Category: Leadership (page 1 of 30)

The 5 Cs of a Catalytic Leadership Meeting

Meetings are a part of our lives. They’re inevitable. If you work, volunteer, or just live life, you’re going to be meeting with people.

I serve as a pastor, which might make you think I work one day/week. And if that’s what you think…you’d be wrong. I lead meetings with the team I serve, and with the volunteer team that I build in to. I’m a part of meetings every single day. And if you’re a leader, you’re often organizing, planning, inviting, and facilitating meetings, too. Multiple ones every week. Sometimes, multiple ones each day.

I don’t have time for meaningless meetings. Neither do you. I don’t want more meetings for the sake of meetings. I want meetings to be purposeful, and take us somewhere. I want action items. I want vision. I want inspiration. I want connection.

Here are a few vitals you need to keep in mind if you lead leaders. If you lead followers, maybe there are some principles in here you can skip. But if you want to lead leaders well, you’ve got to keep these things in mind.

The 5 Cs of Leadership Meetings

Calibrate

Always have an agenda. Know what you need to report out on since the last meeting, or since the last project began/completed. Make sure everyone is clear on where you’re at, and where the meeting is headed. This is also the chance to honor the work you put in to the last meeting, and not overlook celebrating what was done, and filling in the holes of what still needs to be finished. Meetings aren’t just about the new and shiny objects you’ve got in front of you. They’re about making sure you did what you said you’d do last time.

If you skip this step, the meeting will feel scattered.

Cast vision

Why are you having this meeting? Where is your team headed? What’s coming up? What goals are you driving towards? Make sure you paint a big picture, and not just jump to the tactical, logistical side of leadership. If you overlook this step, you’ll create a bunch of worker bees that burn out.

If you skip this step, leaders will dry up. 

Create action steps

This is the part where assignments are made, and the vision begins to take shape. Give deadlines, specific roles, and accountability. People should always leave a meeting knowing what the expectations are. I’m also of the opinion that everyone should leave with “homework,” objectives to complete before the next time you meet. This helps keep meetings from becoming a “we’re just meeting because we’ve always met,” focusing them around the idea that there’s work to get done, and we each have a hand in accomplishing our vision.

If you skip this step, your team will never feel like they’re going anywhere.

Care

It’s easy for the above to feel tactical. Make sure you give space for leaders to share a bit of what’s going on in their lives. You know what I know about leaders? They lead everywhere they go. Oftentimes, they “don’t have time” to care for their soul, and those they lead sure don’t pick up that banner. If leadership is about serving others, this is vital to a thriving team.

If you skip this step, your team will feel like you’re only for their productivity, and not for them as a person.

Coffee

I mean, come on. You can’t have a meeting without coffee. The principle is this: serve them something. Provide a snack. Water. Coffee. Tea. This helps people feel engaged, loved, served, and cared for.  And it gives them something to do in those awkward pre-meeting-what-do-I-talk-about-I-don’t-know-so-I’ll-just-drink-this-coffee moments.

If you skip this step, people will fall asleep.
Any meetings vitals you’d add?
 

Powerful words leaders say

You’ve probably worked for some great leaders. Ones that empowered and encouraged you. Ones that helped you accomplish more, and be a better leader yourself. They made you feel like your team could tackle anything. And it’s often been from words they spoke to you or about you.

And you’ve worked for some terrible ones. Leaders that made life more difficult. That made you question everything about yourself, and the project you’re working on. That made you afraid every time you opened your email, stepped in to a meeting, or answered your phone.

A leader has tremendous power with their words. Power to build up or tear down. Power to move others to action. Power to paralyze.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. – James 3:3-5

Here are words I’ve been personally told, or have heard said to others. I cringed. Maybe these are words you’ve heard…or said.

Damaging words

You’re worthless.
What were you thinking?
This is typical.
I’m the boss.
If you fail, it’s on you.
I’ve got to tear you down so I can build you up.
One more little mistake and I don’t know what we can do with you.
Failure isn’t an option.
There’s no recovering from this.
You don’t know what you’re doing.
We need results, not relationships.
You ought to feel lucky just to have a job here.
You’re too young to know…
You’re too old to know…

On the flip side, words bring life. I’ve literally felt weight come off of my shoulders as I’ve heard some of these. I’ve walked into a meeting feeling burdened…and stepped out feeling like I can take on the world. Others won’t always remember what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.

Life Giving Words

I’ll go first.
Let’s go together.
If you lose, we lose.
I’ve got your back.
I believe in you.
You be you.
How can I help?
You are so valuable here.
Thank you.
You’re incredible with ____ (be specific).
What do you need from me?
If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.
What barriers are you facing that I can tackle for you?
What do you need to know to do your job better?

I recognize, though, that there are times when a change needs to happen. I just *naively* believe that it can be done in such a way to honor a person, and help them grow without damaging their identity and causing them to run from the faith and from your organization. Basically, the goal here is to listen and learn before you speak.

Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being stupid and insulting. The first person to speak in court always seems right until his opponent begins to question him.  – Proverbs 18:13, 17

Words to help steer the ship without sinking it

Help me understand…
What do you see as the crux of the issue?
Help me see the fuller picture
What piece of this am I missing?
What resources do you need to win?
Is there a different seat on this bus that you’d thrive in?
What are the things you LOVE to do?
Who can we surround you with that can help you succeed?

Leaders exist to serve others. Your words carry immense weight. Weight that can put wind in sails, steer a ship, or sink it.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. – Paul, Galatians 5:13

Use your words wisely, and build your organization well by serving others well.

 

To be an effective leader, stop wasting your time

This is a flea market. Notice all of the junk. Randomly priced, randomly placed, randomly assorted junk. The highest priced item here: $7.50. (It’s also a picture of my son’t handiwork. “Hey dad…*snicker*…see what I did to that little wooden…*snicker*…mannequin…*snicker*?”)

Below is a picture from the next table over. Seriously, within just a few feet I saw a “Royal Albert China Dinner and Tea Set” for $850. I’m not saying it’s not worth that price tag…I honestly have no idea what, if anything, it’s worth.

 

Someone kept these for a long time. They spent a lot of money on them. Probably moved with them a time or two. Took extra time and care to store them. And probably rarely (if ever) used them. Now they’re sitting at a flea market, not selling. Because you can’t sell $850 dishes beside a $.28 button.

It’s sad, really. I feel bad for the person that bought them, the one that stored them, the one that didn’t use them, the one that transported them across town to the flea market, and the one that’s (not) selling them now.

Individual leadership

I bet there’s something you’re doing right now that, when you look back on your life in 20 years, is really a waste of time. You’re moving boxes of expensive dishes (your most valuable resource is your time) that you’re going to try to sell later, that nobody wants to buy.

  • There’s a book you’re reading that isn’t helping you. Put it down.
  • There’s a habit you’ve got that leaves you more irritable and less patient with people. Stop it.
  • There’s a relationship you have that is moving you further from who God made you to be. Change it.
  • There’s a side hustle you’re juggling that sucks the life out of you. Time to cut the cord.
  • Your “relaxing” time doesn’t leave you recharged. You can do better.

Life’s too short to protect expensive dishes you don’t want.

Organizational leadership

Church leaders, make sure the “programs” and initiatives you’re starting don’t just appease people’s itching ears, but actually lead them somewhere. Just because people ask for it doesn’t mean you have to do it. And on the flip side, be careful putting your time and energy towards what you think is nice without seeing if people want it.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. – Paul, 2 Timothy 4:3

Know where you’re taking people, understand WHO you’re trying to produce, and relentlessly pursue that. Stop having people do things that simply keep them, and you, busy with activity but don’t actually help them become the Jesus follower you’re trying to lead them to become.

Good pastors don’t just exegete the Scriptures, they exegete their people. In other words, good pastors don’t just spend time trying to know, understand, love, and unpack the truths found in the Bible. They work equally hard to know, understand, love, and unpack the people God’s called them to lead, and the unique vision God’s called their local congregation to. One without the other short-changes both. To love the Scriptures but not people makes you into a Bible-thumper. It also means you’ve not obeyed the most important command in Scripture: love others as yourself.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Jesus, Mark 12:30-31

It’s hard to know when you’re doing this, though, and whether the programs and processes you have in place are working. Maybe try asking a couple of questions of those you’re leading:

  • Because of ____ (program, event, etc.), are you closer to Jesus?
  • Are you growing more patient or more irritable with people, as a result of ___?
  • Are you finding yourself more or less courageous with your faith?
  • Do you find yourself more available emotionally, spiritually, and physically for your family, and those closest to you, because of ___?

People will be honest, especially when it comes to how they spend their time and resources. It may just be that that recreation ministry makes you happy, but isn’t helping your church become more faithful followers of Jesus.

Can we all agree to not become, or continue practices that produce, expensive dishes that nobody wants to buy?

 

 

5 truths to remember when you move

My family and I have transitioned more times than we would have liked. Each move has been difficult for one reason or another. And each has brought an abundance of joy for one reason or another. We’ve moved

  • from home
  • from a church we loved
  • from a state we loved
  • from a beach we loved
  • to a different city
  • to a different state
  • from the South to the West
  • with kids
  • without kids
  • with help from a moving company
  • with just our own backs

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In our 13 years of marriage, my wife and I have moved 8 times. The WHY (and how to know we were ready to move) is another post for another day. But we’ve learned a few things about making a transition. It doesn’t mean we’re experts by any means. But maybe what we’ve learned can help you if you have a move coming up.

First of all, I’m going to presume God’s in it. Moving is difficult enough. Don’t go anywhere unless you’ve wrestled that one to the ground.

So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the LORD to stay in the land of Judah. – Jeremiah 43:4

 

“The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.'” – Deuteronomy 1:6

But if you’ve already made a move (or at least made up your mind that it’s time), here are 5 things you must remember if you want to land well. And I know you do. You don’t want to burn out yourself or others. You don’t want to be in your role for a couple of months and hate it.

You know there’s more that goes in to a move besides your job, right? That is typically what will move you, but not what will sustain you. That’s the part of the iceberg you see, not the 90% that’s below the water.

5 truths about moving

Remember: unpacking every box right away isn’t the most important thing.

Yes, you want to feel settled. Yes, you want your home to be less cluttered. Yes, you want to find that pan  you just KNOW you packed in the box with the rest of the pans but it’s not there. But believe me when I say that unpacking everything right away isn’t of utmost importance. You’ll have plenty of time to settle in. Plenty of time to hang those pictures. Just breathe. Unpack a couple of boxes every day. You’ll get there. But putting pressure on yourself to do it all in the first week is a recipe for a quick burnout…and a lot of counseling sessions down the road.

Remember: do the thing you love, that brings you joy and life.

For my wife and me, we love CrossFit. Are there “more important things” than finding the gym where we can work out? Sure. Can we just work out at home and do our own thing for a while? Sure. Do we HAVE to quickly find the CrossFit box where we want to work out? I’d actually say, “Yes.” For us, we CrossFit every day. It’s our physical outlet, and the way we push ourselves physically and mentally every day. It’s our community. They’re our people. It’s our daily release. I’m not sure what yours is. Maybe it’s coffee. Maybe it’s basketball. Maybe it’s a book club. Maybe it’s bunco. Find that *thing* that brings you life, and that gives you a semblance of routine, and do that QUICKLY.

Remember: integrate yourself…don’t wait for others to do it.

Yes, you’re the new girl. And everyone wants to get to know you. But don’t wait for them to do it. Introduce yourself first. Walk the halls. Invite yourself to coffee. Be genuinely curious about people, what they love, and how long they’ve been doing what you’re doing. Don’t put the burden of responsibility on everyone else. Take some initiative.

Remember: you’ve got to keep relationships alive.

You’re the one that left, after all. Text, call, FaceTime, send notes, send gifts. Don’t expect that everyone is pining for you. If you want to maintain friendship, that’s on you. And you need it! There are a handful of relationships that will span the moves and the years. Hang on to those and fight for them.

Remember: give yourself grace.

Did you know that it takes somewhere between 2-3 years to feel settled? If you feel a bit uneasy and out of sorts in the first few months, know you’re normal. In some of our moves, we felt like we’ve moved to a different country. Yes, we spoke the same language…but besides that, EVERYTHING felt weird. Every 6 months felt like a new window was opened, that let a little more light in. As relationships formed and routines were carved out, a new state will begin to feel like home. But it takes time! So give yourself grace to feel sad. To feel lonely. And to feel like a fish out of water.

Have you ever made a transition? Anything you’d add?

 

5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my kids

As a family, we spend a lot of time together. It’s a value for us, honestly. Some people would say quality time is most important, but we say that quality time is only found when you spend quantity time together.
And because we spend such a vast amount of time together, we experience a lot of everything: lots of laughs, tears, and joy. Lots of light moments and plenty of teachable ones. Moments of quiet and long stretches of seemingly meaningless noise from the back seat. And while “learning” mostly flows one direction (my wife and I are always looking for opportunities to teach our children truth), the waters flow the other direction from time to time, too. Here are a few things I’ve learned recently from my kids.

5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my children

1. Don’t root your identity in what people think

My daughter is a wild child. She vacillates between high highs and low lows, and everything in between…all in the span of 5 minutes. But one thing is certain: she isn’t affected by what you think of her. If you think she’s funny, great. If you don’t, great. If you agree with what she’s doing, great. If not, great. And while some of that behavior we as parents are working on, there’s something beautiful about not being swayed by the shifting thoughts of others.
think she cares what you think? Nope.

think she cares what you think? Nope.

The more you care about others’ opinion of you, the more you find yourself chained by them. What do you see on this spaghetti-smeared face? Pure joy.
Confession: sometimes I care too much what other will think.
Truth: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. – Proverbs 29:25

2. Have fun

My son just loves to have fun. Where ever he is, whatever he’s doing, he’s looking to enjoy life, and pull others in to his vortex. Seriously, whether he’s at school, church, or in the front yard, he’s constantly gathering people together to play, laugh, and enjoy life.
Check out the one kid on the left that's dabbing. The. One. Kid.

Check out the one kid on the left that’s dabbing. The. One. Kid.

 

Confession: Sometimes I get lost in tasks.
Truth: “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” – Solomon, Ecclesiastes 8:15

3. Take risks

My kids take risks. All of the time. Some   Many of them are dumb. But that never slows them down from taking another risk that might end in them falling flat on their faces. Maybe we could learn something from them. Maybe we play it too safe, under the guise of “I might look foolish” or “I might not succeed.”
Confession: Sometimes I lean towards comfort.
Truth: Where there is no risk, there is no faith.

4. Love quickly

Both of my children are quick to love and trust others. I’ve found that the older I get, the more I’m tempted to be slow to trust. They have a short memory, while mine is a little longer. As I’ve seen my trust of others broken, it makes me a little hesitant. I’m learning from my kids that relational risks are worth the potential downside.
Confession: Sometimes I struggle to trust after it’s been broken.
Truth: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus, John 13:35

5. Tell people what to do all of the time

Oh, wait…that’s just my daughter. And I’m not applying that one. 🙂
 

6 Leadership truths we can learn from Legos

4016.

That’s the number of pieces in the Lego set my son and I are building. It’s called the Death Star, and it’s even more epic than I anticipated. He saved his money for a long time to get it, and it hasn’t disappointed. Every single day, Rex asks if we can build a little more of it. So naturally, I’ve used it as the hook to “finish your homework then we can build a little.”

All 4016 pieces...with one happy boy

All 4016 pieces…with one happy boy

I love the time spent with my son, using our minds and our hands together. It’s good for his development, and for mine. It’s good for our relationship. And I’ve found that we can have meaningful discussions about the most important things in life while we’re working together…even more so than if we were to sit down and have a face-to-face talk. Boys seem to respond better talking side-by-side.

But enough about that.

Did you know that you can learn a little about leadership development* from Legos? (actually, you can learn a bit about leadership from almost every aspect of life if you look for it)

6 Leadership Development Truths Legos teach

1. They don’t build themselves. No Lego set has ever spontaneously built itself.

No person has ever built themselves either. There are no truly self-made men/women. We are all a product of the communities where we live: our city, our church, the 5 people closest to us, our small group, our hobbies, our experiences, etc.
If you want to grow in your leadership, surround yourself with people who lead like you want to lead.

2. It’s as much about the process as it is the destination. We’re having as much fun building the set as we will ever have with the set once it’s “done.”

Development happens in the doing, not simply in the “learning.” It’s as you lead that you learn to lead. Books, seminars, and Ted talks can only take you so far. I’ve heard it said that “community” is both a goal and the means of achieving the goal, of the Church. The same is true of leadership development.
Leadership development is both the goal and the means of achieving it.

3. The destination is vital. Without instructions, the Lego set is a bunch of mismatched pieces.

Knowing what you’re developing towards is important, otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels. But when you have a destination in mind, it gives you the freedom to know what to say yes to…and what to turn down. It points you in the direction you need to go. We are all lumps of clay in the hand of the potter, who makes of us something beautiful and useful, giving our daily grind purpose and meaning.
Without a destination, you’ll hit it every time.

4. Improvisation is crucial. We’ve lost so many of those pieces. And a blue 2×2 just adds character where a light gray 2×2 should be.

Leadership development is not simply a series of formulas you follow. You can’t check all of the boxes and magically be developed. The development happens as you improvise throughout life. That’s called wisdom.
Leadership is a purpose-driven art.

5. There’s a special tool for when you make mistakes. I love that Lego assumes you’ll make mistakes.

IMG_6019Our development will be fraught with mistakes. And there’s a tool we need day after day after day: grace. Grace for others. And grace for ourselves. Grace that we’re not perfect, nor will we ever be. (there’s also a proactive tool to help us make fewer mistakes: constantly learning)

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

6. It’s never done. There’s always another piece you can add to make it more awesome. And over time it breaks down, revealing more holes.

Leadership development isn’t a “thing” you put on your to-do list. It’s a process that changes throughout life, in different seasons, ups and down, highs and lows. Different seasons expose different weaknesses that invite more development.

Have the end in mind, but remember that the best leaders are always in development.

*another word for “leadership development” is discipleship. Because we’re called as followers of Jesus to be disciples, constantly learning and growing in the way we know, love, follow, and lead others to do the same.

 

Running on empty

When I started driving at age 16, I bought a little Toyota Tercel. It was old at the time. It was a little beat up, and if you wanted to make it up a big hill you had to turn the A/C off. But I didn’t care. I was proud of that thing.

I remember one day pulling in to a gas station to get a drink. I had half of a tank of gas left, but figured that since I was there, I might as well fill up. I noticed it took longer than normal to fill up. Thinking it was just a slow pump, I went on.  A couple of weeks later, I was still at 3/4 of a tank but decided to fill up again. It took a long time again.

empty

empty

As I pulled out, the gauge jumped from full to empty to full. I pulled over to the side of the road.

I didn’t know what was going on, and I was just praying I would make it home. As I looked down at the gas gauge again, it was full. Completely.

And I was confused. Completely.

The next day, I was on empty again. But before I could pull in to the station, the needle had gone back to full.

What was happening was the mechanism that controlled the needle telling me how much gas I had in the tank was broken. So on a 10 minute drive across town, I would go from full to empty a dozen times. It was maddening. And anxiety-producing.

When I thought I was full of gas, I’d been running on empty.

Are you running on fumes?

It’s entirely possible that you’re running on fumes but you don’t know it. It’s possible you could be out of fuel but think you’ve got a full tank. Cruising around town, you’re about to have to call a tow truck.

If you’re a leader, you’re in an even greater danger of not just taking yourself out of service, but taking others with you. 

God has given us some gauges to help us know whether our spiritual tanks are full or not.

Sometimes they are broken (though more often than not, the problem is that we choose to ignore the warning signs). I’ve found that some of the best gauges are actually questions you can ask yourself.

5 ways to know you’re running on empty

1. How’s your family?
Start with this question. Because your family (or those closest to you) know you often better than you know yourself. And they’re a great indicator for you. If they’re worn out, but you don’t feel that way, your gauge might be broken. You may be physically, emotionally, and spiritually running them ragged. Check that gauge.

Our hearts deceive ourselves, and we need others to help us see what we’re blind to. Those that know us best can help. Have you ever asked them?

2. Are you growing more anxious?
The Bible says to be anxious about nothing, (Philippians 4:6-7) which is easier said than done. We can easily find ourselves anxious about everything. Finances, job security, spiritual growth, physical health, parenting issues, retirement, and tomorrow’s to-do list keep you up all night.

If you’re growing anxious, you’re running on empty.

3. Are you growing less patient?
Patience is a sign of peace. And peace is a sign of rest. And rest is a product of  intentionally sabbathing.

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city. – Proverbs 16:32

If you find yourself with a short fuse, with patience constantly out of reach, you’re closer to *empty* than you think.

4. Are you resting well?

And I don’t just mean “are you sleeping enough,” though that may be part of it.

Are you working so hard you need the rest? And resting so well you need the work?

5. Are you feeling less fulfilled?
Fulfillment comes from doing what God created you to do. That’s based on your spiritual gifts, your heart, your abilities, your personality and experiences (HN: Class 301 at Saddleback). So your interpreting a lack of fulfillment isn’t your job’s fault. Or your marriage’s. Or your local church’s. Or your home’s. It’s a by-product of a heart that’s searching for fulfillment in the wrong places. Here’s where life’s found:

And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. – The Apostle John, 1 John 5:11-12

A lack of fulfillment should signal to you that your gauge should be on empty. Time to fill  up.

Have you been running on empty and didn’t even know it?

 

 

The “superhero” you

I love superhero movies. There’s something fun about getting lost in the fantasy world of capes, masks, and gargantuan fists. To see someone climb up the side of a building gets me stoked. To see someone smash the ground so hard it causes an earthquake makes me smile. And through a series of unforeseen, never-could’ve-guessed-it plot twists and turns that are completely predictable, the good guys win. I like that.

IMG_3775

Well hello Smiling Thor Captain America Hatchet Man!

It’s fantasy in all the right ways.

I’m not always looking for a drama. I like to watch movies for the escape value. Life’s hard enough, so why be reminded about it on a 20-foot HD screen with surround sound? Can I get an “amen!”?

But when it comes to real life, there’s inherent danger in wearing a mask though it might be more fun and “safer.” It’s “easier” for me to pretend like everything’s always ok in my life. It’s easier for me to wear the mask of

  • I’ve always got the answer
  • My kids are perfectly well behaved
  • I don’t struggle with “normal people” things
  • Life’s easy
  • “I’m doing great!”
  • I’m coping really well

Why we wear masks

There’s a gap between who you are and who you want to be. And this is a universal truth. As I look across my life, there is so much that I wish I could do. So many areas where I wish I was better, stronger, more articulate, and a better leader. So many areas that I wish I’d matured in.

There’s a gap between who I am and who I want to be. And I’m not alone in this.

I look at their marriage and wish mine were more like that. I look at the way they parent and realize I’m not where I need to be. I see their leadership and am quickly reminded I’m not as strong as them. I see the way they handle adversity and notice I’m not able to do what they do. I watch they way they navigate complexity and chaos and wish I were different. I see the way they speak, they write, they excel, and realize I’m not them.

My gap is wider than yours in certain areas. And narrower in others. In some areas of my life, I have a gap where you don’t. But we all have gaps. So we try to cover those with a superhero mask. Because superheroes are strong where we wish we were. Superheroes can overcome anything. And they always win.

They aren’t scared. They can take a bullet. They can fly, climb, and throw cars to save people. Everybody loves them. Kids want to dress up like them for Halloween.

Nobody’s ever wanted to dress up like me for Halloween.

4 Truths about masks

It’s easy to compare others’ strengths to our weaknesses.

When we look at others strengths, it’s easy to compare what they’re great at with what we’re weak at. And that’s not fair. God’s given you strengths so you can use them to serve others. If we were strong in everything, we may be tempted to think we don’t need God.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10

Others’ strengths aren’t your strengths. Your weakness isn’t theirs. So stop comparing.

Gaps call us to faith.

The gaps we see in life can’t be crossed on their own. And the gap between who we are and who we want to be can be an awfully large chasm that isn’t traversed overnight.

It’s hard to exercise faith when the skies are blue and we feel like we can “handle” everything. When we’re weak, unsure how and where to take the next step, we can grow in our faith.

If you look across your life and don’t see any gaps, be scared. Because your faith isn’t growing. And you’re probably looking in the wrong direction.

Exercise some faith and grow.

The world needs you. Not the you with a mask.

People are more endeared to you through your weaknesses than through your strengths. Because they have weaknesses, too! In fact, Paul the apostle says

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

If you want to fully embrace grace, and fully embrace the power of the One that rose from the dead, take that mask off. After all, you’re not fooling anyone.

Ever tried boasting about your weaknesses?

You are deeply known AND deeply loved.

You are known by God more fully than anyone on this planet. God even knows you better than you know yourself. And as deeply and fully as you are know, you are loved.

It’s impossible to be fully loved without being fully known. But most of us walk around in fear that if we’re fully known, we won’t  be fully loved. Thankfully, that’s not the case with God. He knows our weaknesses. Our joys. Our tendencies to mess things up. He knows our past and our future. Yet still He loves us.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! – God (Isaiah 43:1)

Live in that.

 

6 Leadership Principles I learned by being a tourist

Two major shifts happen when you make the transition from “tourist” to “resident.”

  • A place starts to feel like home. Which is good. You grow comfortable. You feel safe.
  • A place starts to feel like home. Which is bad. You grow comfortable. You feel safe.

Safety is good, as long as you don’t rot. Home is good as long as you don’t spend all of your time lazing on your couch.

Recently, we traveled about 350 miles from our home in California, to the state of Arizona. The place we went was a desert, with temperatures hitting 116 degrees Fahrenheit while we were there. But let me tell you, it was one of the most beautiful parts of the country we had ever visited. The mountains, the cacti, the wildlife, and the colors were simply stunning.

IMG_0478

While we were there, we acted like tourists. Because we were. We took tons of pictures, drove all over the place, and stared way too long at rocks. Everything was different, new, and alive.

And in the process of being tourists, I learned a couple of things we naturally did as a newbie to the area that translate to leadership.

Tourists are curious.
Leadership: Be genuinely curious. Curiosity is the pursuit of something previously unknown to you. Be curious when it comes to potential solutions, new systems, and ideas. Approach problems as if it’s your first time there. Not your first time on Earth…use your intelligence. But be curious.

Tourists ask a lot of questions
Leadership: Ask questions constantly. This is how you’ll learn people’s motives, direction, and desires. Questions uncover truths, and get to the bottom of difficult situations much more effectively than when you come in and “have all of the answers.” Questions don’t put people on the defensive, but give them a chance to safely share.

Tourists search out new things
Leadership: Never be content with, ‘But we’ve always done it this way…’ Every new, shiny object isn’t worth pursuing, but be on the lookout for ideas, systems, and directions outside of your box.

Tourists are amazed with the ‘ordinary.’
As a tourist, you notice more about a place than a resident notices. Your eyes aren’t glossed over by the mundane everyday passings of life.
Leadership: Joy fuels ministry. Never lose the “why” behind the “what.” For us as Saddleback, we work to continually gather stories of life change, and share those with one another. It reminds us why we do what we do.

Tourists continually learn.
I picked up pamphlets. I Googled stuff. I sat and listened to tour Guides.
Leadership: Leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop leading. Read books, listen to podcasts, go to conferences, and stretch your mind to think, dream, and strategize.

Tourists explore.
Leadership: Go do something new. If you’ve got a problem you’re facing in leadership, going about solving it the same way you tried last time is foolishness. You’re not going to get different results. (side note: if you don’t have any problems in leadership, just quit. Because your job isn’t necessary anymore. Leadership is needed when there’s a problem.)

The safety and security that comes when your role starts to feel like “home” is something we strive for. But the danger is that the feeling of comfort would lead us to laziness, a lack of curiosity, and half-hearted work.

So take your feet off the couch and go exploring.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Paul, Colossians 3:23-24

In your leadership, are you a tourist or a resident?

 

Rules were made to be broken…maybe

Rules were made to be broken. Maybe.

Every culture and organization has rules. Spoken and unspoken, these rules provide safety, security, and a roadmap through which everybody walks.

No Fishing Sign

image credit: activerain.com

Rules aren’t evil. They’re set in place by people with the best of intentions in order to guide the culture towards the vision.

Sometimes, the rules win, and we’re broken by them. Sometimes we win, and the rules are broken by us. [tweet that]

We leaders have a responsibility. Because what they do, others follow, whether positively or negatively.

Followers don’t have the same influence as leaders. Sure, they can break, or follow, the rules. And sure, there are consequences on both sides of either decision.

But it’s leaders that shape a culture’s values by the way they handle rules. [tweet that]

When I was on staff at Grace, I remember one of the “rules” was that we were supposed to follow was when we hosted our connection event. “The best time for this is during the week,” we were told. But if our aim was to connect the maximum number of people, we wanted to offer this event at the time when the maximum number of people were present: during the weekend services. So we broke the rules, hosted it immediately following a weekend service, and doubled the number of people we connected to small groups.

At Saddleback right now, we’re in a church wide small groups campaign. One “rule” we broke was offering a 2nd pickup location for curriculum on our main patio. We didn’t change just for the sake of change. We had the vision in mind: to offer a high level of customer service to people who were starting new small groups.

Leaders shape the rules, while others follow. Which is a great responsibility.

Sometimes the rules need to be changed.

They need to be broken, or bent, or completely rewritten. Maybe they’ve stopped serving their intended purpose. Maybe they’re hindering growth. Maybe it’s time for your culture to move past them. Leaders recognize this, and find a way to mobilize others to shape the rule.

Sometimes the rules need to be enforced.

They need to be returned to their original aim. Rules can at times be broken for the wrong reasons, and leaders recognize when this has caused a cultural shift. Leading the way by following the rules can often take as much (or even more) courage as breaking them. And it’s often much less sexy.

But how do you know whether to follow, or break, the rules?

Wisdom.

Wisdom understands and sees the vision, and heads towards it despite all costs. Break the rules, keep the rules, but at all costs, let wisdom drive you head first towards the vision. [tweet that]

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown. – Proverbs 4:7-9

Is there a rule you need to break today?

 
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