Friday, 8 February 2019

Running with the ultimate pace-setter: Jesus What can marathon training teach us about running a life-long race with the Lord of all?

An inspiring post by Richard Powney

I love running. Growing up as a kid, if you wanted to get me to go somewhere you simply had to challenge me to a race and I’d be there in a flash. I’ve found that people’s reaction to running is quite similar to reactions to Marmite – people either love it or hate it.

With the London Marathon taking place in April, this time of year is when many people are embarking on marathon training; two members of my family got a place in the ballot and started their training at the start of January. This means embracing early morning runs in the dark (a good head torch is an essential piece of kit), setting aside a good chunk of time for your long run on a Sunday, and making sure you eat enough of the right sort of food and keep hydrated. All in all, running a marathon takes a lot of planning, commitment and hard work.

I’m not surprised that the apostle Paul uses running to help draw out elements of Christians’ life of faith. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 25 Paul encourages us to ​“run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

I’ve found that running has been very helpful in teaching me about the importance of discipline, perseverance and hard work in my walk with Christ. The longer I remain as a disciple of Jesus, the more aware I become of my clear need to join in with the tax collector’s prayer: ​“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” My only hope is in the grace and mercy of the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. And yet, this does not mean that I don’t need to put any effort into my life of faith. As Dallas Willard writes: ​“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Leaders keep developing.

A great article from Tony Morgan Live! 
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:9 . Here Paul addresses how to learn to lead, and how to prepare others to lead.
Here’s an important thing I know from this verse about growing leaders: We all need teaching, modeling and coaching to develop into the leaders God has called us to be.
Pause for a few minutes today to think on the questions below. Where is your biggest gap in leadership development today


should also note: As a leader you will need to revisit these questions throughout your life, as your environments change and as you lead at new levels. You may see yourself cycle through this model in various capacities over time. 
Leaders keep developing.

Monday, 19 November 2018

SIX THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN ADDING PEOPLE TO YOUR TEAM

A gReat post from Dave Kraft

Nothing can either be of greater harm or of greater help than making good choices as to whom you ask to be part of what God is calling you and your team/church/organization to do. 
In Acts 1:24 the first disciples were trying to decide who should take Judas’ place.
And they prayed and said, ‘You Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen.’” (ESV)
They prayed, asking for wisdom and we need to do the same thing, because we can’t predict the future nor look into the hearts of people.
If you are in Christian leadership and it falls to your lot to make decisions to add people to your team/staff--whether they be paid staff or volunteers--here are six things to consider.
1. Christ
How is their relationship with Jesus Christ?  Do they personally know him…been born again by the Spirit of God. Do they have their identity in Jesus or in their work? Are they growing from identity in Jesus to intimacy with Jesus? Do you see the signs of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives--born out of a serious consistent walk with the Savior?
2. Calling
It’s interesting to me that when I first joined The Navigators in 1968 and Mars Hill Church in 2005, the first question that was asked of me was did I have a sense of calling. I was asked to share my calling to be a part of both of these organizations. Paul alludes to his calling in two verses:
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.” Ephesians 3:7 (ESV)
Paul an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead.” Galatians 1:1 (ESV)
Paul wasn’t persuaded or arm-twisted into service by people. God clearly called him.
One of the reasons so many leave their roles and responsibilities in ministry today is because they have not responded out of a sense of calling, but out of a sense of duty, obligation, a great job opportunity, or an attempt to keep people happy. I believe there needs to be a strong sense of calling to step up and step into leadership responsibility.
Scripture is clear that all Christians are called to serve and use their gifts. Due to the extra pressure, expectations and attacks of the enemy on leaders, they especially need to believe they are called. The subject is hardly mentioned today. I believe that it is so important that I devoted an entire chapter to it in “Leaders Who Last.”
3. Character
In most churches and Christian enterprises, character is under-rated and competence is over-rated. More leaders fall over the character than competence issue. In I Tim. 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5 most of the qualifications fall in the area of character, which are lived out in the context of relationships. We are, unfortunately, prone to sacrifice character for results.  He is so gifted…what about his character? She has such a great personality…what about her character? He has such a great work ethic and gets so much done…what about his character.
But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his outward appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance (physical appearance/gifting/charisma), but the Lord looks on the heart (inward character)’ ” I Samuel 17:6 (ESV)
4. Chemistry
 The older I get (and the time and experience I have working with leaders and with numerous churches), the more I realize how important team and organization alignment is. Before you bring a person on, ask yourself if they will fit into the current DNA of the team and align with the purpose, vision and values of where you are headed. Are they team players or independent operators? Do they know how to sacrifice their personal agenda and preferences for the good of the whole, or will it be their way or the highway? Do other team members like the idea of working with them…would enjoy having them around?
5. Competence
It’s not that competence is unimportant, but there are others things that are equally as important--if not more important--such as Christ, Calling and Character. But we do, obviously, want people who are capable of doing what they are being asked to do, with excellence. 
Do they have the gifts, work ethic, experience and attitude to do good work? It says of Jesus in Mark 7:37, “And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’” Everything that Jesus did He did it with excellence. When he turned the water into wine it was the best wine! Work for the Savior should be the best we are capable of--no room for laziness, sloppiness, or mediocrity.
6. Capacity
When someone is added, they need to be added with the future in mind--not just the present. Do they have the capacity and learning mind-set so as to be able to keep up and continue to fit in as the church/organization grows? Are they adaptable, flexible and able to change when it is called for, or will significant growth outstrip them.
It’s not easy to get a handle on all six of these. That’s why we need to:
  • Trust the Lord and look to him as we make selections (James 1:5)
  • Ask lots of good questions
  • Take our time and not be in a hurry or in crises mode when deciding
  • Have multiple interviews with different team members
  • Hire from within as much as possible so we know who we’re getting

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

3 SHIFTS THAT EXPAND INFLUENCE

The way you treat others is the chief culture building influence in your organization.

Lousy leaders act like individual contributors. Incompetent leaders can’t see the impact of their attitudes, words, and actions.
Newton said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The relationships you enjoy, for example, begin with you.
When you focus on weaknesses and ignore strengths, others build protective walls.
Adversarial leaders invite conflict.
Passive leaders create anxiety.
Teams don’t practice accountability until leaders follow-up and follow-through.
When you confront tough issues with kindness, others have tough conversations with greater confidence.  

3 shifts that expand influence:

#1 Shift from who is right to what is right.
In one sense, leadership isn’t personal. The issue is the issue. It doesn’t matter who comes up with solutions. The person who screwed up last week might be this week’s genius.
#2. Shift from talking-at to talking-with.
Engagement requires “with.” The more you talk “at” the more you lose “with.” Talking-with requires humility, honesty, curiosity, openness, and forgiveness.
  1. Humility acknowledges the perspective and strengths of others.
  2. Honesty explains issues without hidden agendas.
  3. Curiosity asks, “What do you think?”
  4. Openness listens and explores. Defensiveness is the end of innovation.
  5. Forgiveness gives second chances after responsible failure. Honor sincere effort. Don’t punish ignorance.
#3. Shift from right and wrong to better.
Most issues are solved with progress. It’s about next steps, not moral imperatives. Stop judging so much. Start cheering more.
Complex issues have more than one answer. Their answer is better than yours, even if it’s not quite as good, because they own it.

Bonus: Shift from punishing to learning.
Treat responsible failure as a learning opportunity and risk is easier. But treat people like tools and you propagate self-serving attitudes.
Carol Dweck says the #1 quality of a growth mindset is learning from failure.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

5 UNEXPECTED STRATEGIES THAT MAKE LEADERS DISPROPORTIONATELY BETTER

A fantastic post by dan Rockwell!  A must read for every leader and practice!

#1. Liking. 
Think about things you like about the people on your team, even someone you’re managing out.
  1. Silently repeat, “I respect you,” when talking with others.
  2. Ask people what they think.
  3. Pat people on the back.
Don’t let people issues sour you on people.


#2. Routines. Establish a few. 
Predictability produces stability.
Which routine would make a difference in your leadership?
  1. Start the day slowly.15 minutes of morning quiet. Don’t look at your computer or email.
  2. Close your computer and put it out of sight at 7 p.m. everyday. 
  3. Schedule 15 to 30 minute walk-abouts every day at 2 p.m. (Afternoon is a great time to walk-about.)
    • Gratitude walks. 
    • What’s working walks.
    • How can I help walks.
    • Noticing walks. Just notice stuff.
    • Curiosity walks. 
    • Learn about people walks.
    • Celebrate progress walks.
#3. Clarifying wants.
It’s amazing that hard-working people often don’t know what they really want. And when you ask them what they want, the answer is often well below their dignity.
What do you you really want today? 
  1. Know what you want for others, yourself, and your team.
  2. Align your wants for others with their wants for themselves. 
Collisions between personal wants and team needs indicates a bad fit.
#4. Posture. 
Hold your head up. 
If you look down when you think, learn to look up or think less.
#5. Smiling. 
If you’re happy, tell your face. 
Isn’t it sad that the higher you go, the more your face droops? If you’re not happy, go make a difference for someone and smile about it. 
Bonus: People. Focus on them.
Leaders who sacrifice people in the process of getting results spend too much time on manipulative management techniques. 
The business of management and leadership IS people.
  1. Respect.
  2. Believe in.
  3. Encourage.
  4. Confront.
  5. Challenge.
  6. Coach.
  7. Mentor.
  8. Honor.
  9. Recognize.
  10. Promote.

Monday, 27 August 2018

ARE YOUR MICROMANAGING OR HOLDING PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE? THERE'S A BIG DIFFERENCE

A great post by dave craft!

How would I know if I am legitimately holding people accountable or hurtfully micromanaging them? 
Some of you may have taken the DISC assessment (which I use with all my coaching  clients.)  There is a section where it compares how you perceive yourself with how others perceive you.
For example, strong visionary types might see themselves as:
  • Pioneering
  • Positive
  • Assertive
  • Confident
 On the other hand, others may see them as:
  • Demanding
  • Egotistical
  • Aggressive
  • Controlling
One of these comparison situations that has gotten a lot of leaders in trouble is:
1.  They see themselves as appropriately holding people accountable
2.  Others see them as inappropriately micromanaging as they stifle creativity, innovation and gifting
Honestly, I have fallen into that situation myself.  I want to see things done in a certain way and, at times, rob people of doing it differently but still effectively.
I think the key is for a leader to work with people in such a way so as to keep the person motivated, encouraged and producing results without clipping their wings or doing all of their thinking for them. I am sure that trust plays a good part in this. The more I trust people, the less I need to “keep an eye on them,” which is negatively perceived and experienced as micromanaging.
If I don’t trust them to do what they have been assigned to do, I will more than likely wind up over-controlling them in some way and not see it for what it is.
The fact of the matter is that the more freedom you give people to fulfill their roles the way they’d like to, and are gifted to, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work and the more quality work they will do.
If leaders insist on doing all the thinking for their organizations; if everything has to be done their way, what’s left for the people who work for them to be proud of-- proud in a good sense.
How much personal satisfaction can there be in doing a job where people are asked to do things that are pretty much planned and dictated by someone else? Unfulfilled and controlled people can be just as serious a problem in the church or market place as inefficient methods.
Creating a climate that gives people a high degree of independence takes a lot of leadership skill.  It also hinges on the content of a job along with the judgment and ability of the person handling it. 
As a leader, if you have been accused of micromanaging (and are beginning to believe you are), here are a few ideas for you:
1.  Give capable people a clear idea of the results you want to achieve and leave the methods to them. Together, establish some stretching but realistic agreed-upon goals and then set them free to accomplish them in their own way.
2.  Suggest methods rather than dictating them, with the understanding that people are free to devise something better.
3.  Consult people affected by a problem or a proposed change, asking them for their ideas, regardless of whether you think you need them or not.
4.  Enrich jobs by delegating decisions as far down the line as possible.  If a person on your team (or in your employ) is capable of making certain decisions effectively, why have it referred to someone else?  Read “Levels of Authority” by Michael Hyatt found under the “Articles” tab at DaveKraft.org for some excellent ideas on how to do this.
5.  Guide people to think of constructive suggestions you may already have in mind as opposed to simply announcing them yourself. Personal ownership empowers and motivates.
6.  Get weigh-in and buy-in before making decisions. People who have input in the development of a plan are much more likely to be interested in carrying out that plan.
7.  Eliminate as many rules and regulations as possible and allow people freedom and creativity as long as they produce excellent results. Let’s be honest. A lot of rules, policies and guidelines exist because we don’t trust the people we’ve hired (or recruited as volunteers) to work with us.
Leaders who successfully practice these seven ideas will enjoy excellent morale and discover that people actually get more done and do it with a great attitude. 

Thursday, 16 August 2018

THE ONE BEHAVIOR THAT MOST ADVANCES YOUR LEADERSHIP

A great post by Dan RocKwell!

Seeking feedback is at the top of the biggest leadership failures. 

Everytime I’m asked about giving feedback, I ask, “What are you doing to seek feedback?” I do this because leaders model the way. 
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Albert Schweitzer
Excellence and feedback:
Imagine practicing foul shots or field goals but never seeing if they went in. You could practice for weeks but never improve.
Excellence requires passion, persistence, principles, clarity, direction, and more. But lack of feedback always holds you back.
Sadly, feedback from employees suggests they seldom receive sufficient feedback.
If you aren’t giving enough feedback, you aren’t getting enough feedback either.
Two questions:
#1. How can you ask for feedback and not feel subservient to others? 
Serving is strength; subservience is weakness.
Seeking feedback indicates strength.
Inviting feedback suggests the strength of passion and resolve to make progress. 
#2. How can you ask for feedback without others feeling superior to you? (Questions from a workshop participant.)
  1. Consider feedback a two-way exchange. One directional feedback encourages superior to inferior dynamics.
  2. Divide the exchange of feedback into separate conversations. Ask for feedback but don’t give feedback during the same conversation.
  3. Engage in open ended feedback conversations. “Let’s talk about how I’m doing as a leader.” (But avoid any hint that you’ve asked for feedback as an excuse to give it.)
  4. Extend honor. Protecting the ego of others opens the heart to receive tough feedback. People need to feel important, useful, even powerful. Exchanging feedback isn’t a pissing contest.
Two observations:
  1. “How am I doing?” usually results in useless feedback.
  2. “How is my hands-off approach working with you?” invites specific feedback about behaviors. 
Useful feedback is specific and timely.