Preaching to the Preacher (I Was Encouraged Today)

DSCF8439Sometimes I need to get away from the usual crowds, take over my pastor hat, and sit in the audience and glean. Today was one of those days and I am thankful for the blessing.

Cheryl and I are on vacation in the Southwest. First stop was Albuquerque, NM for the annual balloon festival. We spent Saturday looking at hundreds of beautiful hot air balloons and returned this morning for another look. We left in time to catch the middle service of a great church, Sagebrush Community Church. Pastor Todd Cook was ending a series called “Heart” and shared a message that encouraged us to be encouragers. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have to be honest. When I first sat and looked at the program for the day and saw that the speaker was going to talk about encouragement, I wasn’t too excited. I’m a strategy guy, not a touchy feely guy. I like purpose, drive, and conviction. I wouldn’t be the first person one would think of when it came to the topic of encouragement. (In my family that would be Cheryl or Jeremy.)

As I sat and listened to Todd, who is a gifted speaker and storyteller, I was personally convicted. You see, I’ve been so busy with my strategy and purpose-driven, stress-filled life lately, that I am afraid I have often forgotten my first calling. I am a pastor. I am to help people move from death to life, from heartache and despair to trust and obedience. That process often doesn’t begin with a strategy. It begins when one person befriends another person, invests in them, and ENCOURAGES him or her to walk in a new way. Lately I am not sure that has been as much of my focus as leading and managing a church. I received “encouragement” today to take a fresh look at how I approach my days.

I am not saying I am giving up my strategy. I am not wired that way and frankly God uses me in that setting. I will never be a Barnabas. I will never be as considerate and caring as my wife. She balances me that way, but I do need to slow down more. I do need to take more time with the smallest needs. I need to be more people-centered. After all, that is the ultimate purpose of my calling.

Thanks Todd for encouraging me today to be a better encourager. God used you greatly in this season of my life.

(By the way, I met Todd after the service, and even though he is pastor of a large church and preaches 5 services each weekend, he treated me so warmly. He certainly did not make me feel I was an interruption. In this too, he gave me a wonderful reminder and encouragement.  You can here his message from today HERE.)

What I’m Dreaming About These Days…

iStock_000009167921XSmallEarlier this week I was looking for an old file and ran across some notes from a “Dream Big” planning retreat we did as a staff at Grace Community Church in August of 2007.  We were almost 2 years old at that time and the assignment was to brainstorm about “the sky is the limit” and “money is not an obstacle” dreams the staff at the time had.  It was amazing to look at the list today and realize that much of the list is being accomplished or could be in a short amount of time. I realized it is time for us to dream big again!

To lead by example, here is what I’m currently dreaming and praying about:

Coaching network – I have long been interested in mentoring. The new “buzz” term appears to be coaching.  Call it what you want, but I am praying about ways that I can invest in others, both in our church and outside our church.  Look for something next year.

Book publishing – I have a few ideas floating around, but more importantly I have an edited Word document with 365 of my devotionals from Mustard Seed Ministry ready to publish.  I am weighing my options.

Grace Community Church– I cannot list all the big dreams here, mostly because they involve other people, but let me just say God is blowing my mind with possibilities.

What are you dreaming big about these days?

5 Things Non-Profits and For-Profits Can Learn From Each Other

This Way That Way Which way to turnI spent most of my career in the business world. I was always extremely active and in leadership roles in church and other civic activities, but I earned my living in a for-profit environment. During those years, as an outsider looking in, I believed non-profits had so much to learn from the world of business.

Having spent the last 7 years in full-time ministry, I realize my perception wasn’t completely accurate. I still agree most churches and other non-profits can learn business principles from the corporate world, but now I realize the for-profit world can equally learn from the world of non-profits.

From my experience in the two worlds, here are a few examples where we can learn from each other:

Non-profits can learn from for-profits:

  • Business management
  • Structure and systems
  • Strategy
  • Performance evaluation
  • Marketing

When it comes to making a profit and producing results, the for-profit world has mastered the task…or at least attempts to do so. Survival and success in this world depends on balancing everything from cash flow to employee performance results in an effort to show a profit to the bottom line.

For-profits can learn from non-profits:

  • Purpose
  • Mission
  • Values
  • People-building
  • Social responsibility

In the non-profit world, the emphasis is on achieving the purpose of the organization. The focus of attention is not necessarily (actually not usually) on business principles as much as human principles. Success is determined more in accomplishing a mission than on realizing a financial gain. Non-profits advance people over profit.

I see a win/win situation when these two worlds collide. For-profits can be even more profitable when they invest in people and work towards the vision, even sometimes at the expense of immediate profits. Non-profits can continue their mission more effectively when they practice healthy business principles.

My questions is: How do we get these two worlds together more?

Are you currently in the non-profit or the for-profit world? Have you experienced both? Do you see other ways we can learn from each other?

3 Reasons To Never Respond To Criticism In Anger

iStock_000003032282XSmallI have grown accustomed to criticism.  When I was in business, it could come from employees, former employees, customers, suppliers, or the public.  When I served in political office, every vote seemed to bring critics from the opposing side.  Now that I am in ministry, I have learned that criticism comes from outside and inside the church.  I suppose it is a part of culture.

Our first reaction to criticism is to lash out in anger towards it.  It is normal to want to defend ourselves, correct inaccuracies and promote the truth.  While I believe we should always speak truth in love and correcting false statements against us may have a place, I do not believe responding to criticism with anger is ever appropriate.

Here are three reasons why:

It’s not right.

I always hear the example of Jesus in the temple, but Jesus wasn’t dealing with their criticism of Him, but their misuse of the temple.  (And He apparently took time to think through His response according to John 2:15…He made a whip…how long does that take?)

It may be true.

The fact is that as hard and untrue as criticism may be, often there are things in the criticism for us to learn, which we may not have noticed without the criticism.  (See a similar post HERE.)

It doesn’t work.

It backs people into a corner and ultimately produces more criticism.

Jesus had the best remedy for handling criticism:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

What do you think? Is this something hard for you to do?

I Recommend The Change Group

banner350X250I love big vision. I love those who help accomplish big vision.  Recently I’ve been inspired by the energies of The Change Group.  They are true Kingdom builders.

If your organization needs help with financial management or with bookkeeping services, consider talking about outsourcing those needs with my friends at The Change Group.

For one monthly fee organizations can receive:

  • Quarterly CFO Consulting
  • Monthly Financial Dashboard
  • Weekly Bookkeeping

I posted HERE about two things every organization must have.  The Change Group can completely take care of one of these two needs, allowing you to concentrate on accomplishing your vision without stressing over details that must be done.   This is not only a cost saving, but also an efficient way of handling your church, small business or non-profit’s financial needs.

Check out my friends at The Change Group today by clicking HERE.

What Are You Contributing To Your Organization?










Are you bringing new ideas to your organization, church, or the place where you work?

You see things no one else sees…

You have experiences and connections no one else has…

You have a unique perspective on life…

You surely have opinions…

Don’t keep them to yourself…

Use them for the good of the team…

What could you be contributing that you’ve been holding back because of fear or lack of self-confidence?

Start sharing today…

8 Most Stressful Careers

iStock_000000053566XSmallI love Southwest’s magazine.  I always find interesting articles to kill time during flights.  This month was no exception.  I am glad that let you bring these magazines home. (They do, don’t they?)

Do you feel like you have a stressful career?

According to a survey by highlighted in Spirit Magazine, here are the jobs that send workers home most exhausted:

  1. Firefighter
  2. Surgeon
  3. Senior corporate executive
  4. Police officer
  5. Roustabout
  6. Sailor
  7. General practice physician
  8. Psychiatrist

I don’t know that I qualify, but if I can be considered a “Senior Corporate Executive” with our church, then the article helps explain why I seem to have so much stress in my work these days.  I realize I am a pastor, but lately, with the growth of our church, I seem to do play administrative roles than spiritual roles.  Read posts about that change in my role HERE and HERE.

I know a few careers I was surprised were not on the list.  These jobs would stress me:

  • Homemaker
  • School teacher
  • Lion trainer
  • Daycare worker
  • Soldier
  • Small business owner
  • Professional chess (or poker) player
  • Santa Claus

Is your career on the list?  If not, do you think it should be?  I guess at any given time it could be our career on the list.   What do you think?

Are You Taking Advantage of Human Capital?

iStock_000006413523XSmallDo you harness the greatest power in your organization?  The best assets of your church, business or non-profit never appear on your balance sheet.

The truth is that any organization is only as good as the people within it.  Take the greatest idea and put the wrong people behind it and little progress will be realized.   With the right people, even average ideas can achieve tremendous results.

Are you taking the advantages of human capital?

Are you relying on the knowledge, insight and experience of everyone on your team to make the organization better?

Here are a few quick ways to capitalize on the people value of your team:

Brainstorm – Have assigned times periodically where everyone on the team gets to give input into the organization’s future.

Allow mistakes – Create an environment where team members are willing to take risks without fear of repercussion if things go wrong.

Ask questions – Genuinely seek help from those around you.  Recognize the fact that others may know more than you know about a particular subject.

Don’t pre-define – If you want help solving a problem or planning for the future, start with a clean slate.  If the leader always has the answer, team members are less likely to share their input.

Be open to change/new ideas – The leader must genuinely desire the involvement of others.  If team member’s suggestions are never implemented, they eventually will stop sharing them.

How are you currently taking advantage of human capital?

For more ideas on creating an environment of innovation click HERE.

One Incredibly Important Characteristic Of Successful Organizations


There is one incredibly important characteristic of a successful team or organization. It is inherent and cannot be trained or programmed. With this trait a team can weather the storms of life together. When this is an attribute of an organization, regardless of the struggles it encounters, the vision can be accomplished.

Leaders need to understand the importance of SHARED VALUES…

It could be spiritual belief…it could be a cause…it could be a sense of well-doing…it could be an organizational philosophy or structure or simply the joy of belonging to a certain team, but there is a power of the heart connection among employees that cannot be overlooked as a reason for success in an organization. There is strength in believing in what you do and your role in accomplishing the vision that is more powerful than talent, skills, or sometimes, even product.

Identifying the people who can share the values of your organizational structure is a critical part in hiring and retaining team members. For those wishing to join an organization, an important consideration should be if you share the same values with the people on your team.

Do you recognize the shared values within your organization?

Personality Pattern Assessment

Picture 1I have taken a lot of personality profile assessments. I find they give me new insight into myself and how I relate to others. Sometimes I have blind spots in my personality that these type assessments help me discover.  From that information I can build upon my strengths and recognize my weaknesses.  This is a new assessment to me.  Here’s what happened when I took the personality pattern assessment.


You strive to master everything you undertake. You tend to learn quickly and do not shy away from challenges.  You are not a “que sera sera” type of person, nor do you go easy on yourself when attempting to master a new skill or get a job done.


You are good at solving problems, coming up with original ideas, and seeing connections between things, connections that most other people miss. People with a high score on the “creative” trait often are employed in such fields as finance and scientific research, and enjoy avant garde and classical music as well as literary fiction and scholarly non-fiction.  You do not shun abstractions and concepts in favor of the concrete and tangible.


You are a quick study. You generally don’t need to have things explained to you more than once. When presented with a problem, you will often have an instant understanding of where to look for the solution.  You do not take your sweet time when presented with a new task to complete or problem to solve. You don’t avoid assignments that require you to learn new skills.


You behave in a confident and forceful manner, take charge of the situation, raise your hand in class, stand up for what you think is right, and lead others. Among those who have a high score on the “assertive” trait, many have jobs in which they are valued for their organizational skills as well as their talent for supervising others.   You are not interested in fading into the woodwork, leaving everything to fate, taking more time than necessary to accomplish a task, or avoiding confrontation.


You’d rather win than simply get along in most situations. When you know you’re right, you would rather argue your point than compromise. Generally, those with a high score on the “competitive” trait hold leadership positions in industry and are exhilarated by risk-taking both in their professional and personal lives.   You are not always interested in getting along with others in a group, especially if it can mean losing your identity.


You are not a slave to your emotions. It takes a lot to upset or unnerve you. That’s why you’re a good person to have around in a crisis.  You don’t let it all hang out, which means that those around you often don’t know the pressures you’re under or what you’re going through. You’re not the kind of person people run from in a crisis.


You come up with a lot of ideas; if one doesn’t work out, there’s always another waiting in the wings. You often have interesting solutions to difficult problems. You’re practically a one-person brainstorming session.  You are less interested changing the world than in dealing with things as they are. Unlike those who spend all their time trying to solve problems, you prefer to zero in on things that work and stick with them.


You like your own company; you’re a very interesting person. Tracking your own mental processes, knowing what you’re thinking and why you do what you do, is important to you. Often, what’s going on in your mind is more compelling than what’s going on outside. For the most part, those with a high score on the “introspective” trait enjoy reading, taking long walks, learning new things, and other solitary activities.  You are not someone who is constantly looking to be among a group of friends; you never feel bored when you are by yourself.


You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You’re the living embodiment of the saying “You learn something new every day.” In general, those with a high score on the “intellectual” trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music.  You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.


You bounce back quickly from adversity. For you, all setbacks are temporary. You don’t dwell on bad news, bad luck, or criticism; you regroup and focus on solving the problem, whatever it may be.  You almost never feel that there’s too much on your plate, that you don’t have the strength to deal with the bad hand you’ve been dealt, or that you’re going to lose it if you have to deal with one more problem.

Try it out.  It takes less than 10 minutes. Then tell me what your top traits are.