10 Ideas for Personal Leadership Development

The work of the minister, pastor, elder, and/or church leader is to equip the church as a whole and believers individually for God’s work in the world. But how do the equippers get equipped?

On a recent vacation from my full-time work as a pastor, I spent the time in three specific ways:

  • Unhurried time with my wife Angie
  • Reading seven books on a few topics (pictured here)
  • Prayerfully discussing and dreaming about the future

A church leader expends great effort and energy in developing other disciples. We do so on a micro level of individual discipling and training. We do it on a macro level of developing a church wide system for moving people from unbelief to globally-engaged disciples. So how is a church leader to engage in personal development? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Ask your church to make it a priority. Ministers fail to engage in personal development because they are fearful it’s perceived incorrectly. Discuss this issue with the leaders of your church whether they be an elder board, personnel committee, or church council.

2. Schedule time for personal development. If you do not block it off on your calendar, the tyranny of the urgent will undermine your effort. Plus, what is on your calendar is a declaration of your priorities.

3. Budget financial resources for it. A great deal of personal development does not cost any money. But books, online courses, the occasional conference, or a trip to the counselor requires payment. Ask your church to make a commitment and then do the same from your own resources. Like a calendar, our budget is a declaration of your priorities.

4. Vary your spiritual content that you consume. I generally consume material from people who I agree with first and second order issues. However, it is beneficial to consume material from those who think differently from me on second and third order issues. Reading those that the church at large deems as heretics (for instance, someone who denies the divinity of Jesus) is of little value to me. But it is helpful for me to read books by thoughtful leaders that are outside of my denominational or methodological “tribe.”

5. Read books on strategic leadership by church and business leaders. Some pastors love to read the books by Malphurs, Mancini, Rainer, and Hirsch. Other pastors loathe the idea as too sterile and unspiritual. Some pastors, like me, read a wide array of leadership books from the church, business, and non-profit realms. Obviously, I suggest that you consume more rather than less. Choose books that will stretch your thinking about how people process the concepts of change, growth, decline, and success.

6. Biblically filter everything. As with all material, filter it through your best understanding of the Scriptures. I write this article with the assumption that you are regularly digging into the Word and allowing the Word to dig into you. In your development plan/process/retreat/vacation, bring the Word to the center of it all and to test it all.

7. Recognize the limitation of a conference. I’m a fan of conferences. I go to them and sometimes speak at them. But they are a place to receive group encouragement and generalized information. For your personal development, seek out specific help for your specific needs.

8. Stop reading a book if it’s not helping you. The same principle is for any podcast, article, lecture, or any other piece of content. (Except my blog. Grin.) Your time is too important to waste on unhelpful items. Quit what is not working.

9. Call on leaders for help that you don’t expect to answer. Why? You’ll be surprised as to how many “busy leaders of influential churches/ministries” would love to encourage you. I press the guys on my staff to limit their time at conferences and replace it with connecting with other leaders who are ahead of us in maturity, skill, and experience.

10. Build a local coalition. Our city is blessed to have a group of pastors that like one another and gather periodically for prayer. I frequently call on a few guys for encouragement and insight. They periodically call on me for the same. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll feel as a leader when you have a regular rhythm of interaction with other leaders dedicated to each other.

> Read more from Philip.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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6 Benefits of Personal Goal Setting

Over the last couple of years I’ve stumbled upon a nonlinear approach to personal goal setting that has greatly impacted my life for the better by changing my behavior, and thus transforming my life.  The simple drawing below represents not only how I set my goals, but how I tackle them.  They are arranged in spiritual, personal, and public domains.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.52.07 AM

  • My Spiritual Domain – This first and inner most domain ultimately answers the question, “Why do I exist?”  I believe this is the question we have to answer before we can answer any other.  In this domain I don’t set specific goals; however, I do seek to answer the Five Irreducible Questions of Leadership we use at Auxano in organizational consulting that include:

1. What am I doing
2. Why am I doing it?
3. How am I doing it?
4. When am I successful?
5. Where is God taking me?

Please note this is not a life planning process.  If you are interested in a life planning process, you will want to check out Will Mancini and David Rhodes’ personal vision and life planning process at LifeYounique. I have confidence in both of these men and am a huge fan of their process.

  • My Personal Domain – This domain creates balance and momentum for life.  We have to lead ourselves before we can lead others.  We must bring mastery over these goals before we can master others.  Because of this, I set four goals around four areas that include personal, intellectual, emotional, and financial.
  • My Public Domain – This domain allows you to create greater meaning in life by adding value to those around you.  It’s the playing field where we live our lives. I include family, friends, vocation, and adventures in this domain.

I chose these three domains and eight areas because it’s how I view my whole life.  While they are not exclusive to me, they are unique to me.  You may choose to define your domains in a different way and have eight very similar or different areas within these domains.  At the same time, I do think each of these domains and areas are important to each one of us as we pursue living a whole and fully integrated life.  My spiritual anchor for this holistic and integrated approach to goal setting is the teachings of Jesus.  In John 10:10 he declared, “The thief comes to still, kill, and destroy your life.  I have come that you might experience life to the full.”

While my napkin drawing is the original way I write my goals, I also borrowed from Michael Hyatt’s and Daniel Harkavy’s in Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want.  Here’s the four-step process I use.

  1. Begin with a purpose statement for each area.  The purpose statement is simply a summary of what it means to win in each area.
  2. Write a vision for each area.  This consists of three to four sentences describing the preferred future for that specific area within the context of a specific period of time.  I typically think in terms of where I want to be in the next five years.
  3. Perform an honest assessment of how you are doing in each specific area.  I include both the things I’m doing well and the things I’m struggling with.  This section is made up of four or five very focused bullets.
  4. Finally, set behavioral specific goals based on where you want to be. I’m typically thinking through what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months.

The biggest benefit from this approach to goal setting is, what I believe to be, the holistic and integrated nature of it.  Here’s what I’m learning.

  1. The more clarity I have in my spiritual domain, the clearer my goals are.
  2. I must master my personal domain before I can master my public domain.
  3. Getting stuck in one area can impact all the other areas in a negative way.
  4. Focusing on mastering one area at a time builds momentum and synergy for accomplishing my goals in all of the areas, especially when we focus on our personal domains before our public domains.
  5. Focusing on an integrated approach to goal setting creates a whole and healthier me.
  6. The more often I read and reflect on my goals, the more they become a normal part of my everyday life.

To help, I’m including a sample of my goal setting for one of the eight areas of my life. You will note this process is robust and involves an investment of your time and hard work to complete, but it’s well worth it.

Physical

Purpose Statement:

My purpose is to live a physically optimal life and to die healthy.

Envisioned Future:

Physically, I am at the top of my game. My body-to-fat ratio is at 14%. I am in the top 100 worldwide, in my age                category, in Crossfit. I am disciplined when it comes to exercise, diet, and rest. I have an abundance of energy to                do what’s important to me. I am setting an example of fitness for those around me.

Current reality:

  • I am committed to exercising 5 days a week. However, my work schedule and travel hinder me from working out the way I desire to work out.
  • I am 10 pounds heavier than what I believe to be my preferred weight.
  • I eat clean eighty percent of the time, but tend to snack at night.
  • I have a lot of energy and feel really good most of the time, but my travel, when at its peak, tears me down.
  • I am growing in my understanding of exercise, rest, and nutrition.

Specific Commitments:

  • I will exercise at least five times a week.
  • I will replace all unhealthy snacking in the evening with healthy snacks.
  • I will stick to a Paleo Diet on and off the road.
  • I will limit my cheat meals to once a week.
  • I will continue to train and compete at a high level in Crossfit.

> Read more from David.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Marathon of Leading Yourself: 9 Areas for Constant Improvement

Recently I had the opportunity to host a younger friend that I’ve coached through the years, in my home. While we were on an afternoon run he asked me to share with him some of my life’s lessons that had impacted me the most.  More specifically the question my friend asked was, “Tell me about what you’ve learned that I need to know”.

As we begin a new year, I’ve found myself reflecting on his question.  I thought it might be helpful to share my list with you.  These simple practices are now hardwired in me.  I guess you could say they are what make me who I am.  I’m convinced that they have and continue to change the trajectory of my life for the better.

Starting each day with these practices makes my life and those around me better.  They motivate me to face each day as an exciting journey.  God is writing a story in each of our lives and he gives us the resolve and resources to influence that story for the better.

Here’s what you need to know!

Aim for 80%

This practice I’ve learned from my experience with fitness.  Over the last few years I have hit most of my fitness goals.  That hasn’t always been so.  There was a time when I was failing when it came to my own physical vitality.  I tried numerous diets and workout routines with no avail.  That has all changed.

I no longer diet.  Instead, I studied nutrition and developed a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve eliminated most sugar and gluten related products from my life.  I eat food rich in protein, healthy carbs I get from vegetables and fruits, and I include healthy fats.  I do this day-in and day-out or at least 80% of the time.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t times in my life that I aim for 100%.  As a lifestyle, I know that I’m not going to be 100% all the time.  However, as a discipline, in most things I can be 80%, and 80% has the potential for changing the trajectory of my life and putting a win in the win column.

Aiming at 80% can be applied to numerous areas of my life.  Hitting 80% of my savings goals is better than failing at 100%, and giving up all together.  The same is true in my consulting practices.  If I can get a 100% of a team of visionary leaders to agree at 80%, we can keep things moving until we get to 100%.

Perfectionism can lead to failure.  It tends to immobilize us and frustrates almost everyone around us.  Aiming at 80% allows us to extend a little grace to all.  Aiming at 80% may be actually what you need in your life to get unstuck and move forward toward achieving your goals.

Don’t Overthink

Overthinking is simply thinking about something too often for far too long.  This may not be your issue, but it certainly is mine.  It can be as innocent as planning a trip or making a simple purchase.  Other times it can be much more complex and leave us stuck in an unhealthy place.

A good example of my overthinking is my tendency to plan every detail of a trip when I travel with family and friends.   At times they love it, but other times it drives them over the edge.  They poke at me by suggesting that I don’t even need go, since I’ve already taken the trip – referring to my over planning.

While some overthinking is helpful, not all overthinking is created equal. Overthinking can have a negative effect on our lives and those around us.  If you are an over thinker, it is easy to obsess over decisions that need to be made, relationships that need to be healed, and experiences from which you need to move on.

Several years ago I became convinced that I needed to resign from my position as a pastor in a local church and invest my time helping other individuals, organizations, and churches succeed.  On a Tuesday morning, in my early morning reflection time, I finally reached a point of clarity that this was indeed what I needed to do.  That morning I shared with my wife my new insight and my resolve to make the change.  She quickly confirmed it and promised her support.  At 2pm that day I resigned.

Why did I resign so quickly?  Because I knew I would overthink my decision if I didn’t.  I knew I would spend the next days, weeks, months, and literally years thinking about making this change.  Instead I resigned that day.  I didn’t have all the answers, but I made the decision and this decision, I’m convinced, changed my life for the better.  It wasn’t easy.  I failed along the way.  I had doubts along the way, but, I acted and it made all the difference.

Express Gratitude Often

As I write this we are beginning a new year.  The previous year has been a difficult one.  As I scan through my Facebook feed I realize I’m not alone.  While I refrain from posting my personal life on Facebook, others I know feel the need to share.  I do appreciate my friends that do share because it helps give me perspective.  Life is difficult.  Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble.  He wasn’t kidding!  Yet in spite of whatever you and I have gone through, we have much for which to be grateful.

Practicing gratefulness by expressing those things we are grateful for unlocks our heart and creates a more generous and thankful me.  Most mornings, during my time of reflection, I send out a simple text to my spouse and grown children that simply states things for which I’m grateful.  I do this for myself and I do it for them.

During some really tough times I need perspective.  I need to see the good in the midst of the bad.  I need to be reminded that “all things do work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Roman 8:28).  I also want my wife and children to share that perspective.

I’ve learned this practice from many sources, but specifically my son.  While he was in the army he spent 15 months deployed in eastern Afghanistan.  During that time he spent most of his time on patrol.  Most of those months he slept out in the open and ate one meal a day.  On several occasions he came close to losing his life.  When he returned home I noticed that he constantly expressed gratitude for just about everything.  He was so grateful.  What I learned was that gratefulness is not about our circumstances, but a condition of our soul.  Our greatest expressions of gratitude often flow out of our most painful experiences.  Our adversity gives birth to gratitude.

Pray With Your Spouse Daily

This is one of my favorite practices.  It is so simple, but I’m convinced that it has shaped my marriage and changed my relationship with my wife for the better.  Each morning Tami and I face each other, hold hands, and pray a brief prayer together.  Usually our prayers are less than a minute long and are fairly predictable.  Yet at the same time this is the one practice that I believe has changed our life together the most.

I think it has had this profound impact for several reasons.  For one, it’s hard to pray with someone when you are mad or have unresolved issues. This is true even for a brief prayer.  In 37 years of marriage I can think of only two or three times that we didn’t pray because of conflict.  Whenever we have had conflict where we didn’t pray, that conflict was resolved by noon.  Another benefit of our daily prayer time is whenever something was going on in our lives that required a more focused time of prayer we already had a space in our lives for it.

Always Lead With Truth

This one is a little harder for me.  I’m a truth teller.  I value telling the truth.  At the same time, I struggle to always lead with truth.  For me, I have to work on my truth telling; I don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Sometimes I want to withhold information or my opinion.  At the same time, I think if you asked my friends if I am a truth teller, they would tell you that is one of the things I do well.  You don’t have to be wired or like truth telling to be truthful.  Some of us simply have to work at it.

On the other hand, my wife is a natural truth teller and because of it I respect her opinion or input more than anyone else.  When I’m struggling with something, I will sometimes ask her to speak truth into a certain situation or me.  I trust and need her perspective.  I have affectionately nicknamed her ‘the judge’.  It’s not that she judges people.  She is a very gracious person toward others, but she sees black and white and is gifted in calling it out.

Truth telling is important for a number of reasons.  Some of these reasons are obvious, while others not.  Truth brings to light whatever is in the dark.  Even though this truth often hurts, it is also this painful truth that heals.  Truth is essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life.

Always leading with truth involves being truthful at every level.  If you have an issue with something or someone, be truthful about it in the right way.  If you are caught in mistruth or half-truths of other’s relationships, bring everyone together in the same room.  Invite others to speak truth into your life.  We all have blind spots in our lives where we could benefit from skilled truth tellers.

Lead With The Golden Rule

There are two ways to live our lives.  We can live in a way where it’s all about us or we can live it in such a way that it’s all about others.  The Golden Rule is about treating others the way we want to be treated.  What an incredible principle.  We all know how we want to be treated; therefore, treating others good is innate.  I didn’t say it was easy, but when it comes to how we treat others, we are without excuse.

I find myself living my life in both ways.  There are days that I move through life so fast, anything and everything in front of me is in my way.  Its those days that I just steamroll over everyone and leave a wake of brokenness behind me.  This is an ugly and narcissistic way of living life.

On the other hand, there are days that I am more aware and intentional about living out the Golden Rule.  It’s a beautiful thing when I find myself deferring to those around me.  Living out the Golden Rule can be as simple as letting incoming traffic merge into my lane ahead of me.  This isn’t a typical response in Atlanta where I live.

For me living out the Golden Rule mostly means being aware of people around me and treating them with honor and respect. I treat them with honor and respect because that’s the way I like to be treated.  Sometimes living the Golden Rule can be challenging and difficult.  We live in a messy world.  We live in a world where there is hurt and pain.  When I feel that I am violated or mistreated, I want to lash out.  When I am the one who violates or mistreats, I want to experience grace.  Living the Golden Rule is about extending the grace that I so much want to experience.

Living the Golden Rule is life giving.  I never feel more alive than when I am intentionally living the Golden Rule.  Not only that, but I see people all around me coming alive.

Work On You Daily

It’s been said many times, you can’t lead others until you lead yourself.  Several years ago I made a transition from a leadership role in large organization to a local church.  The first thing I did in my new role was sought out advice from those who were experiencing success.  It won’t surprise you that the advice I received was “grow the leader…grow the church.” For the next six years I spent my time doing everything I possibly could to see that our senior leader was growing.  At the end of that season our church grew from 500 to over 2000 in weekend attendance.

What we learned during that incredible run was that we had to work on us if we were to lead a growing organization of any kind.  It wasn’t enough to work in it all the time.  It was just as important or more so to work on it.  Our first responsibility as a leader is to work on us.  Whether you are a mother who is leading three little ones at home, a student leading a drama team, a chief executive leading a large company, or a pastor leading a church, it all begins with leading ourselves.

For me, this means working on nine areas within three different domains around which I’ve built my Life Plan. The following diagram represents these three domains and nine areas. I break them down like this:

  • Spiritual Domain – I focus my life purpose.
  • Personal Domain – I focus on my emotional, physical, intellectual, and financial life.
  • Relational Domain – I focus on my family, friends, vocation, and adventures.

I set specific goals in all nine areas beginning with my Spiritual Domain and moving out.  I tend to focus on the mastery of one area at a time.  I focus on the area that needs the most work first.

I have also come to realize that winning in all these areas is a marathon, not a sprint.  Mastering all nine areas is a life long journey.  When I come to the end of my life, I think it would be appropriate to simply say, “At least he was working on it.”

Working on it involves working on me every single day of my life.  This is my most important responsibility.  I really don’t have anything to offer my family, friends, or those I coach and consult, until I work on me.

> Read more from David.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.