Here are 7 Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Favorite Bloggers

Blog word.

Every blogger has a reason for the time they spend blogging. It could be to express their personal thoughts and opinions, invest in others, or even to build an income. For me personally, it’s about building influence — so I can invest in others. I’m not bashful about saying that. I feel God has called me to invest in the next generation of church leaders and my blog is the front door to that opportunity. The more influence I build through my blog, the more people who read, the more I can fulfill one of God’s calls on my life.

Regardless of the motivation, the reaction every blogger appreciates from his or her reader is the same. All bloggers want to be appreciated for their work, whether an audience is 20 or 200,000 per month.

Here are 7 ways you can show appreciation to your favorite bloggers:

Read it – That’s rather obvious, but one reason bloggers keep track of analytic measures is to track the growth and consistency of readers. When you read a blog, you are paying a blogger the highest compliment. Even bloggers who blog for fun and say that the total number of readers doesn’t matter to them appreciate knowing someone has read what he or she wrote.

Promote it – If you enjoy a blog post, you show appreciation by helping the blogger promote that post. Whether you re-tweet, Stumble, post it on Facebook or forward it in an email, when you pass on the post you are applauding the blogger.

Comment on it – Comments are one of the truest measures of a blog’s impact on readers. It amazes me how engaged some bloggers are with their audience by the number of comments the simplest posts receive. All bloggers who allow comments enjoy reading them. The comments don’t even have to be positive (although they shouldn’t be cruel), but taking the initiative to leave one shows you read the post.

Link to it – The strongest investment you can make in a blogger you enjoy reading is to link to their post or blog on your blog, website or other social media outlet. When one links to a blog it helps build online strength and influence, and helps grow the audience of the blog. If you read the blog daily, linking to it shares that with the rest of the world, which is always appreciated by a blogger.

Implement the thoughts in it – Most bloggers are purposeful in the writing of their posts. When he or she pushes the “publish” button they hope the post will impact someone in some way. Whether the post simply brings a smile to your face or makes you think; or if it inspires you to make changes in how you live your life, if a post or the blog affects you personally, share this with the blogger.

Correct it (gently) – If you see bad links, poor grammar or spelling errors it’s okay to tell the blogger. In fact, it’s appreciated. The best bloggers are blogging frequently and are bound to make some mistakes. Just be gentle. Remember…you like this blogger!

Be loyal to it – Not every post will be a home run. If you like the author, keep reading on a consistent basis, thoroughly digesting the ones that you find the most interesting and skimming the ones that aren’t as appealing. If you enjoy a blog, you further the enjoyment and compliment the author by making sure you never miss a post. The easiest way do this is to add your favorite blogs to an automated reader or email feeder.

That’s some ways you show appreciation to a blogger. These things — that take so little time — keep most bloggers blogging. For those of you reading this blog on a regular basis, or even those who started with this post, thanks for reading. I really do appreciate each of you.

Are you a blogger? Why do you blog? What would you add to my list?

12 Indicators You’re NOT an Empowering Leader

Empower Definition Magnifier Showing Authority Or Power Given To Do Something

I love all the talk these days about delegation and empowering of leaders. I think it’s critical.

I wrote earlier about leading leaders and not followers (Read that post HERE), so I certainly agree with the trend.

I talk to people in ministry and business frequently, however, who are led by insecure, controlling leaders. It led me to write the following list.

Here are 12 reasons you may want to reconsider calling yourself an empowering leader:

  • Your number one answer is “NO”.
  • You have to personally approve every decision and control every outcome.
  • Everyone on your team works “for you” and not “with you”.
  • You use the word “I” more than the word “we”.
  • Your idea of delegation is telling people what to do, when and how to do it.
  • You say “Do this” far more than you ask “What should we do?”.
  • Nothing happens in your organization without your knowledge.
  • You consistently reverse the decisions of the team.
  • You think every great idea has to be yours.
  • You control information because information is power.
  • You get your feelings hurt if you hear about something after it has been implemented.
  • You crush people when they make a mistake.

I would say if you are guilty of four or more of these on a regular basis — maybe even two or more — you might want to evaluate if you truly are an empowering leader.

(BTW, I’m reading over the list — and checking it twice — to find out if I’ve been naughty or nice!)

What else would you add to the list?

How to Motivate a Leader — 7 Suggestions

motivation

Have you ever wondered how to motivate a leader?

It actually may not be as difficult as we make it out to be. Most leader-types share some common traits. They may lead entirely different — they may have different causes and interests — but most leaders are motivated by similar influences.

Here are 7 suggestions to motivate a leader:

Challenge – If there’s a task that would be a huge accomplishment, you’ll likely grab a leader’s interest. Be careful telling a leader it “can’t be done”, unless you want to see some motivation accelerate. (I wrote about this principle in my life HERE.)

Results – When a leaders celebrate a win, it fuels their desire for another. Leaders thrive on accomplishments.

Enthusiasm – Leaders are motivated by those who have a passion and drive to achieve. Make the vision exciting and compelling and you’ve likely got a leaders attention.

Risk – Tell a leader something is “dangerous” and he or she may be motivated to attempt it. Leaders love a challenge. In fact, one way to tell the difference in a potential good leader and a good manager is the amount of risk he or she is willing to assume.

Change – Leaders, by definition, are creators of movement. When things get stale, throw a little change in the mix, and a leader has a new incentive to lead. (I wrote more about this HERE and HERE.)

Chaos - It sounds strange, but even a little controversy or conflict can fuel a leader. When the situation is overwhelming — a leader goes to work. I wrote about this before HERE. Leaders love to fix things — improve them — make things better. It fuels them.

Dreams – Leaders are visionary. They want to accomplish something bigger than today. The bigger the dream, the bigger the motivation for the leader.

Are you a leader? Which of these motivate you most?

What would you add to my list?

To the Pastor Considering an Extramarital Affair

couple in distress

This is a guest post by my friend Dr. Jennifer Degler. Jennifer pulls no punches. But, she’s a difference maker in the Kingdom. I’m thankful for her influence.

Dear Pastor,

If you are a pastor considering or engaging in an affair, may I offer you points to ponder from a psychologist who has been honored to work with hurting people on all sides of an affair?

1) The biggest lie you are telling yourself is “I am attracted to my affair partner because of things that are wrong with my spouse.”

Here’s the truth: “I am attracted to my affair partner because of things that are wrong in me.” An affair will not fix what’s wrong with you. Having an emotional or sexual affair is using another person as a pain reliever. They are your Oxycodone, your drug of choice. You are using him or her as a distraction from your brokenness.

The bottom line: an affair is using another person in the worst way and calling it love.

2) You are thinking like a narcissist if you believe things like “The importance of my ministry should earn me a pass on church discipline or making apologies” or “I don’t need to step down from leadership” or “Exceptions should be made for me” or even “I am entitled to this affair.”

Bottom line: You are not that special. None of us are.

3) Your affair or “inappropriate relationship” (the latest euphemism) will come out eventually.

Don’t fool yourself; it’s going to be uncovered and made public. Thanks to social media, thousands of people will know within days.

Bottom line: Anyone who Googles your name will find your affair on the first page of search results.

4) When your secret is exposed, your family, friends, staff, and church members will feel violated, and those who have deeper emotional wounds from an alcoholic, abusive, self-absorbed, or absent parent or spouse will be affected in ways you can’t even imagine.

The current betrayal and abandonment they feel in reaction to your actions will stir up old hurts. They had grown to trust you as their pastor, to believe they had finally found a truly good man or woman who loved them too much to lie. Your affair will leave them reeling.

Best case scenario: they share their emotional upheaval with caring friends and a counselor. Their church pulls together to provide support for many months.

More common scenario: they deal with their emotional upheaval by either 1) checking out (shutting down emotionally, withdrawing from others, or leaving the organized church, perhaps forever) or 2) acting out (self-destructive behaviors like drinking or eating too much, diving into unwise relationships, etc.).

Bottom line: Your affair will shipwreck wounded people who already struggle to keep afloat emotionally.

5) There is hope for the minister who’s had an affair.

It starts with confessing to your spouse, trusted friends, an elder board or personnel committee, and then cutting off all contact with your affair partner.

In the weeks (and consequences) to follow, you may regret confessing when you see the devastation in your family and ministry. You will spend precious time and money on counseling that you may doubt can help you. You will wonder if God can make you whole. You may hate yourself.

It will be the most awful time of your life.

But you will also feel relief when you have nothing to hide.

Your dedication to recovery will help you regain the respect of your children and friends. With tremendous work, your marriage can heal. People will move on to other gossip. You will someday like yourself again.

Bottom line: If you will go through the firestorm ignited when a pastor admits an affair, you will see God bring beauty from the ashes of your life.

There is hope for you, Pastor.

Jennifer Degler, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

A Quick Thought on Planning Organizational Charts for Churches

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Here is a quick thought when planning your organizational charts — especially for churches

Staff for needs. Don’t staff for structure.

I’ve seen this in so many organizations, but probably especially in the church.

We naturally assume that if a position comes open we have to fill it with the same title and function of the previous position.

That may or may not be wise.

Over time, if we only do what we’ve always done, we can end up with positions that are no longer the best use of limited resources for the church. Other positions that have more immediate relevancy aren’t filled — or even created — because we don’t have the funding to fill them.

This almost always happens as a result of the organization staffing for structure rather than staffing for needs.

The structure should not control staffing positions. Organizational needs should.

Maybe you need a communications director more than you need a _______ (whatever)_____.  Or maybe you need two part-timers in different ministry areas more than you need one full time position. Ministry needs in the church change as the church changes.

Here’s something that’s proven valuable in my experience.

When you have available dollars — or when someone leaves and you have an open position, ask yourself some questions:

  • Who do we need most now?
  • What type person?
  • What role do we need filled?
  • What’s not getting done?
  • What area needs the most attention?
  • Where are the greatest opportunities?
  • What has changed since this position was created?
  • What is the best use of the these resources?
  • Is there a better position out there than our current organizational structure allows?

Staffing a church is important. Kingdom dollars are at stake. We must spend them wisely.

3 Ways to Guarantee Success – By Dr. John Maxwell

maxwell copy

Thanks to University of Kentucky girl’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell for bringing Dr. John Maxwell to our church last night. Coach Mitchell is starting a foundation to give back to the community of Lexington and this was one of the first events.

I’ve heard John Maxwell several times and read many of his books, but I actually think he’s getting better with age. What a blessing to hear him.

Maxwell shared 3 ways to guarantee success.

(These are my notes – basically nuggets from his talk – capturing them as close as I could to what he said.)

1. Knowing my purpose in life.

There 2 great days in a person’s life.

*Birth
*The day you discover why you were born.

Most people know when but they don’t know why. If you discover your why you’ll discover your way.

There are two paths to discovery.

First path is 75% effective.
Discover your passion. That normally leads to purpose.
Passion is the fuel that will take you where you want to go.

Second path is 100% effective.
Passion plus giftedness. Or strength.

Combine your passion with what you do well.

2. Growing to my maximum potential.

Growth is not automatic. You have to be intentional.

Most people accept their life. Few lead their life.

There’s no coasting on the road to success. You’ve got to have a plan for growth.

A growth environment is one where others are ahead of me. If you’re at the head of the class — you’re in the wrong class.

(He shared a lot here on what a growth environment is like. I wish I could have captured more of it, but sometimes he was giving a list before I knew there was another list. :) But, I’m sure it’s either in one of his 76 books or there’s another book on the way.)

Nothing is more sad that waking up one day and there be no more mountains to climb.

3. Sowing seeds that benefit others.

Highly successful people know there’s a line they cross from success to significance.

You cross that line when you understand that the seeds you sow in others are more important than the harvest you reap.

Thank you Dr. Maxwell. I for one want to be successful.

7 Commandments of Leadership

gavel

Commandments: A divine rule. A rule to be observed strictly.

The 7 Commandments of Leadership:

Thou shalt protect thy character. Who are you when no one is looking? Is who you claim to be who you really are? In my experience, true character is eventually revealed in leadership. Every time. When stress mounts — when pushed in the corners of life — when power rises — when opportunity creates itself to take advantage of others for the benefit of self — true character is revealed.

Thou shalt empower thy people. Delegation is not only necessary to be effective in leadership, it’s a necessity in order to truly be a leader. You’ll either burnout, control people until they burnout, or simply stall everything — and then a leader is no longer needed.

Thou shalt continue to learn. When a leader ceases to learn he or she ceases to grow. Before long the leader has nowhere new to take anyone. And, nothing anyone would want to follow.

Thou shalt remember thy purpose. Zig Ziglar once told me that if you understand the why, the what or how won’t matter as much. I believe he was right. Our purpose fuels us for excellence. We must cast the vision — for ourselves and others — often. Daily even.

Thou shalt embrace healthy conflict. Ain’t it a shame? You have to have conflict to be healthy in relationships. It seems counter-productive, but conflict is really for the good of everyone. A good leader learns to use it for the betterment of the entire team.

Thou shalt persevere. Through good times and bad times, a leader holds the banner high. Press on!

Thou shalt celebrate. Leaders are for progress — but part of progression is appreciating the achievements of days gone by — accomplishments already made. As much as it is a leader’s job to keep things moving forward, people won’t stay motivated unless we recognize they are currently making a difference and have in the past.

Obviously these are man-made commandments, not God-made, so I appreciate your input.

Any you would add?

5 Real Fears of Growing Older

Fifty Yard Line with Bleachers

I remember the first night in my own house. New wife. Mortgage payment to make each month.

I felt responsible — more than I ever had in my life.

And, honestly, there was a part of me afraid. It wasn’t a boogie man kind of fear. I’ve never been one to be that kind of afraid very much.

It was a revering kind of fear. An awe of the weight of the responsibility. The enormity of the demand in front of me.

I wanted to be a good husband. Be a provider. Protect my home. Pay for it. Keep a roof over our head.

And the night we brought a baby into our house. — wow — having grown up most of my life without a father in the picture, I certainly wanted to be a good dad.

Those were normal fears of the entry into manhood. I’m sure girls feel similar fears.

Those fears are long gone. I haven’t felt them in years. We’ve kept the house. Actual had several over the years. Praise God. God blessed me as a dad. I have two pretty good children. (Actually they are excellent — seriously — two of the best men I know.) God has been so good to us.

But, fears are back — in a different kind of way. Again, not a boogie man kind of fear. I don’t fear as in a worry sense. I wouldn’t even use the word “afraid” as I would use the word “fear”. I hope that makes sense. Probably not — but it does to me.

It’s a feeling of reverence. Of seriousness. Of responsibility.

Granted, age is relative. To someone who died too young I would be an old man. Blessed with years. And to some who live long I’m still a very young man. My grandfather lived to be a 101 years old. I’ve got some days in front of me.

But, those fears, as a 50 year old, are so unique.

Here are 5 real fears of a 50 year old:

I will leave something undone. I don’t want to miss anything God has for me to do. I realize time is drawing shorter. There’s still so much left with the calling He has placed on my life. I don’t want to miss any of it.

I will start to fear change. I’ve never been resistant to change. I love it. Most of my life has been shaped by leaps of faith. I don’t want that to stop. I know change supposedly gets more difficult to accept with age. I want to defy those odds — take risks — willing to live with great moves of faith.

I won’t be prepared. I’m not afraid of death. Quite the contrary. I know my future eternity is secure. That’s a great feeling. A great comfort and hope. But, chances are, I will leave people behind someday. Will I have prepared them for my exit? Will I have invested well, have my paperwork and life in order, to limit any burden potential for my children?

They won’t remember. Of course, many will “remember” who I was — a father, a husband, a friend, a pastor — it’s hard to forget the significant people in our life. But, will they remember the right things and will what they remember add to the quality of their life? Will the words they recall be filled with wisdom and be life-giving? Will my lasting influence make their life better?

Not finishing strong. Cheryl’s father used to say, “I don’t want my body to outlast my mind.” I understand that more now. I want to be productive every moment of my life. I know men decades older than me who can still outwork and out-think me. I want to finish like that. Of course, we can’t control that. We can play a part — and I’m more careful what I eat and that I exercise — but so many things are out of our control. I feel the weight of that.

There.

How is that for gut honesty?

Why post it? Well, somehow, it feels better to put it in writing. I suspect — because of human nature — I’m not alone in some of these fears.

I will still teach that one of Christ’s most dominant commands is “Don’t be afraid”.

But, maybe too it’s a challenge to myself to do everything in my power to avoid these fears from becoming reality. To live even more intentional with my life. And, trust God for the sufficiency of His grace for where — for whatever reason — I am unable to do so.

Great Organizations Empower People to Think

Solving a problem

Several years ago I had problems with my cable service. I made numerous phone calls and several trips to the company; all in an attempt to correct the problem while politely obeying what I was told to do. I realize my community reputation is on the line and so I try to be extremely respectful in dealings with the public — even when I’m frustrated. (Actually, I am reminded that it’s Biblical to guard the tongue.)

Each unresolved phone call and visit ended the same way; with the service person who had not yet solved my problem, and had actually prolonged it, asking me the same question. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

It soon became obvious that the company policy required them to ask this question at the conclusion of every service encounter. I get that. As I reflected on each conversation, however, it was apparent that customer service people were scripted in all their responses. They are trained what to say for certain situations, but how was I supposed to answer this standard closing question?

I hadn’t received any help.

How could they help me with “anything else” when they hadn’t help me with anything?

I realize the scripted question was intended to ensure good customer service and without some scripting most employees wouldn’t have a clue what to say, but instead of making me feel better about my situation, it only incited a negative emotion. (Which I tried — successfully for the most part — to control.)

This was a minor incident, and honestly not that big of a deal in the story of my life, but it reminded me of an important organizational principle.

Great organizations empower employees the freedom to think for themselves.

[tweetthis]Great organizations empower people the freedom to think for themselves.[/tweetthis]

They allow individuals to make the best decision at the moment for the setting they are in, realizing that the best person to make a decision as to what they should say is the one having the conversation with the customer. In my situation, it may have been better to say something such as, “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you this time.  We will continue to work to resolve your problem.” Instead, I was recited a standard, pre-written line from a company handbook that really didn’t even apply to my situation. If a leader wants his or her team to make the best decisions, give them the right to think for themselves!

When a person has the authority to alter the script, they are more likely to provide a positive experience for the customer.

I love the motto of Nordstroms Department Store. I’ve read their philosophy is to instruct employees to always make a decision that favors the customer before the company. They are never criticized for doing too much for a customer; they are criticized for doing too little.

By the way, I believe this is an important principle in the church as well. Our goal should be to help volunteers understand the vision, basic teachings and philosophies of the church — then empower them think!

Do you want to know how my cable situation was resolved? Do you like the “end of the story”?

I finally got in touch with an employee from the company that I knew. I asked him what he would try if it were his house. He gave me a suggestion. We went with that. Trouble solved.

Leaders, does your team feel freedom to make the best decision at the time?  Have you freed your people to think?

10 Dangerous Distractions for a Pastor

no

I encounter so many struggling pastors. And unfortunately, I know so many who used to be pastors but no longer hold the position.

It may be through a blatant sin or a casual drifting from doing what they knew to be right, but it landed them in disaster. A pastor friend of mine said recently, “We need healthy churches and we need healthy pastors.”

Amen. Agreed. We must stand guard.

What are we guarding against?

No single post would be perfect. Obviously sin, but I can’t address everything that gets in the way of a healthy pastor. I can only list some that are more common in my experience.

Here are 10 dangerous distractions for a pastor:

Neglecting your soul. One of my mentors reminded me recently. “Ron, don’t forget to feed your own soul.” It was subtle. Almost given as a sidebar to our discussion. But it was gold. One of the biggest dangers for a pastor is when we begin to operate out of stored up knowledge of and experience with God. We need fresh encounters with truth and His glory.

Sacrificing family. Families learn to resent the ministry when it always trumps the family. Ministry families get accustomed to interruptions. They are part of the job as they are part of many vocations. But the family will hopefully be there when no one else is around. Ministry locations change but the family does not — so we must not neglect them. I’ve sat with men who lost the respect of their family. I know countless pastors who’s adult children no longer want anything to do with the church. Apparently, there’s not much that hurts anymore than that.

Playing the numbers game. Whenever we put the emphasis on numbers we are always disappointed. They will never be high enough. God is in charge of the numbers. We are in charge of what He has put us in charge of — but it’s not the numbers. We must be careful to concentrate on making disciples and the numbers will take care of themselves.

Comparing ministries. There will always be a “bigger” ministry. Someone will always write a better tweet — or a better book — or a better blog post — preach a better sermon. When we begin to compare it distracts us from the ministry we’ve been God-appointed to lead.

Finding affirmation among the rebels. This is the one that gets me in trouble among the rebels when I point it out to pastors. But we must be careful not to get distracted by people who would complain regardless of the decision we make. Yes, it stings the way some people talk to a pastor. And, it’s certainly not always godly how some people express themselves in the church. But, what if Joshua had listened to the naysayers? What if Nehemiah had? What if Moses had given up every time the complainers were louder than the people who are willing to follow? Okay, he probably was willing to give up a couple of times but he held the course. If you are leading there will always be someone that is not happy with the decisions you made. People bent on pleasing others — more even than pleasing God — have a very hard time finding peace and joy in ministry.

Sacrificing truth for popularity. It’s easy to preach the easy stuff. Grace messages are pleasant to share and popular to receive. And, we need them. Where sin increases — grace should increase all the more. But, we need truth. Even when it is unpopular. Making disciples becomes impossible when we sacrifice either one — truth or grace.

Stealing glory. My mama used to say “that boy got too big for his britches”. Sadly that can happen in ministry also. Many pastors struggle with ego problems. God is never honored in that. Pastors are in a God-glorifying position. Actually, everyone yes, but it is written into our job description.

Poor boundaries. In an effort to “minister” to people, I know too many pastors who fell into a trap because they didn’t have proper boundaries in place. The enemy enjoys a door of opportunity.

Neglecting friendships. Most pastors struggle knowing who to trust, but because of that they have few people really get to know them. Therefore they often have no one who can speak into the dark places of their life. And, pastors have them too. So, they put on a good front — but inside, they struggle alone. It’s dangerous.

Abusing power. The pastor holds a certain amount of power just because of position. It has been said, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.” One of the more dangerous things I see churches doing these days is giving a pastor too much power, without enough built-in personal accountability. (That’s coming from a church planter’s heart — and one who is prone to lead strong.) BTW, I’m not for controlling the pastor or forced relational accountability — and I haven’t discovered the perfect system here — but there needs to be one that balances truth and grace equally. Again, I don’t know how to systematize that, but it is a dangerous distraction. My challenge would be to the pastor or ministry leader to build this system into his or her own life absent a system within the ministry.

Those are some that I have seen. These distractions are displayed in a number of ways — and all of them are not fatal thankfully — but all of them are real. And all of them are dangerous.