A Reality Observation for Pastors and Leaders

Good Job

Here’s a reality pastors and leaders need to know:

The longer you do what you do well…the less praise you’ll receive for it.

Everyone loves to praise the new guy…the guest appearance…the surprise home run.

Once you do exceptional for very long…it’s the new norm.

It’s expected…

You’ll hear less approval.

It’s not necessarily that you aren’t doing a good job anymore. You’ve just set a new bar of expectation.

Congratulations.

Still, this post also serves as a warning of sorts.

The new norm…the quietness…can make you think you’re no longer appreciated. If you’re not careful, you’ll begin to doubt your abilities or the success you are having.

Those emotions…the reactions…are normal, even if they aren’t true.

I’m not ignoring times when you aren’t doing your best. Don’t be an unaware leader.

I’m not trying to convince you not to be normal. That would be abnormal of me.

I am encouraging you to seek your affirmation beyond the verbal praise of man.

I am saying that if you live for the praise of others, you’ll eventually be controlled by that praise (or lack thereof).

And I am suggesting you may be doing everything right, but seldom hear the good that you’re doing.

That’s part of leadership. And, the leader who can lead just as passionately towards a noble goal, without the praise of man, even when criticism seems more dominant, is on track of success.

Have you ever been in a “normal” season of producing good work, but not feeling valued for it?

4 Suggestions for Developing Trust as a Leader

Elegant leader

Trust is like gold in leadership. Without it a leader will fail to build a healthy following. Developing trust takes time. It is seldom granted with position alone. Most people have been injured in relationships that keeps them from trusting blindly. But, developing trust is critical for leaders to pursue and maintain.

In full disclosure, I’m 7 months into a new leadership position as this post is written. I recognize that with many in the church I pastor I’m still developing levels of trust.

How does a leader develop trust?

Here are four suggestions:

A Compassion for others that is personal and goes beyond what they bring to the team.

A Competence in a subject matter, or a willingness to yield to those who know more than the leader knows about a subject.

A Consistent approach or methodology, as well as consistency in character, that can be depended on through good and bad times.

A clear and frequent Communication process that shares in transparency and full disclosure.

Those are some of my suggestions.

What can you offer?

How a Mentor Will Change Your Life

This is a guest post by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a writer and pastor from Oregon. He is the author of several books, including a book on mentoring and Why Holiness Matters (Moody), which is on sale for FREE this week only (ebook version). You can find Tyler on Twitter or his blog, www.manofdepravity.com.

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How a Mentor Will Change Your Life

We all want to achieve some level of greatness or significance with our lives. What we often underestimate is that this only comes through our engagement with others, not in isolation. We all need people behind us that continue to push us forward.

Only when you understand who you are, will you start living into how you were made to engage in your current context. I believe we were each made with an intense longing to have other people speaking into our lives. A mentor will help you discover who we are in a way you would not know in leading an isolated life.

There is no life-change without life-exchange.

For over a four year period I waited for an older and wiser man to mentor me. I assumed that if I waited long enough this person would give me a call and make my life better. The call never came despite desire and my frustration continued to grow.

Eventually I worked up enough courage to flip the script and asked someone who I thought would challenge me to be a better person. And sure enough, the time I spent with him changed my life.

Looking back I see the specific ways interactions with a mentor facilitated change within me.

Clarity Within Community

A lot of people have clarity of vision for their life, but they lack the relational engagement needed to see the full extent of the vision.

A mentor provides added perspective. You have blind spots—areas in life that you struggle to navigate well.

Personal clarity without the input of others often leads down treacherous paths.

A Nudge

Your life needs fresh eyes to lend perspective on where you are going astray. A mentor is not a babysitter or a parent, but they can shed light on areas of concern. A mentor—having navigated life further down the road—can give you the nudge needed to keep you walking the right direction.

The culture at large teaches that you should surround yourself with people who give positive vibes, but what you likely need is someone who is willing to give you the honest truth when you would rather ignore it.

Hikes Not Maps

I’m stubborn enough that I typically look for someone who will provide me with enough information for me to continue on my way. These information givers are like shopkeepers who provide maps.

The problem is what I need is a trail guide who can walk the paths rather than just providing a map.

You need a trail guide, not a shopkeeper. On a lonely trail, you need a hiking partner, not a map.

Plenty of people can give you the information you need to take the next step but a mentor will walk alongside you throughout the journey.

A Character Driven Life

In my weaker moments I’m often drawn to make decisions when my emotions are at their peak. Instead of taking the time to process through it all, the knee-jerk reaction seems to come naturally.

A mentor helps you sift through the emotions to make character based decisions. What are the principles and values that under gird your life? Those should drive your decisions.

At one point 6 months ago I was about to make an emotionally-driven, irrational decision because I sensed a need to make a drastic change in my life. My mentor helped me see how that decision directly contradicted a few things I believed to be true about myself.

A character-based life allows for short-term wins to translate into long-term sustainability.

Wings to Launch

The Millennial Generation has been described as “failing to launch.” The reasons for this are many and highly debated, but it doesn’t remove the truth that many people feel relegated to their current state—flightless with no wings to see beyond it.

This is right where a mentor can step in and help you navigate how you have been gifted and how those gifts can launch you toward the life you’ve been created to live.

Take the step. Make the ask. Get a mentor. It will change your life.

In what ways has a mentor changed your life?

Catch Phrases Heard On the Way to the Finish Line

running alone

I am a runner. I mostly run just for my personal health and pleasure, but I’ve run in quite a few races. I’ve even run a marathon and numerous half marathons. I’ve learned, however, that distance is relative. If a 5K is your milestone, that’s a long race. I have a friend who runs the 100 mile races. Crazy.

One thing I’ve learned, however, is that, if you’re pushing yourself, at some point along the race, you’ll struggle. It will go from being “fun” to being a challenge. I’ve also discovered that without those stretching moments, there wouldn’t be near as much thrill of crossing the finish line.

Here’s something else I’ve observed. There’s a common language among those struggling the most.

Run any distance race and you’ll hear the frustration out loud.

I’ve heard things like:

  • I can’t do this.
  • This is harder than I thought.
  • I’m not a runner.
  • Why did I sign up for this?
  • This is crazy.
  • I’m never doing another one of these.
  • I’m in pain.

But, I’ve never met a runner, who crossed the finish line, who didn’t receive the thrill of victory…even if it was only after they threw up in the trashcan nearby.

The completion of a dream…a goal…a challenge…feels great after the finish line.

Are you ready to give up the dream?

Don’t quit too soon. You don’t want to miss what’s next!

8 Words of Encouragement for the Young Ministry Leader

Elegant leader

Here are 8 words of encouragement for the young leader:

Become an early risk taker – It’s seems more difficult the older we get to take bold moves. I hope I keep doing so. I look at Moses and Abraham as examples, but I know the meaning of “comfort zone” now more than ever.

Don’t concentrate so much on the next level of achievement that you miss the lessons of today or never experience joy in the journey. God is doing something now. Today. Even as you wait for the next great thing.

Manage your time wisely. It passes quickly and you don’t want to regret too many missed opportunities. Grace is amazing, but there are moments in life that you only have access to once.

We need innovation in leadership. Take us places you see in your dreams, that God is calling you to, but we can’t seem to find our way there. It will be hard, there will be resistance, but that’s a value in youth and leadership.

Don’t allow the negative words to crowd out the positives. I blogged about that HERE. Concentrate more on what God is calling you to do than the naysayer’s personal agendas. You’ll struggle with this all your ministry, so the sooner you discipline yourself the better.

Live in the stored up praise. You’ll seldom know the good you are doing. Keep going even when the cheering crowds are silent. Find your affirmation in God and His truth spoken to you that caused you to surrender your life plans to Him.

Spend as much time on personal development as trying to develop others. Read THIS POST for an explanation, but basically you will need all the strength you can muster to lead well. Stand strong.

Never believe you’ve finally “arrived”. As soon as you do…you’re living in dangerousness territory. You will always need people to speak into your life. Be wise about whom you listen to, but always be teachable.

By the way, that wisdom is still just as true for my stage of life, but somehow I feel if we can catch leaders early they may avoid some of the mistakes I have made.

What words of wisdom do you have for the younger pastor or Christian leader?

Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me

Artie Davis is a great friend. I honestly can say I love the guy. He’s the “real deal”. It’s hard to find a true friend as a pastor. Artie’s that kind of friend…to many pastors. Artie’s book, Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases this week. I’ve been a fan of this concept since I first heard about it. I can’t wait for you to read the book.

Here’s an interview with Artie about the book:

QUESTION: Tell us a little about yourself, Artie.

ANSWER: Well, I’m a guy from Orangeburg SC. I planted a church here about 20 years ago. It’s a very diverse and often racially divided town. I saw that and had a heart to change it. God’s been good to us. We have 4 campuses that are extremely diverse and multi-ethnic. A Sunday morning at our church is a lot like heaven. All backgrounds are there worshipping together.

About 4 years ago, I became the director of TheSticks.tv. Since Orangeburg isn’t a large city, my heart is for small town pastors. The Sticks is about encouraging those leaders to lead big even though their in small towns.

All of that is kinda where Craveable came from. We have a problem in Christianity… other people outside of it want no part of it. We’ve got to fix that. Being crave able is something that extends past culture, context, race, size, or background. Jesus was the most crave able person ever to those outside of the kingdom. We have to be the same way. We’ve really dropped the ball.

QUESTION: I’ve heard to craving food, but what does that have to do with Jesus and the church? What is Craveable about?

ANSWER: Craveable is about living in such a way that people want what you want. If you google “why are christians so…” in your search bar, you get a variety of answers. None of them are positive. I don’t see that when I read the Gospels. People wanted to be around Jesus. People would walk for days. People would break rules and bust through roofs to get to him. We’ve lost that. People need to crave what we have.

QUESTION: In the book, you talk about perception. Can you talk more about that?

ANSWER: Sure, perception is a combination of what we see, hear, and experience. People form a perception of us based on those things. Now, it’s easy for us to dismiss it when someone gathers what we think is a wrong perception… Christians have done that too long with the “I don’t care what they think as long as I think I’m right” mentality. The truth is, we have to own that. If we’re giving people far from God the wrong perception, we have to change what they are seeing, hearing, or experiencing. I talk about how we can do that in the book. I think it’s such an important and simple principle.

QUESTION: Where can we get the book and find you?

ANSWER: The book is at your favorite bookstore and Amazon. You can go to craveable.com to read more about the book and places to find it. Me, I’m @ArtieDavis on twitter and blog at artiedavis.com

Artie’s new book called Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases February 5, 2013. Find out more at Craveable.com and on twitter @CraveableChurch

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Farmer Super Bowl Commercial: Reflections

I couldn’t get past the “Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl. My grandfather on my mother’s side lived in Kansas. He died when I was young, but I’ve always lived somewhat in his shadow…he was a hero of mine. Everything I knew about him was captured in that commercial. If you missed it, or want to see it again, watch it now.

A good friend…and a great leader…Jason Cummins sent me his thoughts on the commercial.

Here is a guest post from Jason reflecting on the commercial:

The Super Bowl was last night, and as always, my wife and I looked forward to the commercials. However, I’m not one to go online and view them ahead of time. I feel the precise broadcast time establishes context, and thus is an important part of the overall experience.

As we entered the second half, I was a bit disappointed. No croaking frogs, dive-bombing pigeons, or office linebacker sightings. Rather, Madison Avenue seemed content to reflect our culture’s status quo…a preference for short-term gratification over long-term reward.

Then entered what will be referred to today as simply, “The Farmer” commercial. Narrated by one of my all-time favorites, Paul Harvey, the ad immediately transported me back to my childhood, riding on the bench seat of the family roadster or huddled around the single, family radio in my grandparents’ house.

But it wasn’t merely the voice that made the commercial so powerful. Rather, it was the verbal content and the accompanying deep, pictorial images. Americans respect farmers, and the farmer was extolled for his virtuous characteristics. As I rewatched the commercial this morning, I pulled the five following traits from the rich narrative. These resonate with our souls, for deep down, we respect them, desire them, and want to be led by those who embody them:

1. Disciplined work ethic. He is willing to get up before dawn, work all day, finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon, and then work another 72 hours. He isn’t afraid of hard work. He is hard work.

2. Selfless. He attends school board meetings, applies first aid, and willingly attends to the needs of others before himself.

3. Competent. He can shape an axe handle, shoe a horse, or make a harness out of scrap. He knows his trade and confidently, yet humbly, goes about doing his work.

4. Compassion. He sits up with an ailing colt and splints the leg of a meadowlark. He heart is attune to his surroundings, and he is willing to do something about it.

5. Character. He plows deep and straight and will not cut corners. He will choose the harder right over the easier wrong. He works for good.

And then the commercial concludes with, “To the farmer in all of us.” Much like a good class, the ad not only made us think, but it also made us feel. And in the process, it reminded us of important characteristics we should all aspire to emulate. May each of us live a little more like a FARMER today.

Who do you think of when you watch that commercial?

7 Ideas that May Help You Attain more Success

Road to success

You want to achieve more, but for some reason you can never seem to reach your goals.

Is that your story? I hear it often. You’re in good company.

Here are 7 ideas that will help you attain more success:

Clear vision – Where are you leading your life? Many times you don’t get there because you never really decide where you want to eventually be. It’s hard to hit an undefined target.

Discipline – Are you putting in the needed effort? Those who wait for luck to kick in or hope for the easy way to victory, seldom discover what they’re looking for in life.

Embracing other’s help – Do you know you can’t do it all alone? The most successful people do.

Letting go of past hurts – Offering forgiveness frees you from needless bitterness and anger that slows you down and keeps you from being completely emotionally healthy.

Trusting more than you doubt – You can pray or you can worry. You can’t do both equally well. The more you worry, the less likely you are to take a risk. And, you can’t achieve the thrill of victory without a lot of risk.

Becoming an even more generous person – Your level of generosity demonstrates your level of contentment. Generous people naturally feel more successful.

Loving principles and progress more than policies or procedures – Structure is needed and good, but the best structure advances progress not curtails it.

Which of these do you need to consider in order to help you attain more success?

The Leadership Crisis of Belief

Stressed-man

The leadership crisis of belief.

Every leader faces that point…will this work?

Can I do it? Will they follow? Should I give up? Should I keep going?

The crisis of belief period is real. It’s normal. It’s part of leadership.

In every new venture.

With every bold move.

With every meaningful change.

With every act of faith.

With every major change.

With every new risk.

You will question yourself. You will question your team. You will question the idea, the resources, the outcome.

If it’s a move worth pursuing, you’ll face the crisis of belief. Sometime.

Are you there now?

What you do next will likely determine the outcome!

Praying for you.

You can do it!