January 29, 2010

How Important Is Talent?

Recently I was doing a study on Moses' leadership. One of the most famous stories concerning his leadership is found in Exodus 18 when his father in law, Jethro, gives him the advice to appoint other potential leaders to places of service so that Moses can focus on his true mission: to be their representative before God & to teach them the ways of God. That's usually where the lesson stops. The principle we're taught is to learn how to delegate some of what we're doing so that we can focus on what only we can do. It's a great principle, & it's so true but that's not all that's going on in this passage. Check out the list of qualifications that Jethro throws out:

1) Capable
2) Men Who Fear God
3) Men of Truth
4) Men Who Hate Dishonest Gain

Notice anything about that list? That's right, only one characteristic that Moses is to look for has anything to do with a potential leader's ability or talent. However, many times that's exactly what we put the most stock in. It's easy to be blinded by talent. Talent is flashy & in our face. These other traits are behind the scenes qualities that have to actually be looked for. Next week I'm going to go into this in more detail as I continue to share what I'm learning from this passage. We'll look at all four traits: Ability, Wisdom, Integrity, & Character.

How important do you think talent is to leadership? How necessary is it to success as a leader in business or ministry?

January 28, 2010

Catalyst One Day

If you work in ministry, whether as paid staff or as a volunteer, you should try to be a part of Catalyst One Day . This conference features Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel speaking on the topic of momentum and more importantly how to get it and how to keep it. These two guys are two great leaders in the church today, & the insights they share are incredibly practical for ministry and life. I went to this event last year in Atlanta, & Craig's session dealing with the life a the leader was one of the best talks I had heard in a long time.
Another great feature is some Q & A time with Andy & Craig. You literally have the opportunity to ask two great church leaders that burning question you've been wrestling with lately. Plus, the next conference is in Chicago, a great town. This might be a great opportunity for you to take your staff for a two day retreat, spending one day at Catalyst & another hold up in the hotel talking about the implications of what you've learned. Plus, you'll have plenty to do for some free time around the city. The date for Catalyst One Day Chicago is March 25. If you are out on the west coast, One Day will be coming to Seattle in August. Click on the link above for all the other details. This is a great opportunity, don't miss out on it.

January 26, 2010

A Convenient Cross

We live in a world where most everything is tailored for our convenience. Whether it's our microwaves with a button created specifically for "popcorn" so that we don't have to press two extra buttons or our cars that have passenger & driver "climate zones" where each person can set their own temperature to insure their comfort, our convenience & comfort has become a priority both for us & the companies that are trying to sell us stuff.

But what happens when our desire for convenience goes off the tracks? What happens when it bleeds into our spiritual lives & our walk with Christ? Have you ever heard of a convenient cross? Have you ever really heard of a covenient way to sacrifice yourself? A.W. Tozer says, "every advance we make for God & for His cause must be made at our inconvenience. If it does not inconvenience us at all, there is no cross in it!"

We have to be careful not to confuse the convenience that we seek in our toys with our growth as disciples. Real growth isn't going to be convenient; advancing God's Kingdom in our lives & in this world is costly. When we forget that we become mediocre Christians, mediocre leaders, & mediocre ministries. We cannot carry a convenient cross because it's a myth; it does not exist.

January 22, 2010

Check These Links

It's been awhile since I shared some links with you guys, so here you go:

Check out this series of posts from Craig Groeschel at Lifechurch.tv on giving. This is some good stuff.
Generous Churches
The Strategically Generous Church
The Sacrificially Generous Church
Personal Generosity

Here's a great post from Anne that's really good.
Forgiveness & Reconciliation

If you're not familiar with Pete Wilson at Crosspoint.tv in the Nashville area, you should check out his blog, here's a post from yesterday.
Two Essential Ingredients For Healthy Relationships

And finally, here's a post from earlier this week from Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Eight Leadership Lessons From Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who are you reading that I should be reading?

January 21, 2010

Special Prayer Request

I'd like to ask everyone to be in prayer for me & my family this weekend as I fly out on Saturday to meet with a search team & to preach on Sunday at another church so that they can hear & see me preach without having to bring me to the entire church. This search process is coming down to the final stages. So I ask that you be in prayer for both our family & the search team. So far, I've been really encouraged by these guys & by what they want to see happen in the future of their church, & it would be a great opportunity to partner with them. Thanks.

January 20, 2010

Leadership & Your Personality

Right now I'm taking a Christian Leadership course for my Master's Degree along with Church History, & the two subjects were to collide as we were discussing Martin Luther in Church History and Personality/Temperament Profiles in Leadership. In the Church History class, the statement was made that Martin Luther was too crude & abrasive. I almost laughed out loud when I heard the professor say that. Here's why:

Would the all powerful Roman Catholic Church have listened to a polite, boy scout type reformer?

Of course not. Yes, Luther could be crass, rude, and abusive to his opponents, but those "flaws" or "weaknesses" in his personality were the very things that God redeemed & used to get the attention of the Catholic Church and the people of Germany & Europe. Luther's personality type is what set him apart & made him the right man to be the leader of the Reformation.

Whatever your personality type is, you can lead. You might not be able to lead in the same way that your "favorite" leader does. Too often we try to imitate a leader who is uniquely designed to lead how they lead. In the process we forget that we are also uniquely designed to lead how we lead. So by all means, learn what you can about yourself, other leaders, & their personality traits, but don't define yourself & confine yourself by what you learn. What if Luther had agreed that he was too direct and rude & had decided to just keep his mouth shut?

January 18, 2010

The Dream

In honor & memory of Dr. King, I thought I'd write a few things reflecting on his most famous words. The reason why Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech lives on in history & in our minds has less to do with how he communicated, which is legendary, than it does with what he communicated. Dr. King's gift for communicating his dream was only surpassed by how big his dream was. That dream has captured the imagination of millions because it's not just his dream, it's really the dream of everyone. The reason why it has been a rallying cry is because it was a dream that Dr. King could not realize on his own. It was a dream for everyone, "black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics," to pursue. That's why his words will live on for generation & generation to come.

I have a dream too, a dream for God's church, & I pray that my dream for the church is in line with what God dreams for His church.

I dream of a church who is so in love with Christ that we are truly being transformed into His likeness.

I dream of a church who is so viral that no community will be immune to the transformation that is taking place.

I dream of a church who puts the movement of God ahead of the methods of men.

I dream of church leaders who are willing to lead no matter the cost.

I dream of a church who sees beyond yesterday & today to see where God is leading tomorrow.

I dream of a church who truly sees our mission as one that is global in scope & eternal in significance

Notice I referred to the church as a "who". That's because the church is us, you & me. It's not merely an it, an institution. It is as alive as we allow ourselves to be in Christ.

What are your dreams for the church?

January 14, 2010

Are You Worth It?

I Corinthians 11:1 says, "Follow me as I follow the example of Christ." Paul is encouraging the believers in Corinth to follow him, not because he is worth it on his own but because of who he is following.

Usually a leader who would say something like this would come under fire & be accused of being arrogant, & Paul faced his share of opposition, especially in Corinth. However, Paul wasn't worthy to be followed because he was Paul but because he was following Jesus. And because he was following Jesus, he could challenge others to follow him.

Could you make the same bold statement that Paul made? Are you worth it to the people you're trying to lead? And do you really think you are worth it or do you understand that it's the One you follow that makes you worth following? Are you leading toward Jesus or toward you? If you are living a life of pursuing Jesus, then boldly call others to follow you as you follow Him.

January 13, 2010

Are You Alive? Really?

"The glory of God is man fully alive."-St. Ireneus

Ireneus was one of the early church fathers who actually was a disciple of Polycarp who was a follower of the apostle John. Ireneus was a brilliant theologian who helped defend biblical faith in the 2nd century A.D. against heresies like Gnosticism.

The quote above is one of his most well known statements, & it predates guys like Piper & Tozer who picked up on some of the same ideas. So here's the thing: Are you alive? Based on this statement, we bring glory to God by being fully alive, but what does that mean? Let's be real; we could twist that statement to serve our own purposes. We could simply "follow our hearts" & say "I'm just living life to the fullest & that's what God wants for me." In fact, entire ministries are built on that way of thinking, but that's another post for another day. So the question still remains: Are you alive?

I would say that if you're "following your heart", it's the opposite of being fully alive. You're enslaved to your heart & your desires, & let's face it, our desires usually lead us to some pretty dark places. Here's what I think Ireneus meant: The glory of God is man fully alive, but the man fully alive is the man who glories in & brings glory to God.

We cannot be "fully alive" apart from pursuing a love relationship with God. We cannot have the full life that Jesus promises apart from putting our faith in Him & seeking to become more & more like Him. After all, Jesus' life is the pinnacle of glorying in & bringing glory to the Father.

So I ask you one question: Are you alive?

January 12, 2010

From Slave To Sent

Recently I heard a sermon looking at the book of Romans. As I was listening & reading along with the preacher, I noticed something that Paul did that is a little different from the rest of his letters, & that got me thinking. In Romans 1:1 Paul identifies himself to the Roman believers, whom he had not yet met. He first refers to himself as a "slave of Jesus Christ." Then he identifies himself as "called to be an apostle." Normally, Paul only identifies himself as an apostle. Why is it different here?

Maybe it's because the idea of being a slave would have been revolutionary to his audience. Neither the Roman nor Jewish Christians in Rome would have embraced the idea of being a slave. Jews took pride in that they were once slaves but God had set them free, & of course Romans weren't slaves; they were the masters. So for a leader like Paul, a Jew & a Roman citizen himself, to identify himself primarily as a slave would have been borderline offensive & would have surely challenged the norm for these believers.

I think Paul saw his calling as an apostle to be a result of his identity as a slave. The word he uses for slave communicates the idea of someone choosing to serve their master & who completely belongs to their master. Until we choose to exclusively serve Jesus, we cannot really serve one another in a way that leaves an eternal impact. After all, an apostle was someone sent by his master. You must choose who you will serve before you can be sent.

What other masters threaten to lead you away from serving Jesus? How have those "masters" derailed your ability to serve & to lead others toward Jesus?

January 8, 2010

The Problem With Passion

Yesterday I talked about the power of passion to bring people together for the sake of a cause. However, passion alone isn't enough. A passion that is disconnected from something bigger than the object of passion can be dangerous. Even if you have "noble" passions like wanting to grow your church or ministry, if it's divorced from the bigger picture of making the name of Jesus famous & of transforming lives, then it can be incredibly dangerous.

Passion has the power to connect people, but passion has to be connected to a higher principle as well. Otherwise, we become so narrowly focused on what we're passionate about that we begin to think everyone should be just as passionate as we are about our little thing. Example: the Pharisees were passionate about the Law right? Well, Jesus was every bit as passionate about the word of God, but His passion didn't look like their passion, so they condemned it.

Sadly, the same stuff happens still today in churches all over the place. We compete with one another rather than completing one another. We have the bad habit of equating our passion (usually our particular way of pursuing our passion) with a moral mandate. We think it has to be done our way or else it's wrong, even sinful, & that's just not the case.

Be passionate, take risks, but remember your passion can also be dangerous to you unless you're tempering it with grace & humility.

January 7, 2010

The Power Of Passion

Passion is what unites an individual with his or her tribe. The internet has made this connection even more accessible as people who would never cross paths otherwise are able to come together as a result of their common vision & passion.

It's that kind of accessibility & passion that can ignite movements in both our local & virtual communities. Passionate people can leverage tools like Twitter or Facebook to spread ideas, mobilize their tribe, & impact culture. Movements that were previously unlikely or impossible are now practically common.

However, it's not the internet that makes this happen. It's not Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media connection out there. It's still passion. The passion for a way of life, a worldview, or a cause are merely amplified by taking advantage of the latest tools at our disposal to spread our passion to those who will listen & who might engage with us.

How have you seen the power of passion in your own life? In your community? In your online community?

January 6, 2010

Leadership Doesn't Matter

That's what was relayed to me in a conversation recently. The way it went was this, "Leadership isn't important. You either have leaders or you don't; you shouldn't try to make them." I agree with one small part of this statement. We shouldn't try to make leaders; we should seek to develop leaders. There is a difference. First, I believe everyone is a leader because everyone has influence, & influence is leadership. Secondly, I believe it is an issue of stewardship & discipleship when it comes to how we use that influence & how we teach others to use their influence. I also had a couple of questions pop into my head:

If You Believe Leadership Doesn't Matter...
1) What do you do when the "leaders" you have are leading against the vision?

2) How do you communicate to the larger group which "leaders" to follow when there are two groups of leaders leading in opposite directions?

Whether you're in ministry or business, as the leader of the organization, part of your job is to develop other leaders. It's non-negotiable. How well you & I do at that development will impact the long term success of our organization. True, you don't make leaders because they're already there, but as the leader of leaders, you have to draw out leaders who have the potential to expand their influence & who are already exhibiting the kind of character & example that you want to instill in the rest of the organization.

I'd love to get your feedback on the opening quote. What are your reactions to it? What other questions popped into your head as you chewed on it? Does leadership matter?

January 4, 2010

How Leadership May Be Changing

A few stories in college football over the last few days got me to thinking about how leadership is changing. Once upon a time, success in college football meant paying your dues at a small program, building your resume' until you got maybe an assistant coach position at one of the big time programs or a head coach at a slightly bigger program. Ultimately, your goal was to be the head coach of a program like Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, Michigan, or Florida.

The same has generally been true in ministry. Leaders had to pay their dues. That meant things like Bible College or Seminary, usually both, ministering in small churches, building a resume' until you got the chance to go to a bigger church or a better paying position. Success was often defined by serving at churches like FBC Dallas, Bellevue, FBC Atlanta, & the like.

However, the winds of change are blowing, both in college football & in ministry. While there will always be coaches & ministers who leave their current positions in order to be a part of a more "prestigious" or "glamorous" organization, it appears as if there is a group who have embraced a different paradigm for their leadership. Just this weekend, Chris Peterson of Boise State extended his contract with the school through 2014. In 4 seasons at Boise, he's had 3 undefeated seasons. He could walk & make big money by getting a job at a "big time" program, yet he stayed & seems content in Boise. Gary Patterson of TCU also just extended his contract, spurning the speculation of a possible move to Notre Dame, & elected to stay at TCU long term. Bobby Bowden did the same thing when he went to FSU. The Seminoles were terrible when he went to Tallahassee, but he turned them into a winner. After having some success, he thought of applying for the Alabama job after Coach Bryant retired, but he elected to stay & continue to build the FSU program. We know what happened at FSU after that. For some reason, these guys don't want to go to those "big time" programs. They want to stay & build something from the ground up.

At the same time, there are a group of men & women in ministry who are adopting a similar approach as these leaders in the coaching world. Instead of aspiring to climb the ladder of success that leads to North Point or Saddleback or whatever mega-ministry you like, they have asked the questions, "Why not allow God to do something just as revolutionary in & through me right here? Why jump ship to be a part of something 'great' when I can partner with God in building something great right here?"

It's a different approach to be sure, & neither way is necessarily superior. In fact, we need leaders who will take both approaches. We need people who work their way into positions of leadership in places that have traditionally had influence in ministry. At the same time though, we need people who will buck that system in favor of joining with God to blaze a new trail in a place where the church may not have much influence.

January 2, 2010

Tebow's Grand Finale

Sure it would have been great if it had happened in Pasadena rather than in New Orleans, but it was great to see the story of Tim Tebow's career at Florida end the way it should, with a huge win & an incredible performance by both Tebow & the team. Who knows what Tebow's future in the NFL holds. It's true he has some big hurdles to overcome if he wants to be a big time QB, but like Brian Billick said last night, "I wouldn't bet against this kid." Tebow has the character & leadership ability that will allow him to succeed at almost anything.

However, I think his greatest impact has not been nor will it be on the football field. He has truly allowed football to be a platform to share his faith & impact the lives of people. That's the legacy that matters most, whether you're a star football player, a school teacher, a pastor, a business man, or parent.

What can you do to use wherever you are in life to bring glory to God & blessings to the lives of others?