Leaders Lead…Even Without a Position of Leadership

I am fascinated by the story in 1 Samuel 23:1-5.

David saved a city, without any assigned position of leadership.  Sure, he had been anointed to be king, but he wasn’t yet “sworn in” to office.  He was a king in waiting.

It reminds me of an important principle about leaders.  Real leaders don’t need to have a position to make a difference.

David’s first leadership assignment was self-appointed, when he went after Goliath, because his people were too afraid to act.

Leaders lead because there is some cause worth leading, no one else is taking leadership, and they are willing to risk their personal comfort and reputation to see it through to completion.

What cause do you see that needs championing?  Has God called you to be a leader?  Do you feel the urge to lead?

Then start leading…That’s what leaders do…

Balancing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

I have posted many times before about my attempt at discovering my strengths and weaknesses. The older I get the more I realize things I’m not good at doing. This discovery process has led me to what I believe is the perfect combination on a team:

If we can partner people highly skilled at creating ideas…

…With people highly skilled at implementing them…

We can accomplish anything together.

It’s rare to find one person equally good at both. Not always is the same person who creates the idea the right one to accomplish it.  I’m an idea generator, but I’m not always a great idea implementer. I love big visions, but I miss details. I love to see big dreams realized, so I often push people too hard with new ideas, rather than helping them complete the last idea. While I don’t believe I’m wrong for being an idea generator, it would be wrong for me not to recognize where my strengths end and my weakness begins.  I know I must surround myself with people skilled at making and implementing systems and plans to accomplish them.

Great idea creators sometimes need to be willing to hand off the implementation to someone skilled in doing so.  Otherwise, some of the best ideas never see the light of day.

Consider these questions:

Which are you? Have you tried to be both in your organization?

Do you need to partner with others, give them freedom to stretch you, and allow progress to move forward?

What weakness do you need to balance with someone else’s strength?

Be willing to admit your weaknesses and surround yourself with lots of people wired opposite of you!

10 Questions With Leader Jon Acuff: Stuff Christians Like


Jon Acuff is a funny, intelligent, mega-blogging leader at Stuff Christians Like. When I originally started this series I honestly overlooked some of the best leaders, because I falsely limited myself to people that have positions in a church or ministry. Jon has one of the most read blogs in the church world today. If Jon posts something, others instantly take notice. I call that influence, and if leadership is about influence, Jon is one of the best.

You can buy Jon’s new Stuff Christians Like book HERE and follow him on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Jon Acuff:

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

Since the third grade when a teacher laminated a book of poetry I wrote I knew I wanted to be a writer. I thought she had published it and I really wanted to keep writing from that moment on.

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?

I was a mailman one summer. It was hard. I was pretty lazy at the time and not very disciplined. I made that job a lot harder than it needed to be with my complete lack of focus. I would say realizing the self created frustration of that summer helped me make smarter decisions in my current job.

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

I would say my dad. In addition to one on one leadership, I got to watch him start a Southern Baptist Church in New England. His approach to what was a really difficult challenge really shaped how I approach things.

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

I would say “The War of Art” by Pressfield.

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

Creative. Motivational. Funny

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Ability to start new projects.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Ability to finish old projects.

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

Following through on commitments that have lost the shine and are now down into the grind. I stink at completing things and getting others to complete things.

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

People sometimes think I write Stuff Christians Like full time, but I have a full time job and only get to spend about an hour a day on it.

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

Determine a time to do the thing you are dedicated to and then do it. Don’t argue with yourself about whether you will do it. Just say, “Every morning at 6, I will do this thing.” And then do it.

Are there other leaders I’ve been missing? To read all the interviews I’ve done in this series, click HERE.

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Recap

I had a great time hanging with Nate Edmondson at Catalyst One Day Chicago. It was refreshing to be recharged and encouraged by two incredible leaders.

One thing I love about conferences is connecting with my online friends.  I was able to connect with online friends such as Michael Hyatt, Dave Ferguson, Jesse Phillips, and Jarrett Stevens.

I decided to add all my posts into one category. If you want to feel like you were there, click HERE and read these posts.

Have you ever attended Catalyst?  What conference do you most want to attend?

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Andy Stanley on Momentum in our Practices

Andy Stanley closed out Catalyst One Day Chicago with a talk about momentum in our programming with a talk titled “Don’t Be That Couch”.  The title is based on a metaphor that we often hold onto the old couch that is no longer in style or even functional because we are attached to it emotionally.

Whereas programming begins as an answer to a question, over time it becomes a part of organizational culture.

The problem is that as culture changes, we don’t change the answers.  Instead, we institutionalize our answers and eventually it is no longer a valid answer.

We must continue to be more committed to our mission than to our programming or our model.

The tendency is to become more committed to our programs than the reasons they were designed.  Over time, sustaining the model can become the mission.

The church is in decline because we have fossilized around very old practices and we aren’t willing to adapt to a changing culture.  Andy admitted this is his opinion, but he said, “You cannot pray yourself out of decline.  You must behave yourself out of decline. “

Questions to evaluate:

  • What have we fallen in love with that’s really not as effective as it used to be? – Sometimes we hold onto things just because we love them, but they aren’t working anymore.
  • Where are we manufacturing energy?- If the pastor can’t get excited about it anymore, why should the people?
  • What are our organizational assumptions? – We make assumptions about people and programs that aren’t even true, based on our own limited assumptions.

Andy said some of us need to walk back into our churches and make the changes we know need to be made.

I have heard this talk before, and some of you readers will have also, but this is a talk I need to hear every few years.

Here are my questions I’m considering:

What programs are no longer effective in your church or organization, but you are married to them, because they’ve become a part of your culture?

Is it time for them to go?

Are you willing to make the hard leadership decision to let them go?

(Do any of these apply to you?)

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Craig Groeschel Creating Personal Spiritual Momentum

Craig Groeschel began his second talk at Catalyst One Day Chicago with two questions.  I posted those questions HERE.  Those questions offered a springboard for challenging leaders to create personal spiritual momentum.

Craig’s primary challenge was for all of us to commit that:

I will do TODAY what I can do, to enable me to do TOMORROW what I can’t do TODAY.

Then he shared four things to do today:

Do something everyday to defeat your dark side. Every person has something that keeps him or her from being all that God wants him or her to be.  It could be pride, or laziness, or insecurity, or a desire for approval, but identifying that trait is vital to defeating your “dark side”.

Most leaders (in ministry especially) will never really be done with their work.  One of the biggest problems with ministers today is that we never really feel finished.  Creating artificial deadlines to make decisions forces leaders to complete something, make decisions, and take risks and allows freedom to plan, dream and be with family.

Delegate what someone else can do. In the ministry world, we have a hard time saying no to requests for more of our time.  If another person can do a task 70% as well as you can do it, let him or her have the authority over the task.

Don’t delegate responsibilities; delegate authority. Delegating responsibility develops followers.  Delegating authority develops leaders.

Do something only you can do. You’re the only one that can truly rest for your soul.  “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened…” (Matt 11:28)  You are the only one who can truly let your soul be fed by God.  Take time to maintain your spiritual momentum.

Wow!  I needed this…do you?

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Two Powerful Questions by Craig Groeschel

Craig’s second talk will be a two-poster…because he asked two powerful questions to begin his talk that merit placing in a separate post.

Leaders:

How many of you often feel overwhelmed with the sense of burden and responsibility that comes with leadership?

How many of you would say there’s a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now?

Wow!

How would you answer those questions?  Do you see the correlation?

(BTW, I raised my hand to both.  I’m a continual work in progress.)

I’m thankful for Craig’s transparency…stay tuned.

Catalyst One Day Chicago Session Two: Craig Groeschel on Mindset Changes

In the second session of Catalyst One Day Chicago, Craig Groeshchel spoke about “Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes” building from Romans 12:2.  His opening statement was that one of the major momentum killers is an improper mindset.

Craig is a great storyteller.  Here is some of what I learned from Craig in session two:

Think differently about your church culture. Every church is different and needs a different mindset.  As the church grows and changes, its mindset must be willing to change.

We all have those phrases “Our people won’t __________”  (Come to the early service, volunteer all month, give sacrificially…etc.)  Instead of saying that, we need to change our mindset to say “We haven’t led our people to _________”

Think differently about people leaving the church. The church can actually grow when people leave.  Churches need more confidence in the church God has called them to be.  Sometimes people are in the church for the wrong reasons and churches shouldn’t strive as hard to keep them.  There may be a church, which better meets what they are looking for in a church.

Think differently about limitations. Often the truth is “we CAN’T because we don’t.”

We don’t necessarily need more money.  We may need to learn how to do more with less.  Sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want for a reason.

Craig ended his talk with three assignments for the audience.

  1. 1. Find someone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they think, not what they do.
  1. 2. Identify one wrong mindset you currently have and ask God to renew your mind with truth.
  1. 3. Identify one painful decision you’ve been avoiding and commit to make the decision no matter what the short-term pain.

There was much more to this session that what I can share.  This is another reason you need the CD’s from Catalyst One Day Chicago.

What are your thoughts?  What limitations have you placed on your church, because you aren’t trusting in God’s power or strength?

Catalyst One Day Chicago Session One: Andy Stanley on Momentum

Andy Stanley led the opening session from Catalyst One Day Chicago.  He shared a few introductory thoughts to his talk:

  • Businesses immediately respond when momentum decreases, but for some reason the church will ignore momentum declines for years as long as the bills are being paid.
  • Momentum is always disruptive, so it scares some churches.
  • Momentum is all about moving forward, which is why leaders like momentum.
  • If you lack momentum and you don’t understand these principles, you are one dumb decision away from losing it all.

Three components of sustained momentum:

New – Anything new, negative or positive, triggers momentum…

Organizational momentum is often triggered by one of these three things:

  • New leadership
  • New direction
  • New product

New doesn’t guarantee sustained momentum, but new is an essential trigger for momentum.

Improved – The new must be a noticeable improvement over the old.

Improving – Momentum is sustained through continuous improvement.  This improvement must be continually evaluated.

Andy walked us through the local supermarket to see how businesses do this everyday.  Andy explains these principles, including how he applies these principles directly to the church.  It was a very helpful talk.

What is your church or organization doing to offer new, improved and improving sustained momentum?

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Opening Thoughts

I’m excited to be a part of the excitement at Catalyst One Day Chicago.  This is the first time in Chicago for Catalyst.  We are at Willow Creek Community Church.  This is my first trip here, and as I was warned, I’m blown away by this facility.

Today we will hear from Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel…in fact…they just walked on stage.  We are talking about momentum, but they are also doing a Q & A session.  We have just prayed that God would speak to us today with fresh ideas, renewed vision, and a greater hope.  That’s my prayer too!

I’m curious, if you had 5 minutes with either of these two great leaders, what would you like to say to them or ask them?