5 Step Process to Take a Dream to Reality

How we took an idea to multi-site to reality.

I like to see dreams and goals become reality. In my personal experience, however, and from viewing the experiences of others, most of us have more ideas than we have reality. Figuring out how to implement our ideas is the hardest part of the process it seems.

I hope this post helps.

Allow me to share an example of how an idea can become reality in my world. I could share multiple examples of using these steps, but I decided to share one still dear to my heart and fresh in my mind. I’m sharing a real-life example of how we made an idea become reality in the church plant where I served as pastor. We went from a single campus, meeting in one high school, to a multi-site church by adding our second campus.

It started as a dream. It became a reality.

Here were the 5 steps we used.

Idea

The first step is always the idea and ideas are many for me, so at this stage I try to filter through which ones are worth pursuing. The idea for us going multi-site, at least this time, came after Easter one year. Easter Sunday was huge – bigger than we planned or expected. (God still does things like this when we leave things in His hands!) It prompted an idea in my mind. If we continued to grow towards our Easter number in the new year, which had been our trend in the church’s short history, then we would be out of room in our current high school by next Easter. This thought led to another idea. We needed to do something sooner than we would be able to build a building. This led to the idea of multi-siting our church. This was an idea we had previously explored, but decided the timing was not right. Perhaps it was this time.

But, this idea – this dream – led to the next, very necessary step.

Brainstorming

The next step is to begin thinking through this decision with others. This step is critical, in my opinion, for success. I am capable of loving my idea so much I assume (often wrongly) it has to be a word from God. If the idea has merit, in my experience, God is already raising up others with similar thoughts. In the multi-site example, this is where we organized a group of people to pray through this idea, explore the options, and look at the demographics, costs, etc. This process took several months and numerous meetings. Ideas may or may not make it out of this step, but if they survive, the chance of success is much greater.

All the brainstorming – and mostly prayer – led us to believe this was a viable option. Then step three.

Experiment

At this step, you want to try out your idea before attempting to launch it. My co-pastor suggested we do this Christmas Eve. We decided to have our Christmas Eve service at the possible new location, which was another high school on the other side of town.

As it turned out, the crowd at the second location was far more than we expected, which was another good indication our idea was a good one.

On to step four.

Practice

Some people miss this step, but I think it can be a valuable one. You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” I’m not sure about pefection, but it certainly makes the idea better. For us, this meant we had a practice service at the new location, just for the people who had committed to be part of the launch team. We knew we were moving forward, but we wanted to be at our best when we actually launched. It helped us work out the kinks, we learned some valuable things we hadn’t thought about, and we were able to test out our idea before we invited the general public.

And, praise God from whom all blessings flow – on to the final step!

Product

This is the fun part! The launch! This is the part we all were waiting for and wanted to see come to fruition. We launched our second campus at another school. It was a long, difficult process of taking an idea to the product stage, but the deliberate steps made us better in the process.

Too many times we rush from idea to reality – or we never move from idea because reality seems too daunting. I realize this is a specific example and may not exactly work the same for your individual project, but I believe the process will help more of your dreams come true.

Vision Slayers: 2 Big Culprits

What’s keeping you from multiplying?

Recently, my friends at Exponential released their new FREE eBook, Dream Big: Finding Your Pathway to Level 5 Multiplication. This new title is the third in the series of books focusing on Exponential’s annual themes—all focused on seeing the local church multiply. This year, Exponential is talking about the critical need to identify a vision for multiplication and make a workable plan for actually becoming a multiplying church.

I love this focus. As leaders, we all need vision for the future—a specific, shareable picture of what all of us as a church are moving toward. But as we all know, carrying out that vision can be difficult. In this guest post, Exponential Director Todd Wilson and vision expert Will Mancini show us how to identify two of our biggest vision slayers:

Imagine getting a group of venture capitalists fired up about a new restaurant concept that’s going be the next phenomenon across the dining landscape of America. As the drum roll begins, you enthusiastically announce, “We are going to serve … food!” You can almost feel the disappointment and sense of “underwhelmed-ness.”

There’s nothing compelling or share-worthy about bland, non-descript generic vision. It doesn’t change anybody or anything.

So, I invited my friends Todd Wilson and Will Mancini to share a few thoughts with us.

Big Dreams Get Replaced With Lesser Visions

Although many leaders start out with a big dream for multiplication, they can quickly realize that the dream is difficult to keep alive. But it really doesn’t go away completely as much as it drifts toward generic kinds of vision.

Despite the fact that most leaders in ministry are truly visionaries, they fall prey to generic forms of ministry vision all of the time. How many times have you heard a church say its vision is to, “to reach more people for Christ,” or, “to change the world?”

At that point, we miss the opportunity to engage people in a specific dream. On the flip side, think about what it looks like when someone awakens to the idea that they play a significant role in multiplying the Kingdom.

I (Will) remember reading this statement somewhere in my research for God Dreams: “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” When you lead with generic vision, you’re leading toward a lesser goal. It’s not the real dream that God has for you and your church. It doesn’t possess any of the impact a clear vision is supposed to have. Proverbs 28:19 tells us: “When people can’t see what God is up to, they stumble all over themselves” (The Message).

Think of generic vision another way: It’s actually robbing you of progress. You won’t even get close to realizing your church’s full multiplication potential with a generic sense of your church’s future. I (Todd) like what pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren says about vision: A vision is only dynamic when it’s specific. You need a specific and actionable vision.

Discuss with your team:

  • Does our vision reflect, “what God is up to”?
  • Is our vision for multiplying disciples and our church specific?
  • Is it actionable? Can we start to create a plan for carrying it through?
  • After reading this, would we say we have a “generic” vision
  • When we share our vision, do we see or sense people getting excited about it and wanting to engage in it?

Big Dreams Get Buried Under the Tensions of Multiplication

Despite what we read in Scripture and despite how we spring into ministry, certain external tensions of multiplication become reality:

  • The leadership team can’t understand why you want to give resources to a church planter when the church doesn’t even have a building.
  • The idea of planting when your church still has unfilled seats seems counter-intuitive to people.
  • People continue to ask, “Why would we send out some of our best leaders to plant another church when our attendance is just starting to increase?”
  • Some people grasp the vision of multiplication, but others don’t and continue to be naysayers.
  • The lack of a physical building is a constant stressor.

Any of these tensions can keep you from following through on multiplication. Remember that throughout Scripture God has called His Church to multiply. Jesus’ dream (expressed in Acts 1:8) is about a movement of multiplying disciples who will be His witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” When you work through the tensions and remain committed to your vision to see your church multiply disciples and churches, rest assured that you’re aligned with God’s heart.

Discuss with your team:

  • What tensions are we experiencing as we purpose to multiply
  • What are three specific reasons why everyone isn’t on the same page?
  • How are we praying about our vision?
  • Do we really believe that Jesus has called us to multiply?
  • Do we need to cast this vision in a different way?

At Exponential, we’re passionate about coming alongside church leaders to help them multiply! To that end, we have numerous FREE, downloadable resources you can easily access at our website. We also have five opportunities this year to be part of an Exponential live gathering, including two national conferences (the upcoming Exponential East in Orlando and Exponential West in Los Angeles) and three smaller regional events in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Houston. We hope you’ll consider joining us as we dream big for multiplication and learn what it takes to actually become a multiplying church.

7 Things Which Weaken Good Leadership

There are times I’m a better leader than other times.

Sometimes this is my fault. Other times the cause is unavoidable.

If we can begin to identify what interrupts the effectiveness of our leadership, we can become better leaders. I have personally experienced some things in my own life whigh weaken my leadership. One of my goals is to consistently find ways to guard against them.

Here are 7 things whigh weaken good leadership:

Distractions

As leaders, we do our best work when we are pointing people toward worthy visions. Some would say this is precisely what leadership does. It’s easy to get distracted with things which, while they may be good, don’t help move the organization towards the vision. In fact, they delay progress towards the vision. I’ve also learned I need to be leading in my strengths and if I ever get weak in my courage to say no to some things, the quality of my yes will be far less valuable.

Lack of discipline

It matters not if there is a great vision if we don’t discipline ourselves to reach it. This includes having good plans and good goals. Good objectives. Good systems and strategies.

Ceasing to learn something new

Leading others to grow requires leaders who are growing. When I stop the creativity I feed my mind, I cease to have anything new to offer the team I’m trying to lead. Life becomes rather stale – quickly. Whether through books, other leaders or conferences, I must find ways to continue learning.

Negative influences

It’s hard to be the only positive in a room full of negatives. Sometimes as a leader I’ve felt like more cheerleader than coach. It’s one reason I surround myself with people who have a good outlook on life. I don’t want all “yes” people, but if everything is always an immediate “no” – or “I don’t like it but I have nothing better to offer” – it is draining and is only going to bring down the strength of my leadership and ultimately the rest of the team.

Fear

Risk is involved in every leadership decision. And, I meant every. Leadership is taking people to an unknown. This always involves risk. Every time. And every risk involves a certain level of fear. This is completely natural. Fear keeps leaders from moving forward when they allow the fear to dominate the decision more than the opportunity of the risk.

Pride

Pride goes before the fall. Pride destroys. Absolute pride destroys absolutely. Okay, I embellished this popular saying, but you get the point. Prideful leaders are always weakened by their pride. No one truly follows a prideful leader. They may obey. They may even be infatuated for a season. But, they don’t follow.

Complacency and contentment

Leadership involves a sense of urgency. When we lose this we lose the inner drive to lead well. We become weakened by our own loss of personal momentum.

Success

All of us love to succeed. I think attempting to is a pretty good goal. We might even plan for it – what a novel idea. Sadly, though, sometimes a little success can usher in complacency. We can begin to think we’ve figured out a system to success. Before long, we don’t think we have to be intentional anymore – maybe not even have to try as hard as we used to try. We can become weak quickly by our own delusions of grandeur.

Those are a few things which have weakened my leadership. Let’s guard against them!

3 Simple Steps to Reproduce Church Leadership

It is called discipleship...

In every church I’ve been in, people want to reproduce leaders, but few think they know how. Sometimes we complicate things in leadership. In my opinion.

In fact, finding new leaders – in theory at least – may be one of the easier issues to solve in leadership. There are almost always leaders to be found if one is looking. The key is having a strategy of leadership reproduction in place and actually working it.

I’ve written more detailed posts on this issues. Lots of books have been written. My intent here is to be simple. Simple often works.

Here are three easy steps to reproduce leaders:

Recruit

The best leaders will almost always have to be recruited. They are already busy leading elsewhere. They don’t have huge egos that make them think they have to be leading in your organization. Be observant. Get to know people and their interests. Discover the hidden talent in your church. If someone is a leader with Boy Scouts, they have potential to lead at church. If someone leads in the workplace, they have beneficial skills for the church.

I’m not advocating you don’t screen them, but I’m not thinking they’re going to preach the first week either. How much of a litmus test is needed for the parking ministry? Yet, you need leaders there too. It’s the first place a visitor makes an impression about your church. If they can lead a little league baseball team, you think they can be e chief parking lot cheerleader? I think so.

Develop

You will need to acclimate people to your organization. Train them to know your church culture. Make sure they know what you are seeking for the position. Give them some freedom to create their own way, but most likely they’ll want your help getting started. The best way is usually by apprenticeship. Partner them with other leaders. Help them find examples in other churches of ministries that are working well. Answer their questions. Be intentional to make sure they feel prepared.

Release

Let them lead. You’ve asked them to lead. You’ve trained them. Now get out of the way and let them lead. They’ll make mistakes. They won’t always do it your way. That’s okay – they’re leading. (Despite the picture with this post – which is funny don’t you think?) 

You aren’t trying to produce leaders just like you. You are trying to produce disciples. They follow Christ, not you, so don’t be surprised when they come up with new – even better ideas. Follow up with them as needed, but let them be a leader. The best leaders won’t last long if you’re looking over their shoulder too closely. (This is probably the biggest mistake I see churches make in reproducing leaders. They control too closely.)

Now I realize none of these steps are necessarily easy, but I’m confident if you’re doing each of them well you’ll be reproducing more leaders. And, isn’t that what your church needs?

You may want to read 10 Steps in Having a Leader Replacement Culture.

How does your church reproduce leadership?

7 Ways Introversion Works Well for Me as a Senior Leader

As a pastor too...

I remember several years ago reading an article, which suggested the majority of senior leaders think extroversion is necessary to be an effective as a senior leader. Obviously – and hopeful I am correct – I disagree. And, I think we’ve come a long way in our thinking. Thankfully.

In fact, I see benefits in being an introverted senior leader.

I also know people who can’t believe I can pastor a large church and be introverted. I’ve written before about the false assumptions of introverts. Introverts can be just as caring, loving and “shepherding” as extroverts. It’s a personality trait, not a heart monitor.

But, again, I see benefits in being a lead pastor and an introvert.

Here are 7 ways introversion works well for me as a senior leader:

I think first and speak later.

I don’t stick my foot in my mouth very many times. I’m not saying extroverts do, but I am saying that as an introverts I tend to choose my words very carefully. One characteristic of the personality is we don’t speak quickly. We choose our words more intentionally. Understand, I do say things I regret, but it doesn’t happen often.

I’m less likely to struggle with the loneliness of leadership.

This is a real leadership emotion, and I certainly have it some, but I’m very comfortable being alone in a room to my thoughts. Long runs by myself are energizing to me. I know many extroverted leaders who can get very lonely – and some days for them are very difficult, especially when they are in the midst of harder leadership decisions.

I create intentional moments.

My introversion forces me to be very intentional about my time interacting with others. I say continually to introverted leaders – introversion should never be a crutch or an excuse for not engaging with people. Leadership is a relational process for all of us. But, my relational time is very focused. I tend to make the most of my time. A calendar is one of my essential leadership tools. Sunday mornings I’m the most extroverted person in our church building. It’s strategic, intentional, and I enjoy it – because I truly love people – even though it is draining.

It’s easy to concentrate on the big picture.

You’ll seldom find me chit-chatting. It’s not that I don’t have casual conversations – I certainly do when I’m connecting with people – but communication for me is usually very purposeful. As a result, I tend to be able to be very big picture oriented. Very strategic in my thinking. I step back and observe everything often. I’m a deep thinker. Those are traits especially strong with most introverts. That has proven to be very profitable for my leadership and the teams I lead.

Processed randomness.

People often wonder if I know how to have fun. “Pastor you seem so serious” or “What do you do for fun?” I hear comments like this frequently. Those are usually people who only see me when I’m working and don’t know me very well. And, I do work hard, but I can sometimes be seen as the class clown too – by those who get to know me. Some of this comes through online. But when those times occur, they are usually intentional times. My work is caught up, I have done all the things I have to get done, and I’m ready to “come out and play”. This quality can be in extroverts or introverts, but for me as an introvert, they are more intentional moments than spontaneous.

I network intentionally.

I recognize the value of every conversation I have. So, I have lots of conversations. Every Sunday is a gold mine of networking opportunities. Plus, I meet dozens of people every week in the community where I serve. I enjoy meeting people knowing that people are my purpose – and I love people – I really do. More than this, I love how God wants to develop and grow people, and I see my role in that as a teacher. People are the reason for everything I do.

I tend to listen well.

People on my team usually have a very good chance of having their voice heard, because in any meeting setting, I don’t feel the need to be the one always talking. My introversion allows me to be quiet, sit back, listen, and reflect and offer input when and where most needed.

Sure there are struggles with being an introvert at times, but I have found it to be a blessing in my leadership. It is who I am – it is NOT a curse. Much of that has to do with how I manage my introversion in an often very extroverted world.

How does introversion make you an effective leader?

Understanding The Power of Caged Momentum

This is huge.

In church planting, I learned an important leadership principle. I’m not sure you can learn this one without being forced into it, so learn from my experience.

Let me illustrate it with a practical example:

Launching Grace Community Church was an 18-month process from the time I agreed to obey God’s encouragement to start a new church, we met with a group of interested people in our living room, and actually held a first service. (I had resisted His encouragement to plant a church for 10 years – but that’s another post.)

I met with a dozen or so couples who would eventually serve as our core team, but we first asked them to wrestle in prayer if this was what God was calling them to do. Then we waited months before we had our first meeting or they even officially committed to the vision. After this, we made them wait nine months before we ever met as a church.

It was a difficult season of waiting, but it proved invaluable.

Waiting to implement God’s vision for excited people – people inclined towards progress – was difficult, but the result proved an important principle about human dynamics and organizational development.

That’s a fancy way of saying waiting stunk, but it worked – in an incredible way.

It taught me the principle I like to call:

The Power of Caged Momentum

So we repeated it – often intentionally.

For example, although we knew small groups would be a major part of our mission, we did “test” groups with a few people for months before we allowed the entire church to join a group. We used this time to train leaders, but it also served the purpose to generate enthusiasm among those who had to wait to get in a group.

Telling a person or a group of people to wait for something they really want to do and are excited about builds positive momentum. When we did launch groups officially we had huge numbers sign up the first day.

That’s the power of caged momentum.

Here’s another time we saw this principle work for our favor.

We didn’t launch a student ministry immediately after we launched the church. We had children’s ministries, but nothing for youth other than our weekly service. We knew if we launched something it wouldn’t be very good. (And, my sons were two of those youth.) Some participated in other youth programs. Some did things together on their own. My sons even launched their own service in our living room.

But, when we did launch we had a large, successful gathering. That student ministry today remains highly vibrant – often defying normal percentages of student service attendance compared to Sunday morning church attendance.

That’s the power of caged momentum.

This doesn’t mean you always make people wait simply to build momentum, but you shouldn’t be afraid to either. The reality is we are often quick to rush decisions. We move quickly when we have an idea. We don’t always take time to prepare for the change, bring people along, and ideally build the momentum we need before launching something new.

Since learning this principle I have intentionally used it to build momentum in our church.

Of course, there is always the balance between waiting too long you lose opportunity (which is called opportunity cost) and moving too fast you don’t build enough momentum. I can’t solve this for you in a simple post. Your situation and experience will be unique to you, but the principle here is important.

The point is this – don’t be afraid to make your church, organization or team (or even your family) wait before they get to experience something great. The power of caged momentum may even make the outcome better than you were expecting.

Have you seen this principle at work?

The Difference in Popularity and Trust in Leading People

It's important to know...

In leadership, its important to know the difference in popularity and trust.

I’ve seen leaders – whether pastors, politicians or in business – try to take people places, even worthy places, and believe people would follow because they are popular as a leader.

Yet people didn’t follow – because the leader hadn’t developed enough trust in the people he or she was trying to lead.

Misunderstanding this one principle can dramatically damage a leader’s performance. (This is especially true for newer leaders.)

Many leaders assume they are trusted because they are popular, but many times this is not the case. The leader may be very popular – people genuinely like the person – but this doesn’t always translate into trust. People follow closest those they trust the most.

Popularity has some importance in leadership. It is easier to follow a leader we like personally. But, popularity may be seasonal and temporary. Popularity can be altered by current successes or disappointments. Popularity can cause followers to cheer or jeer, because whether it is good or bad, popularity is mostly built on people’s emotions.

Trust is what is needed for the biggest moments in leadership. Major changes involve trust. Times of uncertainty need established trust in leadership. Long-term success requires trust.

And, trust must be earned. Trust develops with time and experience. Trust invokes a deeper level of loyalty and commitment which helps people weather the storms of life together. Trust develops roots in a relationship which grow far deeper than popularity ever could.

Leader, know the difference between popularity and trust and don’t confuse the two.

Here is something else to know. Popularity often disguises itself as trust when people appear to be agreeing with you. And it may fool you into thinking you can do anything, because you are, after all, popular. But, if you are not careful, you will cross a line of people’s level of trust and see a backlash towards your leadership.

It will make you a more effective leader – especially when it comes to leading change – when you can begin to discern when you are simply popular and when you are truly trusted.

3 Ways to Help Creatives On Your Team Flourish

There are some lessons we only learn the hard way.

One of those for me has to do with working with creatives.

I used to think when leading creatives, the key was to free them to create. I gave huge blank slates, allowed them to dream, and gave them very few parameters of what I was thinking.

I’ve learned – the hard way – freedom alone for a creative can spell disaster. Nothing gets accomplished and no one is happy.

Please understand. I’m not a basher of creatives.

I am actually a creative. Not the artistic creative type, but an idea creative. I have millions of ideas.

And, it’s true for me too. I used to think I wanted and needed to be led with no boundaries. Wrong. It’s not a good recipe for me.

I’ve learned the tips I’m about to share the hard way by attempting to lead creatives — and attempting to lead myself.

Creatives don’t need freedom – or at least freedom alone – they need more.

Here are 3 ways to help creatives flourish.

Give clear lines of direction.

Give them a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish. Help them see what a win looks like. Help them draw a box around certain end goals or objectives. The clearer you can be of what you are looking to do the more creative they can be.

Grant the freedom to draw within the lines.

Here’s the freedom creatives love. Once the end product is defined, creatives like limited micromanagement and maximum empowerment. They want the freedom to fail and the freedom to dream. All within the broad – very broad – but defined boundaries.

Provide accountability along the way.

Creatives need someone to check in with them periodically. They like to be motivated and encouraged. Let them know they are making progress – they are doing good work.

Without any lines or accountability creatives don’t flourish – they flounder. Things aren’t creative. They are messy.

Creatives love freedomm but it works best sandwiched between clarity and structure.

When those 3 are combined – lines, freedom and accountability – stuff gets done – and everyone is happy.

(Actually I should clarify – mostly everyone is happy. If everyone is happy someone’s not leading – creatives or otherwise.)

7 Ways to Deliver Constructive Criticism

Which Actually Gets Heard...

There are times where someone needs to offer constructive criticism. In fact, the best leaders and the best organizations are made better by learning to receive, process and respond to criticism. No one particularly likes criticism, but when it is offered properly it can actually improve life for everyone – which is why we call it constructive.

You see things others don’t see. You have experiences others don’t have. As a leader, I personally value healthy criticism, even when it is initially hard to hear.

If you often have a hard time determining when criticism is constructive and when it is simply selfish try reading THIS POST.

The problem is often getting needed criticism heard. Working with dozens of leaders each year, I can testify much of the criticism received is never taken as seriously as it probably should be.

We all know there are times someone shares criticism simply to “blow off steam”. They are angry and want to express their displeasure. Some people are only known for their criticism. Some people share criticism simply out of selfishness – considering no one else in their complaint. In my experience, when it is determined one of these is the case, the criticism received is rarely considered as useful or valued by leaders.

How do you keep criticism which may be helpful – even constructive – from being drowned out by a perception that it is non-helpful criticism?

That’s what this post is about. You can have the best advice for someone, but if it’s delivered poorly, it will almost never be heard.

Here are 7 ways to offer constructive criticism which actually gets heard:

Recognize and compliment the good

My mother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Make sure you take a bigger picture approach when offering criticism. Most likely you are criticizing something small in the overall scheme of the organization, so think of the good things which are happening or have happened in the organization. Think of the good qualities of the leader. Start there. Compliment first. Some even recommend the “sandwich approach”. You start with praise and end with praise with a little criticism in the middle. I wrote more about this approach HERE.

Be specific

If you are going to criticize, at least make sure the recipient knows exactly what you are talking about. Guessing almost always leads to misunderstandings. Don’t hint at your problem or cover it over with ambiguities. Passive aggression – which I have seen so frequently in the church – over all causes more harm than it does good.

Offer suggestions for improvement

If you are thinking there is a better way, share it. If you haven’t thought of how to improve the area of your criticism, spend some time thinking about it before you criticize. When you think, do so from the perspective of the organization’s vision and the individual vision of the leader. It’s going to be hard for a leader to accept criticism which doesn’t mesh with the vision he or she feels called to achieve. You certainly don’t have to be a “yes person” – agreeing to everything a leader does – but, if you’re seen as against everything or against the leader, it will be harder to receive what you criticize as being “helpful”.

Choose words carefully

Kindness goes a long way. If the person you are offering criticism to feels you don’t even like them or support them, they are not likely to hear what you have to say. Be nice. That’s a good standard anytime, but becomes a strategic move when attempting to offer constructive criticism. Also, don’t criticize people or make the criticism personal. Criticism will almost always be rejected if the person receiving it feels they (or the team they lead) are being attacked. Talk less about the who and more about the what.

Have a vested interest

It’s hard to receive criticism as being constructive from people who really aren’t interested in the overall vision. For example, if you tell me you’d “never attend a church like the one I pastor in a million years”, I’m less likely to value your criticism about the music we sing. (And, that’s happened – more than once.) If it’s obvious you love the vision, you’ll be more welcomed to critique the methods by which people are trying to attain it.

Be humble enough to admit you may be wrong

You might be, right? Unless it’s a clearly spelled out Biblical principle, then it is subject to interpretation. Yours might be right or it might be wrong. The willingness to admit this fact will go a long way towards your criticism being considered and valued.

Take the personal preference test

Check your heart for why you are sharing the criticism in the first place. Before you offer the criticism, ask yourself if you are really offering this criticism for the good of everyone or if this is simply a personal preference. It’s okay either way, but be honest with yourself and others enough to admit it. In fact, if you do this test appropriately, some of the criticism you think you need to offer you may decide you don’t need to offer after all. The less you are seen as offering criticism which only benefits you, the better the criticism you do offer will be received.

Do you want constructive criticism to be heard? These are simply some suggestions to hopefully help.

I’ve written numerous posts on criticism. Two of the more popular are 5 Right Ways to Respond to Criticism and 5 Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism.

Do You Lead Leaders or Lead Followers?

At some point every leader must decide.

In my leadership experience there are two kinds of leaders.

There are those who are willing to lead leaders and those who will only lead followers.

Some leaders refuse to be leaders of leaders. Sadly I have witnessed many pastors who fall into “follower only” category, refusing to allow leaders to develop in the church. Their fear of losing control or power, being upstaged, or simply never learning the value of empowering others, causes them to keep laypeople from becoming leaders within the church.

This is not to say we don’t need to lead followers, because of course we do. Every leader has followers or they would be no one to lead. Some of the best workers in an organization and, certainly in the church, are those who care nothing about leadership. And, I would say, we don’t simply need leaders in the church – we need servant leaders. People who serve others expecting nothing in return are the best kinds of leaders and follow the example of Jesus.

Also true, it is hard to be a good leader until one learns to follow. At some point, however, those with the propensity towards leadership in any organization will want an opportunity to lead. This is especially true of younger generations of people.

And, when those who were once in a position of being a follower begin to lead the real leadership skills of the people in senior leadership are tested.

Leaders of leaders have to allow other people to develop in the organization. They have to give people freedom to dream and give new leaders a sense of ownership in their area of responsibility.

More so, they have to recognize and even hold as a value that as leaders develop the entire organization advances and everyone wins.

Leader of followers, on the other hand, try to keep followers from ever becoming leaders.

I’ll be honest, it is much easier to lead only followers. People will do what is requested of them. They are loyal and not usually as critical. They don’t challenge systems and traditions, processes and the way things have always been done.

As much as every organization (and church) needs loyal followers – if new leaders are not developed – if everyone remains a follower, however, not much will be done to take the organization to the next level. People will wait for existing leaders to do anything new. And, the organization (or the church) will be limited to the abilities of current leadership.

And, for those who question my often business-like tendencies (even though I have a long business background, which I believe God uses in Kingdom growth), we need only look to the example of Jesus; how He developed the disciples, sent them out, and appointed them as leaders. (Call them what you want – use another term other than leader – but they appear every bit a leader by any definition of leadership I can use.

The other side to leading only followers – when people with the propensity and desire to lead are stifled from realizing their full potential as a leader – they will eventually either leave the organization or cause problems within the organization. I have especially seen this take place in the church. The organization as a whole suffers because they are limited to the level of success which can be realized by the intimidated top leader who refuses to let other leaders develop.

If an organization (or church) allows people a chance to lead the organization’s potential for growth increases immensely.

At some point every leader has to make a decision.

Do you want to lead leaders or only lead followers?

Personally, I prefer to lead leaders.