Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • The first day back from vacation can be brutal.
  • I’m rested, excited about being back, but blown away by how much can stack up while you’re gone.
  • It was definitely different being at church yesterday without Paul. First time in over 5 years.
  • At the same time, it felt good as so many people commented about how church felt the same. That’s a good thing.
  • Mike did a great job preaching his first sermon.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • Love seeing new communicators preach in our church and seeing their gifts develop.
  • On vacation I read one of the best books I’ve ever read on team building and hiring: It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best
  • So much wisdom in this book.
  • So far, my summer reading list has proven to be filled with great books.
  • Definitely came at a good time for me as we are hiring 2 new staff members at Revolution Church: A kids pastor and a pastor to lead worship and oversee missional communities.
  • I’m excited because tomorrow I’m going to be part of a google hangout you can watch on worrying, stress and church planting.
  • All the fun starts at 2pm EST.
  • You can watch here.
  • Getting closer and closer to finishing the first draft of my book.
  • Hard to believe.
  • I’ve been loving the world cup.
  • So many great games and great goals.
  • Stunned at how the US is hanging in their group.
  • This is a short one, cause I’ve got lots going on.
  • Til next time…

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The Most Important Choice You Make as a Leader

Do you know what the most important choice you make as a leader?

You make it every single day. In fact, several times a day you make this one choice to affects all other choices in your life. It isn’t just affecting your church or business, it affects your health, your family and every other aspect of your life.

Do you know what it is?

The most important choice you make as a leader is who and what gets your time and attention. 

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You know what happens if you waste time, spend time on the wrong thing. The affects ripple out in your life and in your church. If you fall behind on an assignment or a project, it affects other things. Stress levels go up, performance goes down.

And it all goes back to the simple choice you make on what gets your time and attention.

Everyday, when you choose to do something, you choose to not do something else. This might be choosing a meeting over sermon prep. Choosing to work on a budget item instead of being in a meeting. Putting out a fire instead of thinking about long-term planning and dreaming.

Here are 7 ways to make the right choice when you are faced with two choices of what gets your time and attention:

  1. Decide ahead of time what is most important for you to accomplish each day. This is the first step to managing your life and responding to what comes across your desk. You need to know what is most important in your life and job. All the things you need to accomplish in a week are not equally important. Every week there are things left undone, emails not responded to, blogs not read, meetings that you skipped and yet you didn’t get fired. Know what you have to do and do it.
  2. Don’t respond to what feels urgent. That word feel is important because what often feels urgent is not really urgent. Just because someone says they have to meet with you today does mean you need to meet with them today. Things that appear like fires have been brewing for days, weeks or months. Attempting to put it out today won’t matter. Just because something is urgent to someone else does not mean it is urgent to you.
  3. Respond to things when you choose you to respond. Email, voice mail, texts, updates on social media. They are all calling for your attention. This goes back to #2, but decide when you’ll respond to them. I schedule when I’ll check email, when I look at the blogs I read. Do it on your schedule, when it works for you. If someone says, “did you get my email?” Kindly respond, “Not yet, I’ll respond when I look at it.”
  4. Learn the art of saying no. Saying no is hard because we are afraid we will miss an opportunity. Guess what? If you say no, you might miss an opportunity, but that’s okay. Every opportunity isn’t for you. Opportunities do have a way of coming around again. And remember this simple principle: every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else simply by the fact that you don’t have time to do everything. Choose carefully what gets your yes.
  5. People will take whatever time you give them. If you give someone 5 minutes to meet with you, they will take 5 minutes. If you give them 30 or 60, they will take all that you give them. If you give them no time limit, they will meet with you until Jesus returns. People will take whatever you give them. Decide ahead of time how long a meeting or conversation will last. When you return a call, start by telling them how long you have. When you set up a meeting, set a start time and an end time. People will get down to business faster if you tell them ahead of time. This isn’t uncaring, there are other people and things that need you as well.
  6. Things fill the time given to them. This is the same as #5, except about assignments. If you don’t have a deadline, things take forever. Have you noticed how productive you are the night before a test or an assignment is due or the day before you go on vacation? You get a lot done. Why? You have a deadline. Tasks fill the time given to them.
  7. Remember, you are responsible for managing your time. No one else is responsible for how you spend your time. No one else feels the affects the way you do. If you are a pastor, your church isn’t responsible for how your time is spent. They have an opinion on it, but you are accountable for it. Same with your boss. They have wants, desires and ideas, but they aren’t accountable for it. They aren’t responsible for saying no and managing your time well.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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8 things remarkable people do everyday.

What is it that separates people who are highly effective in work (and life) from those who are less so?  Often it’s a few very specific (and learnable!) things. Acquire these eight simple habits and you won’t just get more done, you might actually change your life.

Ron Edmondson on 7 ways my introversion works for me as a senior leader.

It’s easy to concentrate on the big picture. You’ll seldom find me chit-chatting. It’s not that I don’t have casual conversations — I certainly do when I’m connecting with people — but communication for me is usually very purposeful. As a result, I tend to be able to be very big picture oriented. Very strategic in my thinking. I step back and observe everything often. I’m a deep thinker. Those are traits especially strong with most introverts. That has proven to be very profitable for my leadership and the teams I lead.

Tony Morgan on The day we visited a dying church.

The churches who make the transition successfully from dying to life share some common traits: They value reaching people outside the faith, They value a clearly defined pathway for spiritual formation, They value strong, healthy leadership, They value a bold, clear vision for the future, They value simple systems and structures.

5 signs you can’t handle more as a leader.

Most of us leader types are rarely satisfied with the status quo. But are you ready for more? Could you handle it if it came your way? When I think back to when I was a young leader, I know there were more than a few seasons when I wasn’t ready for more, even when more came my way.

Jared Wilson on Success is dangerous.

When we find ourselves in difficult ministries, where the word seems out of season and the soil inordinately hard, despite our sincere and faithful efforts to share the gospel in contextualized ways and love and serve our neighbors with gladness and kindness, many of us battle discouragement, but we at least theologically understand that sometimes God gives and sometimes he takes away.

Dads, date your daughter’s boyfriend.

Part of the problem is trying to understand a father’s role in his daughter’s pursuit of marriage. In today’s ideal scenario, she brings home a guy the whole family can love, and the rest is matrimony. But as good as ideal sounds, it’s hard to find that picture in the Bible, and ultimately it’s far too simple for most not-yet-married realities anyways.

9 fascinating facts about people who attend megachurches.

New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches). What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church’s reputation, in that order.

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Leadership Paradox: Going Slow is Often Better Than Speed

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If there is one thing leaders love it is speed. They want to see things get done, churches and teams be more effective.

If there is one thing that followers love, it is the opposite of speed. It is sameness, normalcy, sometimes status quo, but something they are familiar with.

Here’s a leadership paradox I’ve been learning recently: going slow is often better than speed. 

This hard for leaders, especially church planters or younger leaders when they lead a change.

The reason is simple. Leaders see the preferred future, they have an idea where things are going and they want to get there.

They also have spent so much time researching it, thinking about it, praying about it, reading books that by the time they announce something, they have some times been thinking about a change for weeks, months or years.

The problem?

All your followers, team members, or employees just heard about it.

Part of the reason many young leaders aren’t willing to take changes slower is they aren’t planning to be there for a long time.

When you make a commitment to an organization or a church for more than 3 years, you have more of a willingness to take the long view on the speed of new things.

As the leader, you struggle with patience. I get it. It is one thing that makes you a strong leader. Yet, if you aren’t able to slow down, keep everyone with you, you will end up at your destination alone.

Are there times to speed up? Yes. Sometimes things are taking too long.

Sometimes, a decision simply has to be made. A lot of times we are moving slow not out of wisdom, but fear of what will happen if we decide, if people will be mad or leave. If that’s the case, be a leader and make a choice.

Just because people don’t seem like they are on board, doesn’t mean they are being divisive or unhelpful. Sometimes they don’t understand or you are moving too fast.

How do you know the difference in all these situations?

You don’t.

That’s what makes you the leader.

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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

bookBen Horowitz’s new book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers is quite possibly one of the best church planting books I’ve ever read and it has nothing to do with church planting.

Horowitz shares so many insights from starting businesses, which is very similar to church planting. The hard road of raising funds, building teams, keeping great people and how to handle the high’s and low’s of being a CEO. The insights for lead planters are incredible. I found myself nodding over and over with all the lessons for pastor’s.

The whole book is great. If you are a church planter, thinking about planting or leading a church right now, this is the next book you need to read. It is that good.

Here are a few insights from it:

  • If there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves.
  • A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news.
  • Build a culture that rewards—not punishes—people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.
  • You don’t make yourself look good by trashing someone who worked for you.
  • Hire for strength rather than lack of weakness.
  • If your company is a good place to work, you too may live long enough to find your glory.
  • Being a good company doesn’t matter when things go well, but it can be the difference between life and death when things go wrong.   Things always go wrong.
  • There are only two ways for a manager to improve the output of an employee: motivation and training.
  • The most important difference between big and small companies is the amount of time running versus creating. A desire to do more creating is the right reason to want to join your company.
  • If you don’t know what you want, the chances that you’ll get it are extremely low.
  • The right kind of ambition is ambition for the company’s success with the executive’s own success only coming as a by-product of the company’s victory. The wrong kind of ambition is ambition for the executive’s personal success regardless of the company’s outcome.
  • While I’ve seen executives improve their performance and skill sets, I’ve never seen one lose the support of the organization and then regain it.
  • A company will be most successful if the senior managers optimize for the company’s success (think of this as a global optimization) as opposed to their own personal success (local optimization).
  • Nothing motivates a great employee more than a mission that’s so important that it supersedes everyone’s personal ambition.
  • The CEO job as knowing what to do and getting the company to do what you want.
  • When an organization grows in size, things that were previously easy become difficult.
  • The further away people are in the organizational chart, the less they will communicate.
  • Evaluating people against the future needs of the company based on a theoretical view of how they will perform is counterproductive.
  • There is no such thing as a great executive. There is only a great executive for a specific company at a specific point in time.
  • Everybody learns to be a CEO by being a CEO.
  • If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.
  • When my partners and I meet with entrepreneurs, the two key characteristics that we look for are brilliance and courage.
  • Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes decisions.

To see other book notes, go here.

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Pastors Can Make the Worst Friends

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Most pastors are nice people, they just don’t make good friends.

That may seem harsh to say, but as a pastor, I think it is true.

Hear me out.

Pastoral ministry is an all encompassing job. It is highly relational, emotional, mental and spiritual. It can be draining physically and overwhelming. It isn’t harder than other jobs, it is just different.

Because you can get a call at any moment with something that needs attention, many pastors burnout and struggle to have boundaries so they can rest and recharge.

Pastors spend so much time counseling people, helping people work through issues or sitting in meetings that when they meet someone, they often see them as a project instead of a person. They see them as someone who will need something, someone who will need advice or need to be fixed instead of a person to simply spend time with.

For most pastors, church is something they are always thinking about. The next capital campaign, new ministry year, next sermon series, next issue, hiring a new person. It never stops. They spend all their time with people talking about church. They sit with their wife on date night and talk about church. It is not just a job, it is their life. It is who they are and this becomes unhealthy.

Then, they meet someone new and they can’t stop talking about church. They can’t shut it off.

What do you do then? How can you become a better friend if you are a pastor? Here are 5 ideas:

  1. Have friends who don’t attend church (or your church). This is crucial. If you don’t have any friends who don’t attend church, that’s a great clue that you aren’t good at friendships. Churched people will tolerate a pastor who don’t stop talking about church or is a poor friend because they want to be close to a pastor. An unchurched person won’t take that.
  2. Have a no church talk zone. There should be a time of day, a day each week where you stop talking about church stuff. Stop thinking about, stop checking your email. Don’t talk about it at least once a week. For many pastors this will be so hard to do, but incredibly healthy.
  3. Take a day off. If you aren’t taking your day off as a pastor, you are sinning. I’m blown away by how many pastors are killing themselves working 6 or 7 days a week. Stop it. Rest, recharge, take some down time.
  4. Get in a small group. I’m blown away by how many pastors are not in a small group or missional community at their church. They’ll often say that the elders are their small group. This line of thinking attempts to make a pastor untouchable and that’s a sin. In a small group, people see who you are, you can’t hide any longer. You start to see how people see you and if you are any good at community. This might feel like it goes against #1 but it doesn’t because many pastors don’t have friends in their church. Now, you need to be careful here. You don’t just share everything with someone in your church, you must show discretion on the information and with the person. There have been times Katie and I have shared everything about a situation with our MC, and sometimes not. Each situation is different, but you should be in community with some people in your church who are not in leadership.
  5. Get a hobby. I was talking with some pastors the other day I am coaching out of burnout and I asked them, “What do you do for fun? What recharges you? What is fun?” Blank stares. Many pastors do not have a hobby. Things like fixing a car, working with wood, hiking, playing sports, knitting or cooking. Nothing. If that’s you, sit down and answer that question, what do I find fun? If you don’t have a hobby, you won’t have anything that lets off steam, anything that is fun, anything to do with others.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

bookBrian Jennings on 2 healthy habits for a family over the summer.

Summer can bring some great opportunities for families, but it can also lead to lots of frustration. Plus, it goes by so fast that I am afraid to blink. I have not enjoyed feeling like we did not get the most out of a summer. So, my wife and I decided to implement a couple of habits/rules in our house (unique from our school year routines). Our goal was to establish some routines that would promote calmness, creativity and spiritual growth.

Russell Moore on What if your child is gay?

One of the reasons this is such a crushing experience for many is because they assume that their alternatives are affirmation or alienation. I either give up my relationship with my child or I give up the Bible. The gospel never suggests this set of alternatives, and in fact demonstrates just the opposite. Every child, whether gay or straight, is oriented toward sin, and so are you. If your child or grandchild says he or she is gay, you shouldn’t act shocked, as though you are surprised your child might be tempted toward sin, or that you find your own sinful inclinations somehow less deserving of God’s judgment.

Ron Edmondson on 7 hints to make a bad leadership decision.

Paul Alexander on How to pastor your staff.

But if you’re so busy that you don’t have time to focus on discipleship, development and knowing the team then you run the risk of not only building a toxic culture on your church staff team but missing the real work God has called you to. At the end of the day the church is not a business, it’s the body of Christ.

12 Things TED Speakers do that Pastors Don’t.

Don’t use your conclusion to simply summarize what you’ve already said; tell your audience how your idea might affect their lives if it’s implemented.

What to do When You’re Too Tired to Work

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There is a moment that every pastor knows well, but many Christians might find surprising.

It is Sunday morning and you will preach or lead worship in less than hour. You feel into your pocket and feel your keys and think, “What if I left right now?”

The same thing happens to men and women at work everyday. It isn’t that you are unprepared or don’t love your job, it is just that you don’t feel like you have anything left to give.

For pastors, they are prepped, ready to preach, they are just running on fumes and don’t have the stamina for what lays ahead.

I recently talked with a student pastor who told me, “I’m just not sure I have anything left to give. I love my church and my students, but I’m beat.”

If it hasn’t happened to you yet as a pastor, that only means you are new to ministry.

When it does, here are 6 things to get out of this funk, but also to protect yourself from it:

  1. Get a good night sleep. The stats on how poorly Americans sleep and how many sleeping pills they take are staggering. It seems like no one gets a good night sleep anymore. Get to bed early on a Saturday night and strive to get into bed by 10pm every night. Yes, it is hard to get a good night sleep when you have kids, but you can try. Don’t drink caffeine late in the day. For me, I stop drinking caffeine at 2pm. It keeps me up. Same with sugar from chocolate or ice cream. Your body may not react like mine, but if it does, cut back.
  2. Eat better. Most pastors do not eat well and are paying the price for it in ministry. They fill up on fast food, energy drinks, carbs and then lack the motivation and energy. On Sunday morning, eat tons of protein. By the time I preach, I have consumed over 50g of protein. If I don’t, I will be too tired to do anything else the rest of the day.
  3. Let go of hurts. One of the main reasons pastors burn out is not the physical strain of working, but the emotional side of ministry. Walking with people through their hurts, counseling, being stabbed in the back by a friend, church discipline situations. All of these stack up and unless a pastor lets go of them, they will pile up and he will eventually explode. You must have a system for how you give those things up to God and let him carry those burdens.
  4. Have some friends. Pastors seem to be bad at friendships. We don’t know what to talk about if we aren’t talking about church. We struggle to have hobbies outside of church and our only friends go to our church. Get some friends that are other pastors, people in your neighborhood who don’t expect you to be perfect. There are times that I have dinner with someone from church and tell them, “When you come over, we aren’t talking about church or ministry. If you can’t do that, we can’t hang out tonight.” If you aren’t careful, ministry can become all encompassing and take over your life. You have to turn it off and let your day end at some point.
  5. Preach less. Decide how many weeks in a row you can preach without feeling too tired and preach that. For me, I get crispy after 10 weeks in a row. You may be able to go longer and that’s great. For longevity, I strive to never preach more than 10 weeks in a row. I take 3-4 weeks off in a row each summer to rest.
  6. Have a recovery plan. Sunday after preaching, you might take a nap, have dinner with friend, workout, do yoga, take a hike, read a novel or play with your kids. Whatever will fill you back up after preaching, do that. Preaching is hard work, it is a war for the souls of people. It will take everything out of you.

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Cheap Kindle Books [6.9.14]

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Just in time for summer reading, here are some great ones:

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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Al Mohler on There is no “third way” when it comes to homosexuality.

There is no third way. A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually, every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on this issue. It is just a matter of time (and for most churches, not much time) before every congregation in the nation faces this test.

Eva Selhub, M.D. on CrossFit bashers, can you be more constructive?

CrossFit is not the problem folks, obesity is. We have an epidemic of obesity that is not only propelling the rising costs of healthcare, but also morbid problems like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars. The medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Why one Mom says “no” to electronics for her kids.

When I tell you no to devices, I’m giving you a gift. And I’m giving me a gift. It’s a gift of relationship. True human connection. It’s precious and a treasure. And you mean so much to me that I don’t want to miss a second of it.

6 reasons Millenials aren’t at your church and 7 to draw them to your church.

LifeWay Research found 70 percent of young adults who indicated they attended church regularly for at least one year in high school do drop out of regular church attendance. That does not mean, however, they have left never to return. In fact, according to LifeWay Research, almost two-thirds return and currently attend church (within the time frame of the study). That same study found most don’t make a conscious decision to leave due to a doctrinal dispute or significant disagreement. They simply drift away because the church doesn’t seem as important to their lives as it once did. Many have looked at a church and decided it is no longer relevant.

Cross Fit by Jesus

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