Thought this was funny. This could also be titled, “Why following someone is so hard.”
Every Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read and one I will go back to on a yearly basis. It’s Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly by Mike Myatt. While it is a business book, the applications for pastors and churches are endless. Pretty much any time he said “business” you could apply it to churches.
I could not agree more that churches have gaps in them and these gaps, if they go untouched, keep the church from fulfilling why God placed the church here.
Here are the gaps and stop me when you feel like it applies to your church or a church you worked at:
- Leadership gap – “we don’t have enough leaders or volunteers.”
- Purpose gap – “where are we going, why do we exist, why are we doing what we’re doing?”
- Future gap – “what is next, how do we reach the next generation, how do we make choices?”
- Mediocre gap – “it’s good enough for church.”
- Culture gap – “this gets at why things are done without thinking (ie. we’ve always done it this way)”.
- Talent gap – “who is being developed, how do you hire people, how do you raise up leaders.”
- Knowledge gap – “how do you communicate, do leaders and volunteers know how to make decisions that line up with the vision.”
- Innovation gap – “how will your church go to the next level and reach the next generation.”
- Expectation gap – “are ministries aligned or are they silos doing their own thing?”
- Complexity gap – “how clear is your strategy, how busy is your church, how many layers and committees does it take to get an answer to a question.”
- Failure gap – “how does your church or leaders handle failure when it happens?” And it will happen.
As I said, incredibly relevant.
I love his writing style as well. He had one liners all over the book. Here are a few:
- Holding a position of leadership is not the same thing as being a good leader.
- The plausibility of impossibility only becomes a probability in the absence of leadership.
- Businesses don’t fail, projects don’t fail, and products don’t fail—leaders fail.
- Real leaders don’t limit themselves, but more importantly they refuse to limit those they lead.
- The seminal question you must ask yourself as a leader is why should anyone be led by you?
- Leaders who don’t have the trust and respect of their team won’t be able to generate the influence necessary to perform at the expected levels.
- Leaders simply operate at their best when they understand their ability to influence is much more fruitful than their ability to control.
- Leaders who are not growing simply cannot lead growing organizations.
- Not all engagement is necessary or productive.
- Leaders who are bored, in a rut, or otherwise find themselves anesthetized by the routine have a huge problem—they are not leading
- People can be rallied around many things, but none more powerful than purpose.
- I have always believed the gold standard of leadership, the measurement of leadership greatness if you will, is based on a leader’s ability to align talent and outcomes with purpose.
- Purpose is the foundational cornerstone for great leadership.
- You cannot attain what you do not pursue.
- All great leaders are forward thinking and leaning.
- Leaders deserve the teams they build.
- Leadership that isn’t transferrable, repeatable, scalable, and sustainable isn’t really leadership at all.
- Leadership can be boiled down into either owning the responsibility for getting things done or failing to do so.
- Leadership and loyalty go hand in hand.
- The number-one reason companies make bad hires is they compromise, they settle, they don’t hire the best person for the job.
- What most fail to realize is years of solid decision making is oftentimes unwound by a single bad decision.
- You don’t train leaders; you develop them.
- Almost universally, the smartest person in the room is not the one doing all the talking—it’s the person asking a few relevant and engaging questions and then doing almost all of the listening.
- If you’re not willing to embrace change you’re not ready to lead.
- Few things harm the forward progress of an organization like leaders who fail to understand the value of aligning expectations.
- The easiest way to judge a leader is by balancing the scorecard between promises made and promises kept.
- The difference between good and great often comes down to discipline.
- Complexity is the enemy of the productive.
- Only way to protect value is to create more of it.
- The true test of all leaders is not measured by what’s accomplished in their professional life, but rather by what’s accomplished at home.
Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.
Have you ever considered that you may be the best chance your son or daughter has to see God?
Brian Dodd on 10 practices of maturing leaders.
We want leaders to grow up too fast. We want them ready-made at an early age. The reality is the best leaders are those who are seasoned. They have battle scars and callouses on their souls. The best leaders have made mistakes, fallen down but got back up to make a difference in the lives of people. They have persevered. The best leaders are developed in a crock pot, not a microwave.
Sam Storms on Should women serve as elders in a church.
I believe the NT portrays for us a consistent pattern of governance by a plurality of Elders. However, it is important to realize that even if this is not the case we can still determine whether or not women should be appointed to positions of senior governmental authority.
Matt Smethurst on Should pastors get a sabbatical?
“The stresses and strains of dealing with people—with souls—wears you down in a unique way,” he observes. Besides, he notes, even some companies in the secular world are starting to use sabbaticals. “They realize that refreshment makes a better employee.”
Mark Driscoll buys his way onto the NY Times Bestseller list. Kind of sad to read this (especially since the money came from the offerings of his church).
Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.
Jared Wilson has a helpful post on What’s wrong with buying your way onto the NY Times Bestseller list.
1. It’s dishonest.
2. It’s egocentric and lazy.
3. It may eventually harm your reputation and will bug you in the long run.
4. It’s poor stewardship and bad strategy.
5. It disadvantages those actually gifted.
I was talking with some pastors the other day and the topic of burnout, being too busy and doing too much came up. This seems to be a common thread among people, no matter what they do.
Here are some of the things they asked:
- How do you know if you are close?
- Are there warning signs that you are getting too busy?
- How do you know that your busyness is not just a season, but becoming a way of life?
I know in my life, there are warning signs when I am doing too much or taking too much on. Sometimes I adhere to them and make changes, other times I bulldoze through and pay the price.
Here are some warning signs to be aware of:
- What is normally easy is now hard. This is one of the first things that happens. For me, it centers on preaching, sermon prep, reading leadership books. Whenever I find myself not feeling motivated in one or all of these areas, I know I am past the point of running too fast in life. To combat this, I take periodic breaks from preaching (I try to not preach more than 10 weeks in a row) and I work in books that have nothing to do with sermon prep or church ministry to give my brain a break.
- Sleep is hard to come by. For many Americans, sleep is hard as it is. We go to bed too late, we don’t take enough naps, spend too much time on technology and get worked up. I try to get to bed by 10:30, I try to not look at social media or texts after 8pm so that my brain is able to take a break. I’ve read studies about how using a smartphone after 9pm can be harmful to sleep and productivity. If you have to take sleeping pills, watch TV to fall asleep or find yourself going to bed at midnight or staring at the clock at midnight, you need to work on your sleep.
- It is hard to get going in the morning. Some people are morning people and can’t wait to get going, others are not. I’m not a morning person. But, when I find myself having a hard time getting going in the morning, needing multiple cups of coffee to stay awake or to focus, that’s a warning sign. Think about this morning, how hard was it to get out of bed? The harder it was, the closer you are to burning out.
- Motivation is hard to come by. It is true that you are more motivated and alert at certain parts of the day. For me, it is first thing in the morning, which is why I reserve that for sermon prep and not meetings. It is when I am most creative and I need to give that mental time to the most important part of my job: preaching. When I find that motivation not there, I know I have a problem.
- You get angry fast. When you are tired, you tend to get angry fast. Your fuse is shorter with those closest to you: family, friends, coworkers.
- You use things to calm down. This might be food, sex, porn, exercise, drugs, smoking, alcohol. While these things calm you down and all of these are not necessarily sins, when used to calm us down or help us relax or sleep or “take the edge off” we have a problem. If you think, “I just need ____ to calm down or feel better” you have a problem.
- You don’t laugh as much or have fun. This is connected to what we’ve already said, but if you can’t remember the last time you laughed and had fun, that’s a problem. When you are tired, the last thing you have energy for is fun or community.
- You have pulled back from community. When you are tired, especially if you are an introvert, the last thing you want is to be around people. Ironically, one of the things that can be the most helpful to warding off burnout and helping to bring you out of unhealthy patterns is community, being around people who care about you.
Love this as it relates to leadership and life:
The institutionalization of politically correct thinking has done more to harm operating businesses than just about any other social and/or cultural influence in recent times.
I don’t know about you, but it’s almost as if we’ve raised a generation of leaders who feel they have a moral and ethical obligation to be politically correct—wrong. Their responsibility is to be correct; not politically correct. The harsh truth is politically correct thinking is a large contributor to an increase in mediocre behavior, a decrease in workplace productivity, and of greater concern, to the moral and ethical decay of our society. Are these extreme statements? Perhaps some may think so, but being authentic to my politically incorrect self, I think not.
What’s troubling to me, and I hope to you, is that politically correct assault has invaded classrooms; the media; the work place; federal, state, and local government; the judiciary; the church; the military; and even casual discussions with friends and family. It has spread to pandemic proportions, crossing boarders and cultures, such that you’d be hard pressed to actually find organizations where tough, candid conversations frequently take place without HR mediating them.
Few things will send morale and productivity into decline faster than leadership that adopts a politically correct mind-set. Before those of dissenting (politically correct) opinions become too outraged with my position, let me be perfectly clear; I believe strongly in respect and compassion. These characteristics should be present in all human beings. They are admirable qualities so long as they don’t take precedence over, ignore, or contradict truth.
The main problem with politically correct thinking is that it confuses kindness and courtesy with bureaucratic mandates, and ends up stripping people of their real opinions. I’m not advocating being mean-spirited, arrogant, judgmental, or self-righteous—quite to the contrary. It is very possible, and preferable, to have truth and compassion co-exist without being subject to political correctness. -Mike Myatt, Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly
Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.
Ron Edmondson on 7 suggestions for an effective Easter.
This is an “all hands on deck” Sunday. Plan every detail you possibly can. Plan for and expect excellence. It’s that important. Hopefully by now you have already started talking about it, but people need to know the importance you are placing on the day. Make it a big deal, because it is a big deal.
Forbes ranks the 9 toughest leadership roles. Interesting where pastor and stay-at-home mom landed.
Tragically, this is often the case for many of us. Instead of learning from our parent’s shortcomings, we echo them in our parenting. The opposite can also be true–in an effort to learn from our parent’s mistakes, we can swing the pendulum too far and commit the opposite error. Instead of being passive, we smother (or vice versa).
Imagination is a muscle. It needs to be exercised. Unlike movies, books make you use that imagination. When I think of Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards – what strikes me about their preaching is their vivid imagination.
Sutton Turner on How an executive pastor frees up a lead pastor.
One of the easiest ways an executive pastor can complement the lead pastor is by doing the things the lead pastor isn’t gifted to do. The lead pastor needs to do the things that only he can do, and the executive pastor needs to do the things that he and the lead pastor can both do.
5 reasons why one Christian teen didn’t rebel. Super helpful for parents.
My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.
February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.
If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:
- The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
- Women, It Matters Who You Marry
- Loving Does Not Equal Participating
- 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
- 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
- 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
- Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
- Before You Criticize Your Pastor
- How I Structure my Week
- When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
Within Acts 29, a lot of leaders talk about the leadership lens of prophet, priest and king. The idea of using the offices of Jesus to talk about how people see things, how they best work and relate to each other. At Revolution, I find this to be a helpful way to know what a leader is like, what I can expect from them and how they will react in a situation.
The broad overview of these are:
- Prophet: Tends to be big picture, visionary, bible person. They love to talk about where things are going. They love reading, preaching, theology. They only need a verse to be right. They ask a lot of “why” questions. In preaching, they love doctrine and can get lost in the weeds. They will preach from a letter whenever possible or throw in some Old Testament history or wrath of God just to keep everyone a little scared. They will take 6 months to preach through Jude or Philemon and will happily spend 10 weeks on 3 verses in Romans to make sure everyone gets it.
- Priest: Tends to be shepherding, caring. They want to make sure that everyone is being taken care of, cared for and is connected. They worry a lot about feelings and how people feel about something. They ask a lot of “who” questions. In preaching, they love stories. They love to preach from the gospels and talk about how things feel. They will sacrifice doctrine to talk about how something feels. If they do say something difficult to hear or are confrontational in a sermon, they will quickly say something to soften the blow and give a verbal hug to the congregation.
- King: Tends to think strategy and steps. They help to move a vision to reality. Often, they are very organized, detailed and financially minded. They ask a lot of “what and how” questions. In preaching, they love logic, things that add up at the end and steps. They love steps. A sermon is not complete without a next step (or 15), every point starting with the same letter, but it is clear.
These are just broad strokes.
On a leadership team and in a church, all are needed. I am high on the prophet scale with some king thrown in. I need priests around me to make sure that everyone is cared for, but to also challenge me in how I am shepherding and caring for people. I need kings to help make my visions happen. I often walk into a conversation, listen, throw out some vision ideas, get people pumped and then walk away. I need a king to walk behind me and say, “Okay, that one thing will never happen, but here’s how we can do those two things.”
While these lens help to live out of our strengths, they also make it easy to sin.
Broadly, I’ll hear leaders say, “I’m not very kingly” as a way to excuse their disorganization or financial carelessness. Or, “I’m not very priestly” as an excuse to not meet with someone or do any counseling. Or, “I’m not much of a prophet” as a way to be wishy washy in their theology or have no vision for their church. All followers of Jesus are called to be like Jesus, which means we are to be growing as prophets, priests and kings (Numbers 11:29; Acts 2:16 – 21; Romans 12:1 – 2, 15:14; Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 4:14 – 16; 1 John 2:20, 27; Revelation 1:5-6).
Each lens though, can lead you to sin (and often you will not see these as sins because it is how you are wired). Here’s how:
- Prophet: You are always posting your opinion on Facebook, twitter or your blog about gay marriage, eating, diets, vaccine’s, adoption, games. All you need is a verse or a scientific study and you are good to go. You are determined to win and be right, because, well “you have a verse.” You can miss the people because you are so infatuated with your vision and end up not caring for the people God has sent you to care for or the people who are supposed to help accomplish the mission because you are so focused on “out there.” The prophet also tends to be pretty legalistic and loves rules. You look at a priest and wonder why he wastes so much time on meetings and can’t confront anyone. You look at a king and get frustrated that he can’t see the big picture, he only wants to talk about the steps to get there or why something isn’t possible and you question his faith and salvation.
- Priest: You are often willing to sacrifice doctrine, holy living and confrontation in an effort to keep the relationship. Your first priority often is the relationship and the person and will let them keep walking in sin as long everyone feels good. You have a tendency to burn out because you can’t say no to a person or a meeting. Every request that comes in is an urgent thing that must be handled now. Every crisis you jump at. You tell yourself you are needed, that you can save this person or fix that situation and will sacrifice your health, your marriage, your kids, their heart (because you won’t confront them) all to save someone or a relationship. You struggle to trust that God can save and fix them and are content to just do it yourself (God is really busy any way). You look at a prophet and wonder if he has a heart or a soul the way he talks about people. You look at a king and wonder how she can be so organized and can become frustrated at how everything has to fit on the bottom line or fit into a budget line.
- King: You tend to think about the bottom line and ask how everything affects the bottom line. You are willing to sacrifice visions if they cost too much or relationships if take away from other endeavors. You are organized, detailed and a rule keeper and consequently if something is messy or doesn’t fit in a box, you skip it. This includes relationships. You strive to keep things in order, so new ideas or things that seem new or out in left field are off the table. You look at a priest and wonder why they are so disorganized, always late. You look at a prophet and wonder why he can never come up with a detail to his plan.
As I said, a leader and follower of Jesus is to grow in all areas to be more like Jesus. A healthy leadership team needs to have all three represented to push on each other and to keep the church functioning in all areas. But our blind spots as an individual or church can keep us from being who God created us to be.
This past week I read Charles Stone’s new book People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership (kindle version).
This book is unlike any other I’ve read. First, it hits a topic that every pastor or leader (and probably most humans) struggle with: people pleasing. This is an enormous deal for pastors and churches. Second, it combines stories and real life examples with a ton of helpful research on how our brains work and what drives leaders to care what others think. Third, it ends with some incredibly helpful insights to fight people pleasing in your leadership.
I can’t recommend this book high enough.
Here are a few things that jumped out in my reading:
- Healthy and successful leadership has little to do with what I can do to get others to like me.
- Chronic criticism is, if anything, often a sign that the leader is functioning better!
- Christians, perhaps uniquely so, struggle with people pleasing because we’re “supposed to” be sweet and nice. And some professions, by their very nature, draw people into them because they offer opportunities to help others. Ministry and politics both fall into that category. Both pastors and politicians, if rightly motivated, want to help and serve others. However, that very desire often makes us most susceptible to people pleasing.
- I wonder how the decisions I made that were motivated by a desire to please somebody in the church resulted in missing God’s best.
- What makes people-pleasing, approval-motivated leadership so detrimental? It’s subtle, often counterintuitive and stifling to a spiritual leader’s passion and joy if left unchecked.
- The ultimate test to determine whether or not our people pleasing is wrong is whether or not it promotes the gospel.
- We know we’ve pleased others in a healthy way when they are better off when we do it and when we sense God’s peace in our hearts.
- As a leader, when I seek consensus or appeasement in a situation, rather than lead from a place of principle and vision, I abdicate my authority and nobody “wins.”
- People-pleasing leadership gets its direction and behavior from outside (people we strive to please) rather than from inside (personal values, convictions and vision).
- Our emotional response to a church event or a difficult relationship issue often does more to raise our anxiety than the event itself.
- When we refuse to give in to people pleasing, those pushing us to change lose their power over us and over our ministries.
- A pastor who understands and accepts how God uniquely fashioned him won’t be as motivated to seek others’ approval.
- We are affected by the emotional influences from our past, and I believe the Bible’s genealogical lists reflect this. The more we learn about generational influences the better we can free ourselves from their unhealthy patterns, especially people pleasing, because it often finds its roots in prior generations.
- The following family dysfunctions often contribute to people-pleasing patterns: Perfectionistic parents who set the bars so high that their children seldom received affirmation and love from them. Affirmation in these families was conditional. Nagging “oughts” and “shoulds” still whisper in the minds of those children long into adulthood. Being super nice or compliant garnered approval from parents. Pastors who came from these homes subconsciously think that being nice in their churches will likewise make people happy. Growing up in a home where one or both parents were alcoholics. Having parents who excessively doted on their children or extravagantly praised them.
- When a pastor doesn’t pay attention to the emotional blips in his own soul, he can set himself up for needless pain and diminished leadership effectiveness.
- A ministry leader’s least healthy responses to anxiety most often show up as emotional reactivity—that is, not being able to restrain emotions.
- A leader’s mood profoundly influences those around him as people tend to reflect their leader’s tone, whether it’s good or bad.
To see other book notes, click here.
A leader’s mood profoundly influences those around him as people tend to reflect their leader’s tone, whether it’s good or bad. -Charles Stone, from People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership
One of the things many leaders forget is the power of their attitude, presence and words.
Here’s some examples:
- Chris is a energetic and excited, about everything. He exudes confidence that everything his church attempts will work.
- When Tim talks to volunteers about his ministry, he downplays how great it is. Instead, he talks about how much of a sacrifice it is to serve, how hard it is.
- Linda always has a listening ear. No matter who it is, or what the topic, she will listen, give advice, pray with you and then check back in with you.
- Patrick recently hit a physical wall. He struggled to turn off his phone, take his days off and unplug from ministry. Consequently, he had nothing left to give. While his team picked up the slack as he took a few weeks off, when he arrived back rested and ready to go, he lost several key leaders because they were now too tired.
- Tom sat in a meeting and threw out an idea. At the time, he didn’t think anything of it or think it would happen. The following Sunday, he walked into the kids ministry and saw signs and decorations up that were exactly like his idea.
Each of these leaders are people I’ve met. What they failed to realize at the time is everything they do reverberates as a leader. In the same way that a skyline reflects in water or a person reflects in a mirror, a ministry, church or team become a reflection of the leader.
As a leader of an organization, every word you say carries weight, so you have to be careful and wise with your words. -Dave Ramsey
I talked to a children’s pastor recently who told me, “The kids ministry I lead is so bad, I wouldn’t bring my kid to it. There’s no excitement at all.” One of the other pastors looked at him and said, “You’re the leader, fix it. If you don’t like the ministry you lead, you are the only person with the power to fix it. You also have no one else to blame for its lack of excitement or ineffectiveness.”
What many leaders fail to realize is that they hold the power to fix the attitudes, relationships, excitement and movement within their church or ministry.
Given enough time, a church or ministry simply become a reflection of the leader.
I learned this several years ago when I didn’t manage my emotions well. I got tired and had very little to give. Several months after this episode, when I was starting to feel healthy, I noticed there were others who weren’t handling their emotions well and were burning out from giving too much without rest.
They were reflecting what they saw me do.
This is similar to John Maxwell’s law of the lid. This law states that as a leader, if you are an 8 on a scale of 1-10, you will only attract and keep at best, 7′s. The law of the lid relates to this, in that, no one will be more bought in or excited than the leader. You are the lid for your church.
You as the leader, are also the reflection (humanly speaking) of your ministry.