Finding the Easy ‘Yes!’ in Parenting & Leadership

If you’re a parent, let me guess what your child’s first word was.

NO!

I know, you aren’t a bad parent.

You wish it was yes, Momma or Dadda. And maybe it was. But more than likely it was no, or maybe mine.

As your kids get older and they ask for things, a bike, a video game, to stay up, you get very good at saying no. It is easy. You just want some down time. You want your kids to stop bothering you.

I get it.

The same thing happens in leadership.

Someone walks into your office or grabs you after a service and says, “Why don’t we do ____?” Or, “What if we tried _____ as a church?”

And your first reaction is, “No.”

It might be a good answer. It might even be the right answer.

But what if you could find the easy, “Yes!”

I’ll give you an example.

What if your child comes to you and asks, “Can I have a piece of gum?”

You might be thinking, “Why? Why do you have to bother me?” You’re on your email, working on dinner, cleaning the bathroom, any number of things. So you reflexively say, “No, leave me alone.” Your child walks away mad or stomps or gets angry and cries.

What if you took the easy ‘yes’?

The same thing happens as a leader

Someone comes and says, “What if we tried _____?” Instead of shooting it down, what if you said, “Run with it”?

Do you need to guard the vision?

Yes.

Do you need to vet ideas?

Yes.

But more happens when we go for the easy ‘yes’.

How to Understand the Bible

When we read the Bible, we want to understand it and apply it. We want to know what the Bible says and how it affects our lives. We want something to happen, we want to get something out of it.

But we’re often left frustrated and wondering what we missed.

The following questions come from Matthew Harmon’s book Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. I’ll add a few ideas to each one.

Before we can apply the Bible, we must understand it. I can’t stress this enough, because too often we jump to applying it to our lives, and when we skip this first step, we will often miss what God has for us and what the Bible actually says.

1. What do we learn about God?

In this question we are looking for God’s character (who he is, what he is like), God’s conduct (what he is doing) and God’s concerns (what things, events, people, he is concerned about).

We are trying to understand who God is. Since we believe that the Bible is God’s inspired, true and authoritative word, without error, we want to know who God is and what He is like.

2. What do we learn about people?

In this question we are looking for what it means to be created in God’s image, but also our fallen condition as sinners in need of grace. We are also looking for any insights into how God’s people should live.

We are beginning to look at what is happening in the text. Are they in a city or a village? Understanding the context of every single passage, the original audience, and what is happening on this page of the Bible is crucial to understanding the Bible.

3. What do we learn about relating to God?

The Bible is not just about God but how we relate to Him. Once we see who God is and who we are, we see how those roads cross. In this step you can begin looking for things to praise and thank God for and for sin to confess and repent. Don’t think about other people at this point. Don’t think about who you are going to share this verse with. This is for you and God right now.

You can also look for promises and truths to believe. It’s also very important to see if the promises God has given to us in Scripture are for us or for the original audience; what transcends all time and what was specific for that time. If we miss this, we can cling to things in a way we aren’t supposed to.

4. What do we learn about relating to others?

Most of the Bible is written to groups of people, about groups of people, especially the letters in the New Testament. When you get to there, look for how we should interact with and treat others, ways to pursue reconciliation with others and specific ways to love, serve, and care for others, not for how they can do this for you. Too many times we want others to do what we are called to do, especially in an age of social media when we are quick to talk about what Christians should be like without asking, “Am I doing that? Am I treating my friends and enemies the way God calls me to?”

After understanding the passage you are reading, it is then time to move into applying the Bible (which I’ll unpack in another post).

Wednesday Mind Dump…

  • Feels like this week has flown by.
  • How about you?
  • Last week was a blur, but a great week.
  • I got to spend 2 days with my team at the leadership summit.
  • If you missed my notes, you can check them out here.
  • There were some fantastic talks this year.
  • Tons of takeaways.
  • Spent the day Saturday on Mt. Lemmon with our kids fishing.
  • It was great.
  • Our one son Judah has memories of fishing with his birth dad in Ethiopia and started to ask about going fishing together.
  • It was a great moment watching him fish and doing it with him.
  • Like most things in our family, it was controlled chaos, but a great time.
  • I got to kick off our new series at Revolution on Sunday called This is Living
  • If you missed it, you can watch or listen to it here.
  • You can also watch a short clip from the message here.
  • This message is really just a snapshot of what I have been learning in the last 2 years.
  • Read a great, short book over the weekend, A Theology of the Ordinary.
  • Here are some thoughts about it.
  • It was heartbreaking watching the footage from Charlottesville.
  • It was also a very somber, moving moment on Sunday at Revolution as we prayed this together.
  • Last night I had an elder meeting and I was reminded of why I’m grateful for our elders but also thankful for the work we have put in at our church to create the culture we had.
  • Last night’s meeting was our time to simply be together, pray and catch up, speak truth to each other and ask some hard questions.
  • It is uncomfortable and comforting all at the same time.
  • I’m really excited for Sunday because we’re going to unpack what keeps us from living, essentially, how to stop sinning so we can move forward to what God has for us.
  • And can you believe it?
  • Less than a month til real football starts!
  • Back at it…

When You and Your Spouse aren’t on the Same Page

Have you ever felt like you and your spouse were on different roads? At the time of your marriage you had all of these incredible dreams. You were going to walk hand in hand, arm in arm through life and tackle whatever came your way.

Together.

Part of what pulled you together were these common dreams,

these common interests.

Your spouse understood you and encouraged you.

But now something is different.

Life has entered in. Kids, in-laws, health issues, debt, a mortgage. The light in your eyes has disappeared. Your excitement about crazy ideas that would change the world are met with, “Now isn’t the time.”

For men and women this can be crushing, but especially for men.

One of the underlying needs and desires of a man is to know that the people around him believe in him.

Little boys are continually asking if they measure up. This is one reason they attempt crazy things like climbing high trees and standing on walls. They want to know, “Can I do this? Do you think I can do this?”

One of the most soul crushing things a person can communicate to a man is, “I don’t think you can do this.”

The same is true for a woman.

When they are dating, most men love to listen to their girlfriend talk. To hear her heart, her dreams. He asks questions and imagines with her what their future will be like.

But something changes.

Life.

Now it isn’t as interesting as it used to be.

What you used to have in common you no longer do.

When a man pulls back and finds other interests, looks for new challenges, he crushes the spirit of his wife.

This is a crucial moment in a marriage.

At this moment you either continue down the path of pulling away, discouraging your spouse and essentially becoming your own person (this is dismal and miserable),

or you pull towards your spouse.

At any given moment you are either growing closer to your spouse or pulling away from them.

There isn’t a third direction.

Marriages do not stall out.

It is difficult to re-engage with your spouse.

Things have been said. Hurt is running deep in you. There is a chance you have felt unsupported for years.

That won’t simply go away. It needs to be dealt with, by both of you. It needs to be faced, by both of you.

You have to face what hurts. You have to face what has been said, both to you and by you.

It will also take choosing to get on the same road once again, sharing your dreams with each other and giving up some of your individual dreams because they don’t help you reach your goals as a couple. This is crucial because too many couples continue living as single people when it comes to their dreams and goals.

Many times, and don’t miss this, many times a married couple’s romance and excitement at the start of the marriage mask that they aren’t on the same page. But as time goes on and life happens (ie., stress, kids, etc.), it begins to reveal that you aren’t on the same page. Life has a way of unraveling that newness and excitement.

How do you know this is you? You’ll say and think things like, “It didn’t use to be this hard.” Or, “Why is marriage taking so much effort and work? Remember when it just sort of happened?” Or, “My spouse used to just get me. They used to be understanding and supportive, but now they aren’t.”

To end, let me give a word of warning.

It is easy to think that this should come easily and quickly once you find you and your spouse are on different roads going towards different goals.

The reason we think this is because of how quickly we remember it happening while we were dating.

The reality, though, is that you have spent years (potentially) going down different roads. It isn’t as simple as “just getting on the same page.”

But don’t give up.

The newness and excitement you once shared, the hopes and dreams you stayed up all night sharing while dating, can be rekindled. They can be found anew.

My Notes from Sam Adeyemi on “Redefining Success” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from session 6 with Sam Adeyemi:

  • You don’t attract who you want, you attract who you are.
  • There needs to be alignment between the identity of the leader and the followers.
  • We can make champions out of ordinary people.
  • The transformation that happens in people’s lives is the ability of your leadership.
  • Real and sustainable change in people’s lives begins with a change in their sense of identity.
  • We must help people see a new identity.
  • What we believe is what we become.
  • Changing how people see themselves is the hard work of leadership.

4 steps to change what people see and hear:

  • Describe your vision over and over. 
  • There is power in vision.
  • The people you lead should be able to see themselves in your vision.
  • A vision is not just a present self, but a future self.
  • People don’t follow you because you are special, you lead because they are special.
  • Great leaders change what people think about themselves.
  • Set up a structured training system. 
  • Is your training capable of producing the ideal staff and members of your vision?
  • You must model the transformation you are talking about. 
  • Those you lead need to see you transformed.
  • Reinvent yourself over and over. 
  • Constantly ask what the next level of success looks like.
  • To grow, you must let go of who you have been.
  • Many leaders are stuck because they no longer take risks because of fear of losing their success.

My Notes from Marcus Buckingham on “Building Great Teams” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from session 5 with Marcus Buckingham:

  • You have to study excellence to learn excellence.
  • Most work happens in informal team.
  • The job of a leader is to build great teams.
  • You can’t learn how to build a great team by looking at dysfunctional teams.

8 conditions of high performing teams:

  • I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  • At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  • I have a chance to use my strengths everyday at work.
  • In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  • I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
  • My teammates have my back.
  • In my work, I am always challenged to grow.
  • I have great confidence in my company’s future.
  • Great teams have a purpose, pursue excellence, support each other and have a clear picture of the future.
  • People want to feel part of something bigger than them and make them feel special.
  • The way we rate people reflects us, not the people we rate.
  • 61-62% of how we rate people is a reflection of ourselves.
  • We do not rate other people very well.
  • Ask yourself these questions about each team member: Do I turn to my team when I want extraordinary results? Do I choose to work with you as much as I can?
  • The most important way to get great work is to make sure people know what is expected of them and if they use their strengths.
  • Check in frequently about strength-based about near-term future work.
  • Ask: What are your priorities this week? Next week? How can I help?
  • We don’t want feedback, we want attention.

My Notes from Juliet Funt “How to Create Whitespace at Work” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from session 5 with Juliet Funt, CEO of Whitespace at Work:

  • All of us are getting less and less comfortable with silence and the pause. The moments that are not filled.
  • This loss of time without assignment has a great cost to our businesses and lives.
  • If we work in insane ways and busywork, we see the waste in our companies.
  • Our companies waste $1 million per 50 people.
  • Whitespace is a strategic pause taken between activities.
  • Whitespace is to be recuperative to recharge your mind and body.
  • A pause brings insight, introspection and creativity to your brains.
  • Great leaders naturally use whitespace.
  • Don’t rush the cooking of a great idea.
  • Whitespace is not meditation.
  • Whitespace is not mindfulness.
  • Whitespace has no rules, no goals. It is a boundary-less freedom where your mind can play and improvise.
  • In whitespace, we think the unthought though.
  • A diabolical aspect of busyness is that it feels like our fault.
  • 4 main drivers of overload: drive, excellence, information and activity.
  • To have whitespace, you must determine how you will use drive, excellence, information and activity.
  • Any space you have, it will be filled. You must install filters to take control of the whitespace.

Whitespace questions:

  • Is there anything I can let go of?
  • Where is “good enough”, good enough?
  • What do I truly need to know?
  • What deserves my attention?

My Notes from Lazlo Bock on “How to Lead and Manage People” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from session 5 with Lazlo Bock, Senior Advisor at Google:

  • For too many leaders, there is a gap between what they believe and how they act.
  • A leaders job is to find the best people, grow them as fast as possible, and then keep them at the company.
  • The experience of work should be meaningful.
  • We all want to be valued and have a voice in what we do. A leader needs to give that to their people.
  • Treat your employees right and they will great things for you.
  • The most important thing is to give your work meaning.
  • If you are a leader, you need to give the work that your people do meaning.
  • What meaning do people find from working at your church or company? What meaning are you giving to your people?
  • A leader needs to remind people about the mission and meaning of your work.
  • There are some people who remember the duty but forget the joy of the work we do.
  • Only a 1/3 of workers feel a connection between their job and meaning.
  • To create meaning: Figure out why you are doing the work you are doing. Remind yourself, this is why I’m here.
  • A big mistake most companies make is to not trust their people enough.
  • The only thing that drives performance in organizations is having a goal and make sure other people know that goal.
  • If you are a leader, give your people more freedom than you are comfortable with.
  • Ask what your people think.
  • When people ask a question, ask them what they think.
  • More freedom makes people happier and they stay longer.
  • Recruiting and hiring is so important because that is how you transform an organization.
  • Simple rules for hiring: Don’t let the interviewers make the hiring decision. Always hire someone who is better than me in some way.

My Notes from Andy Stanley on “Finding & Creating a Uniquely Better Product” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from the last session of day 1 with Andy Stanley:

  • If we had to do it all over again, what would we do all over again? What really worked in our church?
  • It’s important to answer the question, why is this working.
  • Part of being successful as a church is having a uniquely better product.
  • Unique isn’t enough. You can be uniquely bad. Unique doesn’t create momentum.
  • There are shared assumptions in every industry that cause us to do the same things, the same way.
  • Uniquely better is often the byproduct of circumstances that successful organizations are trying to avoid.
  • Uniquely better is often a solution to a problem.
  • Uniquely better is often so unique that successful organizations cannot imagine that it is better.
  • The more successful you are, the more likely that when what’s better comes along, the more likely that you’ll miss it.
  • Our job is to create a culture to find what is uniquely better instead of resisting it.

How do you create a culture that looks for uniquely better:

  • Be a student, not a critic. 
  • Don’t criticize something you don’t understand.
  • We naturally resist things we don’t understand or can’t control.
  • The moment you start criticizing, you stop learning.
  • “The next generation product and idea almost never comes from the previous generation.” -Al Ries
  • Keep your eyes and your mind wide open. 
  • Listen to people who aren’t in our industry, who don’t know how to do what we do.
  • Outsiders aren’t bound by our assumptions.
  • Closed minded leaders close minds. 
  • How do discern if you’re closed minded: How do you respond to suggestions about other organizations? When was the last time your organization embraced a big idea that wasn’t your idea? When was the last time you weren’t sure of an initiative but you gave the go ahead anyway?
  • Replace how with wow.
  • All ideas die at the word ‘how.’
  • You lose nothing by saying wow.
  • Wow ideas to life, don’t how them to death.
  • We fuel innovation or kill them by our response to new, untried, expensive ideas.
  • Nothing is gained by not knowing what your people are dreaming about.
  • The world will put enough ‘how’s’ in front of your kids, let’s be ‘wow’ parents.
  • Ask the uniquely better questions. 
    • Is this unique?
    • What would make this unique?
    • Is it better?
    • Is it better…really?

My Notes on Bryan Stevenson’s talk on “Being a Brave & Hopeful Leader” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from the third session with Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative:

  • You can’t be effective leader from a distance.
  • Leadership requires that the people we are serving know that we are with them.
  • The goal of leadership and life is to do something that brings you life and passion.
  • Don’t simply settle.
  • Problems can’t be solved from a distance.
  • There is power in proximity. The answer comes in proximity.
  • If you lead by fear and anger, you will allow yourself to be led to dangerous places.
  • We need to understand the narratives that we believe.
  • True narrative change can liberate us.
  • Leaders can never give up hope.
  • Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. It is the enemy of leadership.
  • Hope is about talking about what we’ll do, not what we’ve already done.
  • To be an effective leader means we must be willing to do uncomfortable things.
  • What is it about us that resists and run from the people that are broken?