Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me

Artie Davis is a great friend. I honestly can say I love the guy. He’s the “real deal”. It’s hard to find a true friend as a pastor. Artie’s that kind of friend…to many pastors. Artie’s book, Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases this week. I’ve been a fan of this concept since I first heard about it. I can’t wait for you to read the book.

Here’s an interview with Artie about the book:

QUESTION: Tell us a little about yourself, Artie.

ANSWER: Well, I’m a guy from Orangeburg SC. I planted a church here about 20 years ago. It’s a very diverse and often racially divided town. I saw that and had a heart to change it. God’s been good to us. We have 4 campuses that are extremely diverse and multi-ethnic. A Sunday morning at our church is a lot like heaven. All backgrounds are there worshipping together.

About 4 years ago, I became the director of TheSticks.tv. Since Orangeburg isn’t a large city, my heart is for small town pastors. The Sticks is about encouraging those leaders to lead big even though their in small towns.

All of that is kinda where Craveable came from. We have a problem in Christianity… other people outside of it want no part of it. We’ve got to fix that. Being crave able is something that extends past culture, context, race, size, or background. Jesus was the most crave able person ever to those outside of the kingdom. We have to be the same way. We’ve really dropped the ball.

QUESTION: I’ve heard to craving food, but what does that have to do with Jesus and the church? What is Craveable about?

ANSWER: Craveable is about living in such a way that people want what you want. If you google “why are christians so…” in your search bar, you get a variety of answers. None of them are positive. I don’t see that when I read the Gospels. People wanted to be around Jesus. People would walk for days. People would break rules and bust through roofs to get to him. We’ve lost that. People need to crave what we have.

QUESTION: In the book, you talk about perception. Can you talk more about that?

ANSWER: Sure, perception is a combination of what we see, hear, and experience. People form a perception of us based on those things. Now, it’s easy for us to dismiss it when someone gathers what we think is a wrong perception… Christians have done that too long with the “I don’t care what they think as long as I think I’m right” mentality. The truth is, we have to own that. If we’re giving people far from God the wrong perception, we have to change what they are seeing, hearing, or experiencing. I talk about how we can do that in the book. I think it’s such an important and simple principle.

QUESTION: Where can we get the book and find you?

ANSWER: The book is at your favorite bookstore and Amazon. You can go to craveable.com to read more about the book and places to find it. Me, I’m @ArtieDavis on twitter and blog at artiedavis.com

Artie’s new book called Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases February 5, 2013. Find out more at Craveable.com and on twitter @CraveableChurch

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An Interview about My Mentoring Group

If you read this blog you’ve probably discerned I’m fairly intentional and strategic. For years, I have tried to be intentional about my role in making disciples. Right now I have a mentoring group. This is different from the small group I lead. It’s a group of men, typically in a season of life I’ve already lived.

Pastor friend Chris Elrod saw a tweet about this and emailed me some questions about how I do this. They were great questions I think others may have, so I decided to share my responses. My purpose in sharing is to encourage you to be intentional about discipleship in the new year.

How many guys do you directly invest in at one time?

I limit my groups to 12 guys at one time. Often I go looking for 12 and end up with less, but 12 is the maximum I’ve attempted. (Seems there was a good prototype for that number :) )

How long is the process and what constitutes completion for the participants?

I’ve done anything from a 12 month process to a 9 week process. It really depends on my schedule. We determine in advance what we are going to complete, whether that’s a Bible study, a book, or a curriculum and then back out how long that will take.

How often do you meet with them, the location and for how long (i.e., once a week at Starbucks for one hour)?

Again, I’ve done this a variety of ways. I have learned, however, that getting them to a private location is best, because men aren’t as likely to share intimate details in a public setting. Currently we are meeting at the church office building. I have met in my home. We typically meet for no more than two hours at a time. I first determine how long I feel it will take to cover the material, then depending on my schedule and the schedule of the group, I spread out the meetings over an adequate period of time. That’s why there have been 9 week spans of two hours per week and currently I’m doing a 9 month span of two hours per month.

What format do you use in those meetings?

This is a mentoring group, so mostly these men are coming to learn from me. I don’t do all the talking, but I certainly guide the discussion.

Are there specific books, activities, events or curriculum that you use for developing them?

I have walked men through Bible studies, such as “Experiencing God” (I used that numerous times years ago), or a current popular Christian book. Right now I’m using a 9 part Bible study for men I wrote myself, which walks through 9 critical aspects of a man’s life.

What are the expectations you have for the participants?

I am not very legalistic in anything I do, but I do ask that participants agree in advance to be there if they can and that if this is not a good time in their life, they bow out on the front end.

What are the reward or consequences for them meeting or not meeting those expectations?

Hopefully the reward is they gain insight into someone further down the road and learn from my mistakes and successes. (There are more mistakes it seems. :) ) I guess the consequence is they have to learn them on their own.

Do you use any kind of accountability forms (covenant, manual, written guide, etc.) with the guys you are developing?

I have in the past and I think it’s a good idea. Some of the Bible studies come with something like this in them. Lately I’ve simply given them my expectations about confidentiality, commitment, etc. and verbally asked them to comply.

How do you go about finding the guys you are going to invest in? Are they recommended to you by other leaders or do they just pop up on your radar by personal observation?

I get inspiration in the fact that Jesus personally recruited His disciples and I personally recruit. I’ve learned that if the pastor hangs out the “ya’ll come” invitation sign that men will come, but they won’t necessarily commit. I put people on a list who have indicated or evidenced a desire to grow in their walk with Christ and then I look for guys I think have great potential. I pray over my list and then make the ask. It’s usually not an obvious list. God seems to lead me to men who may not have been on my radar.

What is the next step for the guys that complete the develop process?

I always ask the guys I’m mentoring to become life-long disciple-makers. I encourage them to begin to invest in others.

Do you take all of your top level staff/pastors/elders through the process before they serve in their role?

Not to this same extent, but some of our staff have gone through this process with me. The elders we typically take through more of a peer coaching time and less of a mentoring time. Some of them can actually mentor me.

Are there other leaders in your church doing the same kind of development program with future leaders or do they all filter through you first?

A couple years ago I encouraged all our full-time staff to consider something such as this. Many of them did. Some have continued the practice.

How are you doing intentional discipleship?

A Week with Zig Ziglar: Part 5

I continue to share this week I”m sharing an interview I did recently with leadership master and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar.

Here are the past posts in this series:

Part 1 

Part 2 

Part 3 

Part 4

My questions are in bold, followed by Zig’s answers. Occasionally, Zig’s son Tom interjects some thoughts. My personal notes and thoughts are in parentheses.

Here is part 5 of my interview with Zig Ziglar:

If you were starting over in your career today, would you do anything differently?

No, here’s why…

If you say what you’re going to do…go do it…no excuses…
I lived by that…and I’d do that all over again…

What was the tipping point in your career?

Tom: His faith…

When he became a Christian, his motivations changed. When he purposed in his heart to do it God’s way…everything changed…

Zig: I remember saying, “You know what God? I’ve always done it my way…now I’m going to do it your way…”

(When Zig became a believer he was broke and in debt. Since then, he’s never even had to ask for a speaking engagement…)

What advice would you give to young leaders entering their careers today?

Whatever you are going to do…talk about your family.

If you are just getting into sales…talk about your family….here’s why (always have a why)…it makes you more real and people trust you…

Whatever you are going to do…talk about your family.

(He went on to explain again that family is the most important thing in a person’s life apart from faith in God. And then he said, “I’m still courting the pretty redhead.” :) )

What concerns you most about the changes you see taking place in today’s workplace?

We need to protect the family. Some things aren’t relative…my wife would never ask, “Were you relatively faithful this trip?”

There are some absolute truths…when it comes to integrity, honesty, character…society sees them as relative, but they are absolute truths.

So you’re famous for motivational speaking. Do you ever have days when you are not motivated?

(Emphatically) Not ever!

I know exactly when I go to bed what I’m going to be doing tomorrow, because I’ve already thought about it. I wake up planned for the day. It helps remove the stress from the day.

I’ve always believed if you are a Christian you are so grateful because you know where you’ll spend eternity.

(Zig Ziglar is such a gracious man…As we ended our conversation he said, “I’m grateful that you took the time to call me today...”  Wow! What a generous leader!)

Have you enjoyed my interview with Zig Ziglar this week?

A Week with Zig Ziglar: Part 4

I continue to share this week I”m sharing an interview I did recently with leadership master and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. If you missed part 1, click HERE or part 2 HERE and find part 3 HERE.

My questions are in bold, followed by Zig’s answers. Occasionally, Zig’s son Tom interjects some thoughts. My personal notes and thoughts are in parentheses.

Here is part 4 of my interview with Zig:

I learned one thing well talking to Zig Ziglar. An interview with Zig is a lesson in note-taking. He can spill out wisdom faster than one can type.

Here were some random quotes I was able to capture:

  • You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want…that works in the home, business, community and church.
  • If you thought before you talked, you’d have a better chance of coming up with the best answer.
  • I don’t linger very long before I take action on something. If I get an idea…I act on it…
  • One reason some people never wrote a book, is because no one ever told them they could…
  • Always have a notebook…two hours later I think…“What was that thought?”
  • If I think about it…I’m going do it…
  • Don’t ever tell people what you can’t do…if you don’t think you can do it…you’ll be right…
  • The more you know about anything the more creative you are…
  • The best way to close a sale, help them be a better person…
  • If people don’t trust what you say, they’re not going to listen to what you say…
  • Unless they have a why…most people don’t want to answer…Always explain the why if you are going to tell someone what to do…because then it will make sense to them…
  • Let your children hear you talking lovingly to your spouse….I always tell my wife, “I’m having more fun with you today than I did yesterday.” Let the kids hear you having fun together…(Zig has been married 64 years…)
  • I’m careful about who I read and who I listen to…
  • Tom: When Dad is reading a book, he quickly wants to see if the author is going to explain why as much as how…Dad also says, “Some people quit growing and start swelling.”
(I’m certain I missed some, but these were the ones I could capture.)

Click HERE for part 5 and the conclusion of my interview with Zig and learn the “tipping point” of his career.

A Week with Zig Ziglar: Part 3

I continue to share this week I”m sharing an interview I did recently with leadership master and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. If you missed part 1, click HERE or part 2 HERE.

My questions are in bold, followed by Zig’s answers. Occasionally, Zig’s son Tom interjects some thoughts. My personal notes and thoughts are in parentheses.

Here is part 3 of my interview with Zig Ziglar:

If people used three words to describe you, what would they use? 

Encourager, Consistent, Faith

Tom: I would say he walks his talk, and Dad is a pretty good talker.

How did you develop so many great leadership principles and sayings?

Whenever I have a thought, I always write it down. The first thought sometimes is the best thought and I never want to lose it. I still have fun reading at least three hours a day… a practice I’ve had about 40 years.

The more you know about a subject…the more creative in that subject you can be…so I keep reading…including all the new authors.

You have created a great legacy as a leader, and as a motivator. If people were going to summarize your life’s contributions to society, what would you want them to say?

Here’s a man that loved his family…and he loved them because they always helped him. If the people that help you help you…you should remember those people and talk about them.

My children know that I always put my wife first…

Tom: He wants to be known as a man who loves his family and was loved by his family. Plus, he left a message of hope and encouragement.

Zig: Encouragement is the number one thing that people need today.

A lot of people never hear an encouraging word…encouragement is the missing ingredient in many families…

How do you stay so positive?

You are who you are and what you are because of what goes in your mind. You can change who you are by changing what goes in your mind. If I can’t teach it I’m not going to read it.

I always ask myself when I’m reading, “How can I learn something in here that I can use to help someone out there?”  

(He said he reads business books, self-help, autobiographies, success stories, and Biblical principles. He makes sure he reads something encouraging every day and he avoids clouding his mind with negativity.)

Tom: After his accident, there was so much inside him already that there was no chance for a pity party.

(Click HERE for part 4 of my interview with Zig where I’ll share some random quotes from Zig, which will challenge and inspire you.)

A Week with Zig Ziglar: Part 2

This week I”m sharing an interview I did recently with leadership master and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. If you missed part 1, click HERE. My questions are in bold, followed by Zig’s answers. Occasionally, Zig’s son Tom interjects some thoughts. My personal notes and thoughts are in parentheses.

Here is part 2 of this interview:

I read that you grew accustomed to setbacks early in life.   

My father died when I was 5. I was the 10th of 12 kids. I started selling peanuts on the street at 6…and then mowing yards…

I decided you can either complain about it or do something about it…

Some things I can’t do anything about…

I’ve not always been pleased with some of the things that happened to me…but I’ve never complained about them.

Since your father died when you were so young, who invested in you early in life?  

At 12 years old, I started working at a grocery store with Mr. John R. Anderson. He treated me as his son. He knew I didn’t have a father, so whenever he went places he often took me with him. From Mr. Anderson, I learned that if you were kind to people and follow through you’ll have a better career.

Tom:  Mr. Anderson was a very successful businessman who had previously been an English teacher. He would correct Dad’s grammar. Who would have ever thought a 12-year-old boy in the heart of the Depression with no father in Yazoo City, Mississippi, would be an influential motivational speaker?

He had a couple of farms…he would supervise the workers…Dad would see how he treated the African-Americans with respect and kindness…so dad saw that principle in action….

Zig: My favorite quote: “God don’t make no junk…color has nothing to do with it…it’s your heart…”

Your children are obviously a great blessing to you right now.  What does that mean to you?

They are one of the most important parts of my life. I believe children should have a lot of attention. You spend time teaching them what they need to do and the way they do it.

I always say if you will help the children understand why they are doing something, they’ll be more likely to remember it and actually do it. (That works in leadership, too.)

Success in the family begins in the marriage…and I’m still courting that pretty redhead. (He said that several times…he obviously is still madly in love with his wife.) Divorce would go way down if the man wouldn’t quit courting his wife after they’re married.

Tom: My favorite joke dad tells is when he repeats Ethel Waters saying, “God don’t make no junk.” Then dad adds, “God don’t make no junk…and thanks to your mother….neither do I.”

(Zig is a man of deep faith and conviction. He talks most passionately when he mentions issues of family and character. It’s obvious to see the connection between what he values and what he teaches.)

Click HERE for part 3 of my interview with Zig where I asked Zig about the legacy he wants to leave behind.

Do you recognize how the pain of your past helps shape who you are today?

A Summer Intern: Leadership Interview

I had the privilege of having a pastoral intern this summer. Dan Dominguez is a student at Moody Bible Institute and a good friend of my son Nate, who is also a student at Moody. Dan had to intern with a senior pastor to complete his course work and wanted to learn all the ways NOT to perform as a pastor…so he chose me. :) Dan is a sharp young man and is going to make a great pastor.

Part of my assignment for Dan was for him to ask me questions he had about being a pastor, but had never asked anyone.

I asked Dan if he would share with me his notes from the interview. These are random notes, mostly without complete sentences, because he was dictating them as I talked

Here is my leadership interview with Dan Dominguez:

Here’s a copy of my notes from our conversation. I just mixed what you said with my thoughts, so the sentences aren’t complete.

How do you avoid complacency or contentedness in your own Christian walk? (and/or with where the church is at?)

To a certain extent you can’t/don’t. It is important to recognize where you are and keep going back to the vision.

For self: In dry times step up discipline and change things up. Routine can be part of the problem so change the way you do things.

For the church: Challenge the staff and keep looking forward. It is essential to have someone driving change and creating innovation.

When you first started the church how did you “advertise”? How did people find out about the church?

A business mindset carries over to the church. This can be good generally, but in terms of advertising, it can also be harmful. Advertising causes people to think that’s what is bringing people into the church and prevents them from depending on God for the people and seeing how God uses them to bring people.
Wal-Mart didn’t advertise at first.

Create a buzz. Grace uses people to advertise. Word of mouth. The idea of caged momentum.

What is the biggest mistake you think you have made so far in pastoral ministry? How can I avoid that?

Following own will instead of God’s.

What has been the most successful thing you have done so far? How can I learn from that?

Being willing to take a risk on what you see God doing things I couldn’t do.

Also, take chances on people. Don’t hold others back. Empower them. Allow them to make decisions within the vision.

What do you think are the key characteristics to a good pastors wife?

Number one thing to look for: Someone who will follow your spiritual leadership and respect you.

Other characteristics: Heart for people (compassionate). Not caught up in material things. Willing to sacrifice. Not a malicious talker/gossip. “What a pastors wife says will be repeated.” Humble. Teachable.

What is something you wish you would have known or learned sooner?

The importance of business and leadership principles within the church.

How do you go about finding the right staff person? What does that process look like? How do you know they are a good fit?

Know the person you are hiring the best that you can. Spend time with them. Meet with them and their spouse. Hire for both. Biblical qualifications. Try and talk them out of it by telling them all of the negatives. Make sure they know what they are getting into.  Be slow to hire and fast to let go.

Follow up questions about hiring:

Build teams: Different skills same heart (passion). Hire for your weaknesses. Age doesn’t matter. Hire the best fit whether 65 or 25. Obviously consider cost and experience.

What kind of goals do you set? And how do you measure them? (For yourself, for your staff, and for your congregation)

Categories: Physical , Spiritual, Professional, Relational

Write the goal so that the goal itself is measurable. Place a numeric value on things when possible. Example he gave: Number of baptisms. Compare that to number of people. Track relationship between growth and baptisms. Watch motivation when placing a number on things, but allow it to motivate you.

If you could start your ministry over again, what would you do differently?

Been bolder in following God’s call…never failing to pursue something out of fear.

What do you think is a good ratio from church staff to church size?

Varies based on churches needs and values. Balance money and vision. Grace is 187:1.

Random advice:

Have a few friends with lake houses. (Haha) … You’ll often need a break!

Does this produce any questions you’d like to ask? 

An Interview with Mark Schoenwald President/CEO of Thomas Nelson

Over the next few months, I’ll be interviewing some great business leaders. They may or may not be leading Christian companies, but they will be high-level leaders in successful organizations. I think there are helpful things to learn for us in the church world from those leading outside the church.

I begin with Mark Schoenwald, President and Chief Executive Officer at Thomas Nelson. I have met Mark on a couple of occasions and each time he left a great impression on me in a casual setting. I understand he is a runner, which makes me identify with him, but I also gather from our causal encounters that he is professional, methodical, kind, and wise. Mark recently replaced the well-known Michael Hyatt as CEO of Nelson. From the outside, it appears Mark will approach the position different from Michael. I was interested in learning from Mark’s leadership.

Here is an interview with Mark Schoenwald:

How do you keep up with current trends and the market in your industry?

I believe to stay current you have to do multiple things. First, you have to understand history and the key drivers as history has a tendency to repeat itself but usually in a different format. Second, study the key current data; best seller lists, POS, Bowker consumer and customer information. Also, get out of the office and get into stores and online to understand the focus of merchandising and promotions. Lastly, ask the consumer. We conduct focus groups and surveys to gain insight into the key decision drivers as well as candid feedback on product and pricing.

How is your leadership style different than Michael’s?

First, I would like to start with what we have in common. We both strive to honor God in all we do as we lead this company. We believe in transparency, integrity and doing the right thing even if it is difficult or inconvenient. My hope is I am consistent with what Mike has worked to establish as hallmarks of leadership at every level at Thomas Nelson.

A primary difference between us is my initial tendency to learn by listening and communicating in person where Mike tends to thrive by speaking and active in social media.

I am direct with people, focused and motivated by competition. I tend to be more internally focused on our business and driving key initiatives and results. I encourage our people to expect, embrace and navigate change. I enjoy building and being on teams and being right in the middle of the action in terms of work, meetings, interaction etc.

What would you do or advice to give someone starting their career?

Your ability to see change coming and learn to navigate within a culture of rapid change is critical to your success. Second, get up, get out of bed and get going earlier than anyone else. The message is work ethic counts. Be willing to accept any job or assignment with enthusiasm. Once you have established a reputation of a strong work ethic and great attitude, people and opportunities will find you. Every leader wants that on their team. Lastly, listen and learn. Be a sponge and soak it all in. Mix all this together and that person will be successful in any situation, industry or business.

What is the greatest change you have seen in the workplace since you began your career? Does that change the way you lead today?

The speed of change is the biggest difference from early in my career. Phil Cooke said “if you don’t like change, you will dislike being irrelevant even more”. Change has become a certainty in life. But, the speed and magnitude of change continues to increase. We have to learn to accept uncertainty at times. You have to make decisions based on the information and time you have. The risk of delay or not changing is greater than what most people focus on which fear of the change itself. Failure is going to happen when change occurs this fast. That is part of life. So embrace the speed of change, don’t be afraid to make a mistake and if you do, learn from it so we don’t repeat it. I am not encouraging people to be reckless. Rather, be smart, do your homework, rely on your experience and make a decision. Speed demands this and if you can’t or won’t keep pace, you and your business will be left behind.

What are three words people would use to describe you?

Focused, Competitive, Loyal.

What is the hardest thing you have to do as a leader? What have you learned that has helped you in this area?

Delegate. I like to lead and like to drive initiatives. That is my natural bent so I need to learn to delegate and then support the process. I have learned the key is to find and hire the very best leadership you can find. Give people clear objectives and vision and then get out of the way. Be there for support and any guidance they may require but let them accept their responsibilities and perform the work. This is something I have to work on every day.

What motivates you to get up in the morning? What is it that keeps you pushing for more personally or professionally?

I pray daily that I am open and accepting of God’s plan for my life and for the courage to accept it. I am motivated every day to be the best husband, dad and business leader I can be. It is my responsibility to maximize the gifts, skills and situation that God has granted me. The responsibility and gift of the three kids God has trusted us to raise is awesome. The challenge and reward to guide the development of these kids and our family motivates me every day.

I am motivated daily to model leadership by example. To be humble and courageous. Due to my competitive nature, the motivation comes from the internal competition to do the right thing. Learn, listen, lead and grow spiritually, professionally and personally every day.

Great interview Mark….thank you!

Who are some other leaders you’d like me to try to interview here?

Craig Groeschel Interviews the Devil – #Cat10

Craig Groeschel started his talk at Catalyst with a humorous, but sobering fictitious interview with the devil…

It went something like this:

Craig: So how are you hurting the church these days?

Devil:  We’re causing problems between the ages…

It’s easy to split up people by the generations…

Taking a guy who thinks he may make a difference, but tell him he doesn’t have what it takes….

Craig: What are you doing to distract the older ones?

Devil: Cause resistance to change….you know this new way of doing things…they’re all going to Hell…

Craig: What about the younger ones?

Devil: Easy…in your twenties…you think you know everything….

So we play up the cockiness….ego…

Also, I’ve got you on the calendar…maybe a little mid-life crisis…

Craig: Get behind me Satan…

It was a funny way to remind of us some important truths that 1)Satan wants to divide us by our differences and 2)We can tell Satan to flee!

Two Questions:

Do you see generational differences bringing conflict in the church?

Has Satan been messing with you?  In the name of Jesus, do you need to tell Satan to flee?

Sharing Your Story: Let’s Get to Know One Another

This week I was at the Story Conference in Chicago.  Ben Arment and a team of volunteers put together a conference designed to help us creatively tell the story of Christ’s redemptive love for the world.  I was challenged personally to be a better storyteller.

It got me thinking though…

We all have a story….  We should share some of them…

Let’s share some of them today.

Here are 10 questions…Comment on this post to answer them….Answer all…one…or as many as you want to answer…

What is the hardest decision you have ever made?

What is one question about how your life has turned out that you have yet to answer?

If you inherited $1 million, what would you do with it?

If you could go back to any period of your life, where would you go?  Why?

Who is a friend from the past you would love to connect with again?

If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

What is the biggest trial you have ever faced?

How did you meet your spouse/girlfriend or boyfriend?

What is your greatest fear in life?  How do you fight it?

Let’s have some fun learning our stories.  Again, answer as many as you want…or all of them…