2 Things We Don’t Talk About That Leaders Desperately Need

This is a guest post by my friend Jonathan Pearson. Jonathan is the Orangeburg Campus Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church and Assistant Director of The Sticks Network. He is the co-creator of MillennialLeader.com, an online community for young leaders. His book Next Up releases today!

2 Things We Don’t Talk About That Leaders Desperately Need

One of the things we hear about everywhere right now is dieting and exercise. Turn on any info commercial or look at any magazine and you’re going to see a variety of different programs, products, and fads designed to get you “shredded” or “ripped” in just a few weeks or months.

If you’ve ever tried any of these brilliant, cure-all inventions, you’re probably like me and you’ve been left disappointed and slightly mad at yourself that you spent your hard earned money on that pill or that book or that program (again).

Several years ago a hot new weight loss pill came out that promised (at least in the commercial and the larger letters on the bottle) that it would help anyone who tried it to lose weight and look better without changing their diet or exercising. Being someone that’s always looking to try new things, I gave it a shot. Thirty days later, I gained 3 pounds because I had quit thinking any about what I was eating because I didn’t want to “change” anything.

I failed at that weight loss venture and people fail at fad diets and exercise routines because there is no short cut. Any thing worth having requires 2 things in order to get it…

Conviction and Consistency

I said it like this in my book, Next Up,

Consistency requires conviction. In order for us to do something consistently, we have to have a conviction that the end result is worth it.

The reason that many leaders fail to make the necessary changes in their lives and in their organizations isnt because they lack good ideas, but because they lack conviction and consistency. They lack the conviction that what they think needs to be done HAS to get done. Making changes in our lives and in our leadership requires that we are consistent with our actions and that consistency comes from a conviction from within.

Solid changes don’t happen from fad diets or the latest leadership book, they happen from people and leaders that are consistent in their actions and help bring about that change.

Leader, people are watching you to see if you have the conviction that the vision is worth the process. They’re watching to see if you’re consistent in your effort to make lasting change.

There’s no fad. We just have to do it the hard way. Little by little. Victory by victory.

Read more about topics like this in Jonathan’s book Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make. To find out more about the book, go to nextupbook.com. To find out more about Jonathan go to JonP.me.

Good leaders sometimes allow a little chaos and confusion to prevail: Here’s Why?

I was in a meeting recently and someone defined a leader as one who provides answers and direction to a team. 

I understood their concept. I disagreed with the application. 

In fact, I have a different theory.

Good leaders sometimes allow a little chaos and confusion to prevail…

In fact…

It can be best for everyone.

It often provides the best discoveries.

It promotes buy in.

It fuels creativity.

It fosters teamwork.

As the team wrestles together for answers great discoveries are made — about the team and the individuals on the team. 

If the leader always has everything clearly defined — is always ready with an answer — then why does he or she need a team?

The Biggest Stumbling Block in Sustaining Growth

It’s the biggest stumbling block to sustaining growth.

In my opinion.

It often happens during times of success.

You can have all the right systems, momentum and motivation — won’t matter.

You can have the best vision — still can happen.

You can surround yourself with the greatest team — just as likely to occur.

I’ve seen it far too many times.

The biggest stumbling block in sustaining growth…

Is foolish pride.

I once had a prominent pastor tell me he had survived every power struggle in the church. He looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve faced my biggest opponents. There is not one person in this church who can oppose me now.”

A few years later he was voted out of the church.

When a leader starts to think…

I’ve got this.

Look what I’ve achieved.

I’m in control.

Look at me.

Nothing can stop me now.

Watch out!

The day of destruction is drawing near. It’s just a matter of time.

Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord. (Obadiah 1:4 ESV)

Guard your heart leaders. Guard your heart.

The Four Seasons of Leadership

There are four seasons of leadership. Misunderstanding this can lead to frustration.

Four seasons:

Some plant – Some leaders sow seeds. They are used to start something new. As a church planter of two churches, we planted a lot of seeds. I love knowing those churches are still thriving, Kingdom-building churches. God allowed me to be there in the beginning, but others are leading them now.

Some water – Some leaders are used to create systems that allow progress to continue. They build healthy teams. They create good structure. They help things grow.

Some pull weeds – Some leaders identify problems and provide solutions to address them. They make the hard changes. They restructure. They clear the path to progress.

Some harvest – Some leaders get to see the fruition of the harvest. There is a skill to capitalizing on the foundation of planning and working others have invested. They celebrate well.

Granted we plant within every season. We have to in order to ensure future growth, but we must, again, in my opinion, spend considerable and concentrated energies in the middle two seasons if we hope to sustain a healthy, long-term harvest.

(In my current role, in an established, older church, I’m finding myself watering and pulling weeds as some of my primary leadership season. It’s not that we aren’t seeing a harvest — we are seeing huge growth — but the real harvest is still months away, in my opinion.)

It’s great when you get to do all of these in one season of leadership, but my experience has been we only get to enjoy one — and at most a couple — at one time. Sometimes they run concurrently, back-to-back to each other, but it’s rare — and difficult — to lead all four at one time.

Don’t be afraid of your season. All our necessary.

What season are you currently in these days?

Four Reasons the Great Commission Becomes the Great Omission in a Church

This is a Guest Post by Thom S. Rainer. Dr. Rainer is president of Lifeway Christian Resources. His blog is fast becoming a “go to” resource for church leaders. I respect him as a leader, pastor, father and fellow introverted friend.

Four Reasons the Great Commission Becomes the Great Omission in a Church

In my latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, I highlight several symptoms that can lead to the death of a church. These symptoms can become sicknesses themselves, sicknesses that lead to death. Some churches begin with a great heart and a great effort toward the Great Commission. But the methods used become the focus rather than the Great Commission itself. As a consequence, the Great Commission becomes the great omission.

There are a number of New Testament passages where Jesus sends out His followers. The text that is used most often to refer to the Great Commission is Matthew 28:19–20: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The imperative in those verses is “go.” But as we go, there are several sub-commands. We are to make disciples. We are to baptize. We are to teach.

Those are a lot of action words.

But the deceased church, somewhere in its history, forgot to act upon the Great Commission. So they stopped going. And making disciples. And baptizing them. And teaching them.

It stopped depending on Christ. Why? Here are four common reasons.

1. “Going” in Christ’s power requires effort. Certainly the results are dependent upon Him, but obedience is work. And obedience in His power means that we are praying to Jesus so we can reach others. That requires an “others” focus. That requires us to look beyond ourselves. That requires us to get uncomfortable. That requires us to go. The deceased churches simply gave up on going.

2. Obedience to the Great Commission faded. It usually faded gradually. It’s not like one day the church was sending out dozens of members in the community and it suddenly stopped. Instead the decline in the outward focus was gradual, almost imperceptibly gradual.

3. The church had “Great Commission amnesia.” That really may be too kind. Perhaps that description implies that the members were not at fault, that they no longer had the ability to recall or know what they were supposed to do. But they really knew better. They just used amnesia as an excuse.

4. Most of these dying churches had “Great Commission disobedience.” They chose not to remember what to do. They chose their own comfort over reaching others with the gospel. That is why the autopsy results concluded that the Great Commission became the great omission.

I am an obnoxious optimist about churches in America. I know many are struggling. Indeed, some are dying; about ten churches in the United States die every day. But I still remain an optimist because I see God’s work in so many congregations across our nation.

The essence of a “great omission” church is that the congregation has lost its passion to reach people. Typically, the efforts of those churches are pointed toward taking care of the members’ preferences. When the preferences of church members are greater than their passion for the gospel, the church is dying.

Churches can reverse the painful decline toward death. They can avoid becoming another casualty subject to an autopsy. Indeed, church members can decide to stop asking how the church can meet their own preferences, but ask how they might serve Jesus no matter what the cost.

Then the church is no longer a great omission church. She is then a Great Commission church.

One Simple, But HUGE Way to Better Empower a Team

Leader, let me share one of the best things you can do to better empower your team.

And, in full disclosure, I’m the worst at this, but it’s something I’m striving to do better.

You want to fully empower your team?

Here’s what you do:

Release them from responsibility.

Whenever you can…

Often as leaders we handle a lot of information. Sometimes we do that with our team. Sometimes we dispense a lot of new ideas. If we are growing and learning personally, the team is often where we process our thoughts.

If it’s not their responsibility — let them know it’s not.

It sounds simple — but it’s huge.

You see, the team is always wondering.

What is the leader thinking here — as it relates to me?

What do you want me to do with that new idea?

How do you want me to help?

What’s my role going to be in this?

Are you going to hold me accountable for this?

Do you expect something from me here?

As leaders, we often process and present a lot of ideas, but sometimes we are just “thinking.” Sometimes we aren’t assigning anything — we are just exploring.

The more we can release the people trying to follow us the more they can focus on things for which they are being held accountable. And, the more willing they will be to process new ideas with us.

Just tell them what you expect — or don’t expect. Say the words, “You are not responsible for this.” “I don’t expect anything from you on this.” “This is just for information.” And, mean it.

Sounds simple. It’s huge.