Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • Yesterday was a moving day for me personally at Revolution
  • Katie and I taught together again on how to let go of your past
  • I loved hearing her share her story and how God’s grace has worked in her heart to release people from her past
  • If you missed it as we unpacked Colossians 3, you can listen to it here
  • This series has been awesome
  • So much excitement among women (and men) in our church about discovering what it means to be a beautiful woman of God
  • Katie and I are teaching at MOPS tomorrow on how to communicate and fight well
  • What is so sad about this topic is how few couples do this well
  • Yes, every couple fights
  • If you say you don’t, you are lying to me or yourself
  • It takes time to get good at communicating with your spouse, but if you don’t do it well, your marriage will either end or be miserable
  • I asked the leaders of MOPS to survey the women about questions they have or what they are struggling with and it was heartbreaking to read them
  • My first thought was I’d like to talk to their husbands
  • My second thought was I’d like to talk to the pastors of their husbands
  • If you are a pastor, step up to the plate and start calling the men in your church to task to be the men God created them to be
  • Watched the super bowl last night with some friends (and a few were Broncos fans)
  • I was hoping Peyton Manning would win, but that was a horrible game
  • Wow
  • All I could think was, “this is the best team in the AFC?”
  • I am starting a new coaching relationship today with Brian Howard
  • Really excited about what this means for me personally and for Revolution
  • I took one step closer to finalizing my book proposal over the weekend
  • So excited to get it into the hands of publishers and move forward with it
  • I started a new novel series over the weekend: The Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
  • Started with American Assassin
  • So far, really good
  • Excited for the end of the week, Paul and I are going to a multi-site conference in Phoenix
  • Definitely excited about learning how best to move forward in the coming year with planting a second Revolution Church
  • Pumped for Sunday as we wrap up Beautiful and look at Proverbs 31 and how to “find a wife worth having and becoming a woman worth being”
  • Going to be awesome
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The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons & Stages of Leadership Development

bookEvery Saturday, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons & Stages of Leadership Development by Robert Clinton.

I have had this book on my kindle for years and have heard about it from a number of leaders, but just recently got around to reading it. I actually took a group of younger leaders through it and as I was reading it, all I could think was, If I had read this sooner, I may have saved myself some leadership pain. 

In this book, Clinton lays out the stages a leader goes through to become the leader God intends them to be. He has 6 stages:

  1. Sovereign foundations: In Phase I, God providentially works foundational items into the life of the leader-to-be. Personality characteristics, experiences good and bad, and the time context will be used by God. The building blocks are there, though the structure being built may not be clearly in focus. Character traits are embedded.
  2. Inner-life Growth: In Phase II an emerging leader usually receives some kind of training. Often it is informal4 in connection with ministry. The leader-to-be learns by doing in the context of a local church or Christian organization. The basic models by which he or she learns are imitation modeling5 and informal apprenticeships,6 as well as mentoring. Sometimes it is formal training (especially if the person intends to go into full-time leadership) in a Bible school or seminary. 8 Sometimes, during the academic program, the person gets ministry experience.
  3. Ministry Maturing: In Phase III the emerging leader gets into ministry as a prime focus of life. He or she will get further training, informally through self-study growth projects or nonformally through functionally oriented workshops, etc.10 The major activities of Phase III are ministry. The training that goes on is rather incidental and often not intentional.
  4. Life Maturing: Phase IV will have this “you-minister-from-what-you-are” emphasis. During Phase IV the leader identifies and uses his or her gift-mix with power. There is mature fruitfulness. God is working through the leader using imitation modeling (Hebrews 13:7-8). That is, God uses one’s life as well as gifts to influence others. This is a period in which giftedness emerges along with priorities. One recognizes that part of God’s guidance for ministry comes through establishing ministry priorities by discerning gifts.
  5. Convergence: Phase V convergence occurs. That is, the leader is moved by God into a role that matches gift-mix, experience, temperament, etc. Geographical location is an important part of convergence. The role not only frees the leader from ministry for which there is no gift, but it also enhances and uses the best that the leader has to offer. Not many leaders experience convergence.
  6. Afterglow: Phase VI is the legacy leaders desire to leave, when they are able to bathe in what God has done.

According to Clinton, most leaders do not make it past stage 3.

The reason is simple. Young leaders when they get started, want to get started. The problem they run into is that stages 1-3 are all about the inner life of the leader. In those stages, God is working on the leader, in their heart developing them for the future. Very few books nail the inner life of a leader and help them work through what God is doing in their life without coming off as cliche, this book nails it.

I can’t recommend it enough for leaders.

Here are a few things that I highlighted:

  • Leadership is a lifetime of lessons.
  • The terms patterns, processes, and principles are foundational to understanding the analysis of a person’s life. Patterns deal with the overall framework, or the big picture, of a life. Processes deal with the ways and means used by God to move a leader along in the overall pattern. Principles deal with the identification of foundational truths within processes and patterns that have a wider application to leaders.
  • A proper, godly response allows a leader to learn the fundamental lessons God wants to teach. If the person doesn’t learn, he will usually be tested again in the same areas.
  • We minister out of what we are.
  • While all of life is used to shape us, some items in life can be tied more directly to leadership development.
  • The God-given capacity to lead has two parts: giftedness and character. Integrity is the heart of character.
  • An integrity check is a test that God uses to evaluate intentions in order to shape character.
  • There are three parts to an integrity check: the challenge to consistency with inner convictions, the response to the challenge, and the resulting expansion of ministry.
  • Because character development has many facets, there are a variety of integrity checks. This is a sampling of the many that I have identified: values (which determine convictions), temptation (which tests conviction), conflict against ministry vision (which tests faith), an alternative in guidance situations (which tests calling), persecution (which tests steadfastness), loyalty (which tests allegiance), and restitution (which tests honesty).
  • God won’t use a leader who lacks integrity.
  • God’s first priority in developing a leader is to refine his or her character.
  • A desire to please the Lord in a ministry task is a sign of maturity.
  • Leaders who have trouble submitting to authority will usually have trouble exercising spiritual authority.
  • authority insights and relational insights—rooted in the authority problem—may never be learned apart from conflict.
  • Leaders in the Ministry Maturing phase must learn to submit to authority in order to learn how to use authority properly.
  • Leadership backlash tests a leader’s perseverance, clarity of vision, and faith.
  • At the heart of leadership is communication between God and the leader.
  • Part of the development of spirituality includes what happens when a person faces isolation.
  • The qualities of love, compassion, empathy, discernment, and others are deepened. Such qualities dif ferentiate between a successful leader and a mature successful leader.
  • Leaders are often busy people. They are preoccupied with many facets of life and ministry. Often they do not notice that they are not growing, particularly in spiritual formation. God often breaks into the leader’s life at this point.
  • Isolation is one of the most effective means for maturing a leader.
  • Quality leadership does not come easily. It requires time, experience, and repeated instances of maturity processing.
  • Mature ministry flows from a mature character, formed in the graduate school of life.
  • God will vindicate spiritual authority.
  • Organizational change without ownership is treacherous.
  • All leaders operate from a ministry philosophy.
  • When God is trying to teach me a lesson, He will do so through many means. Important lessons are usually repeated.
  • In a power conflict the leader with higher power will usually win regardless of rightness of issue.
  • A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
  • Leaders with good ministry philosophies usually finish well.

The Importance of Organizational Culture

organizational culture, analysis and development concept

What an organizational culture does to a church:

  1. Culture shapes our lives and all our beliefs.
  2. Culture is vital to effective ministry.
  3. Our culture affects the way we conduct our ministries in the church.
  4. Culture helps us understand better the different people we seek to reach for Christ.
  5. Cultural understanding is essential to leaders if they are to lead their established churches well.
  6. Cultural understanding is essential to leaders if they are to lead their planted churches well.
  7. Culture may cannibalize strategic planning.
  8. Understanding culture helps the church cope with changes in its external environment.

From Look Before You Lead: How to Discern & Shape Your Church Culture by Aubrey Malphurs.


Preach the Word 2013: Preaching God’s Two Words || Justin Holcomb

bookI’m at the Preach the Word conference through Acts 29 today and as always, posting my notes to the sessions I attend.

One of the speakers is Justin Holcomb. His topic was an incredibly important theological topic when it comes to preaching: preaching God’s 2 words – law and gospel. Justin used Galatians 3:1 – 3, 10 – 14 as his text.

Justin is a pastor at Mars Hill Church, where he serves as Executive Director of The Resurgence and leads the Leadership Development department. He is also Adjunct Professor of Theology and Culture at Reformed Theological Seminary and previously taught at the University of Virginia. Justin holds two masters degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University. He and his wife Lindsey are the authors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault, and he his new book is On the Grace of God.

Here are some things that jumped out in his talk:

  • It is important to understand how law and gospel relate as both are from God. 
  • If we mess up the relationship between the law and the gospel, we are corrupting the core of the Christian faith.
  • When we miss this, we miss the core of the gospel.
  • We know from Scripture that Christ died to set us free.
  • Christ fulfilled the law perfectly.
  • Christ was raised from the dead for our justification.
  • We have been set free from the bondage of sin, the fear of death. We are called what Jesus was, pure and perfect.
  • The gospel has no condemnation.
  • Thesis 1: the doctrinal contents of the Holy Scripture, both of the Old Testament and the New Testament are made up of two doctrines different fundamentally from each other – the Law and the Gospel.
  • The law condemns and the gospel comforts.
  • The law is everything that commands, the gospel is everything that promises favor in Christ.
  • The problem is not with God’s law, but with us.
  • The law directs and the gospel delivers.
  • The 10 commandments are the summary of the law.
  • The law can’t heal what it diagnosis.
  • The law of God is perfect, true and righteous. It is holy, right and good.
  • The law can do nothing to create what it commands (Romans 7).
  • The function of the law is not to generate obedience, grace is.
  • God’s law and God’s gospel are two different words with two different functions.
  • The law tells us the truth but fails to convey the power to fulfill what it commands.
  • The gospel is the good news is that Jesus’ burden is light and there is no more “no” as that went to Jesus on the cross.
  • The gospel reveals God’s goodness, his mercy and his benefits.
  • Jesus took the law very seriously. He came to fulfill it, not abolish it.
  • Jesus summarizes the law in Matthew 22 by telling us to love God with all of us and love our neighbor as yourself.
  • Jesus commands love of God all the time.
  • Jesus doesn’t just summarizes the law, he intensifies it. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) is a great example of this. “You have heard it said…”
  • Jesus goes past the outward evidence of obedience to get to our heart.
  • Jesus’ call to be perfect is to give up what we worship so we can worship Jesus.
  • Thesis #2: Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and the Gospel.
  • Law and gospel go together and in that order.
  • When we use the law to look good, it isn’t to get what Jesus gives us.
  • We can’t have the law without the gospel, but we can’t have the gospel without the law.
  • Forgiveness means never bringing it up.
  • Don’t replace the ministry of the Holy Spirit with law or exhortations motivating the human spirit.
  • Your goal in preaching is not to motivate someone.
  • Exhortation is not yelling or shaming.
  • Thesis #3: Rightly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art of Christians in general and of theologians in particular. It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.
  • The only appropriate response to law and gospel is repentance.

Great opening session.

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. Forbes Magazine on The #1 reason leadership development fails.
  2. Brian Tracy on 7 habits of successful people.
  3. 4 simple things to keep in mind as you plan 2013.

Here’s a helpful video to get you started in 2013 on the art of stress-free productivity.

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

6 Qualities to Look for in Developing Leaders


Pastors and leaders are always on the lookout for younger leader to invest in. People who are worth developing, hiring, etc. At Revolution, one of our goals is to hire from within our church, to raise up pastors and leaders from within those who attend Revolution instead of outside of it.

In his book Relational IntelligenceSteve Saccone gives 6 qualities you should look for a leader worth developing, hiring or spending time with:

  1. Generative. They willingly serve others with a positive attitude of love and helpfulness, as they generate good. They consistently maintain a generative spirit as they strive to love others well. They embody what Jesus embodies – they live to serve, not to be served. They seek to give, not to take. They unselfishly offer their time for other people who in turn unselfishly give their time away for still others. And when necessary, they sacrifice for others with authentic, selfless love.
  2. Grateful. They value people’s time and resources and even express it. Thank you is part of their regular vocabulary. They see every ounce of investment that a person gives them as an undeserved gift. They don’t demand anything, and what others give is always more than enough.
  3. Teachable. They sustain a consistent humble posture, and a strong desire to grow. It’s not just that they want to learn knowledge; they open up their lives to learning from people through relationship, and their learning changes them. They are humble enough to receive advice, suggestions, and input from others.
  4. Missional. They live with conviction for their mission. They believe they have a calling, a significant contribution to make, and that something must be done to bring change in the world. They are focused and drive to pursue the cause they believe in.
  5. Strategic. They think wisely and intentionally about how to use their time well, rather than being cause or even flippant with how they spend it. They strive to expend their best efforts on people who can multiply their impact and advance their mission.
  6. Resilient. They are able to keep going when the going gets tough. Giving up is not an option. They realize that in order to accomplish their mission they must push through obstacles and challenges that hinder progress and forward movement. We want to invest in people who are going to be successful, and successful people don’t give up when it’s hard.

[Image Credit]

Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Effective Staffing for Vital Churches

On most Saturday afternoons, I share a review of the most recent book I’ve read.To see previous books I’ve reviewed, go here. This week’s book is Effective Staffing for Vital Churches (kindle version) by Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittian. In it, the authors seek to make the point that separates churches in terms of health and effectiveness can be found in their staffing cultures. Who they hire, how they hire staff, how that staff spends their time, how that staff does in terms of developing other leaders vs. doing all the ministry.

According to the authors, here’s what a staff does:

So what’s the purpose of staff? Simply put, the role of staff is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12 ESV). Staff creates an environment in which leaders at every level are equipped and encouraged to replicate the DNA of the church by living out their spiritual gifts. God built the church on the premise that every Christian has a gift and a calling to share with the world. It’s called the “priesthood of believers.” The role of staff is to ensure this happens.

Even before reading this book, I’ve made specific changes to how and who I spend my time with. The authors of this book largely backed this up with their research. A lead pastor should spend the majority of their time with:

  1. Younger, emerging leaders.
  2. No more then 4 staff members that report to them.
  3. Guests to the church.
  4. Those who don’t know Jesus.

Here’s why:

Effective coaches invest heavily in those who not only show promise, but who are committed to the leadership journey. That doesn’t mean the coach neglects those with less promise or commitment, but with limited time and resources wise leaders invest most heavily where the greatest return can be expected.

I realize how this sounds like it is uncaring or unloving in some way. At the end of the day, this mindset is what is best for the church and fulfills what God has called pastors to.

In a church under 500, the authors say a lead pastor should spend 70-80% of their people time in these areas to see the most effectiveness. Notice, this isn’t all their time, just the majority of their time. Many pastors fight against this and the authors point out, this is one of the reasons church aren’t as effective: leaders don’t hand ministry off to other leaders.

What I appreciated most about the book were the sections where the authors laid out the transitions a leader and a church must make as the church grows. This has been something I’ve been trying to learn more and more about as Revolution grows. What I did when we were a church of 50 people, then 150, now 250 and then what it looks like at 500 and beyond. One of the things the authors pointed out is many leaders and churches are not willing to change what they do or learn new things as the church grows and changes.

Overall, if you are looking for a resource on how a pastor should spend his time, hiring and firing staff, how to deploy staff in an effective way, this is a book worth picking up.

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. Craig Groeschel on Disrupt rhythms strategically.
  2. Someone needs to stop Pat Robertson.
  3. Darrin Patrick on Loving your wife and the mission.
  4. Men, here’s the most important meeting of the day.
  5. Mac Lake on The reason your church lacks leaders. Like all things in a church, if you want something to happen, you must be intentional.
  6. A kind wife.

Links I Like

  1. This looks delicious. Great summer grilling appetizer.
  2. Joe McKeever on The number one failure of 90% of pastors. Convicting post for leaders.
  3. 6 ways to develop leaders. Great insights into developing leaders.
  4. Tim Keller on The gospel vs. moralism. This framework has had a huge impact on my preaching in the last year.
  5. When you realize you have the comfortable life. If you are reading this, you have the comfortable life.