish. I wanted to give you 3 principles that I have really stood out to me this year watching the Folsom Bulldogs that has inspired me press into the process of being perfected.

1) Perfection Requires Community - A couple weeks ago the Co-Head Coach, Kris Richardson made a statement that caught my attention. He said, “When you are used to winning and as long as you keep working hard while you are winning, you get buy-in from the kids and the parents. We’ve got a good thing going.” Perfection can only be accomplished in the context of community! If you break down the word community you will find the first principle for your pursuit. You must have a common unity on your way to becoming perfected. For the football team the common unity is a not just getting a win, but creating a culture where everybody wins. That includes players, coaches, parents and spectators. Common unity creates and captivates a community to focus on a desired goal and achieve it together. 

2) Perfection Requires Validity of Every Person- This football team is loaded with talent and even some superstars, but you would never know it because players practice the principle of deference. Deference is a way of behaving that shows respect for someone or something. This team has both.  I have noticed that this team is not about one person, but they defer to other players and believe in the process. If the quarterback has a great game it was because of the offensive line, if the coaches are brilliant it’s because they have intelligent players, if the defense has a shutout it’s because they believed in the process. When you value others you take the pressure off your pursuit.  Deferring recognizes you are not carrying the burden of being perfect by yourself and it invites and encourages others to carry the cause with you!

3. Perfection Requires Teachability – You never arrive at PERFECT (at least in our life on earth). There is always room for improvement and new things to learn. When we stop learning we stop improving.  Perfection is the act of making something better. A person who is teachable says, “I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be!” The teachable person understands that it’s little acts of improvement that cause big impacts.  My son is constantly watching video of past performances, receiving and accepting constructive criticism, examining opponents game film and what blows my mind is he really doesn’t talk about his game stats at all. In fact he shrugs it off when I talk about his stats. The number one thing he talks about is his technique not his touchdowns. For him it doesn’t matter how much he scores but what matters is how he can improve to help his team: how he holds the ball, how he can improve his blocking and how he can better run his routes.  He wants to get better, so his team gets better.

Perfection is not a destination. It is a journey where our desires can be realized if we commit to understanding the process of perfection in our lives. It’s not about an individual, it’s about a community coming together with a common goal and a plan on how to get there. I hope this plan that I’ve seen at work in this team will help you in your pursuit!

Do you have a misconception of what it means to pursue perfection? Tell me about it!

If you liked this post and you would like to know what’s inspiring me in my pursuit I encourage you to leave a comment, ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page, or subscribe to this blog by submitting your email address for frequent encouragement!

The All-Time Thanksgiving Moment


Image by foto76 courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by foto76 courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay I know you have probably moved on from Thanksgiving, the leftovers are gone, fall decorations are down, Christmas lights are up and your favorite holiday tunes are playing in the background while seated in front of your computer on this Cyber Monday scouting the internet for some sweet deals. But if you could allow me to tell you about our family’s All-Time Thanksgiving moment that happened this past Thursday I think it will make you smile today!

Three years ago, Josiah and I traveled back to Sacramento from the Bay Area to catch the Folsom vs. Elk Grove football playoff game. Folsom won a hard fought game and we headed home after a long cold night rooting on the Bulldogs. When we pulled in the driveway, I’m not sure why but I had a sinking gut feeling that something wasn’t right. Sure enough a thief had crowbarred the door off the hinges and made their way into our house and plundered our home. We felt absolutely violated and it’s been a “Thanksgivng” memory that always occupies our minds when we leave our home.

Last week however is a whole different story. We were not robbed; instead we were “Robbied”. Let me explain…

Wednesday night Amy and I were watching a news segment about fraud and identity theft during the Christmas season. Five minutes later we got a call from our son, Josiah telling us that he accidentally left his wallet on a park bench and when he went back for it 10 minutes later it was gone. I wish I could tell you I responded calm, cool and collected, but I was frantic and furious. The night before I had done something I never have done before. I gave Josiah my debit card to make a purchase and failed to get it back from him. I went into full on panic mode, thoughts of my previous “Thanksgiving” memory taunted me, feeling cursed and now fearful that someone was about to do some Christmas shopping with my debit card. To make matters worse the automated voice activated customer service at my bank took about 15 minutes to finally reach a real person!

After I calmed down, my son and I scoured the pitch black park for the discarded wallet or any person that may have been the culprit. We found nothing and we were all very frustrated.  At that point I realized I had responded like an idiot and I heard a still small voice whisper to me, “you’ve panicked, but you still haven’t prayed.” We were planning to go to dinner as a family, so after all the commotion we did just that. When our food came, I asked Josiah to pray. He blessed the food, but also prayed that somehow someway the person who took his wallet would bring it back. He prayed in this manner because when going back to the park he asked a gentleman playing tennis if anyone had seen his wallet. The man said a gruff looking man had asked him if anyone has lost anything and headed off into the night. For some reason we had just a little bit of hope.

Josiah and I woke up early Thanksgiving morning and headed down to the park to search again. We looked in every trash can, restroom and every inch of that park but came up with nothing. I told Josiah before we left the park, “we’ve done what we can do, now let’s see what God will do.” To be honest we had already set up appointments with DMV to get his licensed replaced and were counting it as a valuable lesson to be learned, but it was a different lesson as we soon found out.

We were just getting ready to head out the door to join our family for Thanksgiving in the Bay Area when I heard a knock on our door. When I opened the door, a gruff, red-eyed, gray headed homeless man stood before me. He asked, if Josiah was home and I immediately asked him if he had found his wallet. The man reached in his raggedy jacket pocket and pulled out the “stolen” wallet. I checked the wallet for its contents and what I didn’t tell you is that Josiah had $51 cash that his grandpa had given him earlier that week. I examined it closely and everything including the money was still in the wallet. I smiled at the man and said “thank you so much” and called for Josiah. By this time Amy and Mariah were standing behind me in disbelief. Josiah came an reached to shake the man’s hand and say thanks.

“What’s your name?” I asked, “and do you need anything?” We had already discussed as a family what we would do.

He said, “My name is Robbie, I’m the poorest man in town.”

I looked back at Amy and the kids, reached in the wallet and gave the man the $51 and said thank you once again. Robbie was surprised, smiled, turned, and walked away.

Our encounter with Robbie changed our entire outlook on Thanksgiving Day. It will me a moment that will be imprinted on our minds and hearts forever. I personally had been robbed of my joy the night before, but a sincere, honest, homeless man had restored it by bringing back that which was lost! Sounds like someone else I know!

This was our All-Time Thanksgiving moment.

Did you have any memorable Thanksgiving moments over the weekend? If you like what you read hear at The Backseat Leader Blog, please share it with a friend, ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page or leave a comment. Would love to hear you thoughts on this personal story of ours. Have a great Monday!

 

Bouncing Back from Underneath the Bus


Image Courtesy of thephotoholic @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of thephotoholic @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jim Collins taught us that in order to take  your organization from Good to Great you had to get the right people on the bus in the proper seat and the wrong people off the bus. This post is dedicated to those who feel they belong on the bus, but have got thrown underneath it.

How can one bounce back from underneath the bus?

1. Don’t Let it Run You Over - Picture Indiana Jones clinging to the bottom of the SUV escaping the threat of the opposition by skillfully scaling the underbody of the vehicle to escape certain death. My point is just because you get thrown underneath the bus doesn’t mean you have to die there. Fulfilling your call and career will require courage to cling on when it would just be easier to get ran over. 

2. Climb Back on the Bus - If you belong on the bus climb back on. Confronting the individual that threw you under the bus is part of what moves a team forward. If you climb back on and the bus and intentionally avoid the conflict that comes with confrontation; BEWARE, you will be thrown underneath the bus again.

3. Take Your Seat on the Bus - If you paid the fare (the price) to be on the bus you deserve a seat on it. I’m not telling you to keep your seat at all costs, but only surrender your seat if you know what stop you’ll be getting off at  or someone else will decide your destination.

4. Enjoy the Bus Ride or Find another Bus Route - I rode the bus to school until I was 16. If I ever was bored with AC Transit Bus #21, I would go to another bus stop to catch a different bus and bus route. New route, new driver, different passengers but I would always ended up close to where I wanted to go. Bouncing back may require a different bus and a different route if you can’t enjoy the bus and route your currently on. The important thing to realize is there are different routes that take you to places you want to go.  Don’t be afraid to find what may be a better bus.

Have you ever been thrown under the bus? How did you respond? Please leave a comment or ‘LIKE’ The Backseat Leader Facebook page to be connected to The Backseat Leader Community.

 

How to Write Inspired


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Inspired is something that is marked as outstanding or brilliant in a way or to a degree suggestive of divine inspiration. We have all personally witnessed or experienced inspired moments that take our breath away, move us emotionally, bring tears to our eyes, or get us out of our seat to applaud the obvious divine.

For the author, blogger, communicator or song writer; inspiration is the key component that fills our stadium with fans, captivates our community, and builds a committed base of followers that keeps them coming back for more. Writing, blogging, and speaking with inspiration however does not come easy and most people have a difficulty tapping into the inspirational influences that fascinate our fans to the point where they begin to follow.

You may be asking yourself why is that important? If your fans are not becoming followers it is an indicator that you are not the leader you might think you are. Inspiration creates something that causes someone to do something. It is an influence that enlivens the spirit of a person to take action. So how do we find the inspiration to inspire others?

I’ve been preaching full time for 18 years and have been blogging now for a little over 3 years. I would never begin to say that everything I’ve said or written has been inspirational or has inspired others. In fact there have been moments when I  felt as though I “missed it” altogether. I believe that is a normal occurrence that can be expected from time to time, but over the years I have been able to identify when the winds of inspiration our blowing and how to take advantage of it. Here are some questions I ask myself to write inspired on a consistent basis.

What lessons can I learn and others learn from my past? If you lived something I guarantee it will bring life to others. Writing inspired comes easy when we look back and extract life giving lessons from our life experiences. These experiences can be drawn from our personal victories or our darkest valleys we’ve had to walk through.   Learning from our past is a key to tapping into into inspiration for the present. You’ve heard many times “hindsight is 20/20.” Looking back often gives us a different perspective that enables us to pluck valuable principles that will bring inspirational value to others.

What am I currently going through that would encourage others? The most inspired writing that flows from my keyboard is when I’m writing from right where I’m at. What your going through does not disqualify you! It actually empowers you to inspire others from an authoritative place. I  am reminded of what 2 Corinthians 11:30 says,  “If it’s necessary to brag, I’ll brag about my weaknesses.” Inspiration is often found in my weakness. It is at this place I discover the divine. The influence of the Holy Spirit empowers me to write, say and do many times when I am over my head, overwhelmed or feeling ordinary.

Where am I going that could empower others? This is probably the toughest question to ask yourself when wanting to write inspired because it involves vision. Proverbs tells us that “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” Inspired writing clears the way for a blessed life. It clears confusion and helps others catch a vision. When you know where your going it’s easy for people to follow you to a specific destination. That is a simple goal of an inspired leader, writer, or communicator. Inspiration for the future always leads you and others to their destiny.

I’m hope these questions help you to write inspired and inspire others. If you enjoyed this post please rate by clicking one of the stars above and if you would like to be encouraged through out the week ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page in the right hand column, subscribe to my blog. I would also love to hear how you find inspiration for what you do by leaving a comment.

Be encouraged, stay empowered and live inspired!

When You Don’t Have Words to Say


Life can be difficult.  Pain at times seems inevitable.  Everyone will experience it. No one can avoid it. The unexplainable. The questionable. The mysterious. The tragic.

It is in these times when we look helplessly for words that cannot soothe, heal or bring hope. We find ourselves speechless, grasping for words that just aren’t appropriate, meaningful or ministering. We feel obligated to say something, so we wrestle to find words that will work wonders but often times leave us wondering if they worked at all.

So what can we say when we don’t have the words to say? Nothing.  Last night I watched a powerful video that brought me to tears and I wanted to share it with The Backseat Leader Community.

Dom Tiberi, a local Ohio newscaster, lost his daughter in a tragic auto accident. Upon his return the entire Ohio State football team welcomed him after his first game back hug after hug after hug. When family and friends and loved ones have suffered loss and we are at a loss for words the temptation is to find the right thing to say,  yet many times it’s our presence alone, that brings assurance and comfort to those walking through life’s storms.

Many times our actions will speak louder than any words we could ever conjure up. If you’ve been avoiding a situation because you don’t know what to say, a hug may be speak volumes.

Encourage someone today by sharing this post and if you would like to be a part of The Backseat Leaders Community please subscribe to this blog or ‘LIKE’ The Backseat Leader Facebook page. Have a blessed day!

 

My Five Favorite Podcasts


Image courtesy of Carlos Porto @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week I replied to a post and was asked what podcasts I listen to. I shared him with his community and now I wanted to share 5 of my favorite podcasts I listen to on a regular basis to help you start your week off right!

1. Andy Stanley Leadership PodcastThis is my favorite! A 23 minute monthly podcast that I only wish was produced more frequently. This podcast is  a conversation designed to help leaders go further, faster. Andy often refers to “church world” in his podcasts, but his content applies to any organization. I’ve often played these during our staff meetings with follow up discussion. Always excellent and leaves you wanting more.

2. Jesus Culture Leadership Podcast I have a segment on this podcast called The Dean’s List, but that’s not why it’s number 2 on my list. JC Leadership podcasts is a little bit of this and a little bit of that on leadership. It’s a bimonthly podcast hosted by Banning Liebscher who has a heart to encourage leaders and revivalists. You will hear book suggestions, worship album reviews, blog recommendations and interviews of the most influential Christian leaders from pastors to athletes.

3. Perry Noble Leadership Podcast - Perry Noble is the Lead Pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. This podcast may rub you wrong because of Perry’s leadership style, but his in your face leadership will cause you to really look at the things you do as a leader, why you do them and why you may even need to change how you do it.

4. This is Your Life - A weekly podcast by Michael Hyatt dedicated to intentional leadership. This podcast will help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence. Great resource for leaders that really want to grow personally and professionally.

5. Rainer on LeadershipDr. Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  I enjoy this podcast for it’s nuts and bolts approach to ministry topics specifically for pastors. From burnout to breaking barriers Dr. Rainer covers a wide range of topics related to a pastors personal life and public ministry.

What are some of your favorite podcasts you listen to?

How to Cast Your Care


Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday, I posted 1 Peter 5: 6-7 on my personal Facebook status and it struck a chord with a lot of FB friends.

1 Peter 5: 6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)

I began to think about what casting all your anxiety on Him looks like and how do we practically do that on a day to day basis when we are dealing with the daily stressors that never seem to cease. Observe with me at how other translations communicate  what casting looks like:

  • Putting all your troubles on him, for he takes care of you. (BBE)
  • Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. (CEB)
  • Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you. (GW)
  • Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you. (GNT)
  • Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. (NCV)
  • Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (MSG)

Casting your care creates a picture of placing something from my hands into God’s hands. The original word means to throw upon, or place upon. I see an image of God’s open hand ready to receive our troubles, anxieties, and worries, yet you may be wondering how do we get it from our hands to His? The previous verse reveals how to put, throw, turn, leave, give these things that weigh on us so heavily to Him.

Humble yourselves – Humbling yourself is something only you can do. It’s intentionally decreasing your ego, your pride, your “self”, so that God can increase His power and presence in your life. If you’ve ever carried something heavy for a long distance you know there are times when you have eventually been forced to drop what your carrying. When I humble myself I deliberately admit, “I can’t carry this on my own” before I pick something up and carry it. Men are the worst at admitting they need help carrying something. We will say, “I got it,” “it’s not that heavy,” or “it’s pretty light” which many times will cause us a back that is in strained and in pain. Humility prevents the weight of your worry from causing you any unnecessary heart strain or pain.

Before you do anything else today, take a moment to loosen your grip and let go of that thing you can’t control and is causing you to stress out. When that happens you will see His hand working on your behalf and lifting you up from underneath the heavy load your carrying.

What do you need to let go of today?

If you enjoyed this post and would like to be a regular part of The BackSeat Leader Community, I encourage you to subscribe to my blog and or ‘LIKE’ The BackSeat Leader Facebook page to stay encouraged and empowered where God has you in leadership!

How to Get Clarity


Image Courtesy of suphakit73 via @FreeDigital Photos.net

Image Courtesy of suphakit73 via @FreeDigital Photos.net

One of the most overlooked qualities of a great leader is the ability to quickly obtain clarity so that important decisions are not delayed and golden opportunities are not missed.  A constant lack of clarity is a sign that a business, church or organization is going nowhere. It invites confusion, complexity, and complacency amongst staff, boards, teams, and employees.

I once heard a young pastor while I was living in Houston say that the pastor who mentored him, moved so slow when it came to decisions he never made a mistake. You may read that and discover wisdom like I did the first time I heard it, but contrary to that wisdom I’ve also seen leaders move so slow when it came to decisions that they’ve missed a divine door God was opening or failed to capture momentum that was building within the organization.  The bottom line is that the inability to get clarity results in a lot of missed opportunities.

So how does a leader get the clarity they need to take advantage of every God-given opportunity?

1) Prayer - Paul encouraged leaders to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…(Philippians 4:6)Anxiety is an enemy of clarity. When we are anxious we allow ourselves to slip into an uneasy state of mind usually over the possibility of an anticipated misfortune or trouble. Anxiety brings fear or nervousness about what might happen. It’s meditating more on what could go wrong, rather than what could go right. The humility that comes by praying about a possibility opens the heavens of clarity in a leaders life.

2) Perspective - My definition for perspective is the capacity to see things from God’s point of view.  Again, Paul told us how to get God’s perspective when he admonished leaders in Romans 12 to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Why should a leader renew their mind? Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –His good, pleasing and perfect will. 

Clarity is a result of renewing your mind to think differently about a difficult decision. The prophet Isaiah reminds us God’s “thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

3) Peace - When you pray and begin to see things from God’s point of view you will have peace. I’ve seen a bumper sticker that reads No Jesus, No Peace…Know Jesus…Know Peace. When there is NO peace Jesus is not in the deal, but when you have His peace the deal has been sealed. To complete Paul’s sentence I referred to in Philippians 4:6, verse seven reads, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Peace is the security guard of great decisions that prevent us from getting robbed by the enemies tactics of fear, worry and doubt. Biblical peace promises to bring with it security, safety, and a prosperous soul (3 John1:2).

Where there is prayer, God’s perspective and God’s peace, a leader will find the clarity they need to clear the confusion, complexity and complacency which in turn will create a clear path to the unlimited possibilities God is bringing to them.

Are you struggling to find clarity regarding a big decision? What if any of the three things I mentioned above do you not have in order to obtain the clarity you need?

If you enjoyed this post and would like to be a regular part of The BackSeat Leader Community, I encourage you to subscribe to my blog and or ‘LIKE’ The BackSeat Leader Facebook page to stay encouraged and empowered where God has you in leadership!

BackSeat Leader Suggests Reading AWAKENED. – Buy the Book!


I recently finished Pastor Francis Anfuso’s book, “When the Church is Revived, the Lost will be AWAKENED”, in preparation for the Leading in These Times Conference I attended a couple of weeks ago. I have read several books on the subject of Revival, but unlike any other book, AWAKENED was written with the goal to mobilize leaders longing for a move of God in their cities, to discover their God-given graces, roles and responsibilities to sustain a spiritual awakening.

More important than the characteristics of the great revivals in history, Pastor Francis identifies 11 character qualities, roles and responsibilities of men and women that emerged from these “supernatural surprises.”  The book seeks to unite Christians, churches and their pastors to partner in using their unique gifts and God-given passions in order to see a regional move of God. It poses the question, as a follower of Jesus, would you be willing to assist in championing one of the following 11 Revival Focuses seen throughout history as catalysts inspiring a move of God?

awaken3d2

  • Disciplers - Teaching the Word of God to the next generation while carrying the message of revival. 
  • Encouragers - Modeling esteeming other individuals and churches as more important than ourselves. 
  • Equipping and Training Leaders - Equipping and Training pastors and leaders for the work of the ministry. 
  • Evangelists - Fearlessly preaching the gospel to a lost and broken generation. 
  • Godly Examples - Representing Jesus well while serving as stellar examples of being a Christ-follower. 
  • Intercessors - Crying out day and night for God to have mercy upon His wayward people. 
  • Messengers of Repentance - Modeling deep and genuine repentance for an unbelieving, rebellious church and culture. 
  • Restorers - Praying and working toward healing every relational breakdown within the Body of Christ. 
  • Servants - Laying down our lives in the service of others, both within and outside the Church. 
  • Spiritual Parents - Adopting the next generation by becoming spiritual parents. 
  • Unifiers - Uniting and networking the disconnected individuals and camps within the Body of Christ. 

If you are involved in a city pastors network, see yourself as a unifier and encourager to see a move of God in your region, or you are just asking God what’s your part in the bigger picture of His story, you can purchase the book at www.francisanfuso.com. The book also has a DVD with study questions to begin dialogue among small groups of leaders or spark the conversation among leaders in your church.  

If there was a move of God in your region, what responsibility would you have? 

Also, if you would like to keep updated with resources that are encouraging The BackseatLeader community, subscribe to my blog and “LIKE” TheBackSeatLeader Facebook Page! Thank you for your encouragement and support.

 

 

5 Reasons Why I’m Launching a Facebook “LIKE” Page


Image Courtesy of FrameAngel via @FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Image Courtesy of FrameAngel via @FreeDigitalPhotos.com

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been contemplating it for months, but today I am launching a Facebook “LIKE page. Here is why:

1. I’m Launching the BackSeat Leader Brand – If you don’t know what a BackSeat Leader is and you don’t care to know the good news is you DON’T  HAVE TO “LIKE” it. The BackSeat Leader “LIKE” page is for those that have enjoyed my BackSeat Leader blog content over that last 3-4 years and find it encouraging an applicable to their life.  Although you will still see my blogposts on my personal page, the “LIKE” page will have more of my content, including all things pertaining to leadership, audio message links, podcasts I’m helping produce, and other blogs and articles I think you would add value to you.

2. I’m Building the BackSeat Leader CommunityI believe some of the best leaders in the world are the people behind the scenes serving some of the best leaders in the world. You may not be the Lead Pastor, CEO, or Point Person of your organization, but your role as a leader is recognizably valuable to the success of your organization. Though my focus is encouraging leaders at all levels I especially have a heart for leaders in the backseat. If you feel like your work goes unnoticed, you are undervalued, or you just would like to know how to better function in your current role, you should “LIKE” the BackSeat Leader page.

3. I’m Filtering My Friends and Fans- I really don’t want thousands of “friends” on my personal Facebook page. I really enjoy the intimate connections I have with friends, family, colleagues on my personal page.  Since most of my FB friends on my personal page are way more interested in how my kids did at their latest sporting event than my leadership stuff,  my “LIKE” page is specifically for the hundreds of FANS of my BackSeat Leader blog. If you are a leadership junkie and you don’t care what I ate for breakfast, that I’m at my first rodeo, or who is leading worship at my church, “LIKE” the BackSeat Leader page and it will take you straight to my content! If your not a FAN please remain my FRIEND!

4. I Will be Developing Product for My Fans -  I don’t want to mix business with pleasure, so in the future my “LIKE” page will inform my fans of resources I’m providing specifically for my community. I don’t want my FB friends to think I’m always trying to give or sell them something. “LIKE my page if you like FREE stuff or want to be informed about other opportunities that will help expand your leadership.

5. I’m Focusing on Encouraging Leaders - Ten years ago I was at one of the lowest points in my life as a leader. I was discouraged, depressed, defeated and any other “D” word you can think of.  As I was driving home from work feeling very alone, a thought came to me that has stuck with me ever since. “There are lonely leaders just like you that need to be lifted up and built up.” A short time after that I started blogging. The BackSeat Leader blog has been therapy for me, but also is a tool for encouraging and building up leaders. If you need to be encouraged and built up as a leader “LIKE” the BackSeat Leader page.

So there you have it. Don’t worry,  I don’t think I’m famous, I’m just trying to be a little more focused in pursuing a dream that God deposited in my heart! I hope you “LIKE” it!

The BackSeat Leader Header

How to Avoid Drowning in Self-Pity


Image Courtesy of winnond via @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of winnond via @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever thrown a pity party? I HAVE! In fact just about a week ago I caught myself preparing for another celebration of my latest disappointment.  I had to stop myself and ask the all important question, WHY?

At the center of a pity party you will discover yourself along with your set back, your circumstance and your frustration.  It is a self-centered celebration of wrong thinking, bad feelings and confusion.  It’s a party scene you want to avoid at all costs.  Here’s how you avoid drowning in your own self-pity:

1. Don’t Magnify Your Misfortune.  Misfortune is a result of an event that clouds your thinking and leaves you with feelings of unhappiness.  It is a meaningless mindset that magnifies your thoughts and feelings about your life to be greater than God’s process and purpose in your life.

2. Don’t Dwell on Your Sorrows - There are two definitions for sorrow. The first is a feeling of sadness or grief. I am not telling you not to be sad or grieve in a time of personal loss. Instead my focus for this post is on the second definition which is an unhappy or unpleasant state. When we dwell on our unhappiness nothing will make us happy resulting in us being a very unpleasant person to be around.  Dwelling on our outward circumstances will never bring the inward satisfaction our souls long for. Long lasting happiness only comes from a inward joy that is generated from an genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, who takes our sorrow and turns it into a productive tomorrow.

3. Don’t Make Yourself a Martyr - When you meditate on the unfairness of your situation you invite unbiblical pain and suffering into your life.  Self-martyrs are not dying to themselves they are denying God’s refining process in their lives. There is always a reason for biblical pain and suffering and it always produces purpose (Romans 8:28). Unbiblical pain and suffering always results in confusion and feelings that life is not fair, that somehow you always get the short end of the stick and that you were born a loser.  It fails to believe that anything good can come from your suffering or trial.

Have you ever battled self-pity? How did you snap out of it?

 

 

Is the Church too Noisy?


Image by Keattikorn courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Keattikorn courtesy of @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Noise is defined as any sound that is undesired or interferes with one’s hearing of something.  For the church I would define noise as any disturbance or distraction that is undesired or interferes with one’s hearing God’s voice. Noise is everywhere, outside and inside of the church. It is difficult to get through a service without a cell phone ringing, a nursery pager buzzing, a complaint or being interrupted with an urgent need that demands your attention and distracts you from the service.

Leading up to yesterday’s services, my week was filled with noise. I had just come back from vacation and like many of you are familiar with, I hit the ground running! Our worship leader made a difficult departure back to Portugal for an unknown period of time as we await a decision on his visa status, several meetings filled my schedule, and Sunday was coming!

I had scheduled guest worship leaders to assist in our worship leaders absence, but there were several of our own band members unavailable to support them. At that point I was reminded of what my friend Jimmy Donaghy told me years ago.

He said, “Dean, I don’t stress when band members have schedule conflicts on Sundays. If my drummer can’t make it or I don’t have an electric guitarist I look at it as God wants me to do something different than I had planned. I don’t stress and scramble trying to fill a spot, I just scale things down accordingly.”

I remembered that advice and implemented the unimaginable…an acoustic worship service.  I knew the couple leading were talented and gifted and could carry our service by themselves then the unthinkable happened. I got one of those Saturday night emails letting me know his wife would not be able to make it due to an urgent family matter.

I was terrified. One guy, one guitar, that’s it. 

To be brief it was absolutely perfect. I believe it was exactly what God ordered for us! However it got me thinking about church life in general.  Is the Church too noisy?

Here are some things I’m thinking about this morning:

  1. Why was I anxious about the “one guy, one guitar” thing? Was I worried that it wouldn’t motivate, inspire or energize our services? I thought of the song lyrics of Matt Redman’s Heart of Worship. “When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come.” Our souls need more simple! Sometimes I find myself over complicating things.
  2. Have we lost the meaning of the church being a sanctuary? A sanctuary should be more than a name we call the place where we gather for worship and the hearing of the word. I know we have erased that from our church vocabulary and now refer to it as the auditorium, but is it possible that if we recapture the meaning of a sanctuary being a place of refuge and protection could it be that it may have an appeal to unchurched people that are wrestling to find rest for their souls. 
  3. Have we lost the discipline of solitude? Luke’s account of Jesus informs us that “He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Solitude is a spiritual discipline of making a deliberate decision to be alone with Jesus in an environment that includes only you and Him. If the church is encouraged to embrace the wilderness experience I believe like Jesus we will return in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14) .

Before you step up on your soap box in the comment section below (which I would love for you to do!), please know that though our worship services inspired me to write this post, I’m not just referring to worship, but anything and everything that can distract us from hearing God’s voice.  Would love to hear your thoughts?

What I Learned at THE TABLE


PawPaw's Table

Last week I had the opportunity of visiting with family in Louisiana. Growing up my parents would send my sister and I during the summers to visit my mom’s side of the family. For that I am grateful. Today, Louisiana is still one of those places for me that allows me to find rest, focus on what matters and reconnect relationally with relatives that have played an important role in my life.

It was on the last night before my flight departed visiting with my cousin Pat and Lisa, that I thought I noticed something familiar as we sat down for dinner. I wasn’t positive, but the dinner experience was a familiar one that resonated within me as my aunt, cousins, sister and I gathered to eat a pot of chicken and dumplings, cornbread, topped off with my Aunt Wilma’s infamous banana pudding. Yes, it was as good as you just have imagined it to be!

The next morning, glancing it over with more curiosity I asked my cousin Pat, “Is that PawPaw’s table?” He confirmed the hunch I had.  Though he had beautifully refinished the family heirloom I recognized the priceless piece of family history that caused me to reminisce about its rich heritage . Priceless not because of its present value, but because of the values that were taught to my cousins and I by my PawPaw around that table. 

As I reflected about the many meals, conversations, laughs, stories, and interactions  that happened around PawPaw’s table,  I realized that the deep connections I have with my Louisiana family,  though thousands of miles apart, exist because of what was taught at The Table. If the table could talk about what has been taught, it would tell you this:

We looked forward to being at the table. We didn’t get to sit at the table because we were hungry, we got to sit at the table because we had worked up an appetite. Our PawPaw would wake all of the boys up before dawn and haul us off to the woods to cut, load and haul pulpwood to the mill. Mind you that we were not all teenagers, yet at a young age our PawPaw instilled in us a strong work ethic. It was hard work that caused us to look forward with much anticipation to what Granny would be serving us for dinner. We would not be asking if we could watch TV while we eat, instead we would be fighting to get a seat that we earned earlier that morning.

2 Thessalonians 3:10For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

We honored our PawPaw at the table. You could sit anywhere and on anything around The Table, but there was one seat that was off limits. It was PawPaw’s chair at the head of the table, next to the air conditioner in the window. I can’t remember anyone fighting over that seat. It was the place I believe he observed and enjoyed the wealth of having so many grandchildren. He was proud and he gloried in us!

Proverbs 17:6Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.

We honored God at the table. We were taught an attitude of gratitude by our PawPaw as we bowed our heads in prayer to give thanks to God before every meal. I wasn’t a Christian until I was 17, so this left an impression on me that there was a God who provides our every need. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 -in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We connected with each other at the table. I think of the rich relationships I still have with my cousins today. We don’t see each other as often as we used to, but the connections that started around the table through story-telling, laughter and the like are still as meaningful to me as they were to me back then. There is nothing that revives my soul as much as reconnecting with those relationships that were formed around black-eyed peas, rice and cornbread, french fries and sweet tea. It is a different kind of wealth that very few have.

Philippians 2: 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. 

More occurred around that table than I have room to write, but these are just a few things I learned at the table. In contrast I think about our busy lives and how many tables including mine are a showpiece rather than a centerpiece of family interaction and connection where values are transferred from one generation to another.

What stories would your table tell if it could talk? Would it have anything to say?

How to Respond to the Unexpected


Image Courtesy of  cbenjasuwan @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of cbenjasuwan @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Life is full of shocking surprises: the unplanned pregnancy, the layoff we didn’t see coming, the news of an affair that blindsided you, the premature death of someone you knew, an emergency phone call that informs you your child has been in an accident.  These are all life rattling events that can shake our lives to the core and there are many more that could be added to this list.

Whether or not the unexpected thing we are confronted with is major or minor, it is necessary that we know how to respond. I’ve learned that people commonly respond to unexpected news or events in three ways:

  • They Panic
  • They Become Fearful
  • They Shut Down

As a leader I’ve experienced all three responses and the results are never good.  Responding to the unexpected is a leadership skill that will help bring the proper perspective to any given situation.

Here are three uncommon ways I’ve learned how to respond to the unexpected.

  1. Remain Calm: When the unexpected comes we are immediately faced with the unknown. If you haven’t noticed, people don’t do well with the unknown and that’s when panic sets in.  Panic is a state or feeling of extreme fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally. As leaders when we remain calm we can quench people’s feelings of fear with common sense.  Sometimes it’s best to remove yourself from the extreme feelings of the crowd so that you can find peace in the midst of the chaos. Remaining calm will help you make the right call!
  2. Be Strong and Courageous: When the unexpected comes we are immediately faced with fear. As leaders we have a choice to make. We can allow fear to paralyze us or we can be strong and find the courage to do what needs to be done. Courage is the ability to do something that you know is difficult. Let’s face it, dealing with the unexpected many times causes us to look at our inability to deal with the the difficult. However; when we respond with strength and courage, we tap into a God given ability that opens doors to possibility.
  3. Do Something: When the unexpected comes the temptation is to do nothing. To do nothing or shut down when confronted with the unexpected is not an option. Make the phone call, send the encouraging card, tell someone, find out how you can help, make the trip, do the work and be willing TO DO whatever it takes to bring an uncommon response to the unforeseen circumstances that are unfolding before you.

What can you add to my uncommon responses? Leave a comment and help The Backseat Leader Community learn how to respond to the unexpected.

Embracing Uncertainty and Living the Adventure


I have the privilege to introducing to the BackSeat Leader community a friend I have respected and admired from a distance for many years. In a nutshell Julian Newman is the real deal.  Genuine, authentic, and honest are just a few words that come to my mind when I think about the life he lives for all to see.  This post is just a taste of what Julian is all about and I know it’s going to encourage you to pursue the uncomfortable, so that you can obtain the uncommon! Enjoy…

Image Courtesy of foto76 @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of foto76 @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Would you sell your brand new Ferrari to follow your dream? 

Interesting question isn’t it? I wish I could tell you that I knew the answer, but I’ve never owned a Ferrari.  I did sell my car a couple of weeks ago. We just moved from California to Michigan to fulfill a piece of God’s dream for my life (enrolling in Film School and becoming a future church planter).  Since it was our only car, we are presently renting, borrowing and being very creative while we look at affordable transportation options. It was just one of many decisions we had to make as we prepared to move.

If you’ve ever moved before, you know the process of getting rid of things you really don’t need, can’t take, or just won’t fit (whether it be the moving truck, the apartment, the house, your waistline, etc). The irony is while combing through stuff, you discover items that you had forgotten even existed. An old book, a crumpled thank you card, a picture that you don’t remember taking.

This is the process of taking inventory:

Cutting the clutter and holding onto what matters most.

In the case of selling our car, we determined that its value didn’t warrant the cross-country shipping costs. Even with that being what it was, it still was difficult. It was a choice that thrust us into a realm of uncertainty far outside of our comfort zone. It is this sense of uncertainty that causes many to reconsider and turn back when chasing their dreams.

Human beings hate the unknown and will hold onto the known even if it’s destructive.  Necessary Endings, a book written by Dr. Henry Cloud references the response of one woman who says, “I know I live in hell, but I know the names of all the streets.” to a group of friends who were trying to encourage her to make positive changes in her life.  Sadly, she was unable to step into the unknown and let go of the known. Though she had taken a careful inventory, she was unable to implement the other half of the action step.

The willingness to embrace uncertainty to live your dream.

Yes it’s crazy, out of this world, and incredibly unorthodox. It rails against conventional wisdom. It stretches common sense to its breaking point and beyond.  It comes without guarantees, assurances, or anything concrete. Real risk is involved and the stakes are extremely high, but when you know that it’s time to make the leap, you’ve got to go. 

And when you do, a strange and peaceful freedom fills your soul. You’ll just know that you’ve made the right choice. It doesn’t mean there still won’t be times where you wake up in a cold sweat and say aloud, “What am I doing?!!!!!?”  Though often scary, uncertainty makes us lean and strong. Uncertainty drives us to pray, eliminate bad habits, and invest in the right places.  It also opens our eyes to look and ask for the miracles. 

Miracles? 

Yes, miracles. An unexpected envelope filled with cash from someone you barely know, a chance meeting with the CEO of the company where you were hoping to get hired, a friend that just happens to have a relative that has exactly what you need. Embracing uncertainty takes your life from the mundane to the adventurous.

Live the adventure as you pursue the path of your dreams. 

You can do it. I know you can.

Pastor Julian NewmanJulian Newman is a husband, father, writer, artist and storyteller.  He has passion for creativity, innovation, leadership, outreach and evangelism, mentoring, the arts, reading and teaching the bible. Find him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/JulianNewman

How to Survive a Leadership Let Down


Image Courtesy of marin @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of marin @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many of us have experienced being let down by a leader. Dealing with the disappointment that comes with what I call a leadership let down can really throw us for a loop. It can shake our confidence, kill our trust, and cause us not to follow something or someone we at one time really believed in.

I’ve been let down a few times in my life and it’s easy to find yourself in a tail spin, disillusioned and even angry. The feelings that are involved with a let down can be personally devastating and today I wanted to give you a few ways to respond in order to survive a  leadership let down.

1. When a leader lets you down, don’t have a meltdown. A meltdown is to collapse or break down disastrously.  I’ve seen leadership let downs kill organizations, end businesses, split churches and I’ve seen it divide and destroy the best of friendships.  As a result of a leadership let down I’ve seen people walk away from their faith, leave their marriage, and run away from difficult situations when they were needed the most.

Surviving a total collapse and a disastrous break down will require us to be courageous while facing our deepest pain and fears that accompany a leadership let down. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

There are only a few things that I can think of that are more horrific than a let down,  but courage will keep us from having a major meltdown the next time your faced with this kind of adversity.

2. When a leader lets you down, don’t let it keep you down.  If you think you’ve wasted years of your life by following a leader that ultimately has let you down, know that you can turn what seems like wasted time into wisdom beyond your years.  One of the things that I’ve learned in surviving let downs is that wisdom is always available and accessible even in the most difficult circumstances. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do!”

Choosing not to allow your let downs to keep you down gives us the opportunity to walk away from what seems like a life wasted with a lifetime of wisdom.

3. When a leader lets you down, start a personal countdown. There is a time to mourn and grieve over a leadership let down. I think this action step is often overlooked preventing true healing to take place in a person’s soul and spirit because the effects of the let down are never given adequate attention.

Just saying “Get over it!” never worked for me and that usually causes us to get bitter rather than better.  Let downs require courage and wisdom, but one of the most important survival techniques you can have is patience.  Patience allows you to begin the healing process and starts a personal countdown to emotional and spiritual recovery.  It takes a certain amount of time to get through a let down, and a personal count down will get you moving forward instead of stalling and dwelling on what could have been. Patience allows you to move forward with God’s timing. It can take two months or two years, but it is necessary to be patient with the process no matter how long it takes. Patience is the best remedy for pain.

James 1:2-4 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

The next time you are let down respond with courage, wisdom and patience and turn it into an opportunity to make you strong, wise and perfected during a very gut wrenching process in surviving a leadership let down.

Have you ever been let down by a leader? How did you respond?

 

Why the Bible is the BEST Book to Read


 

Photo courtesy of adamr @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of adamr @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Earlier this year I decided to take a book break. I know that “readers are leaders” and that the more I read the more wisdom I obtain, but I honestly needed a break so I could really focus on one book. This was a very difficult thing for me to do because since I was 18 I have read hundreds of books. I love books and I love to read them all the way through. Whether they are well written or terribly transcribed, there is hardly a book I do not finish.

The book I’m still reading is the Bible. In times past I have always supplemented my personal Bible reading with devotionals, books, commentaries and the like, but several months ago I was getting readers fatigue.  I read a lot of different kinds of books, but I was getting tired of reading different authors and different books that were saying a lot of the same things.

That led me to put my book list on hold and really focus on reading the Bible. This year I happened to choose to read it chronologically. Now whether you read the Bible on a regular basis or not I’m not writing this post to persuade you to put down the page turner on your nightstand right at this moment, yet I wanted to give you some reasons why it might be good idea to get reacquainted with pages of the world’s bestseller.

1. The Bible is the best way to hear God’s voice. We all have our favorite authors that really inspire us, who we can really relate to, and I don’t doubt for a second that God uses these men and women to speak into our lives. However, I think sometimes we overlook the fact that every time we open God’s word, we give God the opportunity to speak to us and hear His voice.  Just his voice and nothing else. Not what God said to someone else, but what He’s saying to you today and what He’s promising you tomorrow.

Sometimes we are asking God to speak to us, but we can’t hear God’s voice over the noise of the novel in our hand or the New York Times Bestseller that gives us the formula that guarantees our success.

I love this promise in the Bible because it guarantees that every word matters that comes from Him!

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

2. The Bible is the best way to know God’s will.  When I think about all the books that have been written on discovering your destiny, finding your purpose or understanding God’s will for your life, I realize that the Bible is the best book to base life’s biggest decisions on. God’s will is found in the pages of promises and principles God’s given from Genesis to Revelation. The more I read God’s Word the more I recognize God’s will for my life.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.  – Romans 12:2

3. The Bible is the best way to know God’s ways. Books are filled with formulas, steps, and how to’s that are helpful to us, yet many times they are all about helping just us. If I can get my “self” together, then I can help others. The Bible however tells a much different story of a backwards Kingdom.  It’s the story where we lose our life in order to find it, it’s the place where we give in order to receive, a Kingdom where the lower you get the higher you go. His ways apply to everyday life when applied.

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9

Today and everyday let the Bible be your book of choice. If you can only read one book, read to understand the bestselling book of all time! The question I have for you is not what book are you reading, but what do you need to stop reading to allow God’s word to speak to you concerning His will and His ways for your life?

 

5 Timeless Parenting Principles I Picked Up Along the Way


Josiah & Mariah

When my first child, Josiah was born, I felt like someone had picked me up and threw me in the deep end of the swimming pool called fatherhood. 16 years later I’m still treading water ever!

As parents many times we are overwhelmed with a lot of different emotions  that all add up to feeling inadequate for the job description of mom and dad. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because none of us were born parents we become parents. We choose to become better parents through the mistakes we make, the failures we experience, and also the small victories along the way that give us courage to keep becoming the best mom or dad we can be.

I’ve had my share of feeling like a father failure instead of a father figure, but I’m reminded that even in my greatest weakness as a dad, God’s grace shows itself strong. I didn’t learn how to be a dad before I became one, but I’ve picked up some valuable principles along the way by learning and watching others that have helped us build some really good kids.

Here are 5 Timeless Parenting Principles  that have helped us become better parents:

1.  Pray Over Your Kids – I’ve always declared a prayer over my kids since they were young. It goes something like this. “Lord, I thank you for Josiah’s/Mariah’s destiny. I pray that they would be Champions for You and World Changers.” It’s crazy, but God has really answered that simple prayer in the life of my kids. When I reflect on the life and achievements of my kids, I say to myself, “who are these kids?”

2. Discipline Your Kids - As hard as it was, Proverbs 13:24 helped us help our kids. it says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Notice the scripture says we must be careful to discipline them. There is a careful discipline that destines our kids for greatness and a careless discipline that does more harm than good. We weren’t perfect, but we were careful most of the time!

3. Spend Time with Your Kids - We are a huge sports family, so since our kids were like 4 years old our Saturdays have been spent on a baseball field, soccer field, football field or a basketball court. We have been our kids #1 fans and have always been present in the stands or out on the field coaching. The most important thing is your kids knowing no matter what they choose to do that you are there!

4. Praise Your Kids - I always tell others my kids are 10x better than I was at anything I ever did because it true!  I tell my kids the same. Not so they get puffed up, but so they recognize that God has given them talent, skills and gifts that God wants to use and open doors for them. Giving them praise has raised their personal expectations and enlarged their God given dreams.

5. Be an Example to Your Kids - The other night Josiah was asked the question who is the person you admire the most. He said, “his dad!” I can’t tell you how good that felt because I haven’t been the perfect dad or a perfect person, but I’ve tried my best to practice what I preach. My kids “catch” me all the time reading my bible, worshipping Jesus in private, praying in my chair or reading a good book. It’s the little things that that our kids see that make a huge impact in their lives.

I hope these timeless principles  that others have taught me bring you a lifetime of joy and good memories with your children while they are still at home. I know I have a lot to learn as I now see good friends of mine sending their kids off to college. Not sure I will be ready for that, but it’s coming sooner than I want it too. I’m watching, learning and taking notes!

What are some great parental skills you’ve learned from others?

REVIVE in REVIEW


Sean Smith, preaching out of Judges 3,  brought forth a prophetic word last night that in these days of “double wicked darkness” the church doesn’t need the programs of men, but the “power of God!” The video above was used to illustrate the call for the church to not be intimidated and smash the enemy, i.e…”puny god.” Here are some highlights that I managed to jot down!

1. God is calling us to be fully invested! Half-hearted Christians will not survive the day.

2. Great shakings are followed by great awakenings!

3. Your character will always be tested before your promotion.

4. Your foundation must be set before your dream will come to pass.

5. Your attachment to your destiny must be greater than the adversity coming at you.

Thank you New Life and everyone who came out to support and gave towards the conference.  The heart and purpose behind this gathering is to see the church in our region live out a supernatural lifestyle! Let’s keep leaning into what God is doing in our region! Special thanks to all of guest speakers: Pastor Paul Goulet, Francis Anfuso, Rev. Sean Smith and our amazing worship team led by Pastor Andre Reis!

We would like to hear any testimonies of healing, breakthrough, and what God did in your life over the last 3 days! Please testify by leaving a comment! Bottom line: What did God do in your life?

 

REVIVE Update #2 – Personal Revival


REVIVE Sign

Last night, Pastor Francis Anfuso, a catalyst for revival in the Sacramento region, took us deep last night and addressed how our personal response to personal loss ultimately promotes us. He had written several books and created several documentaries on the subject of revival. You can check out more of his resources on his website.

Here were some of the bombs of truth Pastor Francis dropped on us last night:

Everyone of us experience setbacks, disappointments, even at times devastating losses. How we respond to the will determine whether we will lead victorious or defeated lives.

Revival, both personal and community wide, always happen at the darkest of times.

  1. The problems and adversities we face, even those that are self-inflicted, can distract us from fulfilling our one-ofa-kind destiny in God.
  2. We live in a time of incomprehensible challenges. Therefore, we must never stop believing in the power of the God beyond our comprehension.
  3. The only destiny you really want is the one God has specifically designed for you. This setback did not define David, but his response did (1 Samuel 30:8).
  4. Don’t be surprised if the season you are closest to fulfilling your destiny is simultaneously the lowest point in your life.
  5. We can see what we’re trusting in, by how we respond to adversity. We’ll lose hope for our future, when we lose hope in God.
  6. If you join yourself to the world’s new morality, which is actually just old immorality, you will die spiritually. Whatever you refuse to die to, will eventually kill you
  7. Unresolved pain will eventually become bitterness and offense.
  8. David being personally revived, led to the revival of the nation of Israel. Responding well to the tests God sends our way, always leads to promotion (1 Samuel 30:18-19)

My personal observation of what God is doing is that He is activating the body at New Life to do the works of the ministry. It is so encouraging to see all of you released and flowing in your gifts as you minister to one another. Let’s keep pressing in and continue to cultivate revival in our hearts, our church and our city!

ONE MORE NIGHT WITH SEAN SMITH! LET’S DO THIS!

What is God doing/saying to you during REVIVE?

 

REVIVE Update: How to Build Up Your Spirit


Pastor Paul Goulet

This week my blog will be dedicated to relaying highlights from our annual REVIVE Conference. Pastor Paul Goulet kicked off the conference yesterday, giving a timely word for many to feed, build up and strengthen their spirit.

So much attention is given to keep our bodies in physical shape. There are 311,591,917 people in America, with 15% holding gym memberships which means that the nation spends around $2.6 billion annually to keep those memberships active.

We are also equally concerned for our emotional health or as scripture would identify as our soul. As many as 15 million Americans seek counseling or therapy services each year to learn more about themselves, relationship issues, stress, depression, compulsive behaviors in order to make positive changes in their lives.

However, when it comes to our spirit (small “s”), we find ourselves spiritually bankrupt because we don’t understand how to strengthen our inner man or we are completely ignorant that we even have a spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”

Just as we go to the gym to keep physically fit, just like we seek counseling to establish our emotional health, we must strengthen our spirit man too!

Here are some highlights to Pastor Paul Goulet’s teaching that will help you build up your spirit.

1. God expects you to rule your own spirit. 

Proverbs 16:32 - He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

2. You can build up your own spirit. You can daily build your spirit to become strong, dominant, and wise.

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 - However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

3. Live in the Spirit. 

Galatians 5:22-25 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 

4. Build Yourself Up in the Spirit.

Jude 1:20 - But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

As leaders we are called to be healthy in all three areas. This week determine with the help of the Holy Spirit to rule your spirit, soul and body on your way to becoming all God wants you to be!

Tonight at 7pm, Pastor Francis Anfuso will be minister at REVIVE!

 

5 Expectations to Bring to REVIVE


REVIVE 2013

If you are in the Greater Sacramento area August 18th – 20th I wanted to extend an invitation to join us at New Life Community Church for our 4th annual REVIVE Conference. There is no cost so come join us for a night, two, or three. I’ve posted the schedule below.

It is evident that God is doing some incredible things amongst churches and the communities they serve in this region!  The REVIVE Conference has been a time where we set aside three days as a church to encounter God’s presence and allow Him encourage and speak to us corporately, not just our church but the Body of Christ!

As we head into the weekend here are 5 expectations to bring with you:

1) Expect to be encouraged – If you’ve been battling discouragement in your life come with an expectation to be built up. If you have felt like you’ve been beaten down it’s time to get an encouraging word!

2) Expect to encounter God’s presence - If God doesn’t show up all we have is a few mics, some lights and a band. Our worship leader, Andre Reis, however has been preparing his heart and team for the REVIVE Conference for quite some time and is anticipating God to reveal Himself to His people.

3) Expect God to speak to you – “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on ever word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” What are you living on lately? What’s fueling the vision for your life? Come expecting God to give you a word that will sustain you!

4) Expect a miracle -  I don’t know what you are up against or what obstacle you are facing, but I do know that when we God’s people come expecting we can expect God to move among us in some spectacular  and supernatural ways. Come expecting God to do the impossible.

5) Expect to see the power of the Gospel to be on display – I heard an awesome quote by Judah Smith a few days ago, “The Gospel works best if we let the Gospel do the work!” Come expecting to encounter God’s Good News for your life! Not our church agenda or our schedule, but the “power of God unto salvation!”

I hope you come expecting! Here is the schedule:

Sunday, August 18th – Paul Goulet @ 9am, 11am and 5pm

Monday, August 19th – Francis Anfuso @ 7pm

Tuesday, August 20th – Sean Smith @ 7pm

New Life Community Church is located at:

8101 Sunset Ave. Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Three Seeds You Must Plant this Fall


Image courtesy of zirconicusso @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of zirconicusso @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday I took a Sunday off to attend a family reunion. On our way down to the Bay Area I received a text message from one of our church staff that read, “Hey your friend Cory from Fremont is here today…he says hi!” When I read that text message I was so disappointed that out of all the Sundays I missed, I missed the one when Cory decided to attend our church.

I met Cory when I was 5 years old. You can read a little bit about how his family impacted my life by reading a post I wrote in January of 2012 called Color Blind. Cory and I grew up together, we went to school together, our families started two businesses together, but as we got into our teen years our lives started to go down different paths. To abbreviate a very long story, their family moved out of our neighborhood and though we would see them around town from time to time we soon lost touch with our long time family friends. I still haven’t seen Cory in about 12 years, but yesterday I gave him a call as soon as I got home. It was my conversation with Cory yesterday that revealed the power there is in sowing a seed.

Cory told me, he remembered when I first told him how Jesus and going to church had changed my life when I was 17 (26 years ago).  At that time he said, he laughed it off and continued traveling down a broad path of destruction. Then he told me he remembered 12 years ago, when he showed up at the church I was on staff at in Fremont I told him again that if he committed to going to church, it would change his life.  I have not seen Cory since, but the seed that was sown was planted deep in his heart.  He said my words never left him and went on to tell me that 3 to 4 years ago, he entered a Christ-centered recovery program that genuinely changed his life.

WOW! I want to encourage you today as churches all over the world move into one of the most strategic times of the year that God’s word will never return void!

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:11

What a promise! I want to give you three seeds to plant this fall, so you can see a harvest reaped in your life.

1. Invite Someone to Church - I don’t think an invite to church should replace knowing how to lead someone to accept Jesus Christ on our own, but it shouldn’t be looked at as a discounted strategy either. I will never forget the Saturday, during our servant evangelism efforts, when a broken lady was handed an ice cold Pepsi at a busy intersection near our church. There was a scotch taped invitation on the Pepsi can that read, “We hope this act of kindness brings some light into your day. It’s a simple way of saying God loves you – no strings attached. Let us know if we can be of more assistance.” That day she glanced at the invitation and just threw it on her dashboard. Three months later she was going through a very difficult time in her life when she noticed the invite still sitting on her dashboard. She read the invitation and showed up to church that next Sunday!  When we extend God’s kindness to the world it’s an invitation to a changed life. 

2. Invest Your Life into Someone - When we think of investing something our natural tendency is to think of money, but it’s so much more than doing something financially. As fall approaches sow the seed of time, sow the seed of talent and if God is leading you, sow your treasure into someone’s life. I think a lot of times we want the rewards of reaping something with out sowing anything. Paul said,

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6)

Investing in someone is hard work. Cultivating the seed you planted in someone’s life is sometimes overwhelming. Waiting to see your return on what you planted often requires more patience on our part.  Here’s the reality: If your invested, you will be tested. God has a lot to say about this subject.

 …But he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:8-10)

3. Implement Your Ideas - I personally love giving my ideas away. The more ideas I release to someone else, the more God releases to me. It may be how I’m wired, but what would happen if the idea you’ve been saving could save someone some heartache. How about if the ideas you’v been holding onto could help your church get to the next level?  Ideas should never remain idle, they should be released and implemented.  Have you ever had a “new” idea that you never acted on? A few months go by and you see someone else who has acted on your idea and it’s really working. They are possibly even profiting from it.  I honestly think that when we don’t sow God’s seed of ideas that He gives, God finds someone who will plant them.

Start planning today on how you can plant these seeds in someone’s life or wherever God has placed you. If you don’t sow much, you can’t expect much. Sow a seed today and reap a harvest tomorrow!

What have you reaped as a result of sowing a seed? 

 

 

 

Why Leading Through Hard Stuff is Tough


Courtesy of arztsamui @ freedigitalphots.net

Courtesy of arztsamui @ freedigitalphots.net

Have you ever had to lead through some hard stuff? Transitions, change, problems, relational difficulties, financial set backs are just some of the hard things God calls leaders to lead others through. Did you catch that? 

Could it be the hard stuff you are up against as a leader, the tough stuff that is causing you to seek God more, pray more, and read His Word more; be the very thing that’s going to help you as a leader help somebody else. You see God never leads you to something He’s not going to bring you through. God knows when He brings YOU through, YOUR leadership will lead others to breaking through.

Be encouraged! The degree of difficulty you’re facing as a leader is not just about you, it’s about others! Defying these difficulties will determine the trajectory of your leadership. Your progression as a leader is determined by the problems you solve. If there were no problems there would be no need for leaders.

The reason why the hard stuff is getting harder, the tough stuff is getting tougher and the path your traveling on seems so problematic is because it’s going to catapult you as a leader and those who follow you to new levels of effectiveness and influence.  As a leader, God calls us upward so that we can move people forward.

In Philippians 3:14 – 15 Paul is inspiring others through his leadership by writing letters from prison.  He wrote, ” I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let US, as many as are mature, have this MIND…”

Paul was in chains, but was focused on helping others change their mentality. He was behind bars, but was helping others break out of their dead traditions. He was in a dark cell but was helping others find their destiny. Paul allowed the hard stuff he was experiencing to become part of his leadership highlight reel.

Today, you may not be in chains, yet you do have some challenges. You may not be behind bars, but there are some barriers you’ve been up against.  You are not in a dark cell, but your having a hard time seeing the light in your situation. The question you should be asking as a leader is not, “WHY I am I going through this?”, but WHO am I going to help when I get through this?” The personal pain and process you are currently experiencing as a leader is to help the people around you make progress in their own lives. 

Who are going to help when you get through this hard stuff?

 

10 Ways to Lift the Lid on Your Leadership


Image Courtesy of dan @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of dan @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever been frustrated in your pursuit of becoming the leader you are desiring to become? 

John Maxwell taught us that there are leadership lids that limit our capacity as leaders. The good news is we can learn how to lift those lids in order to rise above those limitations that keep us leading at a low capacity. If you have never hit your personal leadership lid, you surely have hit another leader’s lid that is lower than yours on your journey upward to new levels of leadership. Here are 10 leadership lid lifters that have helped me catapult my leadership to new levels in the last 20 years.

1) Never Accept Average – Words such as ordinary, typical, usual, status quo are the results of leaders that are on cruise control. Above average leaders have their foot on the gas pedal of their organizations and are always looking for ways to improve things and push things forward bringing life and energy to their environment. Average leaders often times have their foot on the brake, killing the momentum of their organization and any excitement associated with anything new that will cause the life and vision of the organization to unfold.

2) Refuse to be Comfortable – Leaders grow the most when the deliberately put themselves in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes the uncomfortable means stepping out in your weakness and acknowledging that there are others who could help you or do it better than you and allowing them to do it. On other occasions it’s doing something different than everyone else is doing.

3) Insist on Integrity - Life is too short to put up with people that have no integrity. A leader without integrity has fallen into self-deception and will only lead an organization into the ground. Unless God has called you to the difficult task of bringing healthy culture to an organization, don’t tolerate people who don’t practice the principles they only claim to live by.

4) Stay Awhile – You can choose to stay where you are at and grow through it, or leave and have to come back to it. Nothing increases your influence more than longevity. Leaving a leadership position prematurely could cost you years of influential investment. Before you leave, pray to stay first. There are times when leaving is a good thing for a leader and the organization, so my advice is pray to stay or be genuinely led to leave.

5) Take on Something Bigger than Yourself - What are you doing right now that you can’t do without some outside help? If the answer is nothing you are comfortable and headed towards complacency as a leader. When we tackle things that our bigger than ourselves it requires us to trust God more, lean not on our own understanding, and live in a place that inspires others to greater possibilities. You become a better leader as a result of taking on something bigger than you can do on your own. Better is always found on the other side of the impossibility God has called you to make possible.

6) Rub Shoulders with High Capacity Leaders - Connecting with high capacity leaders is essential if you want to lift your lid as a leader. If you are frustrated with where you are at as a leader and the status of where your organization is, find a leader leading an organization at the level where you want to be and learn from them. In today’s social media world you can connect easily with leaders that are looking to pour into your life as a leader. Make that call, send the tweet, leave a comment on their blog. Rubbing shoulders might not begin with a face to face, but when you take the initiative to connect it can open a door to get you to your desired destination.

7) Ask Why You Didn’t get the Job - A couple years ago I was asked to submit my resume for a certain position I really wanted. I made it through the first round interview and after the second group interview was no longer a candidate.  I thought the position was a perfect fit for me, so after receiving the news, instead of just accepting the rejection I asked, “WHY?” The feedback I got back from that questions is actually the reason why I started this blog: To Encourage Leaders at All Levels! I believe some of the best leaders in the world are overlooked because organizations are looking for the wrong things and not the track record of a leaders life. Thousands have been encouraged by The Backseat Leader Blog because I personally wanted learn form this experience and I wanted to grow as a leader.

8) Replace Yourself - If you are not raising up a person to replace you, you are ignoring one of the signs of  great leadership; the ability to develop others around you.  Lifting your leadership lid requires not being threatened by the leaders coming behind you, placed below you, or who have went before you. If insecurity is keeping you from duplicating yourself you are failing the litmus test of leadership. If you don’t know who is your successor there you will not have true leadership success.

9) Be a Life Long Learner - If you fail to keep learning you will fail to keep leading.  When you get to a place where you think you know it all, you won’t grow at all! Here are several things I do to make sure I’m always learning.

  • I Have a Regular Devotional Life
  • I Regularly Read the Greatest Book Ever Written (The Bible)
  • I Read Books about Topics I’m Passionate About (Biographies, Business, Leadership)
  • I Blog and Interact with other Bloggers
  • I Listen and Learn a lot from Podcasts
  • I Meet with another Leader at Least Once a Month

10) Work Hard - I was taught at an early age not only to work hard, but what actually hard work was. Lifting your lid as a leader requires getting your hands dirty, a little sweat, some tears and at times pure exhaustion.  If you are afraid of hard work or have bought into the lie that you are above it. Your lid will always remain low. I read an alarming two paragraphs in S. Truett Cathy’s book “Eat Mor Chikin Inspire More People” that I would like to leave you with:

To continue making a positive impact on the people around us, we must avoid complacency in all aspects of our lives.  The dictionary defines complacency as “self satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”  Too often we see people who are satisfied with mediocre performance and minor achievements.  They look next door and see that they are doing as well as their neighbor.  At work their accomplishments rank right up with the national average.

But look  at what it means to be average.  You are the worst of the best and the best of the worst.  You’re not achieving anything unusual, choosing instead to go with the flow.  When we do less than our best, we become discontent and “burned out.” Are you performing at your best?

If your frustrated in your pursuit as a leader, most likely there is a lid in your leadership life that needs to be removed. Removing this lid can be the most rewarding thing we do for ourselves and the people that follow our lead. Be honest, do the work, and become the leader you desire to be!

Do you have LID LIFTER you can share with the The BackSeat Leader Community that helped increase your leadership capacity?

How to Understand & Enjoy Reading Your Bible


Image Courtesy of geww @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of geww @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I love when I get questions from people who want to grow in their walk with God! I received this question from a person this week about her desire to understand the Bible more.  It excited me so much I thought I would share the person’s question and my response with the Back Seat Leader Community. I really appreciated this question, because sometimes we assume everybody should know how to read their bible and actually enjoy it, but in reality we all at times have struggled with implementing this extremely important spiritual discipline in our daily lives.

A Great Question

“Okay, I have some questions and I am hoping you can help me.  I grew up in the church and learned a lot, of course, but I don’t have the “people” of the bible knowledge like “stories” and who did what etc.  God has been prompting me to get deeper in the word and I know that I am a disciple, but I think the best thing I heard recently was that I have a hard time bringing people to Christ and or praying for people because I  do not spend the proper amount of time with God or the word.   I pray A LOT, but I don’t study and when I read the bible, it’s a good thing, but it doesn’t sink in like I think it is supposed to! With that said, where do  I start?” 

A Practical Answer

1. Commit to Reading the Bible Cover to Cover in a Year – If you have a smartphone download YouVersion and choose a Bible Reading Plan. You might want to start off with a New Testament reading plan. You will not understand everything…it takes a lifetime. Don’t get discouraged and make it the first thing you do in the morning when you get up. The more you read the hungrier you will get. This year I’m listening to the audio as I read to keep me at a steady pace. Really enjoying it and you get to hear how things are really pronounced!

2. Purchase 30 Days to Understanding the BibleI read this book last year. I wish I would have known about it years ago. Great book no matter how long you have been a Christian. It really will lay a foundation for a lifetime of study of the most important book ever written!

3. Start a Journal or a BLOG – I’ve used Wayne Cordeiro’s SOAP method from his book The Divine Mentor to get me started (See Below). I love journaling and blogging and then going back and rereading the things God has spoken to me. This has really helped me tune into God’s voice as I’m reading the Bible.

Scripture: write down a verse that you highlighted or spoke to you that morning

Observation: what about the scripture jumped out at you

Application: how can you apply the scripture to your life

Prayer: turn the scripture into a prayer that you can pray.

 This is a plan that I know works. Let me know how it goes!

Do you have some other suggestions for The Back Seat Leader community to enhance their study and enjoyment of the Bible? Please share!

Who Is Your Jethro?


Image courtesy of scottchan @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of scottchan @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In Exodus 18 you will find the story of Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. In a nutshell, Jethro gets wind of  God’s greatness in how He delivered Moses and the people of Israel from Egypt and decides it is time to reunite Moses with his wife and two sons after a time of separation since Moses had sent her away. After catching up with Moses about all the things God had done for Israel, the next day Jethro has an opportunity to go to work with Moses and watch him in action. We  pick up the story there:

14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.

Do you have a Jethro in your life who is concerned for your family and will take time to observe what you’re doing, asking the hard questions about your work?  Moses worked for his father-in-law as a shepherd (Exodus 3), so Jethro knew he was a hard worker, and had a passion for the work God gave him to do. Most of us are just like Moses, we have an outstanding work ethic and we love what we do! However, Jethro must have took some notes during Moses’ employment because I believe he had some suspicion that though Moses worked harder than anyone he knew, he didn’t always work smarter,often to his family’s dismay.

Why You Need a Jethro

Jethros don’t just ask how you are doing, they ask you why you are doing what you are doing.  Many of us who love our work don’t give a second thought to why we work the way we do. After all, if we are getting our job done that must be a good thing. Jethro asked Moses a simple question, “Why are you doing your job alone when there’s all these people around you that could give you a hand?”  What would be your answer to this question about a current project that has been assigned to you? Many times we are so overwhelmed with responsibility that we never acknowledge the reality that there are people around us who can help.  Instead we work alone because we know how to do it best! I write that with sarcasm.

Jethros can help you see  problems that you cannot see. We’ve all worked hard and sacrificed time with our families for the sake of the call, but sadly often times we don’t see the problems it’s going to cause down the road in our personal lives, marriage and relationships with our kids. Though Jethro was concerned about Moses’ welfare, he was also concerned about the people Moses was trying to help. Jethros understand that when they help you they are helping the people around you too!

Jethros not only tell you the truth, they show you the way of truth. Truth hurts only if it doesn’t help. If Jethro would have just pointed out the problem, spoke the truth, and headed back to Midian, Moses wouldn’t have survived as a leader. Jethro spoke truth that paved the way to a strategic solution. Jethros will tell you whats wrong, but they will also show you the way to fix it. In this case he instructed Moses how to put a leadership structure in place that would lighten his load.

23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 

However you’re doing your work, is there a better way to be doing it for the better health of yourself, your family and your organization?

Who is your Jethro and are you  listening to what he or she is telling you?

How to Unlock Your Life Dreams


Today’s guest post from the BackSeat Leader Community is from my good friend Andrew Mason, Lead Associate Pastor at Thrive Church in Elk Grove, CA. Founder of one of the best small group ministry resources out there, SmallGroupChurches.com , he shares a little bit of of his own journey  and Joseph’s on how to unlock and activate your dreams. If these insights encourage you, check out more at SmallGroupChurches.com

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do You Wish You Could MAKE Your Dream Happen?

Have you ever felt frustrated because it seemed like your dream was never going to happen? Has your “promise land” seemed out of reach and impossible?

I started and ran my own business for 6 years. One of my goals that I had was to get contracted out full-time. In the midst of an economic downturn, I ended up working part-time for the school district as a Paraeducator and then labored tirelessly on my business with the rest of my “free time.” Eventually, I began to get discouraged…

There was man in the Bible who had a dream straight from God. Despite receiving divine inspiration, everything in his life kept going wrong. His name was Joseph and his story is found in Genesis chapters 37-47.

In studying his life, we discover 3 Dream Activators that Joseph employed to make his dream happen…

1. Joseph Thoroughly Understood Someone Else’s Dream (Genesis 41:25-32)

At this point in his life Joseph has been betrayed by his brothers, dropped into a pit, sold into slavery, declared dead, falsely accused, thrown into prison and forgotten by people he helped. Suddenly he is presented before the most powerful man on earth to interpret his dream.

Isn’t that ironic? A guy who couldn’t stop living a nightmare was an expert at understanding someone else’s dream!

When Joseph stood before Pharaoh he didn’t try to get him to feel sorry for him. Joseph didn’t share his sob story. Instead, he “lasered in” on someone else’s dream. He listened intently to Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph repeated it back to him in detail. He saw Pharaoh’s dream with greater clarity than Pharaoh did.

I don’t believe we curry favor from God or man by consolidating our focus to our own agenda(s).

2. Joseph Served Someone Else’s Dream (Genesis 41:48-49)

Joseph positioned Egypt to be the wealthiest nation of all in the midst of a worldwide famine.

Who do you think got employee of the month?

Are you working on someone else’s success? Are you adding value to the environment God has placed you in? Are you leveraging your time, talents and treasure for another person’s dream?

3. Joseph Didn’t Force His Dream (Genesis 42:6-9)

Joseph became a highly influential person in Egypt but he didn’t pull strings and attempt to fabricate his own dream. It was in his diligent service before Pharaoh that divine appointments unfolded.

When the eleventh star appeared with the other ten to bow down before Joseph, he had to run to his room and weep because he just lived his dream (Genesis 43:28-30).

How tight is your grip on your own life?  Who’s hands would you rather have on it, yours or God’s? It seems like whenever I’ve tried to force things in my own life, I always end up regretting the outcome.

As I was discouraged with the state of my business years ago I felt like the Lord dropped an impression on my heart. I felt like He said, “Your miracle is only one person away. All I have to do is move upon one person’s heart and mind to improve your circumstance.” At the time, I had a handful of customers I was doing little projects for temporarily. Despite the financial hardships, I believe I served them with everything I had.

One month after receiving that encouragement from the Lord, one of my customers offered to contract my business out full-time. That partnership continued to be a fruitful one for the remaining years of my business until the Lord took me in new directions.

Understanding and serving other peoples’ dreams has unlocked many blessings in my life. It’s not only opened exciting doors for me, its created mentoring opportunities and developed valuable skills in my life I never would’ve pursued otherwise.

Is anybody ready to make their dream happen God’s way?

What to Do When Procrastination is Killing Your Preaching?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In February I gave away 5 Free Creative Sermon Series Ideas we’ve used at New Life . My hope was to help fill the gap for those that don’t have a creative person or team to support them in forecasting future sermon series ideas so they could benefit by being better prepared. The response to this particular post has been tremendous. In fact since February it has been viewed 954 times (good numbers for my blog)! I’ve noticed a pattern however that has triggered the writing of this post. By any given Wednesday the views for 5 Free Creative Sermon Series Ideas begin to rise and by Thursday, Friday and Saturday it gets an increasing amount of views.

My assumptions could be wrong, but my guess is that  with the increase of views as Sunday approaches, may indicate we  have many Pastors procrastinating the preparation of their messages until late in the week, hoping to find some last minute help. Now I know their are great resources everywhere on the web, membership sites, and free downloadable sermon packages everywhere, but the best way I can help you is to teach you how stay ahead in your sermon prep which will lead to better preaching instead of procrastinating, waiting until the last minute, and preach a painfully bad sermon that kills the people listening.

I did cover my personal approach to sermon preparation in my post 7 Steps to Successful Sermon Prep , but I wanted to address procrastination as it relates to your sermon preparation and preaching.

To procrastinate to put off intentionally and habitually the doing of something that should be doneNotice that procrastination is a habit you intentionally work at that prevents you from doing your best work. We know we should be preparing but at some point we make an intentional decision not to, then find ourselves hurrying to throw something together that’s going to benefit our hearers. That’s unlikely not going to happen, so how do you and I give the greatest attention to preparing to deliver the greatest message that has ever been entrusted to mankind? How do we break the bad habit of procrastination that’s killing our preaching?

  1. Find a Place of Solitude - One of the first things you need to do to stop procrastinating is stop pretending you can prepare in places where people are. Wherever there are people, they will find you!  Now I’m not saying avoid people, but when your in preparation mode you have to seek a quiet, uninterruptible place.  Personally, I have stopped trying to prepare at my office. When I’m asked to preach, I send out an office email letting everyone know I’m working from home.
  2. Start Early in the Week - Thom Rainer observed that 69 percent of pastors say they spend 10-18 hours in sermon preparation. If that is the case my advice it to start early in the week if you are waiting to prepare your message the week of. The earlier you start the more unlikely the unexpected will push you into procrastination. We never know what a day or week is going to bring our way, and things do come up that take priority over preparation, but if you are waiting until Thursday and “something comes up” you are now having to cram 10-18 hours of preparation into Friday and Saturday. 
  3. Allow Yourself Time for a Break - If your stuck, stop and take a breather. Eat lunch, exercise, walk away from the computer, go outside and breathe deep! Taking a break will rejuvenate and refresh you so you can get back and put the quality study time that is required into your sermon. It will prevent you from grinding to a halt in your prep, but don’t allow your break to exceed an hour because you will begin to step into procrastination’s territory.
  4. Make a Goal to Get Your Outline Done - I don’t always have every detail, illustration, or story to complete my outline, but I commit to at least finishing the main points of my outline so I can continue to think about the best way to fill it in. Don’t get stuck in the details but be determined to define your direction from beginning to end! Details will come if you get your outline done. It’s a lot easier to color something if the lines are drawn. Draw the line, color it later! This is not procrastination this allows you to get your creative juices flowing again.
  5. Stay at Least a Week Ahead in Your Preparation - Once your ahead, stay ahead! When you give yourself some margin in your preparation the pressure is off and you can focus more of your time in polishing your message. Becoming a great communicator will never happen if your always working from behind. 

Exercising these 5 procrastination killers will help you accomplish your best work during your preparation and ultimately assist you in delivering a sermon that your hearers will delight in. If your preaching next Sunday, don’t wait until tomorrow the best time to prepare is right now!

What are some things you do to avoid procrastinating during your preparation time?

3 Reasons Why You Stopped Going to Church


Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After reading the title of this post you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Only three? I can give you ten!” Well, that’s why I have a comment section. I would love for you to leave a comment, especially if you’ve stopped going to church for more reasons than I’m going to give you. 

We all know someone who stopped going to church and usually we can come up with a vague reason why. Over the years I’ve been saddened yet intrigued by those who exit the church silently, seemingly unnoticed, they disappear, only to be seen on your Facebook feed. What happened?  

It’s happened to every single one of us if we are honest. I remember the first time I was going to stop going to church when I was in my early twenties. I was mad and I had every good reason to be upset.  I allowed bitterness to creep in my heart.  I would go to church disappointed and leave defeated and disillusioned.  Have you ever been there?  Fortunately back then a faithful friend reached out to me and rescued me from what would have been a very bad decision.

I’m not saying the decision to stop going to church is bad for everybody because entire movements have been birthed from exiting traditional church models that are working for people who have had bad experiences with what goes on inside the walls. The reasons however are not always good enough for me, so after 18 years of seeing my friends, family, people I love, stop going to church I want to give you three reasons YOU stopped going. You can let me know if I’m right!

  1. People Disappointed You - When people let us down it’s really difficult to bounce back, but when people who go to church let us down it’s that much more difficult to overcome. These are folks that say they are living by the book, yet there actions and words may not align with what you know is true. It could be numerous things but the bottom line is you had an expectation that someone didn’t live up to. You had a need that someone didn’t meet. The person made a promise they didn’t fulfill. They gave you their word and didn’t keep it. That’s tough stuff to overcome when your going church hoping that things would be different. This is where bumper stickers phrases like, ” They are just a bunch of hypocrites” and “Jesus, save me from your people” come from. The fact is when people disappoint us we make decisions and many times it’s a decision to stop going to church
  2. Pastors Disappointed You - If you’ve stopped going to church because a pastor disappointed you probably recognize they are only human. You may find yourself saying, “I don’t follow men anymore.” I’ve heard that statement a few times. I’m a pastor and I know I’ve disappointed people.  If it will help you move forward in your faith I’m sorry for what I did or didn’t do and if it wasn’t me you lost hope in, I apologize for the pastor that caused you to lose hope. When men and women of God disappoint us it’s like a dagger that’s wounded our soul. Every vulnerable place feels victimized. It is a deep emotional wound that causes us to make the decision to stop going to church, so the pain wills stop. I’ve seen it over and over again.
  3. Processes Disappointed You – If you’ve asked yourself, “Why in the world did they do that?” you have probably been part of a painful church process. Processes in church disappoint us because most of the time they are only practiced when something goes wrong. They are not refined, perfected or much less proven. A lot of times a church will adopt a “one size fits all” process that exalts procedure over people. It becomes process first, people second and when that happens people are hurt, families destroyed, and churches split.

Do any of these reasons ring true with you? If so, I would like to hear which one of the three made you stop going to church? If your still going to church, let me know which reason wants to makes you stop!

5 Truths that will Transform Your Relationship with God


Image Courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A revelation of the Cross will revolutionize your relationship with God. Many Christians only understand the forgiveness of sins that we receive because of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross, but there are at least 5 truths that transformed my relationship with God when I fully understood what happened at Calvary. We can get intimidated by some of the words associated with the Cross, but when they are defined they will lead you to discovering who you are in Christ. Definitions below were a combination of abstracting phrases from the NLT translation and quotes from the Foundations of Pentecostal Theology.

1. He has made us right. 

Romans 3:21 - But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight…

Righteousness: The ability to stand in the presence of God without the sense of inferiority. It’s the state of being right in His sight

 At the Cross God takes us FROM insecurity TO BEING CONFIDENT in His presence. He wants us to stop thinking we are not good enough.

 Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

God is not focused on what’s wrong with you, because everything God sees is right about you!

 2.    He  has cleared us from any wrongdoing.

Romans 3:23-24 - For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty.

Justified: “Just-As-If-I’d” Never Sinned or deserved to die. Not only declared “not guilty”, but declared righteous

Justification is the breathtaking announcement that the sinner is not guilty. It is to declare one righteous! In God’s eyes the sins are gone, removed from us as far as the east is from the west – which is an infinite distance.

Psalm 103:12 - as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19 - You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

God wants to take us FROM “Guilt Driven” TO “Guilt Free Living”

3. He has purchased our freedom.

Romans 3:24b - He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. (NLT)

Redemption: signifies a releasing or liberation from captivity, slavery or death by the payment of a price, called a ransom. The word has a double significance: it means the payment of a price, as well as the deliverance of the captive.

Matthew 20:28 (Mark 10:45)-  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

God takes us FROM “I’m so unworthy (lacking in excellence or value) TO “I’m valuable!”

4. He has taken the heat. 

 Romans 3:25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.

Propitiation: a sacrifice that satisfies God’s anger against us, it is defined as a sacrifice that brings peace. Signifies the turning away of God’s wrath

God takes us FROM God is mad at me TO God is mad about me (He unconditionally loves you).

 5. He has given us peace.

Reconciliation: Being made right with God. To restore our original relationship, which having been broken by man’s rebellion, has been recovered by Christ.

The price Jesus paid gives you a peace that money can’t buy. God takes us FROM “Chaos” TO a Peace that Passes All Understanding!

How to I get FROM where I’m at TO where God wants me to be?  Empty Yourself at the foot of the Cross. Posture yourself in humility and allow the saving work of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified position you in Christ!

Did this help you at all?

 

 

How to Become a Problem Solver


Image Courtesy of by Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of by Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It has been said, “Wherever there are people, there will be problems.” Problems exist everywhere we turn in life and are easy to find in our personal relationships, in our community, at our job, and in our church. Problems literally can be found in every aspect of our lives. The late Whitney Houston sadly admitted, I finally faced the fact that it isn’t a crime not having friends. Being alone means you have fewer problems.” Unfortunately her statement is not always true. Avoiding people doesn’t guarantee fewer problems, but it does guarantee we will be left alone in trying to solve them. Because problems are found “wherever there are people,” I believe it is best to solve problems with people!

Early on in my life I learned how to become a problem solver. I have solved little problems and big problems, marriage problems and ministry problems, personal problems and other people’s problems. I’ve actually become pretty good at it! I can honestly say I’ve made a living by helping people, churches and companies solve their problems. In this life we have a choice. We can learn to solve problems or we can learn to live with problems. I prefer to solve them. Here’s how I’ve learned to solve problems and in doing so have become a problem solver.

Love People - If you don’t love people you will not care enough to create solutions that will help them with their problems. Every year I purposely lead a team on a missions trip to witness first hand problems such as poverty, disease and lack of education. When most people see these problems their compassion for people rises and they want to be  a part of the solution. It may be through child sponsorship or dedicating their life to solve problems for that specific people group, but love is the key motivating factor for problem solving.

Identify the Real Problem - It’s easy to see and point out problems, but it takes a problem solver to deal with the root of a problem and not the fruit of a problem. When a problem manifests the temptation is to deal with the surface issue which sometimes is necessary. As problem solvers though, we must understand  the problem will pop up again if we don’t take time to dig deep for the root. An example of dealing with the fruit instead of the root is attempting to change the culture of an organization. You may start by changing the atmosphere by hanging motivational posters that dealt with the fruit, but discover you really needed to start with the negative attitude deeply rooted in the employees.

Bring Solutions to the Table - As I mentioned above, people applaud themselves for being problem finders, however; problem solvers not only find problems, they find ways to fix them. I was taught that when you bring a problem to everyone’s attention you need to bring three possible solutions that everyone can evaluate! There would be less problem finders if we just ask the question, “how do you think we can fix the problem.”  I recall someone pointing out to me a specific problem about our church sign not being updated on a regular basis. I responded that I was glad that they noticed because I had been looking for a volunteer to do that very thing. The person told me they had to pray about it and I never heard from them or about the problem again. When you find a problem create a rule for yourself to bring at least three solutions with you!

Bounce Solutions Off of Others - Take time to bounce your solutions off of other problem solvers. They will in turn help our improve your solutions, add to them, and also give them an opportunity to buy in. If you bringing solutions to the table without asking for input, your asking for more problems.

Implement the Solution- Problem solving is risky. It may cost more money than you have. It may take a huge step of faith on your part. However, not implementing the solution cannot be an option. Failing to act on a solution discredits one’s problem solving ability and discourages others around you. Implementation of a solution brings a sense of victory, accomplishment and builds momentum to tackle bigger problems.

See the Problem Solved - A problem solver’s job is never done, but I believe each time we solve a problem we graduate to the next degree of difficulty. The challenges get harder, the risk gets greater, and as a professional problem solver those are the problems we live for! The more problems we solve the more people we can help! The harder the problem, the greater the impact it has on people when it’s solved!

What problem do you need help solving? Let’s solve it!

 

How to Create Unforgettable Titles


Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The number one goal of titling a sermon, a book, or a song should be to make it memorable. People may forget what you said momentarily, but if they can recall a well titled message that is tied well into the theme they will tend to remember some key points to your message. Here is a practical process in how I go about coming up with unforgettable titles:

1. Don’t Get Hung Up on the Title – Although we forecast the themes and titles of our messages several months in advance, it is never written in stone. Having a message calendar for the year is to serve as a guideline and not a hardline. I always stick to the theme, but many times the title doesn’t work with the original idea. Focus on your theme and your title will be found in the flow of your theme.

2. Craft Your Message First - Trying to craft a message to fit a title can limit your creative juices and frustrate you as a master craftsman. A pre-titled message can confine you and restrict you from coming up with killer content for your message. There is nothing worse than having an unforgettable title wasted on a mediocre message.

3. Connect Your Title to the Content - The benefit of crafting your message first is that it will set you up to create a title that ties it all together. Connecting your title to the content will take a little bit of time. You may need to look up some different word options in a thesaurus, other grammar helps, or look at a scripture verse in a different translation. Many times I will find unforgettable titles by doing just a little research.

4.  Kiss Your  Message with an Unforgettable Title – Again we see the KISS principle at work. This time it means Keep It Short & Simple.  Let me give you an example. Our theme for our summer series is Foundations and Fundamental Truths.  We liked the idea of having the word foundation in the title, but it was falling flat in our creative process. We knew we wanted to help our congregation to lay a firm foundation for their faith, but it’s not how we wanted to say it. We wanted something that would make people not want to miss during the summer. We asked ourselves, “what does it mean to have a firm foundation?” I thought of Psalm 125:1 - Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Out of that came the title for our Summer Series: UNSHAKABLE. We then added a tag line: Laying a Firm Foundation for Your Faith. They may not remember the tagline, but the title is unforgettable and defines what we want to see our message series accomplish in peoples lives.

There are probably a few more steps I could add, but I know some of your are banging your head trying to come up with a title for this week’s message. I hope this helps!

What would you add to my process?

The Top 50 Unspoken Struggles Your Sermons Don’t Solve


Image Courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On Friday I released the The Top 5 Unspoken Struggles in Your Church and it was the most viewed post in the month of May! They were as follows:

1. Guilt
2. Parenting
3. Extra Marital Affairs
4. Anger
5. Sexual Sin

Today, as promised, I’m releasing The 50 Top Unspoken Struggles Your Sermons Don’t Solve. To clarify (I’m including myself in this clarification) why our sermons are not helping people with many of these struggles has nothing to do with our delivery, technique or communication style.  I personally believe it is because we are unaware of the complexity of issues people are facing when truth is absent from their lives.

The following list was not gathered through any proven scientific method or official survey, but was instead collected from notes over 200 struggling people nailed to a Cross as they looked to God for relief of the burdens they have been carrying in some cases all their lives.  My hope is that you will take these findings and broaden the topics of your sermons to include some of the hard core issues people are struggling with. Also, the first 20 issues were written down multiple times. Beyond that each issue that made the Top 50 was mentioned at least one time.  I’ve made notes when I thought it would be helpful to you.

6. Dishonoring Parents – A majority of these responses were from adults that have not spoken to their parents in years
7. Addiction – Drug & Alcohol Abuse
8. Victim of Abuse
9. Marriage/Relationships
10. Selfishness
11. Unforgiveness
12. Finances
13. Divorce
14. Lying
15. Lack of Faith
16. Pain – Emotional Hurt
17. Abortion – Both men and woman struggling with the guilt associated with having an abortion
18. Child’s Death
19. Bad Decisions
20. Spiritual Disciplines – Bible Reading , Prayer, Church Attendance
21. Bad Character
22. Better Spouse – I did not include this with the topic of marriage because I didn’t want to lose this angle with such a broad topic
23.  Broken Family
24.  Comparison
25.  Denial
26.  Personal Failure – Career
27.  Falsehood
28.  Fear
29.  Feelings of Inadequacy
30. Forgiveness – Seeking forgiveness from others
31. Fruit of the Spirit – I thought this was an interesting response being that there are least 9 things people could be struggling with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I guess I could expand the list to 59!
32. Future
33. Greed
34. Hatred
35. Hidden Secrets
36. Impure Thoughts
37. Insecurity
38. Jealousy
39. Lack of Trust
40. Laziness
41. Envy
42. Low Self Esteem
43. Pride
44. Regret
45. Resentment
46. Self Hate
47. Sexuality
48. Stealing
49. Suicidal Thoughts
50. Wasting Talents

You may see that many of these struggles are connected and possibly even the same issue, yet I thought it would be helpful for you to see how people label their individual struggles. You also may be focusing on the same things sermon after sermon and I hope this list will provide insight into some other struggles you can address and help people apply the truth of God’s word to in their lives.

Lastly, please leave a comment if this list surprised you in any way or it’s what you expected. If I could help you anyway by addressing one of these topics in my blog let me know and I’ll include it in a future post.