How to be an Authentic Leader


In his book The Catalyst LeaderBrad Lomenick lists some great practices to be an authentic leader:

  1. Practice self-awareness. Before you can release your true self you have to recognize your true self. Too many people refuse to accept and even name their weaknesses, struggles, and pitfalls. As a result, they accept a version of themselves they believe others will like better. Understand who you really are.
  2. Question yourself. I encourage leaders to evaluate their self-acceptance with honest questions: Whose attention do you crave? Are you chasing the approval of friends, colleagues, and customers? What is it you don’t like about yourself, and how can that shortcoming also be a strength? Self-diagnosis can lead to self-discovery, which is the only path to authenticity.
  3. Move from self-promotion to storytelling. I can appreciate the effort made by individuals in the public eye to shape their personal brands. But I also worry about the effects this can have on living an authentic life. If you want to be a change maker, begin to see public outlets as places for sharing your personal story.
  4. Resist the urge to create a digital alter ego. Refuse to hide behind a website or Facebook page. Instead, adopt the mind-set of Claire Diaz Ortiz, social innovation director for Twitter: “Social media is not just about being connected. It’s about being transparent, intimate, and honest.”
  5. Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Instead, grow comfortable enough with who you are to laugh and laugh often. When you are able to accept and even chuckle at your blunders and mess-ups, others will too. And this common experience will help you bond with them.
  6. Build a support network. Beware of the temptation to surround yourself with flatterers who only tell you what you want to hear. Keep honest people in your life that can help you stay grounded and keep from thinking you’ve arrived.
  7. Be interested over interesting. Be more concerned with listening instead of talking. Focus on others, not yourself.


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Tuesday Morning Book Review || Letting Go of Perfect: Women, Expectations and Authenticity

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Letting Go of Perfect: Women, Expectations and Authenticity (kindle version) by Amy Spiegel. Instead of me writing this review, my wife Katie was kind enough to share her thoughts on this book hoping to serve the female readers of this blog. You can follow Katie on twitter here or friend her on Facebook here.

I let go of perfect quite a while ago, with four kids 7 years old and under, perfect is not a word that I would use to describe my life or a standard that I strive for much anymore. A better word may be awake or present. I was excited to read this book because although the backdrop of my life is not perfection, there are times that I expect much more out of myself and life then actually happens. Those are the things that I was hoping the book would address. Letting Go of Perfect, although not entirely what I expected, covers some great topics.

From the first page of the introduction Amy Spiegel is transparent with her past and the struggle she is facing, “My life: one minute I love it and know I am right where God wants me; the next minute I loathe it and feel that I have been misplaced and forgotten.” A place that I think every wife and mother feels. Each chapter chronicles a topic in which she trying to lay hold of the freedom she knows is promised through a life in Christ.

Chapter one deals with marriage and kids, and how God uses these close relationships to sand off the rough edges and make us more like Him. “Rather then seeing them as obstacles to be removed or reshaped, we must embrace them as instruments of grace being used for our own betterment. Our identity as God’s children isn’t one of perfection, yet, but a picture of His grace. This perspective, along with a firm grasp of our own sinful nature, should humble us in the face of relational difficulties but also encourage us in the face of adversity.”

I really enjoyed the second chapter, and Amy’s spin on modesty and values. “Going to the gym or the neighborhood pool may be a challenge for men to keep their thoughts pure and lust-free. But I would venture to guess that just as many women struggle to keep their thoughts free of envy and pride.” Too often this conversation is left to the wandering eyes of men, and totally downplays the responsibility we have to other women. “I have a responsibility not to create a competitive or hostile environment for my fellow females. By dressing more conservatively, we lessen the temptation to envy and compare, allowing the spirit to overrule the flesh, so to speak. I have noticed for myself that both my inner and outward dialogue tend to be more edifying while chatting in baggy sweats rather then in my ‘skinny’ jeans.” “Whatever the focus of your vanity, there is nothing wrong with looking nice, but we need to consider our motives and the impact our actions have. …We are called to swallow our pride and vanity for the good of the body or push away our freedom in order that others might not stumble.” “I try to concentrate on whether or not this outfit makes my values look small.”

This next chapter deals with parenthood, and although difficult, we give our children what they need, not what they want or will make them happy. The author relates this to our relationship with God. “So why does God bring these hiccups and monsters into our lives if all they do is make us feel bad about ourselves and make us question whether or not He cares? Why doesn’t He simply shower us with sunshine? The answer to that goes back to giving birth. In order to bring forth the greatest blessing in my life, save Jesus and my hubby, I had to voluntarily enter a room labeled “labor and delivery.” I suppose given the choice at the time I might have been tempted to go back, to reverse course and head for the hills. But were that possible, I would have done so empty-handed. In order to get the blessings, I first had to do the labor. For it is through the pain and the blood that I was delivered.” “This is true of our spiritual labor too. But the amazing thing is that the labor has already been done for us. When Jesus groaned and suffered on the cross, He was bringing us out of death and slavery; He was paying for our lives with His own. Whatever pain we suffer here is just the extraction of our new selves from the old. The pain is real and certainly nothing to joke about, but it is fleeting and simply part of the process of giving birth to our new nature. It may hurt like heck, but it will pass. And in our agony, we are not alone. Because He suffered, we can cry out for relief and be heard. It may not stop the pain but it will give us the strength to carry on.”

Chapter four discusses the practical matter of simplifying our life. “Our life’s work is to be just that- work. I want to run into the gates of heaven out of breath and dripping with sweat not because my effort gets me in but because it is the destination I have been running for all along. May our lives reflect the words of the classic film Chariots of Fire ‘I believe God made me for a purpose… and when I run I feel His pleasure.’ While the film refers to physical running, I think it can be applied to any effort we pursue for the right reasons.”

Chapter five deals with the delicate balance we have to follow God’s commands without becoming legalistic or blasé. “The fruit we bear in our lives should blossom out of a deep trust in God’s provision, not an attempt to repay the great debt we owe.” I love her description of trying to muster change in ourselves by picking and choosing what characteristics we want to add or change in our lives. “When I attempt to take life not from its true source-my Father’s will and purpose- but my own, the results are not pretty. Like some mad Frankenstein scientist, I frantically create the person I think I should be. I look at those who I admire and respect not with appreciation for God’s work in their lives, but with green eyes of envy seeking to acquire what is not mine. I piece together all these enviable attributes and sew them on, not in the spirit but in the flesh. The result is not the new creation I am called to be but a hideous monster of rotting flesh that roars in frustration and despair. I create not a better version of myself but an enemy to my very soul.”

Friendship and relationships are the topics discussed in chapter six. She states that we can us truth to combat our feelings of ungratefulness and being left out and come to a place of gratefulness. She reminds us that it is in the hands of God that we are truly transformed and that it is often through human relationships that we are sanctified.

Chapter seven focuses on sifting through the opinions of others through books, blogs, people’s advise, etc. to find our true identity in Christ and allow the Bible and His opinion of who we should be shape us. “Keeping the goal, to glorify God with our lives… … helps us to practice discernment when processing influences and advice.”

Chapter Eight deals with relationships, a struggle everyone knows. “As Christian women, you and I desire to be defined ultimately by our relationship with Jesus but so much of our satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) with our lives comes from our earthly-rather than heavenly- relationships. …But how do we maintain a healthy balance between investing and nurturing relationships-especially with our male counterparts- and still stay rooted in our identity as brides of Christ?” This chapter delves into boundries in relationships before marriage as well as a few truths about marriage.
Chapter Nine deals with the job description of a mom. “This is when I have to remind myself that it isn’t really my kids that I am making all these sacrifices for. They are not my Employer. They are merely the tools He uses to mold me into His finished produce. Too often, I treat my relationship with Him like a union negotiation rather than a covenant based on mercy. I feel entitled to certain wages for the hours I have put in. But this isn’t Let’s Make a Deal; this is about servanthood and death to self.”

Counter culture living is addressed in Chapter Ten: “When we truly set our eyes on Heaven, it will put us at odds with the culture around us, but if we do so in humility and faith we ultimately have nothing to fear.” She lists and expounds on 3 principals in which we consider being counter cultural: stewardship, discipleship, and the importance of the mind.

Chapter Eleven starts with a lighthearted example of breaking away from addiction and the idols that we so easily turn to, specifically materialism. “I can live my live like that, filling it with so much activity that it’s hard to see God’s hand in it all. I say I am living for Him, but in the end I am just going through the motions and failing to remind myself for Whom all the motion is supposed to be. Though I wouldn’t consider myself materialistic, if I tend to value the material over the immaterial I might need to rethink that assessment.” This chapter had some bite that was appreciated and appropriate

Chapter Twelve talks through standard for yourself and family as to how you approach pop-culture. She lists some very practical guidelines for decision making. And encourages you to make your own decisions, knowing that there will be consequences to the choices that you make.

The final chapter is all about your calling as a mother and how to rest well. “True, God-focused resting might feel like self-indulgent inactivity as well, but that is far from the truth…” “Reading the Bible and praying aren’t the only ways we can seek God and the power His presence and blessing bring. The truth is like a spring of water which bubbles from God and flows in many directions. It can be found in the laughter of a friend, the witty turn of a phrase by your favorite author, a touching scene in a well-made movie. WE all need to drink from this fountain but while the water is the same, our ways of collecting it differ. A big part of maturing is coming to understand what activities or disciplines you personally find refreshing. I have friends who come back from a weekend with friends beaming with energy, having been refreshed and encouraged. I am more of a one-on-one girl and enjoy spending time doing physical activities like hiking or riding bikes.”

He whose life is one even and smooth path will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelations of God… but they who ‘do business in great waves,’ these see his ‘wonders in the deep.’ Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man… your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Mosses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by. -Charles Spurgeon

I appreciate the author’s desire to create an atmosphere where you feel like she is walking alongside you, but this is the part of the book that I had the hardest time with. In doing this I feel like the great gospel truths that are discussed in the book were short lived… and overshadowed in some of the stories that quite frankly came across as whining. I assume that it was in jest, but whenever anyone jokingly makes fun of someone else there is a sliver of truth to it. It really bothered me and set my teeth on edge when she called her kids barbarians. I realize that this may seem nitpicky, but God has moved mountains in my own heart to lovingly train my kids and enjoy it. And so it seems like she is belittling them through this one statement.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. Seth McBee on Satan in the suburbs. Great reminder of how Satan shows up when people are on mission, yet Jesus is more powerful.
  2. 4 keys to creating momentum in your church.
  3. Nick Bogardus on The search for authenticity.
  4. Text and tweet during a church service.
  5. Tim Challies on Is a wife’s job harder than her husband’s job?

The Pain Principle

“For leaders, pain in life has a way of deconstructing us to our most genuine, humble, authentic selves. It’s part of the leader’s job description. For most people, regardless of culture, it’s easier to connect with a leader’s pain and shortcomings and mistakes than her successes and triumphs.” – Dave Gibbons, The Monkey & the Fish

Links of the Week

  1. Ed Stetzer on What a pastor does. There is a lot of confusion on what a pastor should do, because many of the opinions have little to do with what the Bible calls a pastor to do.
  2. Craig Groeschel on The benefits of hiring from within, the downside of hiring from within, how to hire from the outside and the disadvantages of hiring from the outside. I would prefer to hire from within, takes a lot of surprises out of the equation, but sometimes hiring from the outide is the right move. Great thoughts to keep in mind.
  3. Bert Decker on the Power of story.
  4. Sam Rainer on College majors and church attendance. This is a fascinating study that shows depending on your major in college will dramatically affect whether or not you attend church while in college.
  5. Winfield Bevins on Missional Christianity.
  6. Bert Decker on Obama, the Teleprompter and Authenticity. A must read for any communicator, great reminder about authenticity.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Tonight was different
  • I preached without notes, it went well, definitely will take some getting used to though
  • Got a lot of comments about the feel and how it was different
  • We had a new drummer tonight, who was great
  • I’m always amazed at not only how many musicians we have, but how good they are
  • They throw down every week and bring the heat
  • Awesome
  • Definitely one of the more challenging passages in all of Hebrews tonight
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • One of my favorite parts of preaching through a book of the Bible is when I get a comment like “I didn’t know that was in there” or “I didn’t know that verse meant that, I’ve been thinking about it wrong this whole time” or “Now, that makes sense”
  • Really excited about what we’re preaching on this summer
  • Only 2 weeks left to sign up for a summer small group, have you signed up yet?
  • One of them already filled up, so don’t wait
  • You can sign up online here
  • The list for our baptism on July 4th is growing, so excited about that day, what a huge step!
  • Anybody else feel like the NBA Playoffs is starting to feel a lot like March Madness?
  • This book has been awesome, really eye opening from a leadership and a preaching perspective
  • Just got the new Mat Kearney, I think it is by far his best album
  • It never gets old meeting new people at Revolution, I love seeing the way God is working in people’s lives and that I get to be a part of it
  • Got some picnics planned with friends over the next few days, love that about summer
  • This past week, I blogged about the weight pastors carry around, got a lot of encouraging e-mails from other pastors, it obviously struck a chord
  • In the next week or so, I’m going to blog about the joys of pastoring, as those often get forgotten
  • Still not sure how I feel about how 24 ended, a lot of loose ends, now we have to wait 7 months to find out what happened
  • We had our LEAD Team meeting this week, I love the leaders I get to serve with
  • Got my haircut this week, a little shorter than its been, but I think I like it
  • Got a massage this past week, definitely what I needed
  • That’s it, Katie’s home and I’m wiped out

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

One of the things I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking on recently has to do with authentic leadership. For most of my ministry life, I have been taught that the leader is full of strength, always knows the answer and is clear on what is happening and where the team/organization is going. While I believe those are qualities of good leadership, that isn’t always the case. There are moments of uncertainty, the fog rolls in on your ideas and sometimes you are weak and need your teammates to carry you.

But how do you balance the two? How do you have those moments and not lose any of your followers? Enter Bill George’s book True North. George defines authentic leadership as “finding something you are passionate about and then inspiring others to join the cause.”

One of the things I appreciated about this book was how many stories he shared. He highlighted leaders from countless walks of life and industries and walked through how they led authentically, led out of who they were, their stories, but still had followers and led successful organizations.

One of the things that I think many leaders struggle with, but was a large part of this book is leading from their story. Our stories, upbringings, schooling, family situation, etc. make us who we are and impact our leadership greatly.

Because of my story it is important that Revolution call men to be men, is simple, white hot when it comes to evangelism. Those are just a few of the things that my story bring to the table when it comes to leadership and how I lead Revolution. The reason this is important is because “when the 75 members of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council were asked to recommend the most important capability for leaders to develop, their answer was nearly unanimous:  self-awareness.”

Here are a few things that jumped out:

  • Rather than waiting to get to the top to become leaders, authentic leaders looked for every opportunity to lead and to develop themselves.
  • If we believe that leadership is just about getting others to follow us and do our bidding as we climb the organization ladder, we risk being derailed.
  • To become authentic leaders, we must discard the myth that leadership means having legions of supporters following our direction as we ascend to the pinnacles of power. Only then can we realize that authentic leadership is about empowering others on their journeys.
  • Only when leaders stop focusing on their personal ego needs are they able to develop other leaders.
  • It is often during hard times in your life that you realize that authentic leadership is not about advancing yourself and your personal interests. Rather, it is the capacity to inspire others to bring out their best.
  • Too many leaders believe that by being the smartest person in the room, they can use their intellect to carry the day. As a result, they overpower less forceful voices that may have the vital ideas, insights, answers they need to succeed.
  • One of the most difficult things in becoming self-aware is seeing ourselves as others see us.
  • “Leaders with principles are less likely to get bullied or pushed around because they can draw clear lines in the sand.” (Narayana Murthy)

One of the more interesting quotes in the book came from former Vanguard CEO Jack Brennan who said, “The dissatisfied people I have known and those who experienced ethical or legal failures all had a clear career plan.” Meaning, learn to go with the flow and take what life throws at you. In leadership, you must be fluid.

All in all, a great read.