“The blessing came in obedience…”
Find out how I unpack this illustration in this message from our series “New”.
This is a requested guest post from Ministry Library. I don’t do these for profit. I only do then when I believe in the oppportunity.
4 Ways a Team Grows Together
Some people hate those personality tests but they have made a huge difference for our team. There are tons out there but we require each person on our team to take 2 different personality tests and each one tells us some very unique attributes about that person.
One is the Myers-Briggs. This test gives me an insight into how that person thinks and sees the world around them. I think the best part of this test is the detailed report I get about their workplace habits and how to communicate with that person. If you’re curious, I am an INTJ.
The other test is Strengths Finder 2.0, sometimes called “Leading From Your Strengths.”
This test will reveal your top 5 (out of 34) strengths and how to maximize your talents and build them into strengths. The reason I love this test is that it allows me to create the most healthy environment possible to make each person happy, productive and successful.
My 2 most prominent strengths are Activator and Individualization.
Ask The Tough Questions
Great leaders ask the tough questions!
Here are 5 questions you need to starting asking your team.
Who are you developing to take your place? If leadership development isn’t communicated and followed up on, it won’t happen.
What are you doing to grow yourself? By regularly asking this questions you’ll create a culture of learning in your staff. A good followup question is “What resource or support I can give?”
Is there anything I am doing that wastes your time? Yep. that’s a toughy! I usually add ”Please answer honestly or you’re fired!” to lighten the mood.
What is your biggest hassle in your current role? I love this question so much. It will shed some serious light on your systems and organization.
What can we improve on as a team or a church? Breakthroughs happen horizontally. You’ll be surprised by the creativity and problem solving that happens when you let people speak into other areas besides the one they’re in.
When asking these questions, it’s important to ask followup questions to make sure you have a full understanding of their situation.
Require A Coaching Call
All of the world’s best athletes have coaches. Why?
Because a coach can see things the athlete can’t. It’s impossible to coach yourself to the next level. We just don’t know, what we don’t know. As your team and your church grow, there are going to be these “gotcha” moments that you just won’t see coming.
I require my team to have regular coaching calls with people in similar roles at a church that is twice our size.
I do this myself as well. Our church is in the process of launching a campus.So, I cold called 7 other church around the country that I thought would be able to coach me through this process. By talking to people that have “been there, done that,” you’ll learn from their mistakes and completely avoid those “gotcha” moments.
Imagine if you could have some of the best pastors or leaders come in and give you and your staff a personal coaching session.
That would be awesome and way too expensive!
Reading a book is like getting coached by the author.
I think one of the best ways to learn together is to go through a book as a staff. But if you just buy them the book and tell them to read, you’ve failed as a leader.
To get the most out of a book there needs to be a group experience where you can learn outloud and help each other apply what you’ve learned.
I believe in this model of leadership development so much I created a resource for pastors and their teams. Its called MinistryLibrary.com
We help pastors grow and lead healthy teams by creating 10 minute leadership videos and team workshops based on popular ministry and business leadership books. The workshops are where you’ll get the most value. They have take-aways, resources, discussion questions and group activities that will get your team thinking, collaborating and learning together!
Check it out. MinistryLibrary.com
Our series – simply called NEW – began encouraging you to discover something new. The God who never changes is always doing something new.
This was a New Year challenge – appropriate for all the year. In this message I explain, “Much of what you get out of your year is going to be determined by what you put into it. If you simply go through the motions, don’t expect to receive a lot from it.”
And, “if one of your goals in the New Year is to be a better disciple – the reality is – you’ll have to be intentional. It won’t simply happen.”
Live intentional. I pray this message, and the ones to follow, help you. God bless.
But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say,’I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” Samuel did what the LORD said.1 Samuel 16:2-4a
God sent Samuel to annoint David king. He was removing Saul from power. It was a dangerous and scary assignment and it made no sense politically or practically. Speaking against the king could bring death, but not only that, Saul looked like a king. David was an unknown kid.
Samuel was naturally afraid. Wasn’t there some other way? Samuel surely must have thought.
God’s plan was made. He wouldn’t budge because of Samuel’s fear. God never leads by popular opinion, so Samuel obeyed.
When Samuel obeyed God, EVEN THOUGH it didn’t make sense – in his mind – for him to do so, he was exhibiting his faith in God. Faith always moves without seeing or understanding. Faith is always prior to receiving the complete picture or having all the answers. Faith precedes victory.
Years ago our family traveled to our nation’s capital on vacation. I have spent considerable time in the city, as a college intern and during my political and business days. It is one of my favorite places to visit. Our boys had never been. I told them this would not be an enjoyable trip – at least not for the first few days. At nine and twelve years of age, and not being musuem people, I knew they would be bored at first and I wanted to prepare them.
I was right.
I told them, however, if they would obey me they would be glad they had been by the time we finished the trip. When we left Washington, DC, both boys were sad to say goodbye to the city. They had fallen in love with it. The twelve year old even said he wanted to attend a college there. (He later changed his mind.)
This is the way it is sometimes in our Christian walk.
Obeying God, following Him, and carrying out His plan, especially when it contradicts our own, is not always the first thing we want to do. It won’t even seem to make sense at times.
It may seem impossible.
It will likely make us afraid.
It stretches us beyond our abilities.
It might be uncomfortable.
It requires more resources than appears available.
But, as we obey God, and He works His will through our obedience, God blesses us in ways we never expected, and we begin to experience what it means “all things work for good for those who love the Lord”. (Romans 8:28)
Samuel didn’t want to go find David, but he obeyed. And, guess what? God knew what He was doing.
And, God knows what He is doing in your life too!
In what area of your life are you most having to walk by faith these days?
Do you have any injured relationships in your life?
Broken hearts, hurt feelings, or grudges from the past are common among relationships. At some point we all have relationships, which have gone from bad to worst.
In fact, sometimes the people we have to be around, by default – blood relatives, in-laws, or co-workers – are people we wouldn’t choose to be around unless we had to be.
It’s true, isn’t it? And, the truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?
(Raise your hand if that’s your story.)
What should you do? How should you respond to the one who has hurt you the most – or who always seems to say the wrong thing – or who is, honestly, even mean at times? How do you respond to the most difficult relationships in your life?
You can’t control other people’s response – only yours, but how should you act in those injured relationships?
I want to encourage the Biblical approach.
Bite your tongue
When you are tempted to snap back – don’t. Sure, it will be difficult, even seemingly unfair at times, but see it as spiritual discipline training. (James 1:26) Memorize and learn to pray Psalm 141:3. (Look it up. It’s the first step towards learning it.)
Forgive. Let go of a grudge. Even though it may not be received well and nothing may change in the relationship, it will change you. (1 Peter 4:10, Colossians 3:13)
Put on another’s shoes
Anyone who hurts you has a story. Usually they were hurt too – by someone. Remember, hurt people hurt people. Think about where the other person is coming from before (or as) you encounter them. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Be honest, some relationships require more patience than you thought you had, don’t they? But, isn’t this what we are called to do as believers? It is a “fruit of the spirit”. (Colossians 3:12-14)
When we humble ourselves, we may get taken advantage of at times, but God always rewards humility. Who knows? It may be the break through in the relationship. (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6)
Pray for them
The last one is sometimes the most difficult, but oh how Biblical! Prayer releases the burden to the burden bearer the One whose yoke is easy the One who paid for your sins. Prayer can even change the dynamics of a relationship. Pray for the awkward, difficult, shattered and broken relationships in your life and the people who caused them. In the most tense moments this holiday season, slip away and pray. (Matthew 5:44)
You’ll have healthier, happier relationships. Trust me.
Do you have a difficult relationship facing you? What tips do you have?
During times of trials and difficulty we often forget – or we never even understand- the value of brokenness.
Yes, I just wrote the previous sentence. And, I stand behind it.
Not many people would choose to be burdened with heartache or disappointment, but the way God uses suffering for good is rarely realized until after the trial has passed – often years later.
This doesn’t mean the loss from suffering doesn’t still hurt. It often does. And, some pain – such as the loss of a loved one – never disappears completely. I’m not necessarily writing about this kind of brokenness. I’ve written about those type losses in other posts – although God works in those times for good also.
I’m talking in this post about brokenness from things like the loss of a job, personal failure, the breakup of a significant relationship. The kind of brokenness, where we often played a part or someone else made decisions or choices which hurt us deeply. The kind we try to run from, forget, or hide from other people. The kind of which we might be embarrassed and people pray for us more than we list them as a “prayer request” at church.
Upon reflection, we can see how God worked even through these darkest days of life.
I was reflecting recently on some of my own times of brokenness.
Brokenness keeps one humble. Humility is highly honored by God and is an attractive quality to others. We would never ask for humility. There are no steps to rid our life of pride. Humble people have been humbled.
It teaches valuable life principles. Honestly, I have learned more from the hard times in my life than from the good. Again, these are not lessons we seek on our own, but experience – even and perhaps especially the hard experiences of life.
It brings repentance. I often forget how much I need forgiveness. Brokenness, especially when caused by my own actions, reminds me I am hopeless apart from His grace.
It encourages a fresh start. Starting over is not always as bad as it seems. It could even be a blessing we may not have sought on our own, but looking back we are so glad it came.
It invites God’s grace. Brokenness brings me to my knees. As sin increases, grace increases all the more. I long more for God’s favor and His protection. It’s never a bad thing when my heart longs heavenward.
It illustrates humanity. Brokenness reminds me frail people share the commonality of life struggles. We are in this together – all in need of God’s mercy and grace. We live in a fallen world. The only hope is Jesus.
It welcomes the heart of God. Psalm 34:18 says, “God is close to the broken-hearted.” I’m so thankful for this truth!
Has your story been shaped by brokenness?
Allow the molding energies of God’s hand to craft His masterpiece in you as you yield to His ultimate plan for your life.
There is value in brokennes.
This is a guest post by my friend Will Mancini. Will is one of the best church strategy and vision guys I’ve met. Check out his new book – God Dreams.
The Nine Forms of Generic Vision That Stifle Practically Every Church
Most pastors are visionaries. But to fully realize the vision of a church, a pastor needs more than a generic sense of the future.
When it comes to vision, the biggest challenge to success is not your obstacles. The biggest challenge to overcome is settling for a lesser vision and not knowing it. If you grab on to a faulty tool—in this case the tool of vision—everything you to try to build with that tool will be limited.
Once you move past a generic sense to a vivid vision, you will still have many obstacles to overcome, but those are the natural challenges of implementation. You still have the hard work to do. But every action and every point of communication is more powerful with the vivid and compelling picture of the future in view.
If you are living with generic vision, and I believe most pastors are, more of your implementation challenges have to do with clarity than you realize. In the last week alone, I have seen issues like staff hiring decisions, children’s programming decisions, and campus launch decisions all present major dilemmas only because of unclear vision. Yet the lead pastor didn’t recognize it as such.
How then, can we apprehend the generic church vision that plagues our churches? In my new book, God Dreams, I have identified nine forms generic vision to help you name it in your church. The nine stem from three healthy biases. That is to say, we empower generic vision with good motives most of the time. We do the wrong thing for the right reason. It’s a good motive taken a little too far in application.
The three healthy biases are: accuracy, growth and efficiency. I will briefly describe each bias with the three forms of generic vision they create. Also, I will invite you to receive free God Dreams resources when they are available at the link below.
#1 – ACCURACY BIAS
A healthy bias toward accuracy can lead us to confuse Biblical statements with Biblically informed vision.
The story of church vision in the last two decades could be described as the great misuse of the Great Commandment (Mt. 22:34-40) and the Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20). Most people have heard some variation of the following as a vision statement for a local church:
• “Our vision is to love God and love others.” (Love God vision)
• “Our vision is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.” (Make disciples vision)
• “Our vision is to glorify God.” (Glorify God vision)
These are biblical imperatives that should apply to all churches, but not as a vision statement. Why? When Jesus summarized the law, He was not giving churches a vision statement. This is a meaningful summary of the law, but it’s not an answer to the question: if we’re a church, what should our vision be for the next three to twenty years?
To summarize the problem, in our efforts to be biblical we fail to be imaginative, by cut-n-pasting verses as vision.
#2 – GROWTH BIAS
A healthy bias toward growth can lead us to substitute a grow-only vision for a growth-minded vision.
Some church leaders equate growth with vision. “If we experience momentum, we must have vision,” they reason. Here are three examples of how growth becomes an end in itself as generic kinds of vision statements for a local church:
• “Our vision is to reach more people for Christ.” (Reach more vision)
• “Our vision is to build a bigger facility or launch more campuses in order to take the gospel to more places.” (Build more vision)
• “Our vision is to change world.” (More change vision)
Every church should be reaching more people and multiplying disciples. And an increased response can certainly lead to more facilities and more campuses.
A healthy bias for growth might undergird a vision, but statements like these are weak by themselves. “Reaching more” and “changing the world” are too vague. And buildings and campuses might be important tools, but they are means to something greater, not an end in themselves.
#3 – EFFICIENCY BIAS
A healthy bias toward efficiency can lead to a done-for-you vision that neglects adequate do-it-yourself vision ownership.
Church leaders across the centuries have been drawn to learn from other churches where good things seem to be happening. Often this happens with the best of motives: they suspect God is at work and they want to be part of it. They appreciate the encouragement, the ideas, the tools, and the training from the other churches’ leadership. They follow the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:1 where the Apostle Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” A noble intent for sure.
But the passion that says, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” while wisely seeking to improve efficiency, can lead to a debilitating blockage of the imagination. Who wants to leverage the learning of others to the point of sacrificing the thrill of having a God-given, handcrafted vision?
This bias shows up in several approaches to vision. But unlike the accuracy bias and the growth bias, the efficiency bias doesn’t usually express itself in a written vision statement, but in the mindset of the leaders. I would label three expressions of this intent as follows:
• Serve as a franchise vision
• Offer the most vision (i.e., more programs)
• Be the best vision (model church, top 10, etc.)
Of course I have much more to say about these nine forms of generic vision in God Dreams. But I bet this is enough to begin a meaningful conversation with your team.
The post will be unpacked in greater detail in God Dreams, my fourth book. The subtitle is 12 Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future. I invite you to browse through the book website, goddrea.ms, for more resources.