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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Book Notes | How to be Rich

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How to be Rich: It’s not What You Have. It’s What you do With What You Have by Andy Stanley is not your average financial or giving book.

It makes the point that if you live in America, you are rich. You part of the top 4% earners on the planet. The problem is that our culture has no idea “how to be rich.” We don’t know what to do with what we have. Stanley writes to a “bunch of have’s who live like have not’s.”

The problem he says is:

Examples we read or hear don’t really prove you’re rich, they only serve to convince you that you’re not poor. My hunch is you’re a lot richer than you realize. It just doesn’t feel like it. So let me give you a few more scenarios to consider. If I told you I was offering you a job with a salary of $37,000 a year, would you feel rich? Probably not. Chances are, you wouldn’t even be interested. A salary of $37,000 would represent a pay cut for most Americans. But for 96 percent of the world’s population, $37,000 a year would be a significant increase. Maybe there was a time when that sounded like a lot of money to you. And it should. In fact, if you earn more than $37,000 a year, you are in the top 4 percent of wage earners in the world! Congratulations! You are in the 4 percent club. You are rich! Yet I’m guessing this startling realization didn’t cause you to leave the comfort of your couch to dance around the room. But you should have. On the world’s scale, you should have no problems at all, other than a handful of rich-person problems. Problems that the majority of folks on this planet would love to have. Bad cell phone coverage? That’s a rich-people problem. Can’t decide where to go on vacation? Rich-people problem. Computer crashed? Slow Internet? Car trouble? Flight delays? Amazon doesn’t have your size? All rich-people problems. Next time there’s a watering ban in your neighborhood, just remember that many people, mostly women, carry jugs on their heads for hundreds of yards just so they can have water for cooking and drinking. They can’t imagine a place where there’s so much extra water that house after house just sprays it all over the ground. Feeling guilty? I hope not. That’s not my purpose. On the contrary, I’m hoping our time together leaves you feeling grateful.

This book is a great resource for that.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • We always had enough. But rich is about having more than enough. We had what we needed. But rich is about having more than you need. Rich is about having extra. Isn’t it?
  • Rich is the other guy. Rich is that other family. Rich isn’t just having extra. Rich is having as much extra as the person who has more extra than you do. Rich is having more than you currently have. If that’s the case, you can be rich and not know it. You can be rich and not feel it. You can be rich and not act like it. And that is a problem.
  • Most rich people aren’t all that good at being rich.
  • The richer you get, however, the more your priorities begin to separate from actual needs. When all of our basic requirements are met, our appetites for progress don’t turn off. We simply turn from the things we need to the things we want. And that’s when we enter the world of the subjective. Wants are harder to define. And easier to confuse.
  • We’re so absorbed in the effort to get rich, we no longer recognize when we are rich.
  • In our Western culture today, we observe a five-day workweek. Think about what that means. Most people have to work only five days in order to have seven days’ worth of food and shelter and clothing and health care. We take it for granted. But that’s unique to our little window in history. And it’s still not the case everywhere. What’s more, there are households of three, four, or more people that send only one person out into the workplace to earn money. And with that one person’s earnings, the entire family can amass enough money in five days to give them food and shelter for seven days. In many cultures, that’s inconceivable. Outside of work, that leaves at least fifty hours per week for nothing but leisure.
  • “Rich” is a moving target. No matter how much money we have or make, we will probably never consider ourselves rich. The biggest challenge facing rich people is that they’ve lost their ability to recognize that they’re rich.
  • People who are good at being rich are the ones who are willing to admit they are, in fact, rich. Until you relax into the reality that you are rich, you will never become intentional about getting good at it.
  • Simply possessing wealth doesn’t make you good at managing it.
  • Being good at being rich is not just a matter of deciding what to do with your money. You must also concern yourself with what your money is doing with you — or, more accurately, to you.
  • Money has an effect on its owners. And that effect, in turn, alters the way they see and handle not just money, but everything else as well. Everything. And while we’re at it — everybody.
  • The key, as the old saying goes, is to possess money without it possessing you.
  • Wealth has its own gravitational pull. It will always draw those who have it in the direction of those two things. It is in this way that wealth eventually possesses its possessors.
  • The problem with a word like generosity is that it’s as hard to define as the word rich. In fact, just as nobody thinks he’s rich, everybody thinks he’s generous.
  • When you make giving a priority, something happens inside of you. Especially when it’s financially challenging to do so.
  • Without a plan, giving is sporadic at best.

I was really challenged by this book and how I look at what I have. Good heart work for me.

To see other book notes, click here.

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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.

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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.

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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Brandon Ambrosino on Being against gay marriage doesn’t make you a homophobe.

As a gay man, I found myself disappointed with this definition—that anyone with any sort of moral reservations about gay marriage is by definition anti-gay. If Raushenbush is right, then that means my parents are anti-gay, many of my religious friends (of all faiths) are anti-gay, the Pope is anti-gay, and—yes, we’ll go here—first-century, Jewish theologian Jesus is anti-gay. That’s despite the fact that while some religious people don’t support gay marriage in a sacramental sense, many of them are in favor of same-sex civil unions and full rights for the parties involved. To be sure, most gay people, myself included, won’t be satisfied until our loving, monogamous relationships are graced with the word “marriage.” But it’s important to recall that many religious individuals do support strong civil rights for the gay members of their communities.

Bruce Wesley on The arrogance and impatience of church planters.

The future of church planting requires a commitment to weed out arrogance and impatience in the men who plant churches. A church might get started with an arrogant and impatient leader, but it will not grow healthy with such a leader.

Jon Acuff on 4 tips for men to take better selfies.

10 things you did not know about the movie “Elf.”

The Will Ferrell holiday classic ‘Elf’ wasn’t supposed to be a hit. Despite being a heartwarming comedy released around the holiday season, it had several things going against it before the filmmakers had a chance to start shooting.

Christmas iBand