My Top 5 Books This Year – Book Giveaway

Winners of the my favorite book giveaway:

@rlscovens

Jason Stewart

Congratulations…They each get their choice of one of my five favorite books of 2010!

Thanks for reading my blog this year!

I usually read tons of books each year, but this has been a relatively slow reading year. Still, I read some books this year that greatly impacted me, perhaps becoming some of my favorite books of all times. In fact, I believe in them enough that I want to share them with you and give a couple away this Christmas.

Here are my top 5 books for 2010. I will give two of them away to random readers of this post. (Details below…you can click on the name to read more about each one.)

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller – This is perhaps one of the best looks at the story of the Prodigal Son I have ever read. If you have been a believer for very long, this book will challenge you in how you live out your faith.

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley – Andy is one of my favorite speakers and authors. He has a way of communicating truth in an understandable way and he does this brilliantly with the vital issue of grace.

Linchpin by Seth Godin – This is a simple book, but it is oh so profound at looking at how our work environments, careers, and the way we accomplish things is done these days.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – This is not a new book, but I had put off reading it. I read it on the plane to Africa this Summer and shortly into the book I was mesmerized. Gladwell will challenge your thinking of why some succeed in life and others may not.

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne – I had the opportunity to spend some time with this author this year and I can’t believe I had not been closely following his work previously. This book is full of nuggets of how to make teams work well.

Here’s how you can have an opportunity to win one of these books:

  1. Comment on this post with your favorite book of 2010…or one you would suggest I read.
  2. RT or Share this post via Twitter or Facebook.

I will choose two random winners tomorrow and mail you a copy of your book of choice from the list above.

Thanks for being a reader of this blog this year!

50+ Examples of “Successful Leadership Requires…”

I was thinking about successful leadership recently…actually, I think about the subject a lot… I guess because I want to be a successful leader and, because I know so many “leaders” who think they are, but aren’t successful.  You know the kind….  I talk weekly to ministers serving on church staffs around the country who are struggling with the leadership of the church where they serve, mainly because of the leadership…or lack thereof…coming from senior leadership in the church.  Perhaps you understand…

I decided, since I have such awesome Twitter followers…and most people have an idea of what they think successful leadership looks like…that I’d put the subject to the test. I simply asked: What does successful leadership require?

I primed the pump…so-to-speak…with these suggestions:

Successful leadership requires:

  • intentionality…
  • humility…
  • courage…
  • ingenuity…
  • discipline…
  • risk-taking…

My Twitter friends responded generously with these additions:

Successful leadership requires:

  • discipleship…
  • love for God and for those we are leading.
  • passion…
  • strength to do what is necessary to do…
  • a servant’s heart…
  • discernment…
  • tenacity…
  • authenticity…
  • faith…
  • grace…
  • perseverance…
  • love…
  • vision and an organized plan of attack…
  • perceptive and generous historians…
  • followers…
  • creating room for others to step into leadership…
  • service…
  • influence…
  • the ability to act and listen with humility…
  • sacrifice…
  • patience…
  • coffee…
  • understanding of self…
  • understanding your team’s strengths and managing to those…not weaknesses…
  • clarity of purpose…
  • earning & maintaining the trust of your followers…
  • servant’s heart…
  • partnership…
  • dedication…
  • vision…
  • commitment…
  • reaching for perfection and accepting flawed execution…
  • wisdom…
  • being called…
  • brokenness…
  • movement…
  • compassion…
  • a big heart…
  • total dependence on God…
  • knowing where he is going and takes others with him…
  • strategic thinking….
  • empowerment…
  • big dreams…
  • forward thinking…
  • dealing with criticism…
  • the ability to forgive and not hold grudges…

I’m sure there are many others…what would you add?

Successful leadership requires ___________.

How the World Demographics have Changed in 200 Years

This short video blows me away. It demonstrates the changes in the world over the last 200 years in age expectancy and poverty levels. I saw it on my friend Greg Atkinson‘s blog, but I thought it was worth sharing here also. This shows how things can change in a couple hundred years. That may seem like a long time, but in view of history, it’s fast paced. What are the implications here for the church? For the future economies?  For the way we do global trade, the global economy?  Can you see the change from America being a dominant superpower?  How will this impact this country’s future?  Do you see evidence of the change today?  How?  Just in my life the changes have been enormous.  Share your observations.

And notice the way he’s presenting information….Will we soon be preaching using this technology? Imagine sharing the story of the Bible like this?

Share your immediate thoughts after you watch this video.

The Temptation to Fabricate or Exaggerate Numbers

I recently discovered that a favorite blog of mine had some artificially inflated numbers…I don’t know the author personally…and the name doesn’t matter…it’s still just as awesome a blog as ever…so I’ll keep reading…but the numbers presented aren’t the real numbers…

I discovered it by accident…I wasn’t looking for it, but there it was…something I thought was true…Based on what I had been told, I thought the blog did better than it really does…wasn’t true…

I was disheartened…saddened…confused…

Then I remembered that it’s a common temptation…one I have faced many times…still do…

Let’s admit……the world is tough…it’s competitive…and it seems that only the strong survive…

Numbers matter…right or wrong we tend to believe they indicate success…prestige…they can even indicate financial rewards…

Whether it’s in the number of sales…blog hits…or total number of pancakes eaten…we tend to think the higher the number the better…

The fabrication of numbers also happens in the church world…there is a temptation to expand numbers to impress people…to feel better about one’s self as a pastor or ministry leader…

When it comes to numbers…you’ve most likely been tempted to:

Make up…add to…exaggerate…stretch the truth…

It’s natural to be tempted…

What you and I do with the temptation says a lot about our character….

Did you need to read this post? It was a good reminder for me…

What are some ways you’ve seen numbers exaggerated or inflated?

3 Critical Aspects of Planning for Future Growth

The main battle for your organization’s long-term success doesn’t exist where you are…it exists where you are going…

Regardless of how great or bad something may be now, this moment will pass. The successes created today will soon fade and current struggles don’t necessarily indicate future victories.

Take writing for example. Unless you are Rick Warren or a handful of others, the best selling authors have to continue to create new material to stay on the best sellers list. In the business world, the hottest products are only as hot as the next great update or until another “greater” product is introduced. Momentum dies…people lose interest…motivation for what you are promoting fades and something new is needed to keep growing.

On the other hand, if an organization is struggling today that doesn’t always mean they’ll struggle tomorrow. Sometimes one big break turns things from stagnant to growing to thriving. Obviously attention has to be current to survive, but struggling organizations often need to focus even more intently on the future.

At some point, to remain viable and to succeed, organizations have to concentrate on days ahead, because a new day is coming. These principles are truer now than ever before. If an organization wants to be successful over time, then it must be winning the battle for the future.

Here are three aspects or planning for future growth every organization must have:

Strategic thinking – There must be a concerted effort placed on thinking about next steps for the organization. If strategic thinking isn’t a leader’s strength (although I think it’s difficult to lead well without this skill), someone in the organization must be delegated the task of strategically thinking forward. The future is coming…things are changing…and the organization must be able to strategically respond.

Flexibility and adaptability – Today’s leader must remain flexible enough to adapt to change quickly. Most likely the plans you set today will be altered in some way tomorrow. As a leader, you must be open to change personally and learn how to lead others to embrace change within the organization.

Staffing and team-building – An organization will only be as good as the people who make up the organization, so the future is dependent on attracting and retaining the best people. Great leaders are planning ahead for staffing needs, always on the lookout for good people and intentionally seeking to develop people in the organization. Great leaders allow people to explore, possess authority and become leaders. In today’s organizations, the strength of the team is the strength of the organization.

I have been on both sides of an organization…both striving and struggling…and I believe all three of these aspects are true in both scenarios. I see these three as critical to the future growth of any organization, but I’m still learning and organizations are changing every day, so help me here. What am I missing? What would you add to my list?

Gifts of Water Daily Update: Team Edmondson

I’m helping to raise money, along with some other great folks, for Gifts of Water. Gifts of Water operates with a simple concept. A lot of people giving a little money each can supply water for lots of people. Click on the link to learn more about this effort.

You can easily join my team HERE by sending one text which will cost you $10. I would love many of you to do this.

Today was my team’s turn to put out the daily update of how the campaign is going. Here’s the video we presented:

Thanks to our team Adam Bayne, Ben Reed, and Brandon Reed for helping put this video together.

DON’T FORGET…JOIN MY TEAM…..HERE

Name This Guy and other Cool iPad Applications

Here’s a fun way to tell you about a cool app or two…

What would you name this guy?  I created him with my Touch Board application on iPad.  I use this application to illustrate when I’m meeting with a few people or less and want to draw out what I’m trying to say.

If you are an iPad user, here are some of my other favorite apps:

Evernote  (I wrote about it HERE.)

YouVersion – The absolute best Bible application there is…period! I love the Tweet and Facebook share features.

World Factbook – I love culture and missions…this application helps me learn about different countries.

Amazon Kindle – I’m reading most of my books this way now. I love carrying all my books with me at the same time.

What are some of your favorite iPad…or iPhone applications? ….And don’t forget to help me name this guy…he needs a name!

Developing Patience in Church Leadership

In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. 2 Chronicles 34:3 (Emphasis mine.)

I read this verse this morning and it spoke to me.  I’m sure I’ve read it dozens of times, but today a new thought occurred to me while reading.  Josiah was a king.  Granted he was only 8 years old when he became king, which made him only 16 when he began seeking God, but it took him four years before that seeking turned into obedience.

One thing I’ve learned in planting churches, where we have attracted many hurting, lost, broken people, is that it takes time with people before they respond to the call of God upon their life.  I can’t expect them to really start obeying God until they really get to know God.

The more they know Him the more they will want to obey Him.

I’m thankful God still speaks to me through His Word.

Here’s a reminder to those in church leadership…be patient with the people to whom God is sending you.  It may take longer than you expect…or hope…before you start to see the results of your leadership. Keep in mind…He is the Potter…We are only the clay…

Have you seen this as true?  Do you ever lose patience with people before they get to the obedience part of their walk?

Friday Discussion: Are You a Pet Lover…or Not?

Here’s my dog NaJe…She’s named for our boy’s Nathaniel (Nate) and Jeremy. She’s been a special dog.

In honor of my dog’s 11th birthday…Let’s talk pets today…

Are you a dog lover, a cat lover, or neither?

Do you like an inside dog, an outside dog, or neither?

Tell me about your pet….is he or she like a member of the family or just nice to have around? Is your spouse the bigger animal lover and you simply tolerate his or her wishes?

Let’s talk pets….

What’s the most exotic pet you’ve heard of someone having…or you have had? Anyone have one of THESE AS PETS? (See the 10 weirdest animal discoveries of 2010…did you know they are still discovering them?)

I saw this couple’s yellow snake pet in Chicago recently…would you consider this animal a pet? Be honest, does it bother you when someone calls a snake…or a ferret…or a _________….??? (I think their pet would like to eat my pet…)

Would you give a snake a name? What’s a good snake name?

BONUS QUESTION: What’s the best name for a dog? Are you like traditional names (Spot, Lucky, Max) or a creative name like NaJe?

Let’s talk pets.

Almost Isn’t Good Enough: Wayne Elsey’s New Book

As a leader, there are two qualities that really I value in other people, drive & selflessness. In most circles, these two words seem contradictory & rarely used in the same sentence. However, both of those words describe my good friend, Wayne Elsey. Wayne is the Founder & CEO of Soles4Souls. His drive has lead Soles4Souls to become one of the fastest growing non-profits in the country, but his attitude reflects total selflessness.  A few months ago, I interviewed Wayne in my leadership series. You can read it HERE.

This week, I had the opportunity to celebrate another milestone with Wayne, the release of his new book Almost Isn’t Good Enough After checking it out, I realized this book is unique. I can’t classify it as an inspirational, leadership, or business book because it incorporates all of those categories. Opening with Wayne’s story and; motivation to start Soles4Souls, the book goes on to share the principles that have driven the organization to where it is today. Each chapter highlights a principle that can drive your organization to fulfilling its overall mission.

The thing I love about Wayne and this book is the fact that, in the end, it all comes back to making a difference in the lives of others. Last night, Wayne told me that if this book could impact just one person to do something impactful, he’ll consider it a win. I know he genuinely means that.

The book officially releases December 26, which by way is the anniversary of Wayne’s calling to start Soles4Souls. Here is the cool part: For every copy sold, you will provide 10 pairs of shoes to a people group that you choose. So, buy 1 copy and give 10 kids their first ever pair of shoes. Buy 5 copies for you and your friends and provide a whole village with shoes. It’s a beautiful thing.

I would encourage you to pre-order your copy HERE. From now until December 26th, you can purchase 2 for $20 or 5 for $45.

This book is a powerful resource for every pastor, nonprofit leader, professor or business leader. At the same time, it is a must read for anyone who thinks they can’t do something to change the world. It’s a book that I would share with 50 year old CEOs and 18 year old college students.

Are you familiar with the work of Soles4Souls?

In honor of Wayne’s heart for good non-profit organizations, name one non-profit you are impressed with these days.