7 Excuses I’ve Heard for Not Leading Well

exhausted man

In working with other churches and ministries, and in my experience in the business world, it seems we are desperate for good leadership. Organizations and teams thrive on good leadership.

As much as we need good leaders, it seems whenever I meet a leader struggling in their role, rather than admit it could be them, often I only hear excuses. It must be easier to pass blame than to own the problem as our own.

And, in full disclosure, I’ve probably been as guilty as anyone at times in my leadership career.

The excuses, however, are fairly common.

Here are 7 excuses I’ve heard – or used – for not leading well:

I don’t know how.

With each new season in leadership there will be a learning curve. If you’re leading, then your introducing change – you’re taking people somewhere they haven’t been before. This means there will be lots of unknowns in your world for a while. But, don’t use this as an excuse. Learn. Take a course. Get a mentor. Read some books. Ask better questions. Grow as a leader.

I can’t get people to follow my lead.

Well, we may have to check our leadership definition, but don’t give up. If God has called you to this – discover how to motivate people. Most people will follow someone if you’re taking them somewhere they need to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. Make sure you have a vision worth following, learn to communicate well and do all you can to help people attain it. In terms of communicating well – I often tell pastors – you’re best “sermon” may be the one you give to motivate people towards the change or vision. Early in my leadership career I participated in an organization called Toastmasters to help train as a communicator. 

I can’t keep up!

This can be a legitimate excuse at times – leadership can be overwhelming with the amount of change in our world, but we shouldn’t let it remain this way. Leaders have to learn to pace themselves. You have to surround yourself with others who can help carry the load. You can’t try to do everything or control every outcome. Learn delegation. And, don’t try to change everything at once. My rule of thumb is to be working on no more than 3 major changes at a time. This requires patience, because I may see 100 things which need to change. The only thing which works well though when I try to do too much at one time is I get to add to my excuses for not leading well. 

No one taught me how to lead.

And, that’s probably true. I have found many leaders are terrible at reproducing leaders. We don’t apprentice well. So, what are you going to do about it? Leaders find solutions to problems. They don’t let problems become the excuse. Learn from experience. It’s the best teacher anyway. Learn from trying. Learn from watching others. Just learn. It’s never too late to learn something new.

Times have changed.

This is true also. Times have changed. Cultures have changed. The workforce has changed. And, they will keep changing – fast! Good leaders adapt accordingly. They discover new approaches. They don’t make excuses.

It’s my team – I don’t have the right team.

Well, instead of using it as an excuse, you have a few options. Make them a better leader. Get a new team. Or, keep making excuses.

I’m burnout!

This excuse can be real also. It happens to all of us at times. But, don’t settle for this one. Get help. Heal. Rest. Renew. Regroup. Get healthier so you can lead again. Sometimes stopping for a while is your best answer – even amidst the busiest times. 

Honestly, I’m not trying to be sarcastic, arrogant, or unsympathetic. I realize each of these deserve their own post. I really do believe, however, good leadership is mostly finding a worthy vision, recruiting the right people and discovering ways to help people get there. And, we get better the more we practice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring a spiritual aspect into this – I am a pastor. My best leadership book is the Bible. My best leader example is Jesus. And, I have learned when I am being obedient to Him I lead better naturally. It doesn’t mean everything falls into place beautifully – it does mean I have all I need to lead – even when everything around me is a mess. 

Seriously, look over the list again. Are there any of them that can’t be overcome with a little determination?

Let’s stop the excuses and make better leaders!

12 Words of Encouragement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

caucasian business executive praising subordinate by giving a pat on the shoulder.

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

I frequently have pastors – or other leaders – ask me for my “best advice” for those in leadership positions. I have to be candid – it’s a difficult request. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all I’ve learned over the years – especially by trial and error. It could probably fill a book or two – but certainly more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one I would give to all pastors or leaders, to answer the question. I will address pastors, but wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words and I’d give this advice to any leaders. I decided my best advice deals with the soul of a leader – hence the title.

Here are 12 words of encouragement to protect the soul of pastors:

Choose your friends wisely – but make sure you choose friends.

Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it. And, it’s cliche, but to find a friend – be a friend.

The church can never love your family as much as you do.

Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (I’ve blogged several times on saying no, but you may want to read THIS POST from my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”)

If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you.

You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else – for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing – but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

You have influence – use it well.

The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t do it! Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry. Use your influence for Kingdom good more than for personal gain.

No amount of accountability or structure can stop failure if a heart is impure.

Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Allow others the freedom to speak into the dark places of your life, but, more than anything, keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.

Let God lead.

You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours. This will take discipline, humility, and practice.

If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger.

Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time. When you ever stop being encouraged towards the seemingly impossible you may need to question whether you’re still walking by faith.

Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church.

You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus. Jesus always leads people following Him towards truth. So, lead people towards Jesus.

Your personal health affects the health of the church.

Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.

The people in your church deserve authenticity.

As a leader, you set the bar of expectations, so your authentic actions encourage people to be transparent with you and others. When you’re authentic you help eliminate unrealistic expectations people may place upon you. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it – not just teaching it.

You’ll never make everyone happy.

Part of leadership is making decisions. With every decision comes different opinions of the decision you made. If your goal is to make people happy you’ll end up being very unhappy – and very unproductive. Everyone will suffer as you strive to be popular, but flounder in effectiveness.

People only know what they know.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made (and make) in leadership is assuming everyone will be on the same page as me – or they understand what I’m trying to communicate. This is unfair to people who don’t have the vantage point I have or who don’t even view the world as I view it. The more I grow as a leader the more I realize one of my greatest needs is more and better communication.

What word of encouragement do you have for pastors (or other leaders)?

7 Thoughts on Creating Unity in a Church for a New Pastor

Unity

I once consulted with a church struggling to move forward. The pastor had been there a couple years, had a great vision and was supported by most everyone, there were adequate resources, the community needed a healthy church (as all do), but they never could get any traction.

In working with the church, I quickly assessed they had a unity problem. The church had two dominant factions – mostly split over a denominational issue. I felt like a genius consultant when I uncovered the root problem, but the truth is I only discovered what they already knew – yet never admitted.

The challenge wasn’t discovering the problem, however, it was in finding solutions. The church needed to come together if there was any hope to move forward and realize all the opportunities God was sending their way.

It should be noted – this church was united around the Gospel. They wanted to see people come to know Christ. They were divided by lesser issues. If a church can’t rally around making disciples of Jesus Christ – our core purpose – it will be near impossible to unite on anything else. 

So how do you create unity in a church?

Here are 7 thoughts on creating unity in a church:

Avoid the core DNA when making changes

There are some things which are not worth changing – especially until unity returns. It makes no sense to create further disunity in an area where the church is already unified. For example, if the church is overwhelmingly supportive of Sunday school, but you are a proponent of small groups, don’t try to make the change now (if ever) until unity is achieved. (If the core DNA is divisiveness harder decisions regarding the vitality and future of the church should be made.)

Find common ground

What do people agree upon? As noted previously, this should be the Gospel, but what about its methodology is commonly embraced? Again, maybe its Sunday school, but perhaps it’s reaching the community’s lower income families. It could be a ministry of adoption or homelessness. There are probably numerous ministries or interests within the church about which everyone is passionate. Find some and pour energy into them. The more of these you can identify and rally people around, the more unified the church will become. The key is you must work towards a common mission if there is any hope of bringing unity. 

Plan group activities

This can be an ice cream social or a ministry opportunity to one of the common issues, but it should be something which will involve people from both sides of the divide. It would be best if you could get someone from each faction to the planning table for these events. Most likely there are some who, though they have chosen a “side” to support, are mature enough they can work with someone of a different opinion to plan a function.

Celebrate success

There is something about celebrating which brings people together. Find small wins and celebrate them. Celebrate the things people can agree upon. Often this will be the history of the church or the heart the church has for missions or ministry.

Challenge the few objectors

There are usually a few people who are naturally divisive. This number is usually smaller than it appears, but these people are critical of everything and usually bring down the morale of others and the church. You may have to pull them aside, ask them to cooperate, and, if they will not, work to remove them from power. (This could obviously be the subject of another blog post, but a necessary part of creating unity.) The unity and vision of the church is more important than appeasing those whose only mission is to disrupt.

Embrace the influencers

Just as there are a few who are negative, there are usually a few who are positive about unity and who have influence over others. I believe in the “each one reach one” practice. Spend time with these influencers, help them understand the importance of unity, then encourage and release them to help shape an atmosphere and culture of unity, one person at a time. Keep these natural influencers and encouragers close and informed and empower them to help create unity.

Communicate effectively

Communication is always important, but especially during times of disunity. Information must flow freely and often. When people don’t have information, they assume you are keeping it from them intentionally. Keep people informed and they feel more like they are part of the team and the vision.

Obviously every situation is unique. Don’t be ashamed to seek outside help. Creating unity takes time, prayer and hard work. It often involves repentance for things said and done which caused the disunity. Keep in mind the process involves relationships, so it can be messy. Unity will likely involve people granting forgiveness and releasing the right to have things their way. Depending on the severity of the division in the church, these issues should certainly be shaping your teaching during this time. It may be subtle or more direct, but certainly deliberate.

Finally, for an illustration purpose, you might treat the process as you would if you were counseling a couple, only on a larger scale, of course. Identifying the underlying problems and offering small, steady steps to improving the relationships before you address the issues of division will help create unity.

20 Leadership Tips in Tweet Length

Colour pencils isolated on white background close up

A friend emailed me and asked for my “top 20 leadership tips”. They were doing a presentation on leadership and were asked to share 20 aspects of great leadership. The added catch – they wanted something short they could expand upon, so they suggested I share them in “Twitter length.”

It was like he didn’t know I’m the guy who only has “7” points in most posts?

I’m always up for a challenge though, so I wrote down the question and pondered it for a couple weeks. I added a few at a time. Then I sat down to compile the list.

Here are 20 leadership tips in Twitter length:

Build people – people are your greatest asset as a leader.

Believe in others – it’s the right thing to do and you can’t lead effectively otherwise.

Your life direction matters – you’ll likely end up where you point yourself and the team you lead.

Hold your methodology loosely – care more about accomplishing a worthy vision than how you do it.

Empower people – delegation is giving people real responsibility and real authority.

Keep learning – when you stop learning – you stop.

Renew your passion often – keep reminding yourself why you do what you do.

Learn to rest – so you can always do your best.

Value the word “No” – you can only do what you can do. Trying to do more lowers efficiency.

Prioritize each day – make every moment count – Because it does.

Let failure build you – not define you – it’s the best way to gain experience.

Be honest with yourself and others – what you hide will often trip you fastest.

Know your weaknesses – everyone else already does.

Listen more than you speak – you’ll learn more and others will feel valued.

Serving others always brings joy – giving back is the greatest vehicle to fulfillment in life.

Humility is attractive – people want to be around people who are. Applaud others louder than you “toot your own horn”.

Be intentional – nothing really great happens without intentionality.

Reject apathy – you’ll be tempted to settle for mediocrity. Don’t do it.

Communication is vital – people only know what they know. Same for you. Learn to ask good questions. 

Protect your character – even more than you try to protect your reputation. Do this and you’ll gain the other.

Feel free to Tweet one or two of them – they’re Twitter length.

Do you have one to share?

5 Ways I Breakout of My Introversion When Needed

Members Of Support Group Sitting In Chairs Having Meeting

I am frequently confused for an extrovert. On Sundays and other important days of ministry I can perform as an extrovert. I assure you, it’s not what comes natural for me.

I’m very much an introvert. I almost max out this preference on the Myers Briggs.

I’ve written extensively about introversion on this blog. You can read some of those posts in the suggested posts at the end of this one. But, my church often sees me look very much like an extrovert.

I don’t want to be fake – and I’m not trying to be. My church hears me say I’m an introvert. I’m not hiding the fact. But, I know my role calls for me to engage people.

As a result of my ability to appear extroverted, a question I receive frequently is: How do you do it? How do I appear so extroverted when I am so introverted?

Here are 5 ways I break away from my introversion to perform as an extrovert:

Love people. This sounds simple and may even sound trite, but I genuinely love people. I love connecting with people. I want to engage with others. Doing so doesn’t come natural to me, but it’s not because I don’t love first. In fact, I think it’s very hard to be a leader – and certainly not a pastor – unless you love people. (One of the biggest misunderstandings of introverts is when extroverts think we don’t love people. It’s not true for most of us.)

Be purposeful – Since I love people – and know connecting with them is a huge part of my position – I remind myself there is a reason to be extroverted in some occasions. Often people are waiting on me to engage them. To be a Kingdom-builder, I have to converse with others – even when it’s uncomfortable. The reason I am willing to act outside my comfort zone is I love people and value the connection with them more than I love my individual preference or comfort.

Prepare mentally – I have to prep myself before Sunday. I remind myself – I have a job to do, people are expecting me to engage with them, it’s not going to be easy, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It’s a mental exercise before any event where I need to be outgoing. (And, some days I do better than others.) I also try to shut down on Saturday evening – planning few social events – and I plan to have adequate recovery time following an extremely extroverted event.

Discipline myself – At some point, I just do it. I simply have to make myself do what I may not at first want to do. Work the room. Make the initial approach for a new relationship. Talk! Engage! Connect! Do it! And, with practice it gets easier. It really does. I’m always glad when I do. (And, extroverts can understand this one – or maybe the whole post.)

Reward myself – After an extremely extroverted occasion I crash heartily. Sunday afternoon naps are the deepest sleeping I ever have. Plus, my family understands if I’m quieter than normal at Sunday lunch. Sometimes I go for a run. Sometimes I plan a walk with Cheryl. It’s my time to renew do I can do it again when needed.  

Okay, introverts, your turn. How do you breakout of your introversion when you need to do so?

Why I’d Prefer A Leader Say No Rather Than Say I Don’t Know

A young employee disagreeing and arguing with boss, feeling ashamed concept. A large hand pointing at businessman saying no

I’d almost always rather hear “No” than to hear “I don’t know”.

Don’t misunderstand. I love when a leader admits they don’t know something. I believe every leader has something to learn and should learn first from their team.

But, I have strong contentment against hearing “I don’t know” when the real answer has already been decided – and the answer is NO!

A coward says “I don’t know” when they already know their answer is no.

When you know the answer is no. Tell me no.

In my experience, weak leaders use phrases like:

“Let me think about it” – which really means I’m too scared right not to let you know how I really feel.

“We might consider this” – which really means we will never, ever consider this, but I feel better telling you we will rather than look you in the face with the real answer.

“Let me pray about that” – which really means I have no intention of praying at all, but I sound so much more spiritual when I act like I will.

“We’ll see” – which really means I’ve already “seen” and the future does not look promising for your idea.

“It could be an option down the road” – which really means it will be so far down the road neither of us will ever be here.

Afraid of potential conflict, weak leaders make you believe there’s a chance – even when they’ve already decided there is not a chance.

What’s the damage of saying “maybe” when the real answer is “no”?

  • Unanswered questions bring confusion to the team.
  • Energy is wasted dreaming about something that will never happen.
  • Disappointment is bigger when the person learns the real answer (Or never receives one).
  • The team loses confidence in the leader.

Is this you want, leader?

Strong leaders, even though they know “no” is not what you want to hear, tell you the truth up front. They eliminate the guesswork.

Hopefully if you follow this blog you know without me saying it the answer shouldn’t always be no. I’ve written numerous posts about how good leaders empower rather than control. In fact, I’d be in favor of letting people mistakes before I would be in favor of telling them no – even when I sense no is the right answer. We learn best from mistakes. If, however, you know you’ve made up your mind, stop me from guessing, stop building false hope, and tell me what you’re really thinking.

Leader, what door have you kept open even though you know you’ve already closed it?

Make the call. Do it now!

5 Hidden Fears of Many Leaders

failure

I’ve learned through working with dozens of pastors and leaders, if we are not careful, leadership can become a game we play rather than a mission we live. One leader tries to impress another leader and all leaders, at one time or another, try to impress the people we are attempting to lead. Part of the key to “winning the game” is supposedly the leader bluffing everyone into thinking he or she has everything within his or her sphere of responsibility under control.

Leader, be honest – How often has that been true for you?

As leaders, we aren’t always honest about how we are feeling – especially the fears we have as a leader. It’s almost as if there’s an unwritten rule we have to hide our true emotions because, if people knew what we were really feeling they may not respect us, they may not follow us, and – just being candid – they may not even like us.

Which, being unliked is some leader’s greatest fear.

No denying, there is high expectation for leaders to be excellent in their roles. I’m not trying to lump more pressure on leaders, but I believe many times, if we are honest about the pressures we face, about our own shortcomings, weaknesses and – even our fears, we would be better grounded to face them. We would also attract loyal followers who would be more willing to help fill in the gaps of our leadership.

And, we would better welcome the strength of God in our lives when we admit our weaknesses. His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. 

Wouldn’t it be easier if we dropped the game playing and revealed the true fears we have in leadership?

Call me a Snitch if you want, but I’m breaking the silence. Be honest if you can often identify with this any of these hidden fears.

Here are 5 hidden fears of many leaders:

I don’t know what to do! – Okay, what’s new? Leadership takes people places they’ve never been, which often includes the leader. If things are staying the same you won’t need a leader. Unchartered waters mean learning on the job at times. Many leaders drown in their own ignorance, refusing to ask for help. Great leaders know they don’t have all the answers and are willing to seek input from others. Seek a mentor. Hire a coach or consultant. Recruit a board of advisers. Get another degree. Keep learning. It’s part of maturing as a leader.

I can’t keep up! – Duh! You’re leading. This means you’re going somewhere. The pace of good leadership in a rapidly changing world is often mind-boggling. The sense of being overwhelmed should not be a secret. In fact, if one is walking by faith, it should be a necessity. Learning to navigate through untested waters, and growing from the experience, is a part of successful leadership. Find the help you need now. It starts by admitting you need help. The leaders who achieve success long-term are constantly improving – continually refining their leadership style and abilities. 

I’m afraid of the unknown!– Seriously, who wouldn’t be? If things are growing, (or declining) demands are building and there are days with more questions than answers, human emotions are only natural. And, fear seems like the most logical one. Follow King David’s advice. When you’re afraid, trust in God. You may be scared. He’s not. Cast your cares upon Him. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Your situation won’t cause Him to be dismayed. Be bold and admit your fears of what’s next – fears of what could happen – fears of what you don’t even know you’re fearing – to a few trusted advisers. Allow others to speak reality and strength into your life. You can do this!

I don’t know if I’m the right person for this job! – It’s common for leaders to question their position at times. It could be they have done all they were called to do. It could be they are bored. It could be God is stirring their hearts for something new. It could simply be a temporary emotion. Don’t suppress the emotion. Press into it and figuring out the source of the emotion. It may lead to something good. Allow others to help you discern and listen for the heart of God on the matter.

I don’t feel appreciated or respected.– Every leader needs respect. It’s what fuels us many days. Knowing we have a team of people willing to follow us into the unknown fuels our desire to lead even better. Consider why you feel this way. Is it an insecurity on your part or is it warranted by your actions? Regardless of the reason, this emotion has tremendous power to derail good leadership. Great leaders admit they don’t have all the answers, but, at the same time, they are confident in who they are and what God has called them to do. Most people will follow a humble, but confident leader. My best advice is to lead well, keep improving, show people you genuinely care and give them something worth following. In spite of how you feel, if you’re leading with confidence and humility, they’ll respect you. If not, they wouldn’t respect anyone.

The hidden fears of leadership are real. Just admit it, leader. Whether you are leading a family or leading a Fortune 500 company the emotions of fear will sometimes seem stronger even than reality. Don’t lead in isolation. Don’t lead alone. 

Who is willing to be honest today?

Which of these is your current, most hidden emotion?

What did I leave out? What are some hidden emotions many leaders face?

3 Casualties from Unresponsiveness

RSVP

I remember meeting with a young man in our church a number of years ago. I had baptized him a few months before and had taken a personal interest in him. I saw such potential in him, and knew he was likely heading towards vocational ministry, so I asked him to serve in one of our ministries as a volunteer. He was delighted at the invitation.

Many of the best volunteers are just one personal ask away from serving.

A few weeks later, I followed up with him. He said he filled out a card asking to serve immediately after our conversation. He never heard anything. He assumed, therefore, we weren’t interested in him or he wasn’t qualified.

I was devastated – and a bit embarrassed. Hopefully, he simply fell through the cracks of our system, but this type of thing frustrates me more than just about anything in leadership. He certainly was qualified, but even if he had not been it would’ve deserved an answer.  

Responsiveness should be a paramount value in ministry and leadership.

Whether it’s an email, a phone call, or Facebook message, most people expect some sort of response. I realize we all get busy and it may sometimes delay a response, but people are too valuable not to respond to them in a timely fashion. I encourage all leaders to figure out a system, which works best for them, which will assure responsiveness.  

When a leader is unresponsive it creates problems for the leader and the people seeking to follow.

Here are 3 casualties from unresponsiveness:

It makes a person feel unappreciated.

When someone doesn’t get a response back, the person feels they aren’t important enough to you. They wonder what they’ve done wrong or why you don’t consider them good enough to merit one. 

It makes a person feel unloved.

Like it or not, unresponsiveness is translated, especially in the church setting, as an indicator of care. It’s a relationship. If you don’t respond, you must not care for them very much.

It makes a person mistrust you or the organization.

People will only tolerate unresponsiveness a few times. When a leader fails to respond they lose credibility with people and are seen as unprofessional.

The bottom line is when you don’t respond to people you force them to create their own response. And, naturally, our minds assume the worst.

So what do you do about it?

  • Make responsiveness an extremely high value in the organization.
  • Leaders should lead by example.
  • Answer all emails or messages and return calls promptly, even if you don’t have an answer yet. I can’t say what the proper response time is for every organization or individual, but for me I want responses to go out the same day they were received or first thing the next working day. 
  • Have a system is in place to respond to all queries. The fact is, sometimes I’m not available to everyone who needs an answer – we have a large church; especially if it might take an extended response. Plus, I may not even know the answer. But, I can make sure the person gets the answer they need.

Even in the best environments, situations like the example above will happen. Emails or cards get lost. People forget. Mistakes happen.  People will feel they’ve not been listened to, no one cares, or even they are unloved. They’ll take it personal enough to leave the organization. It should never be because we simply chose not to respond in a timely way.  

And, I should mention, there are rare times when the person seeking information is the problem in the situation – or where they use tactics such as verbal abuse to get the response they want. I’m not addressing those in this post. Again, those are rare and should be handled differently. (You might read my post on Stakeholder Analysis for this type scenario.)

This post is about the normal, day in an day out communication with people. People need and deserve answers. It’s part of a healthy culture. It’s part of healthy relationships. And, it’s the right thing to do.

The more you can do to avoid unresponsiveness the better you will build an atmosphere of genuine trust.

How does it make you feel when someone doesn’t respond to an inquiry?

12 Bible Verses Every Leader Needs to Memorize

Man of God teaching the Bible or the word of God to others. Image with instagram effects for special mood or feel

The Psalmist said, “I have hidden your word in my heart so I might not sin against you.” God’s Word can be a protection for our heart and soul. It can teach us, convict us, and challenge us.

The same is true for leaders. The best leadership book is the Bible.

If you want to be a great, Biblical leader, consider memorizing these verses:

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Philippians 2:3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Exodus 18:21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

Psalm 78:72 With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

Matthew 20:26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.

Philippians 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Matthew 5:37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Perhaps you should choose one or two of these – or if you’re brave enough, all of them – write them down somewhere you’ll see them often, and commit them to memory.

What other verses would you recommend to leaders?

7 Common Excuses for Not Doing What We Know God has Called Us To Do

Excuses File Contains Reasons And Scapegoats

There’s always an excuse if we’re looking for one.

I’ve made so many excuses in my life. For years I may have sensed God was calling me into vocational ministry, but I had to provide for my family. I would be leading with the limps of previous failures – how and why would God use me? I didn’t have the most pastoral qualities either. For example, I’m far more of an organizational developer than I am a caregiver for the sick. There were a dozen others. If anyone had an encouragement for me to be in ministry – and I received lots – I had an excuse why it wasn’t a good idea.

Even when we are certain God has called us to something, we will stall because an excuse is always near. 

And, most excuses seem reasonable at first glance. Common sense even. Think about the excuses Moses made for following God. I have to be honest – when I hear them, they make sense to me. I mean, if you’re not a good communicator – why send you as the chief spokesman for God?

But, God’s ways are not my ways – or Moses – or yours.

The reality is following a God-inspired, God-sized dream, always requires stepping into the unknown and always demands we overcome our excuses.

Are you stalling? Maybe you’re even running out of another good excuse. If an opportunity is still staring you in the face, let me encourage you from some of the best excuses I’ve used or heard – which have more times than not been proven wrong. 

Here are 7 of the most common excuses I’ve used or heard:

I can’t!

Your excuse is you don’t have what it takes. And, the sad part of this excuse – this also means you aren’t trusting God to provide what you lack. Saying I can’t to a God thing is an indicator of faith. If God calls you to it – you can do it because whatever you lack He will supply . (Gideon would love to weigh in on this excuse. Judges 6)

I don’t know how!

The task seems overwhelming and you may be too proud to ask for help. So, I don’t know how will just have to do for now. If you trace its roots – this excuse is often fueled by either laziness, apathy or fear. (Do you think Noah knew how to build a boat the size of an ark? See Genesis 6)

I don’t have time!

God calls for obedience now, but you’re preoccupied. And, chances are – with this as an excuse – you never will have time. This one has worked for me before too – for a season. What it really means is I have my time and God’s time. And, more specifically, I have my agenda and God’s agenda – and there is no time left in my agenda. (See how Jesus liked this excuse in Luke 9:57-62)

I’m all alone!

Leading out by faith feels this way sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to being obedient to God’s call. I once thought I was the only one with a burden to plant a church. It seemed to be a lonely burden until we stepped forward in faith. Little did Cheryl and I know God had an army of core members prepared just waiting to be asked. (Remember, Elijah thought He was alone – and he found out otherwise. 1 Kings 19)

I’m afraid!

And, the reality of this excuse is you can choose to let fear control you. I have. Many times. Fear is simply an emotion and it’s a powerful, often motivating excuse. Much could go wrong with your dream. You could mess it up! You could have misunderstood what you sense God calling you to do. Plus, our mind is capable and skilled at quickly creating worst-case-scenarios. But, know this. Trusting God, even when you’re afraid to do so, always produces God-appointed and God-sized victories. In fact, you can’t possibly get to the victory until you face the fear. (Could we learn anything here from Esther? Esther 3)

I can’t afford it!

You’re afraid the dream will be more expensive than the provision of God. You wouldn’t verbalize this one, but it’s real, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the money fear raised by potential church planters. I often say the money is in the harvest. (Tell this excuse to the widow in 1 Kings 17 or the disciples who picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread in Matthew 14)

I won’t!

This may be the boldest excuse. With this excuse you simply refuse. You may disguise it lots of ways, but the fact is you’re doing things your way – instead of God’s way. You can combine all the other excuses here, because you won’t even give it a try. In fact, if the truth is known, you’d rather run some more. I did this one for years. (How did this excuse work for Jonah?)

There will always be an excuse not to follow the dreams God lays on your heart. Obstacles in life are plentiful. You can keep making excuses, or you can address them one excuse at a time. The one who achieves most is often the one most willing to overcome excuses.

What excuse are you using to stall on God’s plan?