Share Your Leadership Journey With Others

Your past (pain & joy) is valuable material for others!

This is critical for those of us in church leadership.

This post is a personal, brief reflection as I prepare to share my own painful AND joyful ministry experiences with other leaders at #LedToLead2015 on 2/26 & 2/27.

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Here are 4 things I’ve discovered to be true in my past 20+ years of church leadership:

1.  We are often naive thinking that others have not experienced similar painful challenges in their lives.

2.  Authentically sharing how we came out stronger on the other end of difficult seasons can give others hope.

3.  We have an obligation to help other leaders along when we are enjoying seasons of calm and personal health.

4.  There is too much ‘Kingdom Awesomeness’ to miss out on if we leave the ministry without God’s blessing.

Join the discussion.  Comment below.

 

Leadership Insights from the Seahawks and Superbowl XLIX

“What???   Why didn’t we just have Lynch run it in?”

Famous and haunting screams echoed by Seahawk 12s everywhere.  If you missed how Superbowl XLIX ended, watch the 60 sec clip HERE.

Pete+Carroll+Seattle+Seahawks+v+St+Louis+Rams+H5aSz1gJQ9Ml NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Now, I’m  a true and committed Seattle Seahawk fan…born and raised in the great PNW.  I was so excited for the chance to have 2 consecutive Superbowls on record for Seattle.  In the moment, I’ll admit.  I was frustrated, mad, and genuinely disturbed.

BUT…I began to recover my sanity the next morning after hearing Pete Carroll’s explanation of what happened.  The original plan was to hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.  Apparently, the Patriots’ defense lined up in such a way that Lynch would most likely have been stopped.

This really got me thinking.  There are huge leadership insights to be learned here.

1.  We’re not always going to agree with leadership | Look…not agreeing and not supporting are two completely different things.  I still think that short pass that resulted in a game-ending interception was a bad call.  But, I still respect Pete Carroll and support his judgement in that moment.  Churches aren’t much different.  We may not agree with our pastor or team leader all the time, but I’ll tell you this.  They need our support and prayers just the same.

2.  Leadership often sees things that we don’t | Now that I’ve been in ministry for over 20 years, I have experienced more and more situations where senior leadership made a decision that did not make a bit of sense to others in the church.  Often, there are things (details) going on in the background that everyone isn’t aware of.  These things play a big part of a leader’s decision process, and usually are experiences or pieces of information that the general church body would not benefit in knowing.

3.  Leaders are going to let us down from time to time (click to Tweet) | I can’t tell you how many leaders/mentors have disappointed me over the years.  In the past, I’ve allowed those disappointments to shape my attitude and leadership negatively.  I have learned the hard way, however, to simply expect people to let me down.  The key is to strive to learn something from the failure and pain which can grow us into a healthier leader ourselves.

4.  Forgiveness is a command…not an option | When leaders do make big mistakes and acknowledge that things didn’t end up how they thought they would, we’ve got to offer grace and move on.  Your leadership needs to know that you have their best interests (and the church’s) in mind.  This can actually encourage many leaders to be more open and less guarded with you in the future.

I’m not talking about unhealthy leaders here.  Obviously, those in leadership who are leading from unhealth need accountability and help.  This post is directed toward those leaders whose hearts, attitudes, and intensions are purely aimed at doing their best for the Church and in step with God’s will.

What has your experience been?  Are there any other lessons you would add to this list?  Comment below.

 

 

Photo credit: www4.pictures.zimbio.com & nypost.com 

Best Connection Methods With Those Attending Your Church

Gone are the days of the paper church newsletter.  You know…the kind that actually had a stamp on it.  We walked to our mailbox, opposed to clicking on our inbox.

As a Campus Pastor, I’m learning the massive importance of 2-way communication with those in our church.  One tool I’ve absolutely fallen in love with is MailChimp. We use this service to send weekly eBulletins to our church attendees.  It has helped us tremendously.  (Here’s an example of ours)

HOWEVER!

It’s only helpful if you have a name and an ACCURATE email address.  This is where traditional ‘paper’ Communication Cards fall short.

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It can be quite frustrating…having a communication card from a 1st time guest and not being able to read their email address. Maybe the ink was smeared, or they simply write like a doctor (no offense).  Have you had this happen? This new guest visits your church, takes time to give you their info and drop the card in a box hoping for some sort of correspondence. And the worst instance is when this happens and they did not include a phone or snail-mail address. Now you’re at a dead end. The only thing to do here is pray that they return so we can follow up.

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All that leads me to say this. Churches must develop ways for those attending their worship services to submit Communication Card information via their mobile devices from their seats or in their vehicles on their way home. This will not only improve the accuracy issues mentioned above, it will also increase connections.

Here are a few key connection practices.

  • Convenience | Place communication cards in the seats. Don’t ask people to stop by somewhere else to pick one up…they won’t! Also, keep the card as simple as possible. Fewer specifics and clutter are less overwhelming.
  • 2-Way | People in your church should always have a way to respond or answer a question. For an eBulletin, take advantage of hyperlinks. These can connect them from there to social media, staff emails, event registration forms, and helpful resources.
  • Follow up | This is HUGE  for people who just visited your church. First-time guests at our church receive a welcome letter (mailed with a stamp) mailed on Monday, followed by a brief email. This email encourages them to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, our website, and by signing up for our eBulletin.
  • Centralized | For us, we want everyone to receive our weekly eBulletin. They can get everything they need in one ‘centralized’ location.

Rich Birch offers some solid tips on following up with guests who visit your church in this UNSEMINARY post. You will want to check it out.

What does your church do? What areas of connection do you struggle with? Would you add any thoughts on the topic?

Please leave a comment. 

 

Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (1/3)

“Thanks so much for the phone call the other day.  I’ve actually never had a pastor call me before.”

Have you ever received a word of thanks from out of the blue?  The statement above came from a young lady who’s fairly new to our church.  I wasn’t expecting it, and the context definitely was not something I felt deserving of gratitude.  It was a simple follow up call.  But to her…it was meaningful.

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I was reading one of Michael Hyatt’s blog posts today on the advantages of being grateful and it got me thinking.  Some of the most influential leaders in my life over the years have exhibited grateful hearts.

- It was easy to observe their gratefulness for the blessings in their life.

- They would constantly say ‘Thank you’ to those serving around them, especially in the Church.

In addition to the great points that Michael Hyatt makes, showing and verbalizing gratitude also rubs off on others.  This can be referred to as one aspect of discipleship.  Other circles might call it Leadership Development.

“Expressed gratitude helps attract and produce great leaders.” 

Think back.  When was the last time someone you look up to or admire complimented or thanked you?  (hopefully it hasn’t been too long ago)  Do you remember how it made you feel?  I’m guessing appreciation, honor, respect, and value are some feelings that resulted.  So this week, say ‘Thank You’ to someone….anyone.  Try to do this once a day.  You might be surprised at the results.

Question:  Who or what are you thankful for when you really take time to think about it?  Leave a comment below.  

Be sure to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this topic.

photo credit: www.xpn.org 

The One Commandment Most Church Leaders Break Often

Church leaders are some of the worst examples of modeling healthy rest.  I wrestled with this for years!

God even commands us to do it……yet we don’t.

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…the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…  Exodus 20:8-11

Now, I’m not talking about a legalistic approach to the Sabbath, which includes checking off a ton of boxes to show we are ‘keeping the law.’ The deeper purpose of the Sabbath is so much more.

Taking one day every week and giving it Sabbath consideration does two things.

  • It proves to God that we really do care about what He tells us.
  • It forces us to create healthy margin in an increasingly busy society.

So…why do church leaders constantly struggle with taking a full day of rest?

Guilt | This is especially true of senior leaders.  “The church is paying me to be the Pastor at all times.”  No they’re not!  You are in your leadership position to lead the congregation in healthy relationship to God.  That means letting others see in you how to live the life God has called us all to live.

Poor time management | “There is work to be done every day of the week.”  Yes there is, but it can be done in six days.  Pre-plan your studying, phone calls, meetings, appointments, and regular tasks to fit into 5 or 6 days.  This is what ‘keep the Sabbath holy’ means.

Savior complex | Can I just shoot straight on this one?  If you think you can’t take a literal day of rest because someone in the church ‘might need’ you, there’s a problem.  What eventually happens here is people in the church learn to lean more on us as pastors and less on their faith in Jesus.

May I offer you a challenge?  Take one of your regular days off and give it Sabbath consideration.  For me, that day is Monday.  Sunday is church and leadership…that’s work.

Be sure to check out my post on ‘4 Tips To Having A Good Day Of Rest.’

If this helped you, I’d encourage you to share it with someone else who could use it today.

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below. 

3 Things To Do While Sitting In Darkness

We’ve all been there before.  Those events or periods of life that feel like you’re sitting all alone in a pitch dark room.

Maybe you’re there today.  Personally, I’ve been in and out of that room for the past 5 months.

So what do we do when we’re in that place?

Here are some words from the prophet, Micah…

When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.  |  Micah 7:8b

Light

When you’ve been in a dark place, a light can be very welcoming.  It can also expose things around us for what they are, changing our perception of what we assumed they were in the dark.

3 suggestions on what we can do when we’re in those dark places.

Look | Expect it to arrive.  Constantly be on the lookout for that LIGHT.  Because if we’re not watching for it, we are likely to miss it initially because we have our face in out hands stuck in our misery.  We can enjoy the relief that come with the light sooner if we are searching and expecting it.

Hope | Can you get a sense for the hope Micah has in his words?  “The Lord will be a light to me.”  He does not say, ‘is.’  He’s fully expecting something that is not yet the case.  Likewise, you and I need to have something to look foreword to while we sit in that cold, dark place.

Know | This is where faith and a good portion of spiritual maturity come in.  Micah KNEW the Lord was eventually going to shine light on his situation.  He also knew that he had to work on his own STUFF in the meantime.  Sometimes we find ourselves in this dark room because of actions or choices WE have made.  But…sometimes we’re there because of things OTHERS have done.

Today, I’m in that dark place.  God, however, is shining a flood light around me.  Even though there is darkness right now, his light is allowing me to stay active, see Him, and remain focused on finding the EXIT DOOR.

How about you?  Where are you today?  I’d love to journey with you.  Leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Became Flesh |Wednesday

Check out my first post to find out what we’re doing with this #WordBecameFlesh challenge.

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Here’s what I thought about today.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I was just looking back on the past year at all the ways the Lord has carried me and my family.   Here’s a few of the challenges we faced together.

  • I transitioned out of a Family Ministry staff position into a Campus Pastor position (something new for me).
  • My wife transitioned off staff at our church and starting working at Winn-Dixie.
  • We moved out of a home we loved in GA and into an apartment just over the river in AL.
  • My wife then accepted a huge job change AGAIN working in the executive office of the apartment network we live in.
  • Our first-born and only daughter moved out on her own….TWICE (very difficult).
  • We launched our first satellite church campus on September 7 (also very difficult).

Yet…

…through all of that, God kept us sane, married, and hopeful.  Trust me when I say that God’s hand was at work in so many of those challenges.  Too many to possibly list.

Now it’s your turn.  Feel free to write in your Bible or in a journal this week.  But if you’re like me and love social media, make a thoughtful post each day.  Be sure to use the hashtag #WordBecameFlesh with your post.  This way we can easily follow where others are noticing God at work.

Join the conversation, leave a comment below. 

Word Became Flesh | Tuesday

Check out the original post to find out what we’re doing with this #WordBecameFlesh challenge.

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Here’s what I noticed today.

  • Still no sickness spreading in the home (yay).
  • The Lord allowed me to stay focused in the office and get a TON of work done.
  • I was reminded once again that I totally do not deserve the woman I have for my wife.  I’m blessed.

Now it’s your turn.  Feel free to write in your Bible or in a journal this week, or use social media.  Be sure to use the hashtag #WordBecameFlesh with your post.  This way we can easily follow where others are noticing God at work.

Join the conversation, leave a comment below. 

My ‘One Word’ for 2015

How do you stay focused on positive life change?

This is my third year picking a single word as my focal point for the entire year.  I love the idea behind it and appreciate all that OneWord365 is doing for those who desire focus and direction in their life.  They also have a growing Facebook community.  You should check it out.

OneWord365

After some time in prayer and thought, this will be my OneWord365 for the next year.  Honestly, part of the fun in this is putting your word to a graphic.  I will use this as the desktop background on my Mac so it stays in front of me.

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Choose is an action word.  It will cause me to think before doing (hopefully).

Here are some areas that immediately come to mind.

  • Choose to exercise more.
  • Choose to be more mindful of how my family views me.
  • Choose more carefully what I eat.
  • Choose to write more.
  • Choose wisely how I begin & end my day.

How about you?  Will this be your first time having a single word to refer back to throughout the year?

Join the discussion, leave a comment below.   

Word Became Flesh | Monday

So, as part of wrapping up my message this past Sunday I challenged our church (and myself) to journal something each day for one week.

Here’s the challenge:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”  John 1:14

Journal/record at least one way you noticed Jesus (the Word) in a tangible (flesh) way each day.  In other words, how did Jesus show up and make a difference in your life?

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Here’s what I noticed today.

On Sunday two of our kids were extremely sick.  After much prayer from so many people, they are both feeling tons better today.  Not only that, but no one else in the home has gotten sick today.

I give God all the glory for that!  He is SO GOOD.

Now it’s your turn.  Feel free to write in your Bible or in a journal this week.  But if you’re like me and love social media, make a thoughtful post each day.  Be sure to use the hashtag #WordBecameFlesh with your post.  This way we can easily follow where others are noticing God at work.

Join the conversation, leave a comment below.