Effective Peer Leader-shift: Thinking Critically

Leaders, by definition (if not practice) have followers. Leaders find, recruit, and train followers for specific tasks. While this is an important task in any organization, a leader who can only lead followers is limited. To make it to the next level of leadership, a leader must be able to lead other leaders – those alongside them.

Leading peers is a unique challenge, no matter what organization a leader is part of. A highly competent leader who is seen – rightly or wrongly – to have considerable influence with his boss is often at a disadvantage when it comes to peer-to-peer relationships.

To succeed at leading alongside your peers, you must work at giving your colleagues reasons to respect and follow you. You do that by helping them win, and in doing so, you will not only help your organization but you will also help yourself.

SOLUTION #1: Shift from critic to critical thinker

THE QUICK SUMMARY – How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins

Are you letting your lack of authority paralyze you?

One of the greatest myths of leadership is that you must be in charge in order to lead. Great leaders don’t buy it. Great leaders lead with or without the authority and learn to unleash their influence wherever they are.

With practical wisdom and humor, Clay Scroggins will help you nurture your vision and cultivate influence, even when you lack authority in your organization. And he will free you to become the great leader you want to be so you can make a difference right where you are. Even when you’re not in charge.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

As a leader, you have undoubtedly been told “no” at some point in your life. When that happens, what is your typical reaction? Do you become cynical and defensive, or do you redirect that energy into a more positive direction?

Leaders who want to become a positive influence with their peers must learn how to overcome the tendency to be critical and become a critical thinker.

Great leaders know how to listen, watch, connect the dots, and fix problems because they’re able to think critically.

If you are seeking to develop the skills of a critical thinker, there are four subtle shifts you must make.

Shift #1 – Stop thinking as an employee.

Start thinking as an owner.

Owners see things others don’t see.

Owners have more buy-in than others do.

Owners care more deeply because their future depends on it.

If there is trash in the hallway or in the parking lot, employees may decide to walk past it. Or worse, they call someone in facilities to pick up the trash. Owners pick up the trash because it’s their reputation on the line.

Shift #2 – Stop stacking your meetings.

Start scheduling thinking meetings.

As a staff member, you often get sucked into a multitude of meetings. It’s the natural gravitational pull of any organization. The worst is having a stack of meetings, back to back. While this may seem efficient, it can also be an enemy of critical thinking. You get to the end of the day and realize you’ve generated no new thoughts or new ideas.

Schedule space to think critically, marking it down like a meeting, at points throughout the day. The greatest enemy of thinking critically is an overcrowded schedule.

Shift #3 – Stop being critical.

Start thinking critically.

If thinking critically is a skill, being critical is a snare. Many leaders don’t want to be critical. They don’t sit around planning to be cynics, but they still get caught in the trap.

The key difference between someone who is critical and someone who is a critical thinker is motive. People who are critical want you to lose. They’re bringing problems, not solutions.

People who are great critical thinkers want you to win. They’re motivated to make something better.

Shift #4 – Stop giving others a grade.

Start lending them a hand.

No one likes the feeling of being constantly measured and monitored. If you’re not careful, your critical thinking will make others feel like you’re giving them grades.

This is not about whether you should convey the thoughts that could better those around you. It’s about how you pass on those thoughts. When you communicate critical thoughts to others, you need to do so with a helping hand, not a grading tone.

Clay Scroggins, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge

A NEXT STEP

On a chart tablet, write each of the shifts, leaving space below each one to add comments.

Set aside time to review your actions in the last week, focusing on activities in which you were involved with one or more of your peers.

Write down, under each shift, the actions that fit the first part of the shifts – the “negatives.” For each one, write out how you can make the shift as described in the second part of the phrase.

Take the initiative to review these actions with your peers, and ask them to comment on the shift you would like to enact.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 79-1, issued November 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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The 5 Non-negotiables of Leadership

What does a leader do? The answers (and books) are endless. But there are five things every leader must do for the organization they lead, not least of which when it comes to the church.

1. Uphold Core Values

Every organization has a set of core values (At least, I hope they do). It is the leader’s job to uphold those values. To make sure they are followed, honored and embraced. If a core value is “excellence,” then that value is only as real and formative as a leader makes it by upholding it throughout the organization.

At Meck we have 10:

  • The Bible is true and the catalyst for life change.
  • Lost people matter to God and, therefore, they should matter to us.
  • We aim to be culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally pure.
  • It is normal to manifest authenticity and to grow spiritually.
  • We want to be a unified community of servants stewarding their spiritual gifts.
  • Loving relationships should permeate the life of the church.
  • Life change happens best through relationships.
  • Excellence honors God and inspires people.
  • We are to be led by leaders and structured biblically.
  • Full devotion to Christ is normal.

My job is to uphold all 10; celebrating when one is fleshed out, admonishing when one is not.

2. Cast Missional Vision

If there was one task almost universally affirmed for a leader, it is casting vision. But not just any vision – it must be the casting of missional vision. If we’re taking a hill, you need to define where the hill is and why it is worth taking.

Meaning: “Here’s the target on the wall. Here’s what we’re trying to do.”

On a more personal level, casting missional vision is helping individuals see how they are contributing to the vision in ways that expand their own vision about their investment.

It’s walking up to a person serving in the nursery and saying: “I’m so glad you’re serving. Thank you. Because of you, there’s a young couple in the service able to explore what Christ can mean for their lives. That’s what you’re doing.”

3. Create Unity

The Bible teaches that the number one requirement for becoming a pastor is leading your own personal family well. Why? Because the church is a family. Almost every organization would be served by being led as if it were a family. The question is whether it is a functional family or a dysfunctional family. The answer lies in whether the “parent” does the hard work of keeping everyone unified relationally.

A good leader works to bring parties together, work through conflict, and create open lines of communication. I’ll never forget a time when my two daughters were at a relational impasse at the tender ages of 8 and 6. Susan sat them down, brought them together and helped them talk it through. It ended, if I recall, in a time of prayer.

My wife is a good leader. My daughters are close friends to this day.

That is the goal organizationally.

4. Give Permission

Only a leader can give permission. This isn’t about control, but the privilege of turning people loose. A leader enables people to develop their gifts, chase ministry dreams, take risks and explore new ventures. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament letter of Ephesians that the job of a church leader is to equip people for ministry. A leader clears the way for people to follow paths of God’s design and leading.

Going further, a good leader sees things in people and encourages them to explore things they never dreamed of for themselves. So it’s not simply permission, but provocation. It’s putting your arm around someone’s shoulders and saying, “I see you doing this,” or “I think you could make a difference here.”

5. Develop Other Leaders

I don’t know if I have ever read this statement (I can’t believe it would be original to me), but I believe it to the core of my being: “Only a leader can develop another leader.”

Which means that developing other leaders is one of the indispensable things a leader must do. At Meck, we’ve developed an entire Leadership Development Program through which we take 100 burgeoning leaders annually. It’s a one-year program that requires reading six books, attending three seminars (on leadership, mission and values, and the personal life of the leader), attending a three-day retreat (covering a course on systematic theology), cohort gatherings, engaging the annual Church & Culture Conference, and more.

Sound robust? It is.

It’s also one of the most important things I do.

So there are five things a leader must do. There are many more, of course, but these five?

All are musts.


Talk with an Auxano Navigator about leadership in your church.


> Read more from James Emery White.

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James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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Why Seeking Jesus Makes You a Better Leader

Years ago, a sweet lady in our church handed me a little slip of paper to encourage me on my journey. I unfolded it and it read:

God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called.

I’m not sure who said it originally, but I’ve heard and repeated it many times since.

And then, as I was re-reading J. Oswald Sanders’ classic work on Spiritual Leadership, I stumbled across this paragraph…

Often truly authoritative leadership falls on someone who years earlier dedicated themselves to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God. Then, as that person matures, God confers a leadership role, and the Spirit of God goes to work through him. When God’s searching eye finds a person qualified to lead, God anoints that person with the Holy Spirit and calls him or her to a special ministry.

I think the distinction we sometimes miss is that God welcomes everyone into his family, entirely by grace and on the basis of the blood of his Son, Jesus, without respect to any qualification in us. We’re all welcome – every last broken one of us.

But when it comes to leadership, God bestows influence and authority on those who have proven to be faithful stewards of smaller responsibilities.

In other words, leaders must be prepared.

But what does that mean? What kind of preparation is pre-requisite to being used mightily by God?

  • It’s not simply a matter of education – plenty of men and women with no formal education have changed the world.
  • It’s not simply a matter of time – the Apostle Paul preached days after his conversion (though he did then go to Arabia for three years of study under Jesus).
  • It’s not simply a matter of position – leadership is influence, with or without a title.

It’s a matter of having a heart fully surrendered to God.

Notice what Sanders points to as the sign of a person ready for God’s full anointing as a leader – “someone who years earlier dedicated themselves to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God.”

God raises up and blesses and anoints those for great impact on the world those who have sought the Kingdom of God first and foremost in their lives.

I’ve been guilty, at times, of building my own little kingdom. Without realizing it, a few steps in the wrong direction spiritually places us at the center of our own universe. There, our objective becomes building a life all about our comfort and accomplishments.

But when we realize and acknowledge that King Jesus alone belongs on the throne and as loyal subjects, our prime objective must become the ushering in of the Kingdom of Jesus all around us.

If you want to lead, seek more of Jesus. And seek more for Jesus – more souls in need of him and more glory for him.

Read more from Brandon.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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The Greatest Value You Can Add to Your Team is Theirs

Unless you are a robotic leader without any heart, you want your team to know you care for them. More specifically, you want each person on the team to know he or she is valued. When there is a healthy relationship between team member and supervisor, work is much more enjoyable and rewarding. When trust is high, team members operate with confidence and freedom. When the relationships are not strong, work is stifled and the joy of the job can be lost.

So how can a leader let each person on the team know they are valued? Harry Reis, a researcher and social psychologist, has invested decades studying what makes a relationship strong, and according to the research, the guiding principle of all healthy relationship is responsiveness. This makes sense when we think about the example of bad customer experience we have endured in our lives. When we are ignored, we feel undervalued. The reason we are so deeply frustrated with bad customer service is we feel we are not being responded to.

But when people feel they are being responded to, their connection with the other person increases significantly. When people you serve sense that you are responding specifically to them they know they are valued. Here are four ways leaders should respond to each person on the team.

1. Respond to their victories.

When those you lead meet a goal, solve a significant problem, or make an impact, respond to them and their victory. If they never hear from you in those moments, they likely wonder if you notice or care. When you recognize people on your team for their wins, you show you value their contribution.

2. Respond to their roadblocks.

Part of a leader’s role is to remove roadblocks that get in the way of each person on the team. If someone on your team knows you are making things easier for them to be successful, they know you care.

3. Respond to their struggles.

If you played sports in high school, you may have heard your coach yell, “Don’t worry if I am yelling at you. Worry if I stop yelling at you.” And while we may not have appreciated the yelling, the message was clear—if the coach was still exhorting you, the coach still believed in you. If he stopped, his belief in you had already stopped. If you ignore the problems with people on your team, they will assume you don’t care as much as you once did.

4. Respond to their lives.

The people on your team are real people (not merely folks who crank out work) with lives, hopes, dreams, and pain. When you respond to the lives of those you lead, you show that you value the person, not just what the person does.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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4 “SHIPS” that Mark Great Leadership

Churches should be run by teams of volunteers—those committed to work together for the cause of Christ, serving one another and the world, because they have been gifted and called to do so.

Yet, this is an ongoing struggle for many churches. Perhaps it is an ongoing struggle for EVERY church.

When I was serving my church in Tennessee, I shared with them the kind of things we looked for in our ministry teams. We weren’t perfect, but we were looking for ministry teams that would be in partnership with the staff, would take ownership of areas of ministry, would be part of the fellowship of the church, and would be involved in apprenticeship to raise up new people to serve with them.

These four things—partnership, ownership, fellowship, and apprenticeship—are key for a church that is serving one another and a hurting world in the name of Christ. As such, let’s explore them one at a time.

1. Partnership

The first step to becoming a part of a ministry team is to exercise partnership.

At the beginning, most volunteers will speak of their ministry as “helping” a staff member—you want them to move beyond that and see their role as leading the ministry as a partner with the staff. They become co-laborers.

For example, at the church plant where I was teaching pastor in Tennessee, we had lay leaders who assisted with finances. They become key ministry leaders by altering their definition and expectation of their ministry. Rather than being a helper to me or the executive pastor, they became a partner with the specific staff member managing a financial area of ministry. It’s their ministry now—we are partners.

This shift in mentality will bolster leaders’ sense of responsibility and encourage forward thinking rather than simply taking orders. Partners in ministry take charge, working together to recruit other partners and to plan and oversee weekly responsibilities.

2. Ownership

The second facet of key leaders is their ability and propensity to take ownership.

When people see themselves in ministry as empowered, they eventually own their ministries. They learn about it so they can do it better (and leads others in that ministry). In order to be most effective, key leaders discuss the vision with staff members, read books about successful practices, attend conferences or training events, or contact ministry workers from other churches who have established similar ministry areas. As a result of their study, key leaders will be equipped to provide confident, informed leadership of their area.

Sometimes, lay leaders may feel uncomfortable taking ownership because they do not wish to overstep a staff member’s job description. Sometimes staff are too insecure to let a non-pastor own a ministry. However, staff members who understand the importance of raising up key leaders should express their desire for ministry partners to take ownership under their headship. Staff members and key leaders need to view their roles as partners with staff members equipping and key leaders owning.

3. Fellowship

The third important area within key leadership is that of fellowship.

Ministry team members within the church must be involved in the small group ministry of your church. Everyone who is serving needs to be in community—one is not exclusive of the other. Even pastors need to be in small groups.

Small groups are not simply a tack on to the important ministry that takes place in the worship service and preaching. Rather, people who do not move from sitting in rows on Sunday morning to sitting in circles in an authentic community will likely drop out of church, not grow spiritually, and not connect with others.

Without that connectivity, individuals can go through incredibly difficult times and remain isolated and without support. Thus, key leaders must lead the way into genuine community with other believers. Ministry teams must see it as normal to be involved in small groups. That’s the only way they’ll know the people with whom they are partnering in ministry.

4. Apprenticeship

In partnering, pastors equip lay leaders to do works of ministry. Through that partnership, ministry teams and key leaders take up ownership and say, “I will lead; I will own this area.” Ministry teams and key leaders then model and live out fellowship by being involved in community.

The final significant aspect of key leaders is apprenticeship.

As churches continue to grow, more and more ministry team members must participate in ministry and resolve to become key leaders. Otherwise, the foundational group of key leaders will be unable to sustain the growing numbers of people to whom they minister. For example, if an outreach team of three helps a church of 200 remember to do outreach by planning events and mobilizing strategies, an outreach team of five or six will be needed to minister to a church of 300. Similarly, as the number of attending families grows, so must the number of children’s ministry leaders.

Thus, churches must think in terms of multiplication of ministry teams and key leaders—more in partnership, ownership, and fellowship. As ministry team members commit to become key leaders, they should look for other individuals to come alongside and instruct in their specific ministry role. Since roles will expand as a church grows, key leaders must recruit and train new leaders to step into expanding roles.

Apprenticeship toward partnership, ownership, and fellowship will lead to a vibrant church life filled with multiplying leaders.

A Vision for Developing Leaders

Pastors, ministry teams, and key leaders must work together to create a healthy leadership culture in which ministry teams members partner with staff members to provide intentional leadership over an area of ministry.

Within that ministry, key leaders must take ownership over its implementation and its multiplication by practicing apprenticeship with promising volunteers. As key leaders engage in partnership, ownership, fellowship, and apprenticeship, they will afford their ministry area room to grow, and, as a result, do their part to ensure the continued growth of the church.

That helps us to move beyond church as a spectator sport and to look more like 1 Peter 4:10 where, “based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

> Read more from Ed.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how your church can develop leaders.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Leading Your Team to Work Together Part Two: Culture

How do you help your staff work together as a true team, not just a collection of individuals?

Mention the word “team” and most people think in context of a sports activity. That may be the primary association with a team – a group of people we observe or cheer for, but in some way, everyone works together with others to achieve a goal: families, schools, businesses, non-profits – these are all teams.

Your church staff is a team as well. Are your leaders functioning in unison as a team or operating individually as a collection of individuals?

When you are part of a team, you’re not giving up your individual goals or sacrificing your personal success. Instead, team members set their sights on an even higher goal in order to magnify greater success.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – WORK RULES! by Laszlo Bock

From the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work-and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.

Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries-including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history’s most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into principles that are easy to put into action, whether you’re a team of one or a team of thousands.

WORK RULES! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Culture can be described as the operationalizing of an organization’s values. Culture guides employee decisions about both technical decisions and how they interact with others. Good culture creates an internal coherence in actions taken by a very diverse group of employees.

A strong, vibrant culture stimulates people to both be and do their very best and reach the highest goals. Leaders point the way forward, but they invite meaningful participation from every person at all levels of the organization

Culture is the DNA of the organization and is in large part created by the founders – not by their words so much as their actions.

Once youve chosen to think and act like a founder, your next decision is about what kind of culture you want to create. What are the beliefs you have about your people, and do you have the courage to treat people the way your beliefs suggest?

Google has three defining aspects of their culture: mission, transparency, and voice.

A mission that matters

Google’s mission – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – is the first cornerstone of their culture.

This kind of mission gives individuals’ work meaning, because it is a moral rather than a business goal. The most powerful movements in history have had moral motivations, whether they were quests for independence or equal rights.

If you believe people are good, you must be unafraid to share information with them.

Transparency is the second cornerstone of Google’s culture.

Assume that all information can be shared with the team, instead of assuming that no information can be shared. Restricting information should be conscious effort, and you’d better have a good reason for do so. The benefit of such openness is that everyone in the organization knows what’s going on.

All of us want control over our own destinies.

Voice is the third cornerstone of Google’s culture.

Voice means giving employees a real say in how the organization is run. Either you believe people are good and you welcome their input, or you don’t. For many organizations this is terrifying, but it is the only way to live in adherence to your values.

The case for finding a compelling mission, being transparent, and giving your people voice is in part a pragmatic one. The growing global cadre of talented, mobile, motivated professionals and entrepreneurs demand these kinds of environments. Over the coming decades the most gifted, hardest working, people on the planet will gravitate to places where they can do meaningful work and help shape the destiny of their organizations. But the case is also a moral one, rooted in the simplest maxim of all: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Laszlo Bock, Work Rules!

A NEXT STEP

For your next team meeting, create three chart tablets, titling them Mission, Transparency, and Voice.

For the first, write down your church’s mission, a clear and concise statement that defines what your church is ultimately supposed to be doing. Ask each team member to reflect on how they are contributing to the mission. Ask them to list areas where they are struggling, and have the team provide ideas and support in these areas.

For the second, discuss the level of transparency in your organization. On a scale of 1 (nobody knows anything) to 10 (our default is to be a totally open and transparent organization), where does your organization fall? Come to a group consensus about what level of transparency is important and how to improve your transparency over the next three months. Schedule a date three months from now to review this exercise.

For the third, discuss the level of voice in your organization. On a scale of 1 (team input is not welcome) to 10 (team input is welcome and expected), where does your organization fall? Come to a group consensus about improving the voice of team members over the next three months. Schedule a date three months from now to review this exercise.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 60-2, released February 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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Clarity Process

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Keys to Unlocking the Power of Your Leadership Energy

Some leaders seem to bring more energy to the mix than others.

Leadership energy is more about intentionality than personality. Yes, some leaders have bigger personalities than others, but there is much more to leadership than charisma, “woo” and persona. In fact, personality alone can be detrimental to enduring leadership.

Many great leaders are reserved, introspective or introverted. Again, it’s not about personality; it’s more about making something happen. Great leaders don’t just get things done, they make things happen. There is a big difference. Being a closer – that is successfully finishing what you start, is a vital part of successful leadership, but making things happen is the action that triggers momentum.

The flashing yellow caution light is about leaders who are willing to coast in the wake of other leader’s energy and effort. Those who are willing to let the rest of the team carry the weight of anything from prayer and deep thinking, to making that one extra phone call, does not help the team. In fact, over time, they hurt the team.

The Apostle Paul writes about his energy as a leader.

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energyChrist so powerfully works in me. 

Colossians 1:27-29

Paul makes three things clear.

  1. The purpose is proclaiming Christ, and helping followers become mature.
  2. Paul gives it all he’s got. (strenuously contents, with ALL his energy)
  3. The source of energy is Jesus.

This is how we know the playing field is more equal than personality alone would reveal. It is Christ working in and through us. That is the starting place for all of us.

Then what parts are up to you and me?

What can you do to activate the fullness of the energy that God places in you?

6 questions to help you maximize your leadership energy:

1) Are you all in?

Do you love your role and responsibility as a leader? If you are on staff, are you called and passionate or is it just a job? Can those around you count on you or are you quietly holding back, watching, and letting others carry the load?

It’s impossible to maximize your effort and energy if you are not all in where you’re at. Jump in all the way, commit! If there is a risk, it’s all in your favor!

2) Are you fighting any distractions?

We all face distractions. They might be financially related, about a difficult relationship, or health oriented. The list of possibilities is long. Distractions must be intentionally battled. They never go away by themselves.

Temporary distractions are commonplace, and you can usually handle them. But long-term distractions often require help to resolve. Give the things you can’t control to God, and take action to shut down the distractions you can.

3) Are you in the right place?

Are you serving in the right place? I’m not suggesting that you make a change. But if you are uncertain that you are leading in the right environment for you, you will hold back and not leverage your full capacity.

You can’t lead with full energy if you lack confidence you are on the right team. If you are not certain, get wise counsel and decide.

4) Are you physically in shape?

You don’t need to eat Paleo, flip tires, and bench-press Buicks to be in good shape for your age and body type. But it is important to keep active. Choose something you like that is easily accessible, and stick with it. Think decades, not New Year’s resolutions.

If you are exercising regularly, great, keep it up. If you are more sedentary than you would like, do something simple. Take a walk. Just go out your front door, and keep moving. If you walk briskly for 40 minutes 4 times a week, it will have a fantastic impact on your overall well-being and energy level.

5) Is your mental attitude positive?

There is a great truth about the difference between your cup being half empty or half full. Think about it. Who do you like being around more? Negative people or positive people? Negative people are draining. But the surprising truth is that the person they drain the most is themselves.

The wonderful news here is that your attitude is a choice!

6) Is your personal life in order?

You may not be able to resolve a struggle at home quickly, but progress increases hope and thereby increases your energy for everything you do.

It may be as simple as an apology, or perhaps formal counseling is needed, or maybe it’s intentional time with your kids. Take the first step toward progress today.

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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The One Undeniable Mark of a Great Leader

Procrastination has a high cost. When we cram for tests, we get lower grades. When we wait until the deadline to file taxes, we miss things and make costly mistakes. When we put off difficult conversations, we hurt people and relationships.

And the cost of procrastination in ministry can be significantly higher. For us, procrastination isn’t measured in dollars; it is measured in ministries never started, people with needs going unmet, and those who are spiritually lost never hearing the Gospel.

The Bible says in James 4:17, “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not to do it”(NLT). When God calls you to do something, but you don’t do it, it’s not just a bad strategy or a missed blessing. It is sin.

If God has called you to do something in your ministry and you are not doing it, do it now! Not next month, next week, or even tomorrow—do it right now.

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring” (NLT). None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. You may not have the opportunity tomorrow to do what God has called you to do. You could be saying you’ll do it someday. That someday is today! One of these days is none of these days. Do it today. Start right now!

I talk to people who say they’re planning to do something in ministry. And I always want to ask, “When are you going to pull the trigger?” They’ve been taking aim for years, yet they never seem to get around to pulling the trigger.

Don’t be like that. You need to pull the trigger. These three words could change your ministry forever: Do it now!

Spend a few minutes right now and write down one thing you know God wants you to do in your ministry. Whatever it is, write it down and then put that note in a place where you can’t miss it — like on your bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator.

But don’t just write it down. Don’t just read it on your refrigerator. Do it — now! Every time you catch yourself saying you’ll do it later, it should be a warning light that says you’re procrastinating. There’s no better time than now. This is the moment of truth. There’s got to be a time in your life when you stop intending and start acting. Stop making excuses.

NASA says that getting the rocket off the launch pad requires the most amount of energy. Once the rocket is in orbit, it takes a lot less energy to keep moving forward. That’s why you need to get started now. The initial thrust will start you moving forward.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Three Lessons for Broken Leaders

I am broken. I lead a community of broken people called a church. And we often say, unapologetically, that we are a community of the broken who have good news for the broken.

Don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean that we’re “broken” in the sense that we’re rendered useless by our imperfections. The opposite is actually true. We’re made more useful, and we discover our greatest purpose through our pain and suffering.

A. W. Tozer is often credited with a quote I’ve shared a few times myself,

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

And without fail, every time I share it, I get pushback and it usually revolves around the idea that God would never hurt us, right? Isn’t his plan for our lives more along the lines of health, wealth, and prosperity?

But consider the context in which Tozer wrote his statement…

We tend to think of Christianity as a painless system by which we can escape the penalty of past sins and attain to heaven at last. The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ at any cost is not often found among us. We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and to sit down around the table with sages, saints and martyrs; and through the grace of God, maybe we shall; yes, maybe we shall. But for the most of us it could prove at first an embarrassing experience. Ours might be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes who have fought the fight and won the victory and who have scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined.

The devil, things and people being what they are, it is necessary for God to use the hammer, the file and the furnace in His holy work of preparing a saint for true sainthood. It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

~ A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (p. 165).

So it isn’t that God causes evil to come into our lives for no purpose. Rather, it is that he uses the suffering we endure for our good, to prepare and shape our character so that we’re up to the task of leadership.

I happen to be a pastor who struggles with depression. And I’m not alone.

I’ve spent nearly a decade networking with pastors and church leaders all over the world and I never cease to be surprised at the number who, in private conversation, will divulge their own battles with depression and loneliness.

We’re supposed to be strong, right? We have to be the bold leader, the model of victory and spiritual triumph!!

But I’ve learned, after two decades in pastoral ministry, that the best leaders are the broken leaders.

They’ve been hurt and will be hurt more, and they experience God’s healing.

They suffer weakness, and they experience God’s strength.

We often have a certain picture of what depression looks like, but many who struggle do so in between all of the working and parenting and the rest of the busyness of life. Charles Spurgeon struggled with periodic depression while growing one of the greatest churches in Europe.

He led a school for aspiring ministry leaders and compiled the manuscripts of talks he had given to those students called Lectures to My Students, which includes a chapter entitled “The Minister’s Fainting Fits.”

He opens the chapter acknowledging that “Fits of depression overcome the most of us.” So again, you’re never alone in your brokenness – it’s more common than you will ever realize.

He continues…

Even under the economy of redemption it is most clear that we are to endure infirmities, otherwise there were no need of the promised Spirit to help us in them. It is of need be that we are sometimes in heaviness…

We have the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels, and if there be a flaw in the vessel here and there, let none wonder. Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression…

All mental work tends to weary and to depress, for much study is a weariness of the flesh; but ours is more than mental work–it is heart work, the labor of our inmost soul.

And in our common naivety, we often assume that depression is merely the result of sin, or of satanic attack. But Spurgeon points out something very important…

When at last a long-cherished desire is fulfilled, when God has been glorified greatly by our means, and a great triumph achieved, then we are apt to faint. It might be imagined that amid special favors our soul would soar to heights of ecstasy, and rejoice with joy unspeakable, but it is generally the reverse. The; Lord seldom exposes his warriors to the perils of exultation over victory; he knows that few of them can endure such a test, and therefore dashes their cup with bitterness.

In other words, depression often catches us off guard because it follows victory as much as it follows defeat.

That tendency to withdraw, to isolate, to allow the negative thoughts to override truth, can be the result of quite natural causes such as a backlash to the adrenaline rush of passionately preaching to a welcoming crowd or a natural imbalance in the chemicals in our brains.

When I hear a fellow Christian speak about depression as an issue of spiritual warfare that merely requires more faith and prayer, I always say Yes!!! AND… you should also talk to your doctor about possible physical causes and a counselor about the role of past traumatic experiences. Let’s approach the issue holistically.

In other words, sometimes depression can be the result of unconfessed sin. It can also be the result of our circumstances. It may sometimes be satanic oppression. It can simply be the natural low we experience after the emotional high of a victorious moment. And it can also be a physical issue on the same level as diabetes or chronic anemia.

Regardless of the cause, here are three huge lessons I’ve had to learn over the last few years.

Lesson #1: Denying our brokenness doesn’t work for long.

I spent at least a dozen years trying to be the best pastor I could be. I wanted to fit the role, lead well, and if I’m being honest, impress the church and keep everybody happy.

So I wore my suit and my smile and tried to do all the pastor things people expect the pastor to do.

And when criticism came or when conflict arose, I bottled it away so that I could later use it as an excuse to check out mentally and emotionally from real engagement with people.

When Angie and I moved to southern California where I joined the staff as a pastor at Saddleback Church, I was badly broken and I didn’t even know it.

Within the first couple of months of life in our new surroundings, various pressures brought my pain to the surface. Our marriage struggled under the weight of it until a couple of breaking points occurred.

We joined a small group that embraced us, helped us to finally open up about our issues, and encouraged us in our walk.

I also saw our staff counselor, who would provide counseling to any staff member in absolute confidence. Pastor Rick Warren encourages his staff members to seek out counseling without fear or shame, and for the first time, I told a fellow pastor about all of my deepest issues.

I’m convinced God moved us to southern California not simply to help Saddleback minister to leaders in the global church, but also because he wanted us to plant a church but knew I wasn’t ready on a spiritual and emotional level.

When we started Grace Hills Church, we weren’t perfect or completely healed from all of our hurts, but we were absolutely committed to not faking it anymore.

We would start a church as broken leaders, for broken people. It would be a safe place for people to come with their brokenness and find healing and restoration in the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection!

Denying your brokenness can help you succeed… for a season. But if you want to thrive and become all that God has purposed for you to become, you’ll have to be broken.

Lesson #2: There is healing in the cross of Christ.

Is it possible for God to instantly and miraculously take away all of your brokenness?

Sure. Anything is possible with God. But it isn’t normative. And if you require complete and miraculous healing from God in order to be satisfied with him, you’ll miss out on the joy of coming to know his long, slow process of developing you into Christlike maturity.

Remember that Paul received something greater than a miraculous deliverance from his thorn in the flesh. He was privileged to learn through suffering that God’s grace is enough.

God works patiently with us, like a master artisan, re-shaping us into the masterpiece he knows we can be so that we can show to others the beauty of what his grace can accomplish.

Lesson #3: I lead best when I own my brokenness.

The world’s greatest influencers aren’t merely rich and famous. Those who have the most impact on any generation are leaders acquainted with suffering, who own their brokenness.

Spurgeon continued writing about how God uses our dark nights of the soul to develop us into the effective leaders he desires for us to be…

The scouring of the vessel has fitted it for the Master’s use. Immersion in suffering has preceded the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Fasting gives an appetite for the banquet. The Lord is revealed in the backside of the desert, while his servant keepeth the sheep and waits in solitary awe. The wilderness is the way to Canaan. The low valley leads to the towering mountain. Defeat prepares for victory. The raven is sent forth before the dove. The darkest hour of the night precedes the day-dawn…

Such mature men as some elderly preachers are, could scarcely have been produced if they had not been emptied from vessel to vessel, and made to see their own emptiness and the vanity of all things round about them.

I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I’m in process, but I’m making progress by the grace of God as I come to understand that it isn’t my strength that brings success or influence. It is actually God’s strength, made perfect in my weaknesses that can profoundly affect the world around me.

To any leader reading this, my greatest encouragement would be to embrace your pain. Own your brokenness. And reach out – to your spouse, a mentor, a counselor, or a close friend.

Victory comes after our momentary defeats, and though grief lasts through the night, joy comes in the morning!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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10 Ways to Use Your Mission Statement Today

No, you don’t need a cooler mission statement so you can call it a mantra. No you don’t need a better sounding slogan. You need to know what the heck your church or ministry is ultimately supposed to be doing and you need to state in a clear, concise and compelling way. This is a leadership statement to direct and integrate all of your thinking, speaking and acting. Let me repeat- this is a leadership statement, not a marketing statement.

Start leading today by doing one or more of these activities.

#1 Rewrite your mission on a sheet of paper as many times as there are words in it. Each time write a different word in ALL CAPS. Reflect on each word of the mission. (Note: If your mission has more than 20 words in it, its too long. Proceed to idea #7)

#2 Look at your worship guide from last Sunday. List all of the ministry opportunity categories that were promoted and force rank them with regard to how effective each is at fulfilling the mission. (Great to do as a team.)

#3 Write the mission real big on a white board or white pad in your office and see how people interact with it.

#4 Ask the next ten people you meet in your church office or church service  if they know the mission of the church. (Make it fun and tell them you are doing research for blogger friend.) Pay attention to their response. (And let me know what happened.)

#5 Do this exercise with a person you are eating lunch with: Write the mission on a napkin and ask them, “What does this mission mean to you?” Listen. Then ask them, “When, if at all, did this mission come into your conscious thought?” Listen again.

#6 Create a five minute devotional using your mission, finding an appropriate biblical text to share.  Use the devotional with the different groups you lead this week.

#7 Read this FREE chapter from Church Unique on mission. It’s called Carry the Holy Orders. If you need to re-articulate your mission statement, spend 30 minutes planning time and decision-making steps to get it done.

#8 Make a list of five people that you believe model the mission of your ministry. Send all five of them a quick note to say something like, “Thanks for living the mission. You inspire me!”

#9 Write your personal “shadow mission.” What tends to drive you practically? What tends to drive your church practically? Go ahead and really write it out. (For example, a shadow mission might be, “We want to draw bigger crowds every Sunday with great teaching and worship.”  Compare and contrast the shadow mission with the real mission. Repent. Share this with other leaders.

#10 Spend time in prayer with you leadership team using your mission. Create time and space to pray through the mission and each word of the mission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Clarity Process

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