Discipline Yourself To Dream

We have had a busy season at Grace Community Church.  Fall is the time of year when most churches ramp up their ministries, which tracks with back-to-school schedules and the change to cooler weather.  Our church has been in a fast growth mode since day one, but we seem to be in a unique place of extraordinary growth right now.  In addition to this growth we are launching new small groups, a college ministry, gearing up for our annual community outreach ministry, and adding a third service, along with numerous other changes occurring this fall, some that we are not ready to talk about yet.  Some days it seems we have just enough energy to get through another week and all our time is focused on the next Sunday.

At our most recent staff meeting, in the midst of making plans for our new third service, I reminded the staff of an important principle. (I hope they were listening.)  During times of significant growth, planning or workload, it is always important to…

…DISIPLINE YOURSELF TO DREAM….

During the busiest times in an organization, when all the team’s energies are focused on getting through a specific project or season, if the team is not disciplined otherwise, because habits form quickly, there is a tendency to continue operating in the day-to-day mode even after the busy season passes. I expanded on that idea in a previous post.  Read that post HERE.

Teams that want to experience long-term growth have to discipline themselves to build dreaming into the system.  Leaders should model innovative thinking during stressful periods within the organization.  Individual team members need to consciously pick their head up from the routines and strategically think further down the road for the organization.

Dreaming keeps momentum flowing forward.  The next great decisions made by the Grace Community Church staff will likely come from our time set aside to dream.

Do you need to set aside time this week just to dream?

Three Services Sunday at Grace Community Church!

On our fourth anniversary, Grace Community Church will take another giant step of faith.  This Sunday we move add a third service.  Everyone has to change times!

8:30 OR 10:00 OR 11:30  (3 identical services)

Join us at Rossview High School as we kick off a new series, celebrate 4 years, get ready for Operation Serve, and have a great time doing it!

Invite a friend to join you.  We’ll have plenty of seats!

New-Times

Leadership Perception Survey

lpsurveyI am conducting a leadership perception survey.  I have been in leadership positions for over 20 years, but in the early part of this time I also had a leader to whom I reported.  Recently I have been working with some churches and businesses facing leadership issues and problems.  From my observation, many times the problem is the different perception between leaders and followers of what leadership is and how one should lead.  It makes it difficult to lead in an environment where the leader and follow do not even agree on the principles of leadership.  I decided to illustrate this diverse thought through a blog survey.

Please understand, I am not trying to make a statement by any of these questions.  I realize some of the questions may seem odd and on some of them you will wish for more options, but I am trying to gather opinions that are diverse and get more general feedback rather than specific, to make some general observations about leadership perceptions.  On yes and no questions where you feel there is an in between answer, either pick the one you lean closer to or skip that question. According to the results of my recent blog reader survey, some respondents will be in leadership positions and some will not. It will be interesting to read the various opinions.

Click here to take the LEADERSHIP PERCEPTION SURVEY.

All responses will be anonymous of course, but I will post results in weeks to come.

Lessons in Wisdom From Rehoboam (1 Kings 12)

In the midst of an incredibly huge decision recently I happened one morning to read 1 Kings 12.  I love when God points me to the exact Scripture I need at the moment.

In this passage Rehoboam refused to listen to wise counsel and instead listened to the “wisdom of the day”.  As you can read for yourself, his decision to ignore healthy advice cost him far more than he could afford to pay.

There are 5 principles I can learn or be reminded of from Rehoboam’s experience:

  • Servant leadership is the model we need to follow and exhibit.  (It was also the model of Jesus.)
  • We need to make sure we are getting our wisdom from the right sources. Who are you listening to these days?  (Read a similar post HERE.)
  • Doing what is right may not always be popular, but it is right.
  • The consequences for failure to follow wisdom are huge.
  • There is natural wisdom that comes from age. (Read a similar post HERE.)

What other lessons do you get from this passage?  Which of these do you need to read most?

Adding More Links To My Blog

logoAs a suggestion from a reader, I am adding more links to my blog.  My blog exposure has grown rapidly in the last six months and I want to use it for maximum impact for the purpose of Kingdom building.  Adding links will hopefully add exposure to other great blogs, as well as increase exposure to my work.  I am using the following criteria in adding new links:

  • I don’t want so many links that it becomes cumbersome to my readers.
  • The blogs need to be ones that I actually read regularly. If I put them on my personal blog I am somewhat endorsing them.  (I am not afraid to start reading something new, but I am looking for contain related to what I do, which means the blog should be related to things such as churches, ministry, leadership or family.)
  • They should be instructional or help people learn something practical or useful.  I am a purposeful reader of blogs. I really don’t read much just for fun.
  • They should be updated fairly often.  I don’t consider once a month to be often.  If it is only updated a few times a year, the posts better be really good.
  • I would prefer to link to people who are open to learning from others.  Those who don’t allow comments, don’t follow others on Twitter, and aren’t accessible don’t interest me as much, so I’m less likely to read their blogs.

Is there something I am missing here?  What other criteria should I use?

Are there blogs I should consider that I may not be aware of yet?

Please don’t be offended if I don’t link to you.  I don’t intend for it to be personal.  I am just trying to be obedient to what I’ve been called to do.

New Family Picture and Life Change

As I work on other things this Labor Day, I thought I would share one of our new family pictures.  Thanks to Piper Bell in our church for taking these before Nate left for Moody.

Fam 1

On a personal note, because so many have asked, last Thursday night was a weird night for Cheryl and me.  We finished dinner and the dishes by 6:30, no boys were in the house.  Nate is in Chicago and Jeremy was with friends, and we looked at each other and for the first time really felt like empty-nesters.  It’s a new season for us.  It wasn’t a bad feeling, but different.

Yesterday at church we did the song “You’re Gonna Miss This“.  I understand that song a lot better these days.

Anyone else know the feeling?

Wal Mart Goes Paperless “Paychecks”

wal-mart-logoI heard today that Wal Mart is getting rid of paper paychecks.  Instead employees will receive a debit card as payment, if they refuse direct deposit.  You can read more about it HERE.

I see several implications for this change:

  • It puts the burden of the processing expense on those processing the payment, saving Wal Mart thousands of dollars processing checks.  (We shouldn’t be surprised Wal Mart would find a way to increase profits.)
  • Apparently there will be one free withdrawal per month and additional withdrawals are $2 each.  This will force Wal Mart employees to learn a new system, which could be difficult for some employees who are not accustomed to handling plastic.
  • It is more environmentally friendly.  Surely there will be fewer trees cut to provide the paper for checks. (Of course plastic sticks around longer than paper…j/k)
  • This will be trend setting for other industries with mass numbers of employees.  Wal Mart is big enough to force change.  With 2.1 million employees, Wal Mart proves this can be a done with any size workforce.  Look for more companies to follow Wal Mart’s lead.

When we were in Lithuania this summer we saw a similar system.  Having recently converted to a more capitalistic system, they by-passed paper altogether in their economy.  Everything is done electronically.  This looks like one more step to removing paper checks from our system altogether.

What do you think?  Is that where our economy is headed?  Will we be paperless in a few years?  Do you still even write paper checks?

Quit Taking Credit For A God Thing!

A few weeks ago, in preparing a message for Grace Community Church in which I celebrated the victories we have seen in the last year at Grace, God convicted me for my line of thinking.  I was preparing to remind people of the strategy of the church, as we do at the beginning of each new fall season, to encourage them to continue giving their time and resources to further the vision.  I believe God gently reminded me that apart from Him, we would have no vision and we would certainly have no success.

Clearly what has happened at our church in the last four years is bigger than any vision, strategy, staff or volunteers could produce.  If we duplicated everything we are doing today elsewhere, we would have no guarantees of success without God’s intervention.  No doubt about it, what we are experiencing at Grace Community Church is a God-thing!  I also know that we are just a small part of all God is doing in many places around the world.

It was a needed reminder and one I wonder if other leaders, especially some of the big name leaders, need to hear.  The greater the success a person has and the more accolades a leader receives, the easier it becomes to begin to take credit for that success.  So, in simple terms, let me encourage you, if the shoe fits, to…

Quit taking credit for a God thing!

We can share wisdom and strategy from what we have learned.  We can write blogs and books to encourage others.  We can be invited to speak around the world about our successes.  People can look to us as “experts” in our field, but let’s be honest as leaders.  Most of us who are experiencing tremendous growths in our churches are…

  • Not better leaders
  • Not better speakers
  • Don’t have a better strategy

Than some who are doing the same things we are doing, but not experiencing similar results.

I will continue to share my experiences.  Frankly I think I have been called to, but honestly, when you look at what is happening in our church, what looks like a God-thing, quite possibly is…actually, there is no question in my mind that it is.

Have you ever been guilty of taking credit, if only in your own mind, for something that truly God has done?

5 Things I Learned In Sending A Son Away To College

It has been a couple weeks since I dropped our youngest son Nate off at college.  He is attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  Our oldest son is a senior at Austin Peay State University and is living at home to save money this year.  Nate is our first to change cities of residence and he is 8 hours from home.  In the process of him leaving I have learned a few things:

  1. It was much harder than I thought letting go. My counseling background tells me I began a mini-depression about a month before he left and I’m just now beginning to see light again.
  2. I prepared my boy, but not my emotions.  I am a fairly unemotional person.  Not the day I said “Goodbye” or the week following.  I was an emotional wreck. Thankfully, Nate is very mature and is going to do great with his independence.
  3. It will never be the same, but it can be better…at least in some ways.  I miss seeing Nate terribly, but our talks are even more open and honest than when he was here.
  4. I can’t wait for his calls/texts/emails.  There is a charge in my spirit when I look down at my phone and see that it is Nate.
  5. It is a new phase of life for Cheryl and me.  Our parenting is not over, but our role is changing. We are beginning to make some new dreams, just for the two of us.

I posted more about this process in my letter to Nate.  You can read that post HERE.  For some things I have learned in parenting, see this CATEGORY.

Parents, tell me about your experience letting your children go.