Tag: pride

9 Statements that will Destroy your Small Group

Small Groups3

image credit: CreationSwap user George Webster

You don’t want your small group to fail. That’s not why you got into this. You want your group to succeed. You want people to grow and thrive in your group.

You want your group to be the one that people can’t wait to show up to. The one they talk to their friends about. The one that, in 10 years, they look back on and say, “That group changed my life.”

You don’t want people to dread your small group every week. To feel like they just have to come. To view it as a waste of time. To be the group of which they say, “Don’t join a small group. Mine is terrible.”

There’s a certain amount of your group’s success that you can’t control. God’s going to choose to bless or not. He’s going to sovereignly inspire group members to engage…or not. His hand of favor will be there…or not.

But there are statements you can make, personally, that will inevitably tank your group. That will guarantee you’ll get nothing out of it, and that you’ll create a terrible experience for the rest of your group. Statements that will destroy community rather than foster it.

9 Statements that will destroy your group

1. They need community more than I do. I’m just doing this for them.

You need healthy, authentic community as much as anyone does. You’re never above it, because God’s created you to live dependent on others.

2. They need to hear this.

Be careful that as you’re preparing for your small group that you don’t work your way through the material making notes about who in your group needs to hear a given truth…an not including your own name. Pride comes before the fall, my friend. (Proverbs 16:18)

3. I don’t have anything to give.

There may be weeks occasionally that you are empty and dry. But God’s given you gifts that are perfectly suited to lead your group. Don’t spit on God’s grace in your life by feigning a false, self-deprecating humility.

4. I don’t have time for this.

You are busy. So am I. You and I don’t have time to avoid community. The busier we are, the more we need others speaking truth and hope into our lives. When you say this, you place yourself over and above your group members, pridefully believing your life is more important than theirs.

5. Someone else will call them.

Don’t assume that someone else is going to call and encourage your group members. Or visit them in the hospital. Or call them after a new job interview. Or text them after a test. They’re not going to. You need to do the work of shepherding that’s vital for a group leader.

6. What they need is a ‘perfect’ leader. I probably shouldn’t confess my sins here.

Perfection in a small group leader isn’t what’s needed. And in fact, group members will connect with you more over your struggles and difficult times than they ever will with you through your victories. Be open and honest when you mess up.

7. Because I’m the leader I should probably talk more.

No. No. No. The best group leaders listen way more than they talk. Listening, and giving an appropriate (rather than a forced, canned, expected) response is much more honoring, respectful, and helpful. “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” – Proverbs 18:13

8. Curriculum? Pssht! I got this!

Don’t think that curriculum is evil. It’s not. It provides a backdrop for your group to have a conversation about truth. It’s not the end-all-be-all for your group. But it helps keep you on track and moving forward. Don’t think you’re “too good” for a focused study.

9. Evangelism? Nope.

Stop it. Quit thinking too narrowly about the Gospel. Too weakly about it. Too shallowly about the power of the Gospel to change lives. Stop it.

What other statements would you include that would destroy a small group?

 

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from a Torn Quad

Recently while working out at CrossFit, I ripped my quad.

It hurt about as much as you’d expect ripping a quadriceps muscle would hurt. Unless, of course, you thought it wouldn’t hurt at all. In which case…it hurt much more than that.

image via: http://www.flickr.com/photos/crossfitpulse/

I was doing a kip-up, a martial arts-style move where you “jump” from your back all of the way on to your feet. I made it to my feet, and in that moment, all of the energy transferred to my already-weakened quads, and I instantly felt the pain shoot through my legs.

I sat down for a minute, trying my hardest not to throw up. And trying to act like I was ok. One of the trainers came over to check on me. “You’re probably just tight…and when I’m tight, I just take my fist and pound down my leg like this…” at which point he punched me in my leg. I crumpled to the ground like a man with a torn quad would if punched in said torn quad.

It’s taken me a week to get back to the gym. I’m not nearly at 100%…just close nough to fake my way around.

In the process, I learned a lot about life and leadership.

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from an Injury

1. Stretching is vital.

If I’d stretched a bit more, I may have prevented my injury. Or at the very least, stretching would’ve reminded me that my quad was still weak.

In leadership: Before major decisions, take a moment to breathe. Before you blow up on a co-worker, stop and check your heart. Before you move forward, take a moment to look back. Before you start your day, spend a few moments in prayer. It’ll remind you who you are, where you’re headed, and that you’ve got a loving Father who wants to guide and shape you every step of the way.

2. Know your limits.

Apparently, kip-ups are above my pay grade. For now. 🙂

In leadership: “Knowing your limits” means understanding your gifts and your weaknesses. And learning, when you’re weak, to surround yourself with others who are gifted. Don’t be prideful. Know your limits. And know that you don’t have every gift necessary.

3. Sometimes, you just have to slow down.

When I was injured, I couldn’t go to the gym. Well, I could’ve gone, but it wouldn’t have done any good. I would’ve had to sit out the majority of the workouts.

In leadership: Organizational life can move at a fast pace, and if you don’t intentionally slow down, remind yourself of what matters most, doing what only you can do, and resting, you’ll burn out. God created the Sabbath because we need it. Which is also why, I believe, He created the hammock. Sabbathing should be a part of your weekly workflow. It’s vital, whether you’re “injured,” or just want to prevent “injuries.”

4. Allow others to help you.

I had to ask for help while I was injured. I needed help across the gym floor. At home, I needed help getting ice packs ready and, at times, just doing normal activities.

In leadership: To try to lead alone is foolish. God has hard-wired us to need others. He’s created us to be dependent on Him…and dependent on other people. Don’t forsake the gift that significant relationships play in your life. Alone, you’re prone to giving up, prone to always thinking you’re right, and only have 1 life experience to draw from. Together, you collaborate, refine processes, and draw from multiple life experiences.

5. Healing takes time.

It’s taken me a week to get back to the gym. It’ll probably take me a month or more before I’m back to pushing myself.

In leadership: When you’ve been injured, whether by relationships, broken dreams, or your own bad choices, it takes time to heal. The same is true for those you’re leading. Don’t expect that you, or anyone else, can recover immediately. It might be awkward, but ask for help! Surround yourself with people who know and love you best. You might not like mine, but find a small group. And pursue active healing.

Question:

Ever torn a muscle?

 

 

The difference between pride & confidence

The decision I made to move into full-time vocational ministry was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It took me nearly a year of praying, fasting, reading, and seeking counsel.

But when I made the decision, there was no swaying me. Not a chance you were going to convince me I was headed the wrong direction. I was sure that the direction my compass was pointing was the right one. I made the decision resolutely and began planning my life around it.

image credit: creation swap user Nathan Michael, edits mine

I wondered, though…was this a healthy confidence? Built on the back of the Truth of Scripture, the counsel of others, and God’s hand leading me throughout the previous 12 months? Or was it simply me trying to mask my self-centered, “I’m-right-and-you’re-not” pride?

The line that distinguishes pride and confidence is often indistinguishable.

From the outside, looking in, it’s like trying to find a fishing line in mid-air. You know it’s there, but unless you find yourself tangled up in it, it’s a line that’s not visible to the naked eye. A line that, if you don’t stand in the right spot, you’ll find yourself hooked by.

To see the fishing line, you need a piece of contrasting material. Hold up a black t-shirt to the line, and it instantly stands out. Take the t-shirt away, and the line seems to go with it.

It’s incredibly easy to slide from confidence into pride. To slide from a healthy view of self to an unhealthy perspective of your gifts and abilities. In fact, if you’re not careful, you won’t even realize you’ve made the transition. It takes intentionally holding up a contrasting material for you to see this invisible line.

Know this: if the line disappears, you’re in trouble. If you can’t tell when you’re moving into pride, your leadership will be damaged. You’ll make poor decisions. You’ll destroy relationships. And you’ll leave a pathway of destruction that will take years to rebuild.

Looking at pride and confidence contrasting each other can be the mirror we use to tell this important distinction.

5 truths about pride

The prideful person

never says they’re wrong.

doesn’t accept input, but goes at everything alone. They makes decisions in a vacuum.

bristles when taking advice/correction.

doesn’t take others into account.

craves public and/or private recognition for the works they’ve done.

 

6 truths about confidence

The confident person

measures their choices and actions with wisdom.

weighs input from others, and moves towards the Truth.

doesn’t proceed through selfish ambitions. (Philippians 2:3-4)

realizes they can’t do it alone.

knows who they are, and who they aren’t. They’re “confident” where God has gifted them.

works to build others up. (Ephesians 4:12-13)

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom

or the strong boast of their strength

or the rich boast of their riches,

but let the one who boasts boast about this:

that they have the understanding to know me,

that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,

justice and righteousness on earth,

for in these I delight,”

declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 9:23-24

Question:

Have you seen a difference between pride and confidence? Have you seen these distinctions play out? Have you ever slid from healthy confidence to pride?

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Pursue Excellence as a church

Excellence doesn’t have to be expensive.

image via TypeInspire

A common misconception is that excellence is expensive. That you’re going to have to expand your budget, buy new “toys,” and constantly be on the cutting edge to have a service that is accomplished with excellence.

Thinking that excellence is tied with money is crippling. If you have the money, you’ll begin to rely on the money to do the work of excellence for you…that’s called laziness. If you don’t have the money, you’ll begin using the excuse, “We can’t do it as well as _____ because we just don’t have the resources.” Bologna. That’s a lack of utilization and equipping.

In the church world, where I spend my time and energy, I’ve seen plenty of leaders let excellence slide because they don’t have financial resources to pour into gadgets, lights, sound equipment, video equipment, new mics, and flashy “stuff.” And while that “stuff” looks nice, it doesn’t, in any way, guarantee excellence.

Want to pursue excellence as a local church? Here’s how you do it.

5 Easy Ways to Pursue Excellence

Execute your order of worship relentlessly.

I was recently a part of a service that was not planned well.  The worship leader didn’t know the lyrics well, and there were lots of gaps between songs, announcements, and the sermon.  Planning the order in advance so that everyone involved can see all of the details is crucial.  Running a rehearsal, including announcements, any videos, and any other elements are seen by everybody involved (before the live service) helps ensure major mistakes don’t happen.

Simplify.

The more programs you offer, the more diluted each becomes. And the less “excellent” each is, because each takes significant amounts of resources (time, energy, volunteers, money) to do well.  The simpler, more focused your church is, the more excellent you will be in each area.

Take pride in what you do.

Look around you. Take note of the little things. It’s often the small, seemingly insignificant gestures that go miles in promoting excellence. Here are a few things we do at Grace:

  • pick up stray trash
  • staff every door on Sundays with a welcoming person
  • keep printed material up-to-date
  • keep volunteers in the loop on information that new-comers will ask about
  • offer good coffee
  • set up an area on Sundays for moms with crying babies to still hear the service and not disturb others
  • keep your website updated
  • respond to emails promptly

Evaluate and improve constantly.

If an aspect of your church isn’t working, it’s time to change things up. Allowing a program to hang around because “we’ve always done it…” pushes excellence right out the window.  Evaluating, improving, and constantly being willing to change things that are broken encourages excellence across the board.

Celebrate.

If you feed something, it lives.  If you don’t, it dies.  Feed those actions, those habits, those strategical and forward-thinking moves that staff members and volunteers take.  When you feed those actions, they (and those they lead) will notice what your church values.  Thank them publicly.  Send them a note.  Throw them a party.  Celebrate steps in the right direction.

Pursuing excellence isn’t about money. It’s about the details. If what you’re offering (the Gospel) is valuable to your congregation, then casting it in the best light is vital.  Pursuing excellence does just that.

Are you serving in a church that pursues excellence?  What steps have you taken to get there?

 

 

 

Don’t be “too good” for me

I am a learner.  And as such, I actually enjoy learning.

And when I started out as small groups pastor at Grace Community Church, I had no idea what I was doing.  Some days, I still feel like that.

So I started looking for a tribe.  I read books.  Blogs.  Twitter accounts.  I went to conferences.  Sent emails.  Made phone calls.  I just knew there had to be a tribe out there.

And I grew a ton through this process.  But I got a myriad of no-responses.  Or responses that went something like,

Well, I will be at this conference, and we can talk there…if you’re able to get to Dallas…tomorrow by 6 am.

I was just trying to build some relationships and learn from guys who had been blazing the path I was peering down.

The problem was that these guys were ‘too big’ for me. They were a bit too important to talk with a rookie in Tennessee. (although rock stars Heather Zempel, Alan Danielson, Mark Howell, and Rick Howerton (just to name a few) actually did take time to answer emails and phone calls…thanks guys!).

I never want to get so important that I can’t schedule time to talk with another person who wants to learn from my mistakes.  I never want to be the big shot that can’t walk someone else through principles that have helped me grow as a young pastor.

If I ever get that ‘important’ I have done something wrong.  The day that happens, please unfollow me on Twitter, block me on Facebook, and unsubscribe to my blog.  I’m not worth following at that point.*

Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall.

Better to live humbly with the poor
than to share plunder with the proud. – Proverbs 16:18-19

Will you give up the plunder with me?

*Note to future self: you’re not as awesome as you think you are.

 

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