10 Lies Leaders Love

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This is from Tim Irwin’s new book Impact: Great Leadership Changes EverythingIt is a list of the lies leaders believe that drive self-deception in their lives and often lead to not reaching their potential or falling completely out of the leadership game because of moral failure. They are lies leaders tell themselves to allow them to act in ways they shouldn’t. Sadly, I have believed these at different times and have seen countless pastors fall prey to them.

  1. I’m the smartest person in the room. I have better ideas and better judgement than anyone on the team.
  2. I’m responsible for these results. They could not have done this without me. I did this. 
  3. Everyone is out to get me because they are envious. I am so good, and they can’t stand it. They know I’m on the fast track and are going to try to get me off track.
  4. These people work for me. They have to deliver to my standards. I need them to focus on helping me.
  5. I don’t have to follow normal rules…I deserve special consideration. I have a big job and need to ignore some rules to get my goals accomplished.
  6. I’m entitled to that. I worked hard and made this place what it is. This place was a wreck before I took over. Through my leadership we are finally making some money.
  7. It’s not material. This is a rounding error. No one would begrudge me for taking this.
  8. No one will ever know. We can fudge these numbers a little. Next quarter should be spectacular, and we can restate this quarter’s earnings.
  9. It’s not my fault. I did everything I was supposed to do. Those other guys dropped the ball.
  10. I don’t need to be accountable to anyone. Nobody here really understands what I’m trying to do. It’s only results that the board is after, and I can get those if the rest of the team would get out of my way.

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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.

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Mark Driscoll on The 6 kinds of church services and how they impact preaching and worship planning.

Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally. But getting the mood right is very important. If you don’t, the sermon and the rest of the service won’t align for a journey, but collide like a car wreck.

Rosaria Butterfield on You are what you read.

Michael Hyatt on How millionaires manage their time.

I’ve been lucky enough to interview over 130 millionaires. They know the value of their time, and use it to the best of their ability. I’ve curated the top tips on their time management to help you have more time to work, and more time to play and be with your family. So how do you stay productive when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list? Here are four awesome tips for greater productivity, straight from the millionaires themselves.

The 5 most important questions a church needs to answer.

  • Question 1:  What is Our Mission?
  • Question 2:  Who is Our Customer?
  • Question 3:  What Does the Customer Value?
  • Question 4:  What are Our Results?
  • Question 5:  What is Our Plan?

4 Tips for Starting a Children’s Ministry in a Church Plant.

Church plants are becoming increasingly popular and in the midst of all there is to do, getting your children’s ministry off the ground can tend to slip under the radar. Here are a few practical tips for starting a children’s ministry in your church plant.

People Pleasing Pastors

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Why Patience is Hard & Crucial to Great Leadership

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Let’s be honest.

Patience is hard. 

We want things now. We are an instant culture. We want fast food. We want to post pictures instantly. It’s even called Instagram. 

Patience is hard when it comes to leadership as well, not only because of the reasons just mentioned and the way we are wired and how our culture operates but because of how long things take in leadership.

Let me explain.

Leaders are future oriented people. One of the things that separates leaders from followers is the ability of leaders to see a desired future and move people towards it. Because of this, by the time things become a reality, leaders have lived with them for months, sometimes years.

When a church launches a new initiative, ministry, program, a building campaign, buys land or hires a new staff member. The leaders have anticipated this moment for months or years.

Patience is hard. And crucial. 

For leaders, because change feels like an eternity to them, it is easy to forget how whiplashed our followers can feel when a change happens. For a leader, they have read books, prayed, talked to mentors and others leaders, listened, and waited for months to launch something. When their followers give pushback, they think the problem is with the followers (and it may be), but often they are not giving their followers the time to process the change as they had to think about the change.

If you are in a spot as a leader who is about to make a change or launch something, here are some ways to handle it:

  1. Be patient. Yes, you may need to wait a little longer. The time may not be right, the funds may not be there, the momentum may not be in your corner. You may need to have a little more patience.
  2. Give people time. If you took weeks or months to research and process this decision, give your followers at least some time to sit with it. Let them ask questions. Just because someone has questions or gives pushback does not mean they are being divisive or are not on board. They are processing.
  3. Be honest about the loss, not just the excitement of the future. When discussing a change, talk about the loss. With every change their are gains and losses. Leaders see the gains, followers see the losses. Leader, look at the losses and talk about them, let your followers know you hear them. But, help them see the gains.
  4. Be excited and decisive. At some point, the time for patience and waiting is over and it is time to be decisive and move forward. When is that time? It depends on the situation, but you are the leader, so you’ll know.

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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.

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John Piper on Don’t waste your weaknesses in 2014.

Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness. But I am calling you to give attention and effort in finding your weaknesses and maximizing their God-given purpose. The Bible tells us what that purpose is in 2 Corinthians 12:8–10. Paul had been given a “thorn in the flesh” which was one instance of a “weakness.” Why?

The top 30 blogs Christian leaders need to read.

Zach Nielsen on How to avoid mission drift in 2014.

New pastors and/or church planters have extremely high aspirations for maintaining the purity of their church’s mission. All those churches they used to work for got too messy, complicated, and unfocused. “This church won’t be that way!” they vow to themselves and other leaders.

A gut level, honest struggle every Christian leader has.

One of the most difficult aspects of Christian leadership is keeping your relationship with God fresh and alive.

Ed Stetzer on What evangelicals can learn from TIME naming the Pope the person of the year.

The immediate evangelical responses to the TIME story were interesting to watch: some evangelicals said appreciative things about the Pope’s actions, only to be criticized by other evangelicals for compromising, some took the time to point out all the ways they disagreed with Catholicism, and others just said nothing.

Dan Reiland on 4 questions every young leader should be asking.

The leader in trouble is not the one who doesn’t have all the answers; it is the one who doesn’t know the right questions.

Tim Brister on How to create a disciple making plan in 2014.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple-making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple-making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple-making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

Mike Anderson on How to plan your ideal week.

The more responsibility I take on, the more my life feels out of control. One good way to help bring some order to my calendar is planning an ideal week. I try to keep it simple.

Leadership as an Identity

bookOver the weekend I read Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence (kindle) by Crawford Loritts. To say I liked this book would be an understatement. I devoured this book. I found myself highlight almost something on every page.

If you are a Christian leader, pastor or business leader, you need to read this book. What set this book apart was that it had very little “here’s what a leader does” advice. This book is all about what influences and shapes a leader. Ultimately, what shapes a leader will eventually come out in their actions.

Here is some of what I highlighted:

  • We tend to ignore character flaws and even sin in the life of a leader because of his more worldly leadership skills.
  • Brokenness is a conscious, core awareness that you need God in all things. A broken person has come to realize that he is nothing and can do nothing apart from God’s presence and enabling power (John 15:5). A broken person has come to the end of himself—at least what he understands at that moment to be the end of himself.
  • The leader who is broken is a leader who can be used by God.
  • God delights in surrender. It is a foundational, fundamental principle of the Christian life. In fact, you can’t truly be a Christian without surrender.
  • Leaders fall when they stop following.
  • Humility is an intentional thing. It is a decision, a choice. When you fail to intentionally humble yourself, pride will overtake you. It’s just a matter of time.
  • A challenge not only for young leaders but for all leaders is that you are one decision away from losing the ability to lead.
  • God does not primarily delight in using what you bring to the table. Instead, He delights in using what you surrender to Him. His assignments will require you to operate outside of your areas of strength, out of your comfort zone. God will put you in situations where you have no choice but to rely on His miraculous power, strength, and intervention.
  • The truly great, effective leaders are not always the “best” leaders.
  • What we value the most will be the foundation upon which we build our leadership.
  • Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.
  • God is using what He has given you to do to not only accomplish His assignments but to make you what He wants you to become.
  • Every person God will trust with influencing others will suffer.
  • It’s a dangerous thing to follow a leader who has never failed.
  • There can be no leadership apart from adversity and hard times. Your credibility to lead is in direct relationship to your ability to endure.
  • The challenges of leadership are meant to make you hungry for God.
  • God’s presence causes you to lead from rest.
  • Despite what is going on all around you, know that He not only has everything that you need, but He is also giving you all that you need to deal with whatever is before you.
  • Christian leadership is all about doing what God wants done.
  • There is a close relationship between your walk with God and the assignment He has given you.
  • We need to be careful that we are not using servant leadership language as a strategy—as a means to manipulate people to do what we want them to do.
  • Vision gives the leader the responsibility to see the big picture and determine where a ministry is going. The leader then mobilizes the people to get the job done.
  • I think one of the greatest challenges for a leader is to move people to places that many times they don’t want to go—but they are never the same once they have gone!
  • Both pride and humility have, for the most part, very little to do with your actions and choices, but they have everything to do with your motives and attitudes.
  • Humility is the intentional recognition that God is everything to you, and that you are nothing without Him. It is the acknowledgment that life is not about you, and that the needs of others are more important than your own.
  • Your approach to leadership can reveal whether it is a passion or just a diversion.
  • Biblical leadership is characterized not only by brokenness, uncommon communion, and servanthood but also by radical, immediate obedience.
  • There is no such thing as leadership apart from action.
  • God is about the business of doing through us what He wants done.
  • When God speaks, obedience is not something to be negotiated. There’s no such thing as partial obedience. We either completely do what God says or we disobey Him. God is to be taken seriously.
  • We tend to project our negative experiences with authority onto God. We either have problems trusting God, or we develop our own theology, making Him a “softer God” who demands very little of us.
  • God never calls you to do anything without also assuring you of His presence.

If you want to see some of the past books I’ve reviewed, go here.

What Pastors Can Learn about Leadership from the Shutdown

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I rarely if ever post anything that is related to politics. While this post is about the shutdown, it is not about who caused it or a way out.

As I watched the news this past week and read through twitter I was struck by this question, “What does this shutdown say about leadership in our country? And, as pastors, what can we learn from this shutdown?”

So, here are a few things I think pastors can learn about leadership from the government shutdown:

  1. You give up something when you have a team. If you are a part of a team, which is almost every pastor, you don’t always get your way. That doesn’t mean you lose as a leader, it means your church or organization wins. I see a lot of pastors who want their church to do exactly what they want all the time and throw tantrums if they don’t get their way or they leave and find a church that will let them get their way. Revolution does not do everything I want it to do. There are things some of our leaders do that I think, “I wouldn’t do it that way.” A lot of times those leaders are right and it looks better than if I got my way. Being a part of a team means having a higher goal than getting your way.
  2. People respond to vision not reaction. The saddest thing for me about our government from a strictly leadership perspective is the lack of vision everyone seems to have. The ideals, hopes, dreams, etc. that are talked about are all in the past. There is nothing moving into the future to rally anyone to. Yes, we live in a divided country. When things are divided, leadership is needed. Leadership that will paint a picture of the future and not simply react to things. Leadership is about spending time painting that picture, not reading twitter and reacting to what you read. Often pastors see a crisis and then try to rally the troops. That rarely works. People do not start volunteering because their are openings. People do not start giving because the budget is falling short. They give, they serve, they are involved because of vision.
  3. Don’t whine about how hard leadership is. Leadership is hard that’s why everyone doesn’t do it. Leadership is hard. Leadership can be lonely. People take shots at the leaders because they are usually standing by themselves on an elevated platform so everyone can get a clear shot. If you don’t like that, you shouldn’t be a leader. No one feels sorry for a leader when it is hard. Why? Because everyone knows the leaders chose to be there. Pastor, when it gets hard at your church and it will. When people are critical of you, your vision, a staff member leaves, another leader is caught in sin, know that it is hard and you are the leader. Act like it. Show people the way forward. Leadership will take years off your life. It is stressful and at times painful. If it was easy, everyone would be a leader.

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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.

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  1. Brad Lomenick on What not to do as an emerging leader.
  2. The real reason your church isn’t growing.
  3. Carey Nieuwhof on 9 signs you are burning out and how to come out of burnout.
  4. When is the royal baby a fetus? Great discussion on abortion and when life begins.
  5. Thom Rainer on How many hours should a pastor work?
  6. Michael Hyatt on What’s your favorite leadership book and why. Great list of books worth reading.
  7. What seminary did not teach me about preaching.
  8. Russell Moore on What’s at stake with internet pornography.
  9. Online porn blocked in England.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Sensing Jesus

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 Sensing Jesus: Life & Ministry as a Human Being (kindle version) by Zach Eswine. This is the second book I’ve read by Eswine. You can read my review of his book Preaching to a Post-Everything world here.

Here is my one criticism about Eswine and his writing. His stuff is great. It is challenging, soul stirring, makes you think. He just takes a long time to say it. What he says in 5 pages I feel could be said in one. Outside of that, his books are great and this one is no different.

That being said, if you are a pastor or thinking about becoming a pastor, you would do well to work your way through this book and chew on what Eswine lays out. Many pastors, in response to the call God has placed on their lives have forgotten how to be human or that their ministry is to human beings, not robots or masses.

Here are a few things that jumped out in my reading:

  • If there is anything exceptional about me and about this ministerial crowd of mine, it is that we are exceptionally broken.
  • God is the remembered one. But this does not mean we are forgotten – not by him. Not by a long shot. In fact, being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world.
  • We cannot fully magnify God without confessing that we are not him.
  • Greatness, even in ministry, cannot escape humanity.
  • Our goal of greatness is not the problem. How we define the word great is.
  • The problem we have rises when we suggest that obscurity and greatness are opposites, that fame in our culture and greatness as God sees it are synonyms.
  • You cannot glorify God by trying to become him.
  • The Bible simply does not teach us that if we say the right words, right things will follow.
  • How come so much of our Christian knowledge robs us of joy, wonder, awe, play, dependence, and the need to learn and humility?
  • Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
  • Going all out for God means more than going all out for our sermons.
  • One can receive accolades for preaching Jesus, yet at the same time know every little about how to follow Jesus in the living rooms of their ordinary lives.

Here is an interview that Zach Eswine did with Justin Taylor about this book:

What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary

I am one of those few pastors that doesn’t hate his seminary experience. In fact, seminary for me was an incredible time of growth and learning. I use a lot of the knowledge that I gained in seminary. That isn’t the case for many pastors. That still being the case, there are a lot of things that I didn’t learn in seminary that one deals with as a pastor.

One of the things I try to do on vacation every summer is read some novels. I did that, but I also took along a book that I just got by James White called What They Didn’t Teach you in Seminary

There were a lot of things I appreciated about this book, but the two biggest things was that he didn’t simply spend the book bashing seminaries. Seminaries are still needed, maybe not in the form they take right now, but they play an important role for preparing guys for ministry. The second thing I appreciated was how real the book was.

The chapter that resonated the most with me is how you can never fully prepare for what ministry will do to you emotionally. This has been a theme recently in things I’ve read, not on purpose, but has come up over and over again. You can prepare mentally, theologically, spiritually, even physically, but the it is hard to handle getting the wind knocked out of you emotionally in ministry. The arrows that come with leadership, walking with people through the high’s and low’s of life, counseling people, walking with couples through divorce, betrayal of leaders, the list is endless. It is simply hard to survive emotionally.

The other chapter was on the loneliness of leadership. This is hard for many people to understand. I’ve written about it before, but as a pastor, it is difficult to have deep friendships. For example, on holidays and weekends, people don’t invite you to a gathering because they think you are busy or doing something on memorial day or labor day. Often, it is difficult to know if someone wants to be your friend just to be your friend or if they want to get something from you, be in the inner circle of the church. Does someone invite you over for dinner to hang out or because they want to talk about the church and their ideas for the church? It is hard to navigate this. Katie and I have experienced our ups and downs with this and the hurt that comes from people we thought were our friends who betrayed us.

All in all, a great read. It was real fast, took me one afternoon to get through it, but I found myself highlighting things continuously. If you are a church leader, get it now.