A Little Change (Drama) Can Spur a Team to Victory

It’s a classic example. You’ve seen it happen many times. Your ball team is behind in the game. The referee makes what you and the rest of your team’s fans believe is a bad call. It energizes the crowd and the team and helps spur your team on to victory.

That example illustrates a principle of organizational dynamics also:

Sometimes a little change, even a little drama, will motivate a team into action.

If things are becoming dull or routine in your organization, as the leader you may need to stir up some change, even if it seems disruptive at the time. There are times to change just for the sake of creating more energy. This doesn’t mean you change your overall vision and your attempt should be to make a positive change, but if things are stagnating some change may be needed. It would almost be better to have a change that didn’t work than to allow things continue at a standstill.

I fully believe this principle is true. Knowing when to use it is obviously critical, but don’t allow fear of making a mistake keep you from doing the right thing. Ask yourself this question: If nothing changes in your organization, where will the momentum on your team be a year or two from now? If the answer isn’t what you want it to be, it may be time for some change.

Is this a hard principle for you or are you a lover of change?

10 Questions with Leader Gerry True – Oak Hills Church


Gerry True is someone I know only online, his leadership resume is intense and he’s worked with some great leaders. Gerry is a Minister of Communication Arts leading four teams; Worship Arts, Production Arts, Creative Arts, and Technical Arts at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. You can read more about him HERE.  You can follow Gerry on Twitter HERE. Just reading Gerry’s answers, I hope we bump into each other at a conference soon!

Here are 10 questions with leader Gerry True:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

I had little direction in my life growing up… I simply wanted my own way. Never dreamed I would be a minister.

What’s the most different job you’ve had… how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Making donuts – Lesson learned:
Hold on to opinions loosely and be teachable

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Richard Crotts, a pastor of a small church and now a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He taught me to sacrifice and what it was to care deeply for others. He was Authentic.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Orbiting the Giant Hairball

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Believe in others

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Valuing people more than the end product by inspiring team members to allow God to accomplish through them more than they ever dreamed possible.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

My passion for achieving can be interpreted as pushy and sometimes leads to intimidation.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Allow people to learn through their failures.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

People may think that I love saying “no” or killing an “Idea”

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Intentionally invest in those you lead because God is preparing them for something He already has prepared for them. The really cool thing is that the leader gets to be part of helping equip other leaders for what God will use them to accomplish. Empower and then encourage.

Gerry sounds like an awesome relational leader.  What impresses you about his answers?

Thank You to Church Volunteers! (My experience at church today)


(Diana Sumpter)

Cheryl and I love to visit with other churches. We always learn something that can help us at Grace Community Church. Today, after attending the first service at our church, we visited Cross Point Church’s Dickson campus and it was a great experience. We enjoyed the music, heard a wonderful message by Justin Davis, and we were truly ministered to this morning. I encourage all pastors to find times to experience worship without the responsibility of leadership occasionally.

Perhaps the part that most helped make it a successful visit was our first impression welcome from a volunteer. Diana Sumpter met us shortly after we walked through the front door with a smile and a handshake. With a welcoming spirit, Diana quickly made us feel at ease in a strange setting. She gave us a quick tour, introduced us to other people, and made sure we were comfortable. We learned that Diana has been with the Dickson campus since they launched and is apparently just as passionate about her volunteer position as she was the day she started.

The experience with Diana reminded Cheryl and me how thankful we are for the volunteers we have at Grace Community Church. Each Sunday at least 150 to 200 people give of their time so that others can experience life change through the ministry of the church. The truth is that the structure and workings of a church are only as good as the church’s volunteers. We serve an incredibly amazing God, but He builds His church with people who are willing to love and serve others. The staff can and should do much to lead this, but regardless of the size of the church, paid staff is never enough to accomplish the mission.

Please allow me to say thank you for those who sacrifice each week to make the church work!

I’d love to hear from you. Do you serve the church in some capacity? Where are you currently serving?

If you are a staff member, feel free to give a thank you to those who serve!

The Value of Unstructured Growth/When Growth Outpaces Structure

Here is a principle of organizational leadership that I have begun to understand and process in recent years:

Your structure shouldn’t limit your growth. Your growth should help define your structure.

Since we started Grace Community Church our growth has been outside our structure. We have continually had instances occur where there was no policy or procedure in place to handle the situation. Often we have not been able to afford to completely fund all the needs of the growing organization. We have usually been stretched as paid staff and key volunteers. This diagram shows a visual of how our growth looks on paper:

(As I’ve said before, I’m not the king of graphics, but this is what it might look like if I were sketching this out for you.)

The tendency as we get larger is to reign that growth into a manageable structure. It would be nice to have all the policies and procedures in place to handle every situation that may arise in the future. I’m concerned, however, that doing so may limit future growth. We are adding more structure (I wrote about that HERE previously), but we will also continue to allow unstructured growth to occur.

From our experience, my advice to organizations is:

Don’t be afraid of growth you cannot understand. It’s messier, harder to contain, even uncomfortable at times, but it also keeps leaders energized, maintains momentum, and helps spur exponential growth. You will need to continually update your structure, but as much as you can, let growth dictate those additions.

Are you in an organization afraid of unstructured growth?

10 Questions with Leader (and my co-pastor) Chad Rowland – Grace Community Church


Chad Rowland is my co-pastor. Some day I may write more about that, but, basically as the title indicates, it means we share leadership responsibilities at Grace Community Church. Chad is younger, more into creative arts, and more relational than me, so he balances well with my strategic wiring. I was delighted when Chad chose to answer my ten leadership questions. (Honestly, it helped me know he actually reads my blog!)

You can follow Chad on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Chad Rowland:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

Before 8th grade, I wanted to be a professional football player. During 8th grade, I decided I wanted to do ministry.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Worked construction in college and at a factory in grad school. It caused me to fall in love with the idea of reaching blue-collar guys.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

My two student pastors, Scott Stevens (currently at Lifeway in Nashville, TN) and Todd Brady (currently at FBC Paducah, KY), both sought me out and mentored me. They then led me to mentor other peers. It kept me focused throughout my teenage years.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Real. Authentic. Unfinished. Amazing.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Calm. Creative. Thoughtful.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

I love people!

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I keep a lot of what I’m thinking to myself which greatly hinders the team process.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Set aside time to think and dream.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

That when I’m quiet, it’s due to a lack of concern or interest. Sometimes I’m just thinking.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

There is not one model of leadership. Courageously do what God wants you to do and people will follow you.

Thanks Chad!  Have you ever been accused of not having an idea because you were quiet…thinking?  How did you make your voice heard?

10 Questions with Leader Lantz Howard


Apparently, Lantz Howard just became a new dad.  Check out some great baby pictures on his blog.  Lantz is also a frequent Twitter friend (You can follow him HERE) and today I’m featuring his 10 question leadership interview.  Lantz is a youth and family minister.  I’m impressed with what I see in Lantz and you’ll be impressed with his answers.

Here are 10 questions with leader Lantz Howard:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

I dreamed of being a pilot since Jr High. Actually went to Lubbock Christian University with intentions of getting out and pursuing aviation school or military. During that time I had the chance to start working on my pilot’s license and realize it was fun hobby, but I enjoyed being with people. I came alive after I was with people. However, sometimes I wonder what if…

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Working the summers in the oil field out in West Texas. My father wanted to teach me the value of true honest, hard work and the value of higher education. Well, needless to say after many days of sun up till sun down I am thankful for hardwork and believe that this is missing from many young males lives today.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Leadership…I would say my grandfather. He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in the late 70’s and lived until 2000. He valued relationships and connecting with people. Without those qualities one cannot be a leader.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. I read this book in 2001 and it has impacted my life in many ways to this day. In fact I ordered a copy earlier this week to pass on to someone.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

I try to have focus, discipline, and perseverance.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Connecting.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Working through conflict.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Connecting others.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

That I am young and don’t know a hill of beans. Well, he is in charge of the youth ministry…that is not the “real” ministry.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Stick it out longer than what your emotions tell you. Early on in leadership you will want to run and avoid the conflict, but the one who is able to dig down and fight for what matters will overcome.

Thanks Lantz. 

For those of you who are young leaders, have you, like Lance, ever felt as though your voice wasn’t heard because of your age? How did you deal with that time?

Don’t Confuse Activity with Success

Here is a principle that works in many areas of life.  You’ll find it helpful in businesses, in organizations, in churches, in relationships and in your personal life.  Here’s the principle:

Don’t confuse activity with success.

I once wrote that growth covers over a multitude of problems.  (Read that post HERE.)  I know many organizations and people that mistakenly believe for a time (before it catches up with them) that busyness means things are moving in the right direction.  That may or may not be true, but long-term success always depends more on the quality of activity than on the quantity of activity. In the short-term, you can mask success with an abundance of action, but substandard performance will be discovered in time. (For more on this thought process, read my previous post, The Tortoise and the Hare Principle of Organizational Growth.)

If you want to ensure success, consider the goals and objectives trying to be attained, determine whether they are currently being achieved, and, depending on your findings, be willing to adjust activity accordingly to achieve better results.

Have you been guilty of being busy rather than being successful?  In what areas of your life are you more likely to allow that to occur?

Don’t Be Afraid to Have Your Ideas Challenged


I love to challenge ideas; even my own. Challenging someone else’s idea, however, can be perceived as obnoxious, unappreciative, or unsupportive, unless an appropriate relationship exists among the people on the team prior to issuing a challenge. I have to be careful, therefore, how I challenge another person’s idea, but I think the best ideas have undergone critical thinking prior to introduction.

I have been in organizations where the leader shut down ideas without discussion, and others where there was no challenge of ideas at all and bad ideas prevailed. (My son Nate wrote a good post about one reason that happens HERE.) Mistakes are okay if we learn from them, but why not challenge the idea on the front end and eliminate some of the pitfalls if possible?

One value of a team is that with more input, risks stand a better chance of being eliminated and success has a better chance of being achieved. The team effort isn’t near as effective unless the freedom to challenge ideas is welcomed.

Here is my thinking: If your idea can’t withstand the challenge of critical thinking, then either it’s not a good idea, you haven’t thought it through enough, or you are an insecure leader. Allowing your idea to undergo a healthy challenge can make your great idea even better.

What do you think? Have you experienced leaders afraid of the challenge? Could that leader be YOU?

10 Questions with Leader Dave Baldwin


While I do not know Dave Baldwin personally, I have grown to have tremendous respect for him as a leader. Whenever Dave comments on one of my posts, his response is thoughtful and helpful. He is apparently the type leader I would want on my team or one whose team I would want to serve. You can follow Dave on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Dave Baldwin:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

When I was in high school I wanted to be an agricultural engineer. I grew up on a farm, loved farming and thought that would be an excellent career. Went to college and my track changed significantly. An aside, nothing like the sound of a John Deer 70!

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

While I was in seminary I sold life insurance. I was pretty good at it. In fact one year I was # two sales person in the company and that was working part time at it. It taught me how to listen to what people’s dreams and hopes were for their lives and families. It has helped me be a better listening in the ministries I have served in over the years.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Although it has been from a distance it would have to be Bill Hybels. I first attended a Leadership Summit in 1998 and haven’t missed one or one session of the Summit since. The summer of 1998 was a turning point for me. A lot of what I have learned in leadership has come through the Summit. I did read a book on Transformation Leadership about five years ago. The authors of the book made an observation about successful leaders having some management acumen. As a result I have become a HUGE fan of Manager-Tools.com! Mike & Mark know what their talking about, and their management podcasts have made me a better leader.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Recently I’d have to say “Simple Church” by Tom Rainer. Our whole ministry has been changed as a result of our staff and elders reading this book. It has helped me personally realize that I can’t do everything I’d like to do so need to pick & choose in ministry.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Wholistic thinker, Strategist, Hard working, Compassionate.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

I think I do an excellent job of leading in a collaborative manner. I’m not a dictatorial leader, but really want to lead from the middle of the pack helping my team be the best they can be. I love how Tim Stevens describes his role at Granger. That’s what I want to be doing, resourcing the best ministry team in the world.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Like I’ve seen from many of the people that have been interviewed on Ron’s blog, I tend to be a people pleaser. The other issue I struggle with is not having a penchant for detail. Sometimes that can come back to bite me when I haven’t read a document like I should, or done the planning that is needed in a situation.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Give my direct reports negative feedback. No question about it. That is hard, but necessary.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

I think people have an impression that I have more power than I really posses. It really is a team matter, not me out there making decisions on my own that effect the future of the organization.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

I think it’s important to be around other leaders and to read from other leaders. I read books and blogs on leadership and I try to hang around leaders. I follow them on twitter & Facebook.

In keeping with Dave’s answers, who is one leader that has influenced you from the distance?

10 Questions with Leader/Teacher Patricia Zell


Patricia Zell is a frequent commenter on my blog. I especially appreciate those who take the time not only to read the posts I write, but participate in the discussion of them. Patricia and I have commented back and forth before about her role as a teacher. She has left comments such as, “I’m not necessarily a leader, but as a teacher…”, to which I always reply something such as, “That sounds like a leader to me.” If we believe that leadership is about influence, then teachers are some of the most influential leaders we have. They certainly impact our society in a powerful way. In my life, some of my biggest influencers have been teachers. You can follow Patricia on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with a great LEADER, Patricia Ezell:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

I’m pretty much doing what I thought I would do–I’m Mom to seven children and I’m teaching school. I have always loved children.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Back in 1969, I began working in a bank and I helped set their Master Card system–I worked summer and Christmas breaks there during college. I learned early on what a bad credit report can do to a person.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I would say my earthly father has helped me most because he made education the top priority for my life and he challenged me in debates which helped me to think quickly on my feet and to use reason.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

The biography of Smith Wigglesworth taught me a huge lesson. As Smith became successful as a plumber, he started walking away from God while his wife Polly continued to faithfully attend church. One evening Smith was so upset, he locked the front door. Polly didn’t get flustered–she just walked to the back door, came in, and laughed at her husband. That action broke the ice and Smith came back to the Lord and went on to have a tremendous world-wide ministry. The moral of this life experience has stuck with me: when I can’t get in through the front door, I walk to the back door and go in.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Slightly scattered, compassionate, diligent

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

I listen to what people say and have been known to change course.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I tend to be quite disorganized with physical stuff. My mind tends to be organized, though.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Deal with students who don’t value education and don’t see much value in doing academic work.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

That I am too nice–I keep hearing that. I do not agree with that assessment–I let students be frank with me because what I am doing directly impacts their futures. They should have some say in what is happening. Besides, encouraging them to think and reason is a good thing.

If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Actually, I would give them two pieces of advice that go hand in hand. Don’t be afraid to listen and don’t be afraid of change.

To honor Patricia and other teachers in this post, who is one teacher that influenced your life? If possible, share what difference their influence made in your life?