Saturday, 17 August 2019

OUR ENEMY HAS EMBEDDED HIMSELF IN THE MIDDLE OF LEADERSHIP


A great post by  Dave Kraft


For some time now I’ve said that I Peter 5 is the “lost” chapter on leadership. When churches are vetting potential leaders, often the go-to chapters are I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, where we have a list of leadership qualities and attributes.
Most of what we find in Timothy and Titus is not competence, but character in the context of healthy relationships. This is very notesworthy given today’s obsesssion with competency and talent.
However, 1 Peter chapter 5, verses 1-11 are often not referenced at all,  or not enough, when it comes to the choosing of future leaders. One insight that came to me not too long ago is that right in the middle (verse 8, ESV) of this exquisite chapter on leadership by Peter (who rose from the ashes of failure, defeat and disappointment to become a key leader in the early church) is a statement about our enemy, the devil.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
What struck me was the fact that the enemy’s tactics certainly applies to all followers of Jesus; but this is in the middle of a chapter on leadership, which leads me to conclude that our enemy is mostly, and primarily, after leaders; to “devour,” take them out of the race, cause them to be disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:27).
I’m currently reading through the New Testament in the New Living Translation, and a day or two ago, I read I Thessalonians 3:5:
“That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.” (Emphasis mine)
The phrase, “…the tempter had gotten the best of you…” really caught my attention. The last thing true Christian leaders want is to have the tempter (the devil, the enemy, the accuser) get the best of them, taking them down and out. But we all know it happens to lots of leaders and has been happening for a very long time.
As I was reflecting and praying about this, I thought of four areas where the enemy can get the best of us:

1. SEXUAL

Men in leadership need to be especially watchful on this one. The strongest man in the Bible (Sampson), the wisest man in the Bible (Solomon), and the man after God’s own heart (David), all got  significantly hit on this one. This is something I pray about daily/hourly for myself.  Five minutes of illicit pleasure, real or imagined through pornography, can in a matter of hours reverse a legacy that has been years in building. Numerous chapters in the book of Proverbs deal expressly with this danger.

2. FINANCIAL

Personal greed, lack of integrity, the misuse and/or mismanagement of corporate monies, as well as financial envy and jealously, has brought many a leader down. Total honesty and honor in the handling of money is an endangered species in politics, business and, sad to say, in the church. Years ago I worked in a church where an elder stole money from the offering to the tune of $10,000 to pay off personal debt. I’m convinced this is not an isolated incident.

3. RELATIONAL

Not clearly and consistently living out of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) in the context of working relationships is devastating and destructive to fruitful Christian ministry. 
Often relationally challenged leaders are given a pass (due to their stellar success) when it comes to loving relationships. But, sooner or later, the lack of genuine love, consideration and kindness in how people are treated, spoken to (and about) and appreciated can cause the outward trappings of success to come to a screeching halt.
Many leaders get promoted on the basis of their ability to get things done, but are eventually let go due to their inability to get along with the people they work with day in and day out.

4. PRIDEFUL

It was the late John Stott who said: “Pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.” A leader all wrapped up in him/herself makes a very small package. Pride sent Lucifer crashing down and it has been the undoing of many leaders in the Bible, in early church history and still takes its toll today. As I said in my book, “Mistakes Leaders Make,” “Pride is a difficult issue for leaders to recognize in themselves and even more difficult to deal with. It often hides under the cloak of confidence and conviction.”

 Keep a watchful eye open

Please join me in praying for yourself and for leaders you know that the tempter will not get the best of any of us;  sexually, financially, relationally or pridefully.

Jesus wants the best of all of us!

Monday, 29 July 2019

Disturb Us, Lord


Disturb Us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.


(Attributed to Sir Francis Drake -1577)



Wednesday, 24 July 2019

What to Do When You Want to Give Up

This is a great post by Rick Warren.

I hear from pastors all the time who are ready to give up. They’re tired. They’re frustrated. They feel like they’ve failed their family, their congregation—and God.
Any veteran church leader has experienced discouragement. In fact, some of us have been through several trying seasons.
It’s not a sin to get discouraged—it happens to all of us. Discouragement is a byproduct of spiritual warfare. It also happens when our expectations need to be readjusted.
God uses discouragement to draw us closer to him and to refine our ministry.
Don’t give up! What you are doing is far too important! We are in this battle together! God can still do more than you could ever imagine in your life and through your ministry.
If you are ready to give up, consider the following:
Remember how much God loves you. I suspect that you often preach about God’s love. If you’re feeling discouraged, it’s time to “preach it” to yourself. You can’t feel the love of God and feel discouraged at the same time.
Refuse to “fake it.” Typically, this is tough for those of us in ministry. Much of our lives are on display. We buy into the lie that we can’t be real and still be effective in church ministry. This simply isn’t true. The people in your church are struggling. It gives them hope when they know you are too.
Naturally, you need to be wise about what you share. You need to match your integrity with discernment. You may be able to live a double life for a little while, but it will eventually catch up with you.
Take the focus off of yourself. Remember that there’s more to your life than just you. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! The more self-focused you become, the more discouraged you will get. Life is bigger than you. Take the focus off of your problems, broaden your perspective to include others, and your discouragement will diminish.
Be realistic about your limitations. You are a ministry leader, not the latest hero in a comic book movie. You can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. You are a normal person and you have limits.
Unless you have a realistic view of what you can and cannot do, you’re headed for regular bouts of discouragement. But there’s good news for you—when you learn to be realistic about your limitations, you’ll be less discouraged.
  • You can’t keep everyone happy
  • You aren’t going to hit a home run with every sermon
  • You won’t successfully handle every conflict
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT).
Take time for renewal. If you want to be in ministry for the long haul, you need to find ways to recharge. You need to divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually.
You need to do something every day that recharges you—whether it’s taking a walk, engaging in a hobby, playing with the kids, or anything else that leaves you with more energy when you’re done. You need a day of rest, a Sabbath day when you don’t do any work. Maybe it’s not during the weekend for you. Make sure you’re taking another day as your Sabbath. Then, make sure you take vacation time every year.
Stay focused on eternity. I call it the tyranny of the trivial. It’s when we major in the minors and ignore the majors. Even in ministry, it’s tempting to focus on issues that just don’t matter. When we take on the weight of a seemingly infinite amount of insignificant things, the only result can be a discouragement.
Unless you can let go of the minutiae, discouragement will be a constant companion.
Don’t spend your time worrying about issues that won’t matter next week or even next year. Keep your perspective on what will outlast you on this earth. Your present struggles will only last for a brief time compared to eternity.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14 NIV).

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

THE FIVE PRACTICES OF SMART TEAMS

A great post by Dan Rockwell 

Teams, like individuals, can be stupid or smart.  Stupid teams consist of smart people who engage in stupid behaviors.

The 5 practices of smart teams:

#1. Team members disagree with the team leader.
Smart teams don’t have dominant leaders. The lid of a team’s intelligence is the dominant person who controls the team.
Effective leaders keep teams focused on important issues. 
Effective leaders establish and control the direction of conversations. Dominant leaders control the content of conversations.
Dominant leaders stifle conversations. Effective leaders ignite conversations.
#2. Conversations feel unscripted and spontaneous.
I heard an ineffective leader say, “I never hold a meeting until I’m sure of the outcome.” That leader has a stupid team.
It doesn’t matter how smart the individual players are if meetings are scripted.
Tip: Get heads turning toward each other, not the head of the table.
#3. Team members engage in vigorous debate.
Smart teams engage in respectful conflict.
Constructive dissent challenges thinking and sparks creativity.
#4. Team members notice emotional states.
Smart teammates say, “Something seems to be bothering you,” when a fellow team member isn’t them self.
Smart teams connect and care. Stupid teams bury their heads and stick to business.
Strong connection is the foundation for vigorous debate. (See behavior #3.)
#5. Smart teams explore crazy ideas.
Creative ideas don’t fit the mold.
Smart teams ask, “What if?”

3 ways to develop smart teams:

#1. Create psychological safety.
Anything that makes a team unsafe makes a team stupid.
Teams get smarter when the people around the table speak freely.
#2. Eliminate monologues.
Expect equal participation from every member, on average.
Monologues move teams from dumb to dumber.
#3. Practice social sensitivity.
Explore, don’t ignore emotion. “Professional” teams are dumb.
Smart teams may not be soft, but they are safe.
Have you been on a smart team? What made it smart?
Resources:
Amy Edmondson, “The Fearless Organization.
Patrick Lencioni, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”
I first read about smart teams in Charles Duhigg’s book, “Smarter Faster Better.

Monday, 10 June 2019

THREE TOP PRIORITIES FOR EVERY LEADER

A great and timely reminder by Dave Kraft

I hear the same refrain everywhere I go: “I’m so busy, tired, exhausted, running on empty. I don’t think I can handle this any more. I don’t think I can keep this up much longer. Everything seems to be a top priority. I don’t know where to start!”

In the name of simplicity, let me share three top priorities for every leader. If you are one of the fortunate ones who has an agreed-upon ministry or job description, there is a good chance these are not currently on that description, but should be if you are to lead the way that Jesus intends for you to lead.

1. Regularly Listening To God
If you are like me, there are many voices–other people in my life and some inside my own head–telling me to do this or that, be here or there, help this person or that person. Of all the voices that I need to listen and respond to, first is that of God himself. I need, with his grace, to live and lead for an audience of one.

…and the sheep listen -to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…John 10:3 (NIV)

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel, Samuel.’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)
Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. Jeremiah 42:3 (NIV)

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.Proverbs 3:6 (The Message)

Whatever your “spiritual disciplines” are, make them a consistent, regular part of your daily and weekly rhythms. Cut down on all the other noises around you so you can tune into what he is saying to you and live in responsive obedience.

2. Constantly Developing Leaders
Poor leaders do it all by themselves, good leaders invest in others to help them. If you are following a God-given, God-size vision, you would be a fool to try and do it by yourself. You would also cheat others out of using their God-given talents by doing it all yourself. All leaders, regardless of their roles and responsibilities, need to be constantly pouring into the next generation of leaders so that:
  1. You can focus on your unique contribution
  2. Others can maximize the total contribution that can be made
  3. Organizational morale will be high
I have never been involved with a church or Christian organization that had enough leaders.  Maybe one exists out there somewhere, but I have never encountered it or read about it. Most everyone is looking for new leaders. This mandates being proactive, intentional, deliberate and prayerful in deciding whom to select, developing those you select and  then deploying them in ministry. You will want to have both a philosophy and a pathway for leadership development. It will not happen accidentally. Every leader needs to be prayerfully looking around and focusing on a few future leaders.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will be qualified to teach others.2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.Exodus 18:21 (NIV)

3. Pacing Yourself
Years ago I would ask leaders how they were doing and I would hear: “I’m super busy.” Today when I ask, I hear: “I’m super tired.” Pacing is critical to longevity in leadership. We need to remember that we are in a marathon–not a 100 meter sprint. By his grace, discovering and maintaining a healthy balance between ministry, personal and family is paramount. Learning how to practice Sabbath as a principle– not just a day–may save your life. Having times of intense engagement, intermingled with deliberate times of disengagement, will keep you physically, emotionally and mentally healthy.
You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment, you know where I am.” Psalm 138: 3 (The Living Bible)
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. Without the right quantity, quality, focus and force of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.

“Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy. Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy—in companies, organizations and even in families. They inspire or demoralize others first by how effectively they manage their own energy and next by how well they mobilize, focus, invest and renew the collective energy of those they lead.”  – The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Please make these three your top priorities so you can be a “Leader Who Lasts.”
  • Listen regularly to God
  • Constantly develop other leaders
  • Intentionally pace yourself

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

5 CRUCIAL ATTITUDE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHURCHES THAT GROW AND CHURCHES THAT DON’T

A great post by Carey Neiuwhof....Challanging!
So…what’s the difference between a growing church and a declining church?

1. WE CAN V. WE CAN’T

Growing churches make a way when there’s no way, which seems to be what God specializes in if you read the Bible.
When you sit around your leadership table, do you come up with 20 ways to make it happen, or 20 reasons why it won’t work? That tells you far more about your church than you probably want it to.
Growing churches believe they can. It’s that simple. And even if they’re wrong, at least they tried. The mission is important enough to take significant risk.

2. THEM V. US

Declining churches focus on themselves.
Growing churches focus on the people they’re trying to reach.
If your leadership table conversations are all about the needs and wants of your members, it’s a sign that your church is insider focused.
The mission of the church is to reach the world. Growing churches not only know that; they live it.
Besides, who likes to hang out with selfish people?
And ironically, selfish people almost always end up in a very surprising place: alone. Because a life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone. That’s also true for selfish churches.
If you’re becoming smaller and smaller, is it because you’re selfish

3. PRINCIPLES V. PREFERENCES

Declining churches focus on their member’s preferences.
Todd didn’t like the music. 
Allison thinks we’re not deep enough. 
Bill wants to start a new program.
And so the leaders respond, trying to please everybody.
In reality, declining churches bend to the preferences of its members.
Growing churches don’t.
Instead, they focus on the principles (even strategies) that will help them reach new people.
Is your leadership team principle-driven or preference-driven? There’s a world of difference between the two

4. PROACTIVE V. REACTIVE

This is a close cousin of points 2 and 3 above, but the difference is deadly or life-giving depending on where you land.
Growing churches are proactive. They choose their agenda and immediately get on issues that can impact their future.
Declining churches are reactive, letting members determine the agenda and reacting to problems as they arise.
In fact, most declining churches are so busy reacting to problems other people raise that they never get around to charting a course for the future.
If you never get around to charting a course for the future, you will have no future.
Growing churches have a strong bias for setting their own agendas, not in the selfish sense, but in a way that determined leaders see what the mission requires and decide to deal with it.
The leaders in a growing church simply refuse to yield to the agenda of others that would take them off mission.
And as a result, they are far more effective.

5. NOW V. EVENTUALLY

Growing churches act. And they act now.
Declining churches don’t.
Declining churches don’t actually say they won’t act, they’ll just say they’ll get to it ‘eventually’, or someday, or ‘when the time is right’—which means never.
By contrast, as I outlined here, great leaders and great teams banish the word ‘someday’ and other words from their vocabulary.
If you want to be effective, you act.
If you want to be ineffective, you don’t.
Talk without action has little value. And too many church leaders specialize in talk.
In addition, too many church teams meet for the sake of meeting.
If you can’t remember the last time you made a major decision that changed the course of your church, your leaders are wasting their time.
If you talk about the same issues meeting after meeting with no resolution, you’re not leading, you’re spinning your wheels.
Does that mean you have to act on everything? Well, yes and no.
If you’re not going to act, strike the item off the agenda and move on.
If you are going to act, act. Now.
Just make a decision and move on with it. Don’t get stuck in the no man’s land of believing the lie that talking about things solves things.
As my friend Casey Graham says, action produces traction. So act.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

7 CHARACTERISTICS OF SHALLOW LEADERSHIP:

A challenging post by Ron Edmonston.  
Growing in our leadership abilities — including growing in the knowledge of leadership and the relational aspect of leadership– should be a goal for every leader.
Sadly, many leaders settle for status quo leadership rather than stretching themselves to continually improve. They remain oblivious to the real health of their leadership and the organizations they lead. They may get by — people may say things are “okay” — but it isn’t excellent.
I call it shallow leadership.
Perhaps you’ve seen this before in leadership. Maybe you’ve been guilty of providing shallow leadership. For a season, at least. I certainly have.
Still wondering what shallow leadership looks like?
1.  Thinking your idea will be everyone’s idea. You assume everyone is on the same page. You think everyone thinks like you. You stop asking questions of your team. You stop evaluating. 
2.  Believing that your way is the only way. You’re the leader — you must be right. You’ve had some success. It went to your head a little. So, you’ve become head strong. You’re controlling. You make every decision. You never delegate.
3.  Assuming you already know the answer. You think you’ve done it long enough to see it all. You quit learning. You stop reading. You never meet with other leaders anymore. 
4.  Pretending to care when really you don’t. You have grown cold in your passion. You may speak the vision but they’re just words to you now. You go through the motions. You’re drawing a paycheck. But, truth be known, you’d rather be anywhere than here right now.
5.  Giving the response that makes you most popular. You like to be liked. You never make the hard decisions. You refuse to challenge. You avoid conflict. You run from complainers. You ignore the real problems.
6.  Refusing to make a decision. You had a setback. Things didn’t go as planned. You’ve grown scared. You’re overwhelmed. You refuse to walk by faith. Your team won’t move forward because you won’t move forward.
7.  Ignoring the warning signs of poor health. Momentum may be suffering. Things may not be “awesome” anymore. You look the other way. Your soul is empty. You may be unhealthy. The team may be unhealthy. You refuse to see it.
We never achieve best with shallow leadership. The first step is to admit.