Giving Yourself Some Growing Grace

If you are leading in any way, no doubt you are faced with potential personal growth opportunities. These opportunities come in various forms. Some are easy to understand while others are more complex. Some learnings are easier to implement than others. Unfortunately, the most difficult aspect of personal growth isn’t identifying the growth opportunity, but rather dealing with our implementation attempts and setbacks.

Let me explain with a personal example:

I recently was able to take some time away from leading at Woodstock City Church. I spent the bulk of my time processing some interpersonal stuff that was directly impacting my ability to lead well in the long term. One key learning for me (among so many) was how easily I can allow what I do as a leader to define who I am as a person. When what I do is doing well, I’m doing well. When what I’m doing is struggling, I find myself personally struggling. When I fail, I begin to believe I am a failure. It’s identity 101, but none of us are immune to forgetting this Christian life principle. Especially in leadership, where progress and doing is the bulk of the work.

Continue reading…

Telling Yourself “No For Now”

When was the last time you listened to a leadership podcast, read a blog, or attended a conference and heard a great leader offer great advice, but walked away thinking it wasn’t for you?

Several years ago I listened as my boss, Andy Stanley, taught a leadership lesson on saying “No for now.” The basis of his teaching was saying “No for now” doesn’t mean “No forever.” According to Andy, as a leader, you should be willing to say “No for now.” He gave examples from his past.

  • When he had young children and was asked to speak at other churches or conferences, he declined. “No for now.”
  • When he was launching North Point Community Church, he didn’t accept any offers to travel. “No for now.”
  • He decided that being home at 4:00pm was best for his wife and family, so for a season, he would not meet with anyone in the late afternoon or evening. “No for now.”

Continue reading…

How Andy Stanley’s Surprise Visit Taught Me Something Important

Have you ever been frustrated that you were frustrated?

Sometimes our frustration is understandable. Sometimes only we can understand our frustration.

But then there are those times when we are frustrated, but we know we shouldn’t be frustrated…which makes us more frustrated! This pretty much describes my experience when my boss, Andy Stanley, recently paid Watermarke Church (the campus location where I lead) a surprise visit.

Just a little background. It’s not normal for Andy to be at Watermarke. We still meet in a school, so our ability to export and broadcast messages to our other church locations is limited. When Andy preaches, everyone needs to hear him, so preaching from Watermarke is not optimal at the moment. But on this particular Sunday, Andy was not preaching, so with his off-Sunday, he decided to pay us a visit – an unannounced visit.

Continue reading…

Setting Our Hearts and Minds on the Things of Leadership

Is there anything that tends to replace Christ in your life as a leader?

Just an early warning – it’s about to get personal (at least for me!). I’ve been processing this idea in my own life a lot lately. It’s a process so by nature somewhat incomplete. Here’s where I’m at today:

Paul, in Colossians 3, provides an important statement about the life of a believer. As a Christian, Paul’s instruction is a beautiful reminder of our new life that is found in Jesus. But I believe it has significant leadership implications – ones that I’ve struggled to maintain at times.

Here’s what Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae:

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV)

The church has become enamored with leadership. For good reason. Quality leadership is missing in far too many churches around the globe. Yes, pastors are shepherds. Yes, pastors are disciple-makers. But pastors are also leaders, and the church needs more great leaders. Without quality leadership, the church suffers. This will sound blasphemous, but a great leader can grow a church crowd without Jesus. Great leaders can make things happen on their own. Great leaders can attract followers.

Continue reading…

Go Ahead… Say It Out Loud: “I Don’t Know”

Are you comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know?”

I’m not … but I’m learning to familiarize myself quickly. Luckily, leading a growing organization provides many opportunities to practice!

I used to avoid this statement like I avoided waking up for my 8am Art History class in college (I never went!). I’m becoming more comfortable today, though. It’s not that I know less today than a few years ago. At some point my age may cause that to be true. Rather, I’m just becoming more comfortable accepting and acknowledging what “I don’t know.”

Here is the problem. When I was a younger leader, I assumed admitting my lack of insight would undermine my leadership influence. I wanted to be seen as a thought leader. I wanted the promotion. I wanted the next opportunity. And I believed the path to the leadership promise land was paved by answers, expertise, and confidence.

Unfortunately, pretending to know all the answers led me to over-promise and under-deliver. In case you don’t know, that’s NOT the best method to promotions and opportunities.

Continue reading…

Why Are You Hiding?

Have you ever met someone who was truly authentic and transparent? A person who didn’t mind admitting their mistakes, failures, or personal deficiencies? A person who didn’t just KNOW they have gaps, but were open to admitting they have gaps. Take a second and think of someone … I’ll wait. It’s harder to find people like this, isn’t it? There aren’t too many people in our world who are authentic. Sure, we all have a friend or a spouse with whom we can share SOME of who we are, but complete transparency is typically not our default posture.

If you have trouble being transparent, here’s some great news – you are in good company. In fact, from the beginning of time, our defense to being found out was to hide out. The same holds true today.

Genesis 3:10 (NIV); [Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The first thing Adam and Eve did after disobeying God was to hide from God. Unfortunately, we’ve been hiding ever since. There is just something in you and me (and apparently in Adam and Eve) that automatically desires to hide from others rather than be honest with others. We so desperately desire to look good that we pretend we are good.

The real irony is pretending and hiding prevents us from experiencing what we are trying to find by pretending and hiding. That’s a complicated thought, so let me say it again. What we all desire is to be known for who we really are, but when we hide our true self, we will never be fully known. A game of “hide and seek” was fun as a child, but as an adult, it works directly against what we need the most – to know and be known.

Continue reading…

Why Can’t I Let Others Help Me?

It seems everybody in the world made fun of my Atlanta friends and me during the 2014 Snowpocalypse. I can’t blame them. It looked like a snowy scene from The Walking Dead. I can’t imagine how bad an actual zombie invasion will make traffic! Even though I was stuck in the mess for 7 hours myself, I found it funny, too (after I made it home the following day).

After driving for 7 hours, I realized I was not going to make it home. As I began to evaluate my options, sleeping in the car became the most logical choice. In a moment of divine intervention, my wife remembered SHE had just made a friend who lived close to where I was currently stranded. She called and asked one of the weirdest questions of her life – “Can my husband spend the night at your house?” Luckily, I’m a pastor and this family attends our church, so the “don’t you want to help your pastor” ploy was in full effect.

Continue reading…