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.

4 Benefits of Empowering Leaders for the Organization

I recently posted on the need for leaders to delegate and some steps to doing so. (Read those posts HERE and HERE) Following this post, I asked a supposed leader in an organization for a decision from his organization. It appeared to be a minor decision. It certainly would be in our organization. I have held leadership positions in larger organizations, and it would have been a minor decision in either of those places. This leader, however, had to pass the decision up a chain of command. We eventually received a yes answer, but it took a great deal of time through several layers of people to get there. By the time we got the answer, I didn’t need it anymore. (True story.)

It reminded me of the benefits of empowering leaders in an organization.

Giving leaders the power to make a decision does four things:

1. It expedites good service for the customer.
2. It encourages leadership development within the organization.
3. It increases the productivity of the organization.
4. It keeps from frustrating customers/clients like me.

Does your organization need to release power to other leaders?What benefits do you see from doing so?

10 Questions with Leader Dave Ferguson – Community Christian Church

Dave Ferguson is a pastor and mentor to hundreds of church planters around the globe, including me. He is the visionary for New Thing Network, a church planting network.  His church, Community Christian Church, is a pioneer in the multi-site movement.  Dave is an influencer, a teacher, and a visionary leader.  I appreciate his responsiveness to those of us that desire to learn from him.  I also appreciate his commitment to his family. The one meeting I had schedule with him had to be canceled because of a school program for one of his children. I admired that in him. He has befriended my son in Chicago. I previously wrote about that HERE.

Dave’s new book written with his brother Jon, Exponential:  How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement, will debut at the Exponential Conference next month. (A great conference!)  You can follow Dave on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Dave Ferguson:

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

Of course not!  I was supposed to be 6’5” and a professional basketball player.  And since I never got drafted….

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?

When I was in high school, I drove an ice cream truck.  True!  You know, the small white trucks driving around your neighborhood with the music playing loudly to get kids attention (and their money!). First, I learned basic business principles, which have been helpful in the corporate side of running a church. Selling ice cream was like having my own business because I paid a small fee for the truck and then bought the ice cream from corporate and then sold it at a mark up.  Secondly, I learned to be creative with no resources.  I made every Thursday “FREE ICE CREAM DAY”.  On that day which ever kid got to my truck first would get something free of his/her choice.  Of course it brought whole bunch more kids running and I made a lot more sales.  I did other creative things and on July 4th I broke the record for single-day sales of any ice cream salesman in Sam’s Ice Cream history. If I ever look for another job that is definitely going on my resume!

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

I think it has to be my parents.  Before I understood that God believed in me, they believed in me.  And before I ever felt grace, they were gracious to me.  Something that is unique about COMMUNITY and the culture of NewThing is that we assume that you can do it and we believe in you implicitly.  I didn’t know how unique that was until later on in life.  I think Jon and I got that from my parents and we have passed it on.

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

I will name two.  First, Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” is a great story and philosophical work that reminds us that what people need most is hope.  Secondly, Carl George’s “Prepare Your Church for the Future” gave us the foundation to become a reproducing church and dream of a reproducing movement.

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

Positive

Encouraging

Hard-working

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

According to Strengthfinders my #1 strength is “Futuristic”.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I have to be careful because there are times my vision can outstretch our finances and I need people around me to make sure that we don’t commit to more than we can handle financially.

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

When you have to help someone find another place to lead or serve and they don’t see it the same way as you – that is really hard.

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

Some people have a misconception that COMMUNITY is a typical multi-site mega-church with a large facility that has lots of “bells and whistles” as the hub.  Not true.  We are a reproducing church with eleven locations in all kinds of spaces with some sites as large as 2500 in average attendance and other sites as small as 150 in attendance.

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

Do a leadership residency.  Find a church or a leader that is doing what you one day want to do (or as close as you can find) and do whatever it takes (even if you have to pay them!) to spend 6 months to a year doing a leadership residency in that place with that leader.  That kind of apprenticeship is invaluable!

What inspires you about Dave and his influence on the church?

Saturday Dream Stretch: Local Church Vision

I have enjoyed the dream series the past few Saturdays. Thank you to all those that have participated in these posts.

Today I have a fun dream stretch. I am curious what some of these dreams will be. At my church, Grace Community Church, we are seeing God do amazing things. This post was inspired a result of that activity of God.  Somehow, I believe we have only scratched the surface of all God dreams for us to do.  (I’d love our people to participate in this dream stretch, as well as other churches.) This dream is more specific than last week’s world problem dream stretch. I want to hear your dream for the local church.

Here is today’s Saturday Dream Stretch:

If money, time, or volunteers were no limitation, what would you have your church be able to do? What dream do you have for your local church?

Go ahead….DREAM BIG! I don’t believe for a second you can out dream God.  As with previous dream stretches, please comment here on the blog, rather than to me through Facebook or Twitter, so everyone can read your response.

Are there any other dreams you’d like me to consider for a Saturday post?

You can still participate in past posts with the related posts links below this one.

10 Questions With Leader Jenni Catron – Crosspoint Church

I consider Jenni Catron a friend and ministry partner. Jenni serves as the Executive Director at Crosspoint Church in Nashville.  The church’s proximity to our church helps me learn from their success.  Jenni is a hard-working, genuine leader.  I love the transparency she shares through her blog and the intentionality she brings to her ministry.  I am fully convinced that much of the success of Crosspoint is due to Jenni’s leadership.  You can follow Jenni on Twitter also.

Here are 10 questions with leader Jenni Catron:

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

I grew up attending very small rural churches so the idea of a role like the one I serve in now never even occurred to me.  I thought people who worked in church were either pastors or secretaries.  While I was very involved as a volunteer doing everything from leading worship to running the children’s ministry to speaking at youth group, it didn’t occur to me to pursue ministry vocationally.

I actually had my sights set on the music business.  I think somewhere around middle school I learned about the Christian music business and I started pursuing a career in that industry.

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?

When I was 15 I applied for my very first job at our local ice cream shop.  The owner of the store really took me under her wing and gave me huge opportunities and responsibilities.  By 16 I was named manager of the store and directly managed 3 other employees.  Little did I know the leadership and management lessons I was learning with that opportunity.  I’m incredibly grateful to Bonnie who invested in me in a huge way!

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

I’ve been privileged to work with some amazing leaders both in the music business and in my role at Cross Point, but one of the greatest leadership influences for me has been my friend Kat.  Kat and I were in our early twenties working together at ForeFront Records.  Both of us recognized our need to develop as leaders and so we started meeting every Friday for lunch to read and discuss various leadership books.  Those lunches were instrumental in helping me process my leadership strengths and weaknesses.

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

The first book that Kat and I discussed together was John C. Maxwell’s book “The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day”.  This book is still one of my favorite leadership books.

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

Driven/Focused/Responsible

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Oh man, this is a tough one.  I think my strength in leadership is in my ability to “put feet to vision”.  I’m a second chair leader.  I think I’m at my best when I’m working alongside a visionary leader and helping that person put structure and plan around the vision.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

My greatest weakness is my impatience.  My driven/focused nature causes me to move fast – oftentimes so fast that I forget to engage the people around me.  I can easily put task before people and I have to constantly evaluate how I’m doing in this area.

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

The hardest thing I have to do in leadership is self-management.  There is always another email to respond to, another task on the to do list, another conversation to have, another blog post to write, another event to plan, etc.  Giving myself permission to disconnect and rejuvenate is very difficult for me.

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

That’s a great question.  I think sometimes people assume I only care about numbers, systems, details – the business of the church.  I love ministry.  I love seeing life change.  I love knowing that by helping us steward our resources, people, facilities, etc I’m helping to create environments that allow ministry and life change to happen.

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

I would encourage young leaders to seize the moment, whatever situation you are in.  If you don’t feel like you have the leadership responsibilities that you would like, take the time to evaluate, study and learn from the leaders around you.  Take notes on every leadership situation you observe.  Someday you’ll be in the same situation.  Leadership is a journey.  Make it a point to learn every step of the way!

Thanks Jenni for your work and ministry and for sharing from your experience.

Who else should I attempt to interview?

4 “Easy” Steps To Delegating

Yesterday I posted about the principle that letting go of responsibilities, even for the control freak leader like me, actually improves the organization.  You can read that post HERE.

Obviously, when you address the principle of letting go, which could also be called delegation, it opens a huge question for those wired as completers.  The question is: HOW? How do you let go of responsibility when you are wired so heavily towards not doing so?

With that question in mind, here are 4 “Easy” Steps to Delegation:

Identify – Find something that would be better delegated, either because you aren’t as skilled as others, don’t have adequate time to commit to it, or have lost interest.

Match – Find the right person/s for the responsibility based on passion, experience, and follow through capabilities.  This can be volunteer or paid, but pick people that will do what they say they will do and that you trust, otherwise you will constantly be looking over their shoulder. (Please don’t say there is no one to trust in your organization. If that’s the case, you either need to change organizations or change the leader…just saying.)

Release – This is the “letting go” part. Few leaders really do this well.  Knowing this is the difficult part, you should read THIS POST and THIS POST and THIS POST for more on this process.  You must give up your right to control.

Follow Up – If you are the overall leader, even when you delegate you have some responsibility.  Set a reminder on your calendar to periodically follow up with the person, but stay out of their way as they complete the assignment.

I realize it’s not easy for some to let go of (delegate) responsibility.  It comes with discipline and practice.   One way to improve at this is to consider the overall purposes and goals of the organization, recognizing that they can better be attained through delegation, and allow accomplishing them to be the leader’s principal responsibility.  When the drive towards completing is aimed towards a bigger vision goal that includes delegating, letting go to achieve greater success receives more motivation.

How are you at delegating?  What tips do you have to be better at letting others take over some of your responsibility?

An Interview With Jason Roy, Building 429 & Grace Community Church

Jason Roy is the lead singer/founder of the well known, Dove Award winning Christian band Building 429. Recently Jason has a new title in addition to the lead singer role. Jason has joined us at Grace Community Church as our worship pastor. The plan is to do both. We are excited about the prospect, but this obviously raises questions in some people’s minds as to how the two will work together. Jason agreed recently to sit down and talk about his new role with me. Here is that interview:

What does “Building 429” mean?

It’s based on Ephesians 429, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

We wanted to take the word building from a noun to a verb and make it a challenge for the way we live our life so that any person that hears our music or buys our products becomes more Christ-like in everything they do and say.

Talk for a minute about your heart for Grace. What attracts you to this particular church?

Since day one, my wife and I were looking for a church where we could be a part of and raise our family when we are home. We were wanting pastors that both challenge the people, but live transparent lives in front of their people was important to us. We wanted a church that would be the hands and feet of Jesus, which we found through Operation Serve and other ministries of Grace. (Cortni, Jason’s wife was a huge part of bringing Operation Serve to the church.)

How will this relationship work? Will Building 429 continue?

Building 429 will continue. We are blessed to be in a position where we can slow down some and choose the dates we put on our calendar. I have felt strongly that from a ministry perspective there was a piece of my heart that was not fully developed on the road. That missing piece is the ability to connect and develop long-term and lasting relationships. I desire to invest in other worshipping musicians and allow to invest in me. In this type of situation, it appears that both sides of my life will compliment and help strengthen each other. I’m a worshipper at heart, but will be able to continue to write songs and lead a band when not at Grace. It’s a great partnership.

I would want people to understand that both of these are still exciting opportunities for me. I believe Building 429 still has incredible opportunities to minister to people. I know God continues to challenge me to write new songs of worship. Without a doubt God is using Grace Community Church in this community and region. I’m excited to see how God has me in the middle of such incredible work in each of these areas.

What will your role be at Grace?

I am the worship pastor, leading, guiding and directing the worship aspect of the church. I will be responsible for developing new leaders in the ministry within the church body. I will also be a team member with the rest of the amazing Grace staff.

How did this change come about in your life?

I have spent the last 2 to 3 years wondering if God was calling me to a position at the local church level, always saying internally that Grace was the perfect scenario for a home for me, never knowing if it would even work. God has opened a huge door of opportunity for me that creates opportunities for Building 429, Grace Community Church and me. I’m humbled once again at God’s plan, which are always bigger and better than I could have scripted.

Why do this now?

Another point in this whole process is that not only is my heart’s desire being fulfilled, by my family has the opportunity to be home more and stop always living on a tour bus. We finally feel that we are home…my family needed that.

What does worship mean to you?

I’m sure there is a better definition of this, but for me worship happens when you forget about yourself and recognize more about God in that moment. You can put that in the context of a worship service, where a person recognizes that I don’t care about myself or my struggles; I just care about God, or you can put that in terms of a work situation, where a person says, “None of this matters except for me bringing glory to God.” When self disappears and the image of oneself disappears and God’s purpose, design and plan becomes the most important thing, that’s worship.

When I walk onto a stage to lead in worship, it’s the one time in my life where I truly give up all my personal desires and simply desire to help people and me encounter the living God. That’s a pretty awesome opportunity.

We are excited to have Jason more often at Grace Community Church. Welcome to the team!

10 Questions With Leader Geoff Surratt (Seacoast Church)

Geoff Surratt is part of the church famous Surratt brothers of Seacoast Church. I have had to the privilege of meeting several of them and I am always impressed with their passion for ministry. I sat in a breakout at a conference where Geoff spoke last year. He’s funny, witty, and smart. His latest book, Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing, is a frank and honest book that identifies the most common mistakes pastors make. You can follow Geoff on Twitter also.

Here are 10 questions with leader Geoff Surratt:

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

I wanted to be a lawyer. They drove big cars, wore expensive suits and were paid to argue with people. It seemed like a great way to make a living. Now I drive an old car, wear old clothes and pray for people. Almost the same.

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?

In college I worked in the toy/lawn and garden/bathroom fixture department at Montgomery Wards. (The fact they Montgomery Wards thought those three departments went together might help explain why they went out of business) My job was to put together swing sets, barbeque grills and gas fireplaces while running the cash register. That job has helped me appreciate how difficult it can be to find meaning in your day to day work.

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

I’d love to say St Augustine, Ghandi and Spurgeon; but the biggest influence on my leadership has been John Maxwell. His book Developing the Leader Within opened my eyes for the first time to intentional leadership development.

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

It’s tough to narrow it down to one book because it is a continual process. How about if I give three? Honest to God by Bill Hybels, The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg and The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard.

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

Spectacular, breath-taking, humble

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

I love to peek around the corner and figure out what is next

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I find my greatest weakness is caring too much (ala Michael Scott). Actually I am not great at one-on-one mentoring. I have always adhered to the sink or swim philosophy which seems to be going out of vogue.

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

Bringing correction. I want everyone to like me and for all of us to just get along, but course correction is probably the second most important task I have as a leader. (Buying Starbucks for my team is obviously the most important task. That and encouragement. Maybe they are the same thing. Hmmm. What was the question again?)

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

Some very misguided think that I am older than our senior pastor, my brother Greg Surratt. I am much younger. (And better looking)

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

Find as many wise mentors in your life as possible. Some mentors you may never meet, but they can mentor from afar. I have mentors in leadership, spiritual growth, business, family life, personal growth. Surround yourself with wise council and you will find the right path.

Thanks Geoff for the look into your leadership life.

Are you enjoying these interviews? I’d love to hear your thoughts.