10 Questions with Leader Charles Stone (And a book giveaway)

Charles Stone is an author and pastor. He serves as the senior pastor of Ginger Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. Charles is full of wisdom and loves investing in other pastors. You can follow him on Twitter HERE.

In addition to the interview today, I’m giving away three (3) copies of his newest book, 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them. This book focuses on how to overcome pastoral burnout, frustration, and depression to be able to fully serve Christ, their families and, their churches. Pastor Charles Stone uses his thirty years in the ministry to identify five potent killers in pastors’ lives and shows how to defeat them to regain the hope and enthusiasm they once had for ministry.

If you want to win this book:

1. Comment on this post with your name and/or Twitter name.
2. RT this post

I will choose three random winners tonight after 9 PM, CST.

Here are 10 questions with leader Charles Stone:

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

I was going to be a marine biologist, until I realized at the time that there were only four jobs in that field each year.

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?

During college I worked for a civil engineering company. We’d pop manhole covers to check sewerage. I climbed into many manholes to measure the sewerage dept with a wooden ruler. If we were in a neighborhood and I heard a ‘flush’ sound come through the holes above me that led to houses, I’ve have to scramble out…our else. This experience helped me learn when it was time to quit getting dumped on and walk away.

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

Probably Carl Marshall who pastored the church I attended when I felt God’s call to ministry. Before I went to seminary he gave me the best advice I ever got. “Find a church where you feel comfortable and just volunteer to serve anywhere they need you.” I did that and ended up being hired as the part-time singles minister at a large church with several hundred singles. I came to seminary with no experience, yet the church saw my willingness to serve and they hired me over several other ‘experienced’ seminarians who wanted a job, but didn’t want to serve first.

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

Probably Philip Yancey’s two books, Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts. These two books helped me develop a healthy theology of managing disappointment in ministry. I was so successful with a church plant in
Atlanta several years ago that attendance the first day of 51 grew to 17 in six months. That was tough on my ego. On top of that, in the first year our one year old faced brain surgery. Yancey’s insight into disappointment has served my wife and I well.

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

Focused, Fun, Productive

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Seeing the big-picture connections, how things fit together (my undergrad degree is systems engineering).

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Sometimes I struggle that I’m not making the impact I wanted/thought I’d make.

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

I’ve had to fire a few people. I hate it, but sometimes it’s necessary.

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

That pastors are immune to feeling disappointed, hurt, and discouraged.

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

Find a safe person to whom you will give access to your inner world. Let them in. Let them lovingly make you aware of your blind spots. Do it early in ministry and be teachable and you will save yourself a lot of grief.

Are you facing burnout? Please read this book.

Monday’s Preparation Brings Friday’s Success

I was helping someone think strategically recently. We were looking at this person’s ministry, trying to design a system, which would allow for continual growth and improvement. The ministry has grown rapidly and the leader barely feels she can keep up with the current demands. She recognizes the need to delegate, grow new leaders, and spread out responsibility and ownership, but she can’t seem to get past the current demands of details to develop a plan to do so.

Have you ever been there?

While attempting to create a system with her, I think we may have gotten to the root of her problem (and one I’ve had many times personally). She looked at me with complete sincerity and said, “I just don’t have time to prepare…”

Have you ever thought that?

Do you see the problem with that statement? It’s a common misperception of all parts of life. We don’t feel we have time to do the required preparation to do the job right, so we continue in the mediocre success, while drowning in details. The reality, however, is that preparation time is often the most important part of the work. An inch of preparation is worth a mile of success.

It’s Monday. Take a few minutes to prepare. It will make the rest of the week much easier and more effective. (I hope even the most literal thinkers can realize this isn’t just a Monday morning principle….)

Have you learned the value of preparation? Share your methods of preparation to encourage others.

Read more about the value of preparation HERE and HERE and HERE.

My Current Top 13 Online Influencers List

Over the last few years, through Twitter and personal blogs, I have gained so much by networking online with other church and ministry leaders. Periodically I like to share the ones most currently influencing me with their online presence in case you have missed any of them. Since they are well known, chances are you have them on your list already. If so, this is simply a tribute. If not, I encourage you to follow their work. (Obviously some are not individuals, but an organization/ministry.)

There are others who are making a difference, even in my leadership. I chose these people/groups because not only are they making a difference and giving good content specufucally helpful to the church leadership world, they have made themselves accessible to church leaders like me also. You will likely see these leaders on stage some day at a conference. You may even read their books. These organizations have real people behind them who interact with followers. I realize we have to protect our time so we can remain effective, but I love when people are available to the people learning from them. To me that is the total package.

I tried to narrow it to 12, but instead I ended with a “dirty dozen”. In no specific order, here are my top 13 influencers currently: (If you click on their name it will take you to their blog or the word Twitter beside their name to get to their Twitter page.)

Catalyst Leader / / Twitter

Scott Williams / / Twitter

Anne Jackson / / Twitter

Tim Stevens / / Twitter

Michael Hyatt / / Twitter

Tony Morgan / / Twitter

Dave Ferguson / / Twitter

Jenni Catron / / Twitter

Mac Lake / / Twitter

Church Relevance / / Twitter

Pete Wilson / / Twitter

Orange Leaders / / Twitter

Stuff Christians Like / / Twitter

Who else would you add to this list? Who do I need to be following that I am not?

Catalyst Post: An Empowering Leader Update

Recently I wrote a post called 10 Reasons Not to Call Yourself and Empowering Leader. I have enjoyed partnership and friendship with the Catalyst Leader team. Jesse Phillips is a tremendous young leader and handles the web content for Catalyst. He consistently encourages me to help leaders know “how to” implement the principles I write about on this blog. At his request, I took the empowering leaders post and added to it. You can read some of that post at the Catalyst site.

Click HERE to be taken to that post.

Are you going to any of the upcoming Catalyst One Day’s or Catalyst East in Atlanta? Have you been to a Catalyst conference? I’d love to meet you there.

Read my posts from my last Catalyst One Day HERE.

How is Your Organization Handling Conflict?

Conflict can be healthy for an organization if handled appropriately and effectively.  It may even be necessary to keep an organization healthy.

Recently the staff at Grace Community Church talked through conflict and its benefit for us. Sometimes an organization can become too polite with each other and conflict is avoided or ignored in an effort to protect the relationship or to avoid the tension conflict creates. Other times one person tends to control a situation without allowing other people’s input, either for selfish reasons or to keep conflict from developing.   The problem with these approaches is that some of the best ideas are never implemented because we don’t push through the messiness of conflict to get to the right answers.

If your organization needs to learn to use conflict for good, HERE is an assessment I would recommend to you.  There are times for each of these approaches to conflict. Some issues are not worth the fight and other times the relationship is more important than risking the tension conflict can create, but many times the goal you are attempting to achieve and the relationship of the people on the team are both too important not to push through the conflict to get to the best answer. (Just so you know, in my experience, most people will score as a Collaborator, but as you talk through it, that may or may not be their first response to conflict.)

Just as in family relationships, organizational relationships involve conflict.  Learning to handle them in a healthy way is one key to creating organizations that thrive.

How do you tend to handle/view conflict?

How does your organization/organization’s leader view conflict?

For some tips on handling conflict, see THIS POST.

The Emotional Health of the Leader Impacts the Organization

Are you an empty leader?

Be honest.

It’s hard to lead others when you are getting your butt kicked. (Excuse the word, but I think it is needed here if that is how you are feeling.) When your world is crashing in around you, you’ll be less prepared to lead well.  When the stress and anxiety of your world is heavier than the strength you have to lead, you will find yourself treading backward more than forward.

Empty leaders begin to shut others out of decision making, for fear of being discovered as being empty.  Has that started happening to you?

The empty leader rarely sees much progress.  Is that your story these days?

The emotional health of a leader is of utmost importance to the health of the organization.

If you are an empty leader, get yourself together…rebuild your confidence, rediscover your purpose, renew your relationship with Christ, and then lead with everything you’ve got…the healthy side of you!

Please know that if you need a prayer, a suggestion, or some help thinking, that’s one of the purposes of this blog. If I can’t help, I’ll try to point you to someone who can.

Have you had times when you knew you were unhealthy emotionally while leading? What did you do to regain your health?

Have you worked for an unhealthy leader? How was (or is) the organization impacted?

10 Questions with Mr. Leadership: John Maxwell

Whenever a discussion about leadership comes up in conversation, someone is always going to bring up the name John Maxwell. Maxwell, who is a trained and experienced pastor who passionately loves Christ and Kingdom work, has also greatly impacted the secular world with his leadership principles.

John has sold more than 18 million books and has trained more than 5 million leaders around the world with his non-profit organization called EQUIP. His latest book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, shares John’s five principles and five practices for breaking the invisible barrier to leadership and personal success. You can follow John on Twitter HERE or join him on Facebook HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader John Maxwell:

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

From my earliest memory, I’ve known that I was going to be a pastor. My brother and I even played church together when we were little. I was a senior pastor leading churches for 26 years. During that time, I felt God call me to teach leadership, which I began doing with fellow pastors. As time went by, more and business people came to learn leadership from me. I left the full-time pastorate in 1995 to teach leadership, now not only to pastors and business people, but also to educators, government leaders, and others. And through my nonprofit organization, EQUIP, we’ve been able to train millions of leaders worldwide.

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?

One of my first jobs was in a meat packing plant. And being the high-energy, curious person that I was, I wanted to learn everything I could about what we did. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the general attitude at the plant. They actually told me to slow down at my work and stop asking questions. As one worker told me, “Look, I just kill the cows and go home.”

From that experience, I realized that I wanted to be in work that was mentally stimulating and engaging with people.

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

My father, definitely. I grew up in a leader’s household. He modeled good leadership and taught me and my brother how to lead. His influence has impacted everything I do. He’s my hero.

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

Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders. That’s the book that really made me aware that everything rises and falls on leadership.

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

Energy, passion, encouragement.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Understanding people and caring about them. That’s really at the heart of leadership, isn’t it? If you don’t care about people, you shouldn’t try to lead them.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Hiring. I’ve made some messes there. That’s because I believe so much in people that I tend to see only the best in them. I believe anyone CAN grow, so I can make a mistake in thinking that everyone WILL grow.

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

This goes with the last question. The hardest thing for me is to realize that not everyone continues on the journey with you. Saying goodbye as I move forward and others stay behind is very sad for me. But it’s important for every leader to learn that sometimes people either can’t, won’t or shouldn’t go the whole distance with us.

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

Of course, I’m not senior pastor anymore. I still preach several times a year for my friend Tom Mullins at Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach, but I don’t lead anything there. But from my years of experience, I’d say that people seem to think that being the top leader in an organization means you have ultimate freedom. The reality is that if you’re doing leadership the right way, then the higher you go, the less freedom and more responsibilities you have. The path gets narrower.

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

Pay the price for growth. People won’t give you credit when you’re early in the journey, but keep growing, learning, leading. The return doesn’t often come till years later, but it’s worth the price.

Wow, did you get the education I just received from John? Has John Maxwell had the impact on you that he has had and continues to have on me as a leader?

I happen to know some from the Maxwell team will be reading this…maybe even Mr. Maxwell himself…take a couple minutes to pay tribute to him here if he has helped your leadership grow.

7 Questions I Have About Leadership

I am a student of leadership. It’s one of my favorite subjects.  I believe principles of leadership are throughout the Bible. God seemed to look for qualities in people He sought for leadership positions. God primarily sought obedience, but He often used a person’s experience also.  Consider David, for example, his field experience protecting the sheep gave him the courage to step into a leadership of battling Goliath. God seemed to single out certain people with the ability to lead.

While I believe the Bible is full of leadership principles and the church today needs better leaders, there are still questions I have about the subject. Perhaps you can help:


  • Can leadership be clearly defined and is it important to define it?
  • Is a person who leads people towards corruption or destruction still considered a leader, or does leadership always head people in a positive direction?
  • Is there a difference in leadership and management?
  • Can leadership be taught or is it innate?
  • Is there a certain aptitude or personality more suited for leadership?
  • Is everyone a leader in some area of his or her life?
  • Can someone choose to be a leader or does one become a leader only when people choose to follow him or her?

What do you think?

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?