7 Signs of Healthy Empowerment

Empower Definition Magnifier Showing Authority Or Power Given To Do Something

Empowering other people on the team to be leaders…delegation…is critical to a successful church or organization. Every leader talks about delegation, but few truly empower others to be leaders. It’s a frustration I hear frequently from staff members of churches.

Frankly, as one with a strength (StrengthFinders) of command, I can easily take over if no one else takes the lead. It takes discipline as a leader, but I want to create an environment of healthy empowerment. I want to lead a church that produces leaders.

But, how do you know whether healthy empowerment is occurring? I don’t know that we can follow a script, but perhaps there are some principles which need to be in place which can help insure we create cultures conducive to empowerment.

Here are 7 signs of healthy empowerment:

(Written from the perspective of those being empowered…”you” being the one empowering.)

Confidence is conveyed – They know you believe they can do the job.

Expectations are clearly communicated – They know what a win looks like in your eyes and what is required of them to complete the task.

Authority has been granted – They have the power to script the path to accomplishment.

Permission to fail is assured – They know if it doesn’t work they will be encouraged to try again.

Resources are adequate – They have the training, tools and people to accomplish the task.

Back is protected – They know their decisions will be backed by senior leadership…by you.

Recognition is shared – They know they won’t do all the work for someone else…you…to get the credit.

Consider your system of delegation. How are you doing?

Can the Church Learn from the Coffee Shop?

20130716-215656.jpg

I believe the church is to be a cultural change agents in our communities, but the truth is that many coffee shops have taken some of that responsibility. Starbucks supposedly began trying to be the “Third Place” for the community. Borrowing from a sociological theory by Roy Oldenburg of everyone wanting a place besides home and work in which to feel welcome, Starbucks has become the “Cheers” place where if I come often enough everyone knows my name. There was even a sign in Starbucks recently inviting customers to serve the community with them. The church I pastor has a Gather, Grow and Serve strategy of discipleship. Starbucks appears to capture two of those attempts.

Regardless of whether you believe coffee shops can change culture, the newest one in Lexington, KY raises the bar in a coffee shop experience. And, frankly, I believe they are better engaging the community with their mission than many churches are with theirs.

And personally, I believe…

Every church

Every business

Every pastor

Every leader

Can learn something from this coffee shop experience.

A Cup of Commonwealth opened recently in Lexington. I frequent a lot of coffee shops, but I was out of town the week they opened. I caught them in their second week. Wow! They blew me away with the excitement and energy they have rapidly created. Owners Salvador Sanchez and Chris Ortez impressed me greatly.

Here are a few observations:

They know their stuff – Coffee 101 not, this is coffee expertise at work. One of the owners, Salvador, (Most folks seemed to call him Sal, but he introduced himself to me as Salvador. Probably because he saw me as old enough to be his parent.) told me he had been Central America to tour coffee productions. They spoke the coffee language (which I don’t, but many do).

They created an experience – It was an enthusiastic atmosphere. The place was enjoyable. They joked with customers. They had unique offerings. Apparently things have changed just since they opened with some of their decor. (And will change weekly)

They have vision – It is clear they want to provide exceptional coffee in a way that engages the community. (The picture above is painted on their wall.) Nothing appeared to distract them from this vision.

They acclimated first timers – Every time someone entered the door, if they didn’t know them, they took them through a mini tour of the experience. It wasn’t a canned presentation, but it provided the basic information one would need to understand the uniqueness of this place.

They engage comfortably – They made everyone feel welcome, but they seemed to interact with you depending on your level of interest. If you simply wanted a cup of coffee, they learned that soon enough to leave you alone, but if you wanted someone to talk to, you got that also.

They followed through – The next day they connected with me on Facebook. They actually “liked” some of my posts.

They provided quick entry to feel a part of the vision – The most unique item was their “Pay It Forward” board. A large, handwritten piece of paper hangs on the wall. (See picture below.) It contains drink orders prepaid for future customers. You can take one or add one. You can make up unique requirements for the type person you are looking to bless. (An attorney. A homeless person. Someone willing to sing a song. Etc.) I bought a large cup of coffee for someone besides my own. In 10 days, I was told they’d been through 4 of these large pieces of paper.

It was interesting to watch how quickly customers were engaging in something exciting…something unique…something they felt gives back to the community.

Of course, the key to all this will be whether or not they can sustain this energy. Apparently when I entered, 10 days after opening, the two owners are the only employees. They are new and excited. If they can, however, I believe they have a very successful business model.

But, I’m not in the coffee business. I am a church leader. I always want to be learning how I can do what I do better. And, honestly, I learned some things from this coffee shop experience.

Anything jump out at you that could improve what you do at your church?

(Okay, I have been blogging long enough to already anticipate the push back on even my logic behind this post. Some don’t think the church should or even can learn anything from the secular world. The Bible is our guide. I hear that. I’m a Bible guy. Cover to cover. But, let me ask you…where did you learn how to write a church bulletin…or even to have one? Who taught you how to register kids in preschool? Please quote chapter and verse if you choose to answer.)

20130716-223943.jpg

12 Game-Changing and Tweetable Proverbs

wisdom road sign arrow

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. – Proverbs 15:1

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. – Proverbs 15:14

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. – Proverbs 15:22

Greed brings grief to the whole family – Proverbs 15:27

Pride goes before destruction – Proverbs 16:18

Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it – Proverbs 16:22

Kind words are like honey— – Proverbs 16:24

Better to be patient than powerful – Proverbs 16:32

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven. – Proverbs 17:9

A cheerful heart is good medicine. – Proverbs 17:22

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. – Proverbs 18:13

Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. – Proverbs 19:2

Which of these most speak to you? 

5 Steps in Planting a Church or Launching a New Ministry

gradini rossi

I am receiving an increasing number of inquiries about church planting or launching a new ministry. I like that. It shows people are still willing to walk by faith. Having planted two churches and after helping numerous non-profit ministries see their start, I’ve learned a few things, many of which I write about here. I’ve also learned there are a few common steps in a successful launch.

It doesn’t really matter what the ministry is…the launching process is relatively the same. You should know I’m a simple-minded guy. But, time and time again I’ve seen simple work. Sometimes we over complicate things.

I’m not saying simple is easy. It hardly ever is. I’m saying that we should not make the steps more convoluted than they actually are and that the more we can simplify the steps into an easy to understand format the easier it will be to complete them.

Here are 5 steps to a successful ministry launch:

Vision – Get a clear, easy to understand, worthy vision that honors God and brings good to other people and for which people can get excited.

People – Recruit people who love the vision as much as you do. If you can’t find like-minded people, it will be very difficult to be successful in the new ministry. I always believe, and have witnessed it repeatedly, that if God is in this, He has already been shaping the vision in other people’s minds. We just need to find them.

Equip and assign – With people contributing, determine the tasks needed to accomplish the vision. Help people understand their unique role in accomplishing the vision and assign them to specific tasks. Give them the resources they need and make sure they are clear on their assigned role.

Energize – Keep people motivated towards the vision by continually reminding them of the overall purpose and their significant place in accomplishing it.

Release – Let people do their part to accomplish the vision. Give real ownership. Delegate. Don’t control.

Simple enough? What would you add?

Any of these you’d especially like me to expand upon on a future post?

7 Traits of Courageous Leadership (Repost)

(I’m on vacation this coming week, and so for the next couple weeks I’m posting again some of my most read posts, but also ones I think are actually helpful. These are my “favorite top posts”. Some posts had more hits, but they simply do well in the search engines. I’m actually proud of these. :) None of these were posted this year. All are older than that. Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share these on Twitter, and Google Plus to get them circulated. I won’t be doing much of that while I’m gone.)

Recently I posted 7 Characteristics of Cowardly Lion Leadership. In that post, I discussed the characteristics of leaders who fail to have the courage needed to lead well. I thought it only fair to share the reverse post. There are many courageous leaders in our world today, as evidenced by the strong organizations that thrive even during difficult economic times.

Here are 7 traits of a courageous leader:

  • Doesn’t bail on the team when things get difficult…
  • Not afraid to make big requests of others…but willing to pull equal weight to accomplish them…
  • Willing to take the first move into unchartered territory…pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks…
  • Moves forward by faith…even when the outcome is unclear…
  • Makes hard decisions regarding people…trusting responsibilities to others early and acknowledging when a team member is no longer a good fit for the team…
  • Protects the God-given vision in the midst of criticism, hard economic times, and setbacks…
  • Implements needed changes even when they are uncomfortable or not immediately popular…

Thanks to all the courageous leaders who are leading well! You are making a difference!

Make this post better:

When you think of courageous leader, who comes to your mind?

What would you add to this list?

7 Ways to Lead People Older than You (Repost)

(I’m on vacation this coming week, and so for the next couple weeks I’m posting again some of my most read posts, but also ones I think are actually helpful. These are my “favorite top posts”. Some posts had more hits, but they simply do well in the search engines. I’m actually proud of these. :) None of these were posted this year. All are older than that. Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share these on Twitter, and Google Plus to get them circulated. I won’t be doing much of that while I’m gone.)

In my first management position, I was a 19 year-old college sophomore working full-time and leading a small staff of four people in the men’s clothing area of a major department store. I was placed in the position almost by default, because the previous manager left unexpectedly and I was already there and eager to lead. Everyone working for me was older than I was, including one man who was in his sixties.

Today, even though I have aged considerably since then, I continue to be in a position where people older than me, with more experience than I have in many areas, report to me by position. Since I work with many pastors and church planters who are starting out in their ministry and will likely encounter the same experience with either volunteers or paid staff, I am hoping this will be helpful information.

Here are 7 tips for leading people older than you:

Recognize the difference – When a person is 10, 20, or even 30 years older they likely have different needs and expectations from their leader and the organization. They may need different benefits, different work schedules, and even different leadership styles, depending on their age and stage of life. You should maximize your leadership by adapting your style to the person you are leading anyway. (For more about that idea read THIS POST.)

Give credit for wisdom – Most likely there will naturally be things the other person has experienced that you haven’t. Don’t let that intimidate you. Allow it to work for you by gleaning from that wisdom.

Stand your ground, but do it respectfully – If you are in the position, then do your job. They were probably raised in a generation where they expect you to lead, but as you should with any person you lead, be respectful. If someone is older, most likely he or she will be more sensitive to a younger leader being disrespectful and react negatively when you are not.

Learn from them – Be honest when you don’t know how to do something, such as leadership or handling difficult issue or people. If the older person knows how, let them show you. It’s okay that you have some things to learn. We all do. The older a person becomes the more in tune he or she becomes with the fact that no one knows everything.

Don’t play games if you are intimidated – I have seen this many times. The leader is intimidated by the older team member, so he or she dances around an issue or fails to handle conflict. The leader might make excuses for not knowing something or pretend they have more experience than he or she actually has with an issue. People with life experience can usually see through that type behavior.

Shoot straight with them – The fact is that the older team member will probably have handled worse situations. The age and maturity will make them less intimidated by you. Be honest with them (but respectful) and you will receive honest reactions.

Be patient with them – Sometimes the older team member may not be as culturally, technologically, or trend savvy, but he or she will make up for it by adding to the team in other ways. They may need a different form of communication or you may need to explain something in a different context.

There were many times in business where I would have never made it without someone helping me who had more experience than I had. That’s still true today. I continue to surround myself with mentors in life and church. Today there are several people older than me who serve on our church staff. I value their input and the maturity they bring to our team. One in particular has been a friend for many years. He consistently reminds me of the experience he brings to our organization.

Do you lead people older than you? What would you add to this discussion?

I also wrote 8 Ways to Lead People Younger Than You.

7 Personal Development Benefits of Saying No (Repost)

(I’m on vacation this coming week, and so for the next couple weeks I’m posting again some of my most read posts, but also ones I think are actually helpful. These are my “favorite top posts”. Some posts had more hits, but they simply do well in the search engines. I’m actually proud of these. :) None of these were posted this year. All are older than that. Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share these on Twitter, and Google Plus to get them circulated. I won’t be doing much of that while I’m gone.)

The more experience I get in life the more I learn the importance of personal development. And, one of the most important aspects of personal development I have learned is the unique and rare skill of being able to say “No”.

In fact, learning to say no may be the most important personal, professional or leadership development tool one can have.

We have lots of opportunities to say yes. The old saying, whether it’s doctrinally true or not is fully practically true. “If Satan can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy”. I’ve seen throughout my life, especially with my personality wiring for achievement, that if I’m not careful I will say yes to things God has never planned for me to do and often I’m not capable or the best person to do them. Does that ever happen to you?

Saying no, as hard as it is for some of us, comes with great reward:

  • Saying no is the power to help resist temptation…
  • Saying no keeps you from the stress of overcommitting…
  • Saying no protects family life…
  • Saying no provides adequate time for what matters most…
  • Saying no preserves energy levels for prioritized work…
  • Saying no allows others opportunities they wouldn’t have if you always say yes…
  • Saying no permits you to control your schedule for an ultimate good…

The value of learning when to say no, and actually practicing it, is immeasurable. (I’m sure you could add even more values to my list., but I’m kind of stuck on the number 7 :) )

I highly encourage learning the power of “No”.

In what area of your life do you most need to personally develop in your ability to say no?

5 Tips For Leading Strong Willed People (Repost)

(I’m on vacation this coming week, and so for the next couple weeks I’m posting again some of my most read posts, but also ones I think are actually helpful. These are my “favorite top posts”. Some posts had more hits, but they simply do well in the search engines. I’m actually proud of these. :) None of these were posted this year. All are older than that. Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share these on Twitter, and Google Plus to get them circulated. I won’t be doing much of that while I’m gone.)

Have you ever tried to lead someone who didn’t want to be led? The same children that were labeled “strong-willed” by their parents often grow up to be strong-willed adults. Perhaps you know one…perhaps you are one. (I know one personally…me!)

I believe leadership should be individualized for the needs of the follower. Read a similar post HERE. With that in mind, here are 5 tips for leading strong-willed people.

Give clear expectations – People respond best when they know what is expected of them, especially those with strong opinions of their own.

Be consistent – Strong willed people need boundaries. They will test them, but they want to know what the limits of their freedom.

Give freedom within the boundaries – Once the guidelines and expectations are established, allow followers to express themselves freely within them.

Pick your battles. – Don’t cross a strong-willed person for issues of little importance to the overall vision of the organization. If you back them in a corner…they may bite.

Respect their opinions and individualities – Strong-willed people ultimately want to be heard (as all people do), but they resist most when their voice is silenced. Learn what matters to them and give credence to their opinions.

What tips do you have for leading strong-willed people? Are you one? How do you like to be led?

For another thought on this type of leadership, click HERE.

What to Do When You are Lonely in Leadership

Umbrellas

If you are in leadership long enough, there will be days when you simply feel you are all alone and no one understands. You may feel overwhelmed. Unappreciated. Misunderstood. And alone in all of it.

Christian leader, don’t think of yourself as “less spiritual” on those days. Think of yourself as human. Remind yourself that Elijah felt that way at times. So did the Apostle Paul. Jesus sweated drops of blood in his humanity.

Lonely days in leadership will come. I wrote about them HERE. I also addressed this issue for pastors HERE.

Most likely those are emotional responses to your circumstances and not based on truth, but they are real. But, what do you do in those days?

Here are 7 suggestions:

Talk to God – Be honest with your loneliness. That’s what Elijah did. Better yet, listen to God. Hear His perspective. It trumps yours.

Rest – These days tend to come more often when we are tired. On a recent day like this I stopped and took a short nap. I was energized when I returned. On more severe times, you may need to get away for a longer period. Schedule a night at home and go to bed early. I also find that sometimes it isn’t rest, but exercise I need. When I am not rested or as healthy as I could be it makes me feel more tired easily and more quickly overwhelmed with life.

Phone a friend – I have a few friends I can always count on to encourage me. Granted you have to be that kind of friend to have one and the time to build those friendships is before you need them, but, “That’s what friends are for.” (Now you’re singing that song aren’t you?) Allow your friend to help you see a proper perspective on your day. It’s probably better than you are currently feeling.

Plan some time away – Put it on your calendar now to get away later. It could be for an afternoon, a day, or a week, depending on what you can do or need to fully restore yourself emotionally. The realization that you are actually going to have some down time often fuels you for the present. Plus, you’ll need the rest then even more.

Dream a little – I like to stop what I’m doing and dream about some new venture, some change of pace, something crazy I’d love to see God do in or through me. Dreaming stretches the imagination and fuels your energy and excitement. Plus, you’ll never dream bigger than God can do.

Evaluate – How often do these feelings occur and how long do they generally last? Are there areas of your life that are leading to feelings of loneliness? Are you isolating yourself from others? Do you agree to do more than you can physically do? Do you have a problem saying no? Do you need to get better at delegating and sharing leadership? Are there really more people around you than your feelings indicate? Are things as bad as your emotions tell you they are? (They usually aren’t.) Depending on your honest answers you can evaluate how deep these feelings are and whether or not you need to seek more immediate or long term help. (There is nothing shameful in a leader seeking counseling or coaching, whichever is needed most.)

Look big picture – Again, things probably aren’t as bad as they appear. There are probably people around you who care and are willing to help. You are likely doing better than you feel you are right now. But, regardless, leaders have to be the ones primarily thinking beyond today. You have to get beyond these emotions to where you are leading people who are looking to you for leadership. What’s the vision you are trying to accomplish? You may not be where you want to be, but is it still a worthy vision? Has God called you to attempt it? Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint in accomplishing the best things in life. Find the help you need. Reenergize. Grow through the experience. Move forward.

It’s easy to produce mediocrity. It takes patience, endurance, and weathering the periods of loneliness in leadership to produce excellence. Which are you striving to achieve with your leadership?

If you’re a lonely leader today, I’m praying for you. Send me an email if you want me to pray for you by name.

What do you do on the days you’re lonely in leadership?

7 Ways a Leader Has a Better Weekend

20130620-223410.jpg

If you are like me you love your weekends. T.G.I.F…right? If we are not careful, however, the weekend passes so quickly and we begin another work week feeling we wasted the weekend we had. Or we are so stressed by the week behind or the week ahead that all we do is catch our breath and we can’t fully enjoy the weekend.

How can we help guarantee better weekends? Every weekend. I have learned the more intentional Cheryl and I are about planning for it, the better weekends we had as a family when our boys are home and now as empty-nesters.

Here are 7 suggestions I try to live:

Plan on Monday – Set your week up for success. Plan what you can realistically do in a week and end the week with a sense of accomplishment.

Do hard things now – Handle the hard stuff as they arise. Try not to carry it into the weekend. Obviously that’s not always possible, but many times it is. for example, don’t put off that difficult conversation you know you have to have until Monday if you can and should do it today. It will haunt you all weekend. Whatever the issue, bite the bullet and handle the tough issue, as soon as effectively possible.

Be honest with your schedule – Don’t feel bad about declining activities on the weekend. If you want to go then go, but if you’d rather relax then do that. No guilt. Say yes sparingly when accepting weekend appointments. They sometimes sound good on Monday but are less exciting on Saturday morning.

Attend church – That’s an appointment you should keep. I know it seems self-serving to suggest it, and I’m not being legalistic. That’s not my nature or theology. I’ve just hardly ever heard someone say they wish they’d skipped church. But I’ve heard many who believe it gave them a better weekend. God always seems to bless the time I give Him.

Plan ahead for a true Sabbath – Even though it makes for slightly longer weekdays, try to accomplish many of the “chores” you have to do before the weekend. Try to have some unplanned time simply to do what you enjoy.

Keep a fairly normal sleep schedule – If you always have to “catch up” on your sleep on the weekends, or you spend your week tired because of the late nights on the weekend, you never gain a healthy rhythm for life. Be reasonably consistent in your bedtime and waking up time and you’ll feel better and enjoy a more productive awake time.

Share time with people you love – The best memories center around time with people we love. When the family is running in many different directions you end the weekend feeling like you “missed” the weekend. Limit activities your family commits to or do things your family can do together. This takes prior thought and coordination but makes for a more enjoyable weekend.

Pastors, this list includes you too. I originally wrote it for you and decided to expand it to a more general audience. Your weekend may look different, but you need to protect it. I wrote THIS POST on how I protect my Sabbath.

What tips do you have for a better weekend?