Archives For Leadership

Warning

Can you really become an overnight success? No. Let’s be real. Actual “success” is the sum of all kinds of effort and energy over periods measured in years, not nights.

Can you lose your success overnight? Yep.

J. J. Watt said, “Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.”

When someone living is described as successful, we have to remember that we’re talking about someone living through the process of becoming successful. And one of the more dangerous decisions we can make is declaring ourselves successful based on yesterday’s victories.

This principle is illustrated well by the ancient King David of Israel. When he was a kid, he defeated a lion and a bear. As a teenager, he took down Goliath. And in early adulthood, he was anointed king in the place of Saul and led his nation in great military conquests, delivering them from the oppression of the Philistines.

That’s success, right?

But in midlife, a single decision nearly ruined it all. In fact, that decision was extremely costly for David, and even more so for the people he was leading.

Here’s the story . ….

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Clock

I have been an early riser for at least the past three decades of my life. To this very day, I still set three alarms each evening to ensure I wake up when I desire. Why is this important?

I believe there are five ways your life can improve by getting up earlier each morning.

1. You gain time in your day.

You may believe this is a “duh” point and should go without saying, but how often do you hear people give the never-ending excuse of “I don’t have time”? When you ask them what time they get up in the morning, they usually do not answer with clarity or simply state a later time in the morning.

Therefore, you gain time in your day when you get up earlier each morning. I do not believe I could do what I am given the privilege to do in life if I did not get up early each morning.

Just imagine what your morning would be like if you were to get up even just one hour earlier than you do right now. You might be able to work some things into your schedule you have…

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You have heard the statistics: 85 percent (or so) of churches are plateaued or declining. So many churches that were once flourishing aren’t now. The question is “Why?” How does this happen? How does a church lose its momentum? How can we keep it from happening to us? If it has happened, how do we regain momentum? I hope my list below helps. Here are the reasons:

The Vision Becomes Unclear

Vision drift happens. Slowly and quietly a church forgets why it’s doing what it’s doing. This vision can also be hijacked by a person or group of people with agendas and ambitions to turn the ministry into the ministry they just left behind. Why is it that people leave one place, come to our place, and then try to turn our place into the one they just left? Don’t allow that to happen. Great leaders are “mean about the vision.”

Gravitational Pull Takes Over

Andy Stanley told me years ago that the gravitational pull of the church is always inward. A church will tend to begin to design its services, ministries, and programming for those that currently attend rather than for those that aren’t…

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Crowd

Several years ago, I walked into a senior pastor’s office and we started to talk. You should know that I get paid for strategy consultations, but much of what I do is really counseling. I’m good with that. I want to do all I can to help pastors get healthy and grow healthy churches.

As I sat across from him at his desk, I knew he was overwhelmed. I could have told you that without even hearing his story. He wasn’t in a healthy spot, and his team wasn’t healthy either. He was running 100 miles per hour, and he had no margin in his life.

The reason I knew he was overwhelmed was because I saw his organizational chart before I walked into his office. Every leader of every ministry in the church reported directly to him. By the way, that’s not an uncommon structure for small and mid-sized churches. That can work for a season.

In my experience, though, when a church grows to 1,000 or more attendance, that structure will begin to buckle.

As I remember, this pastor had 14 different staff leaders reporting directly to him. I can’t remember the entire mix now,…

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“They’re here! I can’t believe it — but they’re really here!”

It was a beautiful, sunny Easter Sunday morning in Southern California, and Saddleback Valley Community Church officially launched. For 12 weeks, we and a small band of believers had met together in our home to dream, plan, and organize this launch day. We had hand-addressed and hand-stamped 15,000 letters to the community, introducing ourselves and our new church. We scoured yard sales and swap meets for used nursery equipment. We copied pages from coloring books for toddlers. We searched through lists of students from a local college to find childcare workers. I practiced the hymns (complete with updated lyrics to a few) on the piano to be certain my nervous fingers didn’t hit the wrong notes. We rented a portable sound system for the Laguna Hills High School Performing Arts Theater. Rick poured over the Bible for weeks, praying for God’s words to speak to the folks that might show up. We prayed. We fasted. We believed in faith. On April 6, 1980, we stood at the gates to Laguna Hills High School and waited nervously, hoping and praying that at least a…

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I have been a pastor’s wife for 20 years. I was 19 years young when I married my husband, right after he had accepted his first pastorate.

Looking back now, I realize I knew nothing then.

I knew how to stand at the back of the church dutifully by my husband’s side and shake hands with sweet people who really didn’t know me. I did this for many, many years.

Throughout those early years in ministry, I tried really hard to be a supportive, strong, encouraging leader in our churches. I really wanted people to like me. So in order to get people to like me, I needed to dress the part, serve in every area effortlessly, and make sure they didn’t know any of my deep struggles or, God forbid, any of my sins.

It was exhausting and lonely, and I was stuck.

While recently sharing part of my story with some friends in a Bible study, I found myself marveling at the changes God has made in me.

God has been so faithful to draw me out, change my heart, and, in the process, prove his faithfulness in so many lives. When we moved from Arkansas to Southern California…

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Coffee Meeting

Somehow we’ve gotten a little confused about the essence of leadership. If you think it’s all about getting bigger, going higher, and commanding more respect and attention from others, you’ve missed the point.

Leadership is all about giving everything we’ve got to others. If we have knowledge, wisdom, and insight, we lead by giving it away. We grow by investing in others.

There is an entire generation of up-and-coming leaders who need elders. They need fathers, models, mentors, and friends. And leadership is, among many other things, the willingness to lead the next generation of leaders.

Becoming obsolete is easy. All you have to do is stay on the path of least resistance, pay the least cost, and think only about yourself and your own success.

To avoid becoming obsolete, try one of these tips for leading the next generation…

Grab Coffee

Can you lead from a distance? Sure. But if all you do is lead from a distance, you are severely limiting your opportunity to lead to your fullest potential.

And that’s why coffee is so important (and espresso is even better!). Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone makes a pretty excellent…

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I’ve said many times that I want everyone on my staff to make at least one mistake a week.

Through Saddleback, I’ve learned that if you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not trying anything new. If you’re not trying anything new, then you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning, then you’re already out of date.

I want my staff members taking risks and making mistakes. That means they’re being innovative, and it means they’re not afraid to try.

Now, I don’t want them making the same mistake every week — that means they’re not learning. But I tell them, “Make a new mistake each week.” I also tell them, “Show the innovation and creativity to do something that you’ve never done before.”

Nothing great is ever done without talking risks, and I want a staff full of leaders. Leaders take risks. There’s another word for risk-taking: faith. Faith is a critical element in the success of your ministry. Will you believe God for big things?

One day I asked my staff to flip to Mark 10:27 in their Bibles. It’s the verse that says, “All things are possible with God” (NIV). I asked my staff to circle…

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Team Meeting

I have sat in a few bad meetings, and if I’m being completely honest, I may have led one or two of them! Over the years I have learned a lot about meetings and have assisted many in leading better meetings. Here are six simple ways we can lead more effective meetings:

Clarify the primary purpose of the meeting

Why are we here? There only five purposes of meetings:

1. Community

2. Communication

3. Collaboration

4. Coaching

5. Cheering One Another On

What is the primary purpose? State it up front so everyone knows. Patrick Lencioni, in his book Death By Meeting, says that the worst kinds of meetings are the ones where we try to get everything done in one meeting! In general, it’s best to have more frequent but shorter meetings that tackle one primary purpose at a time. Otherwise we cause everyone to die a slow “death” in our meetings.

Plan the meeting

We would never take the big stage without preparation, but we often do this when it comes to meetings. The more we prepare, the better the performance. Plan what you want to say and how you…

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Brokenness

When I served as a pastor at Saddleback Church, one of the things that impressed me most about the church was a hiring requirement Pastor Rick Warren laid down:

If you haven’t been through pain, you’re not ready to be on staff at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick understood the power of a broken heart.

Andy Stanley understands it, too. When speaking to leaders, he often asks the question, “What breaks your heart?”

Usually, knowing what breaks your heart opens the door to knowing what you should do with your life and how you should be leading others.

Nehemiah, of the Old Testament, is considered one of the greatest models of successful leadership in history. And his story started with a question: “How’s Jerusalem?”

When the answer was “not good,” Nehemiah’s heart was broken. He records:

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT).

Nehemiah’s burden drove him to lead the nation of Israel into a successful rebuilding campaign.

My wife, Angie, and I talk about this often. Her heart breaks for those in our community suffering with emotional and relational brokenness, so…

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Coaching

I’ve never met a senior pastor who didn’t have the ability to do an outstanding job leading their staff, but I have met quite a few who didn’t have a clear plan in place for making that happen.

I would like to share with you a very simple framework for coaching your staff that will make your job, and theirs, much easier. I call it 4x4x4.

A 4x4x4 coaching process is when a senior pastor meets with a staff member to help them identify and make progress on the 4 people they are going to meet with and the 4 tasks they are going to accomplish over the next 4 weeks.

Setting up a 4x4x4 Coaching Process

To lead at the next level, every person on our team needs three things in place: responsibility, authority, and coaching.

Responsibility (I need you to tell me what am I responsible for doing)

This is provided when we give our staff members clear,  written job descriptions that outline for what they are responsible. In my experience, most senior pastors of churches under 600 do not provide written job descriptions for their staff. This is a mistake but one that is easy…

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Permission

Sometimes we just need to hear someone else say it out loud: “You’re not crazy.” “You’re on the right track.” “You can do that.” “You can do this.” I call it giving leaders permission. One of the greatest values of having a mentor or coach in our lives is having a safe place where we can process through the decisions we are wrestling with, and hear someone else tell us we’re not crazy for thinking what we’re thinking! We need permission! Sometimes the key that unlocks our future is having someone give us permission to do what we feel deep down we need to do.

So today, I thought I would send out permission far and wide. If you’re reading this post, I’m praying God will use me to give you permission!

You have permission to be still.

You have permission to take a chill pill. You have permission to rest. Take a day off. Take a week off. You have permission to plan your summer vacation now. You have permission to think long term and think about finishing well. This is not a 40-yard dash. It’s an ultramarathon! I give you permission to be still!

You…

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