Caption This Photo: Winner Gets a Free Book

This is a precious picture from our time in Sierra Leone. I recently returned from teaching pastors in the country and I’m forever changed. You can read a post about the children HERE.

The children wanted to touch us, hold our hands, crawl in our laps, and share love with us. This picture helps share that story.

What caption would you give this picture? Comment on this post with your caption and I’ll pick one of them and send the book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. (This is a great book to help frantic families restore sanity to the most important organization in their life!)

Again, all you have to do is comment a caption for this picture.  I’ll pick the one I think best captures this image. You have until Tuesday, July 27, 2010 to answer.

(Please understand this winner will simply be based on opinion.)

Also, will you say a prayer for the children of Sierra Leone?

Wasting Valuable Resources of Human Capital

I met with a young leader recently who works for a large corporation. He is sharp, energized, and a hard worker. If he were in a field I needed, I would hire him in without question. He’s looking for a new job.

He’s frustrated that his corporation isn’t moving forward. They aren’t thinking progressively and suggestions he offers for his department are quickly dismissed. He feels undervalued and underutilized. He realizes now he doesn’t want to waste much more of his career with this company.

While this is a secular example, I hear from young pastors every day in similar environments in their churches. They have ideas, energy, passions, and talent that are never realized to its potential, because of the structure or leadership of the church. It seems to be a waste of resources to me.

If an organization wants to be successful these days, it must learn to allow others opportunities to grow, learn, explore, and succeed. The pool of young leaders today will demand it!

What do you think? Have you been there? Are you there now?

Great Leaders around the World: Lessons from Sierra Leone

On my many mission experiences in Brazil, often the drug lords were the ones who gave us access into the slums in which we ministered. We were invited to do medical clinics, construction projects, and evangelism. Even though they almost never allowed visitors, since we could have reported their activities to police or warring gangs, they saw value in us helping their people.  We even saw many of the drug lords come to a saving knowledge of salvation.  In spite of the violent nature of this world, I always saw the actions on behalf of the drug lords as “good leadership”, because they were willing to jeopardize their own leadership, for the good of the people they were leading.

We saw that same type leadership in West Africa. Village chiefs, mostly belonging to religions very opposed to Christianity, allowed us to come into the village and spend time with their people. As a result, we saw many life changes occur.

If leadership is about influence, which I believe it is, then I recognize both these examples as good leadership, and it’s leadership many American leaders could learn from as well. The village and slum leaders were leading smart by allowing us to invest in their people, even when it didn’t directly benefit them personally, and may have even jeopardized them in some ways.  In the end, we helped them have happier people to lead. Happier people makes happier communities. Happier communities make a leader’s leadership even more successful…and ultimately…even more secure in their leadership position.

The principle of leadership is simple: Whatever is good for the people one leads is good for the leader. If the organization offers people in it a better life, the quality of the organization improves with more loyal people and a better leader…sometimes even if only in the perception of the people. Great leaders recognize that raising the level of satisfaction among followers helps the organization and the leader.

Have you seen this principle at work in your organization?

Pray and Work: Encouragement During Difficult Days of Ministry

I was encouraged recently reading the story of Jehu in 2 Kings 9. Jehu was anointed king over Israel. At first glance, that sounds like a glamorous position, but when we read the entire story we find that before Jehu could rule his kingdom, he had to first battle to do so. (I think King David had a similar difficult experience prior to becoming king.)

I shared in an earlier post about Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 4:9 we read that while Nehemiah prayed asking God to protect the work he was doing, he also did what he knew to do….he posted guards to keep watch over their work.

Those two passages, and others throughout the Bible of men and women who responded to God’s call, remind me that God’s will for my life isn’t simply to wait for Him to deliver me. Often God’s will includes hard days of waiting for His plan to be revealed. The fact that ministry is difficult at times, doesn’t imply that I am not in the center of God’s will for my life. The opposite may be truer.

You may have been anointed for the job you’ve been given, but we should never assume that because God asked us to do the task that completing it will be easy. Part of our calling is often to find the faith to keep moving forward, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable.

If you are in the midst of difficult days in your ministry, keep your eyes on the task…work and pray…and wait for the God who began a good work in you to complete it.

For a similar encouragement read THIS POST.

Have you been tempted to give up lately? Leave me a comment so others can pray for you.

What’s Your Continual Prayer

This woman told our team that she prayed 40 years for a church to come to Compound Village where she lives in Sierra Leone. Africa for Jesus recently opened Believers Church and it is the first ever Christian Church in a village with over 3,000 people. I was amazed by her faith and consistent prayer.

For what or whom have you been continually praying?

Be a “Can Do It” Person!

Don’t be a “can’t do it” person…Be a “can do it” person…

Some people are just naturally wired to kill other people’s dreams. Others live in a world of caution and fear, never wanting to take a risk…always opting for the safest side of the street. Sometimes that’s not in an attempt to be negative, but just the way a person is wired…

I realize there is a place for the questioner…There are people inclined to find holes in an idea in an attempt to strengthen it (I use this tactic sometimes to challenge deeper, more critical thinking about an issue.)

I am not advocating running blindly…I’m not impressed when someone comes to me with an idea with no intent to research, collaborate with the team, set goals and objectives, or develop a plan to accomplish the idea…

I like common sense….


I also know that life is full of risks….

I realize that in order to achieve anything of significance some chance for failure must be on the table…

Personally, I am far more motivated when I hear “You can do it” or “Give it a try” than “We’ve never done that before” or “I don’t know if that will work”.

If your tendency is to naturally be a skeptic or if you find yourself normally on the negative side of an issue, try taking the positive approach for a change…You may just discover you like it!

Are you more likely to be a naysayer or an encourager of risk?

Book of Leadership Interviews: 10 Questions at a Time

I have personally enjoyed the leadership interview series I have done over the last six months. I am slowing down that series, but I want to recap them for you here in case you missed any of them. Combined, these posts could almost be a leadership book. The wisdom in these interviews, from these great leaders, are like gold when read together. See for yourself!

Here are the 10 question interview posts I did in the order they appeared on my blog. You can click on the name to read their interview.

Ben ArmentStory Conference
Pete WilsonCross Point Church
Tim StevensGranger Church
Jarrett Stevens Soul City Church
Wayne ElseySoles4Souls
Carlos WhitakerWorship Leader
Mac LakeThe Launch Network
Geoff Surratt Seacoast Church
Jenni CatronCross Point Church
Scott HodgeOrchard Church
Dave FergusonCommunity Christian Church
Ben StroupGeneris Group
Jon AcuffStuff Christians Like
Kent ShafferChurch Relevance
Cheryl SmithConsultant
Steve KeatingLeadToday
Chris Walker
Susan Bordewyk
Eldon Kelley
James Castellano
Patricia Zell
Dave Baldwin
Lantz Howard
Chad Rowland Grace Community Church
Bob FrylingInterVarsity Press
Gerry TrueOak Hills Church
Richard Westley
John Maxwell
Michael HyattThomas Nelson Publishers
Charles StoneGinger Creek Community Church
Brad LomenickCatalyst

I may throw in some good interviews occasionally, but this will be the end of this series as a regular Tuesday feature.

Did you learn from any of these? Is there someone else I should consider interviewing?

10 Things I’m Learning from my Time in Sierra Leone

In case you missed my earlier posts, I’m in Sierra Leone for a couple weeks. I will share more later, but wanted to give a quick update. We are here to teach and train pastors for Africa for Jesus and it has been an incredible experience so far.

Here are 10 things I’ve observed/learned the first few days here:

1. I take for granted warm shower and air conditioning

2. The African people love to worship…and they know how. When they pray, God’s Spirit is present.

3. Grilled goat meat is not bad.

4. Women (and a few men) who can balance enormous weight on their heads and walk miles…amaze me!

5. African people have huge hearts.

6. Temperature is relative. In the upper 80’s here some have on coats and jackets…while I sweated.

7. The hearts and desires of people don’t change much because of cultural differences.

8. The power of Christ to change a life is not limited by demographics or geography.

9. Children are precious at showing unconditional love. I understand more why Jesus encouraged the children to come to Him.

10. People are even more loving when they are shown love.

Can you identify with any of these from your observations of life?

10 Questions with Leader Brad Lomenick – Catalyst

Brad Lomenick
leads the Catalyst Leader team that is helping to shape the leadership culture in many churches today.  Before leading the charge on Catalyst, he helped lead a cool magazine called Life@Work and did consulting with lots of companies. Brad’s position with Catalyst gives him access to some great leaders.  I thought it would be interesting to hear from his perspective on leadership.  You can follow Brad on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with Brad Lomenick:

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

No, not necessarily. I really thought while I was in middle school and high school, and early in college- I would be in politics. Or that I would be a coach and school administrator, like my dad. Once I got to college I realized I really liked business, and leadership, and enjoyed connecting people together.

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?

After college, I worked as a wrangler and ranch Foreman at a guest ranch in Colorado- Lost Valley Ranch. Amazing place. Riding horses and hanging out with guests most of the day. We had 150 horses and 200 head of cattle, and the ranch was an hour from the closest town, so I really had to become an “expert” in horses, ranching, veterinary work, cattle, and the entire world of running a ranch. That experience really refined my work ethic, my focus on building authentic relationships, and the understanding of living out the Gospel by serving others until they ask “why.” We loved building bridges with our guests, and making them into “family” instead of just being a guest.

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

That’s a tough one. Probably my dad, in terms of what it meant to work hard and be excellent at what you do. And Bob Foster, the founder of Lost Valley Ranch, also had a huge impact on me in my mid 20’s- more in spiritual development, a strong passion for the Bible and scriptural engagement, and for building into others and refining my style of leadership.

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

Another tough one. If I have to choose one book, it would probably be Good to Great by Jim Collins.

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

Collaborator, Focus, Achiever, Excellence

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Ability to create partnerships, and involve lots of leaders in the process. Plus being willing to stay focused on execution and moving the ball across the finish line.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I am a strong ENTJ on the Myers Briggs. Which has it’s goods and bads. My high achiever/focus can sometimes come across as overwhelming and brash. I have to make sure I connect with my team personally, and they know that intensity is part of who I am.

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

Trying to balance a work hard and play hard culture, the ability to stay focused as a team, and maintaining a standard of excellence, and continually improving.

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

I would probably say the greatest misconception is that because Catalyst is big, and we put on large events, people sense we “know it all” and have a huge team that pulls off the events we do. But our team is small, and we are hard workers, but we know that we don’t know it all. We embrace the truth that Gods does extraordinary things through ordinary people. And our team is just a bunch of ordinary, young, passionate followers of Christ who are willing to be part of something extraordinary that God is doing through Catalyst.

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

Learn from everyone- whether someone who is 61 or 21, a CEO or just entering the workforce, it doesn’t matter. We can learn from all the folks around us. And especially be willing to learn, and LISTEN, to those you might disagree with.

Great interview Brad!  Thanks for leading a great team that helps so many leaders.

Have you been to Catalyst?  Are you going this year? I will be blogging from Atlanta this year and I would love to see you there.