In The Darkest Days…Get Alone

pd_darkness_071029_msThis is a re-post of one of my Mustard Seed Ministry devotionals. Perhaps you need this encouragement today.

Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” 2 Kings 4:4 NIV

Elisha told the widow and her family to be alone. Sometimes, especially during the darkest days of life, we just need to be alone…with our God! Are you in one of those times today?

It is great to have Christian friends. They are one of the great highlights of my Christian walk. I love to go to church to fellowship with other believers. If I have a problem, I want to be able to seek the counsel of others. I think God has certainly given us the ministry of encouragement to each other.

I should tell you, however, that there are some times in life when the only One you need is Jesus! There will be times when you need to excuse yourself from the crowd, close the door behind you, and be alone with your Creator!

It is those quiet moments with the Father, which will become the source of our hope and strength. It is those times, which God will use to refresh us for life. It is then that we can “Be still and know that He is God”.

Do not try to go at your problems on your own! And, as great as they are, do not rely on friends exclusively to bear your burdens. In the darkest days, get alone with God, pour your heart out to Him, and let Him fill your cup to overflowing again.

3 Steps To Get Started Delegating

One absolute necessity for effectively leading a growing environment is the art of delegation. The leader who fails to delegate will inhibit growth of the organization and stifle leadership development of the team.

Delegation is something to be learned and practiced. To get you started, here are 3 tips to delegating effectively:

Give Away – You have to start somewhere. Find a project or task you would normally do and give it away to someone. Of course you want to trust the person, but one of the main excuses for not delegating is an issue of control. If you want to be an effective delegator you eventually have to trust someone else to complete a task.

Be purposeful – There are lots of good reasons to delegate. Having a purpose will help you wrap your arms around the process of delegating. A few reasons I delegate:

  • It clears my desk and allows me to focus on other tasks
  • To give other opportunities and develop his or her leadership
  • It enhances teamwork
  • To improve efficiency – Some people can do parts of my job better than I can

Let go – Never give responsibility without authority. Check back with those you have delegated to, but don’t micro-manage their efforts.

I encourage you to repeat the process often. It will make you a better leader, your team a better team and your organization a better organization.

How are you at delegating? What do you need to delegate today?

3 Part Strategy For Spiritual Growth

theGbwDiscipleship is the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ. It is the goal of every believer and producing disciples is the command Jesus gave the church. It is also the vision of Grace Community Church.

Sometimes knowing the next step to take is the hardest. At Grace we have tried to simplify the process for you. We have three-part strategy designed to encourage spiritual growth and maturity.

Gather – The goal is to become a regular attendee of the weekly Sunday gathering. It is difficult to take greater steps until a person begins a committed attendance pattern. In addition to providing a worship experience and teaching opportunity, the gathering is designed to be encouraging, engaging, and to produce interest in pursuing the next steps.

Commit – Entering the commit stage of the strategy means a person takes a next step of joining a community group and commits to weekly Bible study and fellowship with other people on the same journey of discovering more about God and faith. Individuals of all levels of spiritual maturity are welcome into group life, but it is essential if a person wants to continue to grow in their understanding and beliefs. Additionally, because of the emphasis placed on community through groups, people who attend Grace will miss out on giving and receiving ministry opportunity if they are not a part of a group.

Serve – The final stage of the strategy, and perhaps the most important, is when a person moves from soaking in grace and truth and begins to invest love into other people. This can be through volunteering at Grace or in the community, but there is something life changing about giving to others that helps a person to mature spiritually.

Ultimately the goal of the believer should be to become a disciple, a follower of Christ. When one truly sets his or her focus on being like Christ he or she will become a “self-feeder” and seek after the deeper truths of the faith, more intimacy with Christ, greater fellowship with other believers and a more intense love for others. This really occurs when a person’s heart’s desire is to follow Christ completely and that is when the best spiritual growth can occur.  We believe following this strategy of Gather/Commit/Serve is the best we can offer to help a person become a disciple.

What next step do you need to take?

The Negative Side of My Command Strength

I am becoming a student of Strengths Finder.  This personality reviewer gives a person insight into his or her “signature themes” of strengths or behaviors that help drive a person.  Over the next few days I will share my individual themes in an afternoon post.  Hopefully this will give insight into some of what makes me the way I am and even a clue as to why I may blog about what I blog about.

Before I start to share, however, I need to share that I am also learning there are weaknesses that accompany each of the strengths. For example, one of my strengths is Command.  You will read more about it soon, but basically it is a strength, which leads me to take charge.  I want progress and I am wired to push for it if no one else does.  At times this can cause problems for those around me.

Take for example, if I get to a four-way stop the same time as another car.  If the other car hesitates even for a second I am gone.  It is not that I mind waiting for the other car or that I mind the other car waiting for me, but I just don’t want the other car waiting for me as I wait for the other car as the other car waits for me…  In other words, I want forward progress!  Let’s go!  Sometimes this trait causes Cheryl to think I am impatient or unkind if she is in the seat next to me.

When I am part of an organization that “strength” shows up as well.  If those around me are not leading, get out of the way and I will. I am perfectly fine if another person wants to lead, in fact I strongly encourage people to do something, take a risk, dream a dream, plan big.  I will even be okay if your way is different from mine (at times), but my main concern is that the ball is rolling in some direction.

Unfortunately, this trait can at times be overwhelming, annoying, and even seem uncaring.  I am realizing that more each day.  My thought process now is to figure out how to allow this strength to work for the good of the organization and not allow it to disrupt team spirit, harmony, or morale.  I am trying to take COMMAND of my strengths!

Let’s go!

I Hate Job Titles

I am not a big fan of job titles.  We have had some staff additions and changes in the last couple of months and one of the most frequent questions has been “What’s their new title?”  Frankly I do not care!  I am fine with people picking their own title and would rather spend my time concentrating on the work we need to get done.

I suppose my dislike of titles has to do with one of my philosophies of work.  I think when an organization has a vision, operates as a team, and strategically sets out to accomplish it, that everyone’s job on the team is to see that the vision is accomplished, regardless of a person’s title.

Titles to me are too specific. They seem to indicate a defined area of focus.  I realize some people need that for clarity and I understand the need for specialization around an area of work or skill sets, but I prefer a job description to a title.  I like for a person to understand the goals and objectives for the position, and even more than that, the overall vision of the organization and for them to realize how they are a key part of the organization’s success. That is hard to capture in a specific job title.  Job titles tend to lead to the phrase and thought, “That’s not my job.”

I realize job titles are cultural, so we will keep using them, but I do not have to like something just because everyone else is doing it.  I almost wish we could start calling everyone “Team Player” and if they need a big title to feel good or to dress up a business card, maybe we could title them “Director of What’s Required”.

Do you like job titles?  Does your title truly capture the entire role you play in your organization?

This Fall At Grace Community Church

This week in a message called “Hot Seat” we unveiled some of the vision for Grace Community Church this fall. In this message we introduce new staff members and new assignments. Keep up with what Grace is doing next here… You can watch the first 10 minutes without logging in and then Truthcasting forces you to log in. I hope you will take the effort to watch an interview about what God is doing at Grace.

Never Miss An Opportunity Again

I love being able to respond to opportunities as they present themselves. I am not talking about possibilities. I am referring to legitimate opportunities, things that the organization should and wants to take advantage of when they come available. (Read HERE for a post explaining the difference in possibilities and opportunities.)

The problem for many organizations is that they are not structured in a way that allows them to react quick enough to take advantage of opportunities, before the opportunity window passes.

My advice: Be prepared so you can make quick decisions.

Here are 6 tips to be better prepared for the next great opportunity:

Have margin in the budget for emergency funding, as well as expanse funding. At Grace Community Church we have always operated extremely conservative. Even when cash flow was tight we were never spending all of our resources. We waited to do some things we may have wanted to do so we would have margin for opportunities as they arose.

Network. Some of the best opportunities come quickly and are known to few people before they are gone. Stay connected to others in your particular industry to know when a sweet deal comes available.

Stay current with culture and trends. Many organizations are reactive rather than proactive. Great organizations know the people and society around them and can respond as changes occur.

Have systems and structures in place that welcomes innovation. For example, organizations that have a healthy team environment can more easily shift workloads to accommodate new responsibilities.

Make change a part of the organization’s culture. Resistance is less likely when change is something people are accustomed to experiencing.

Be willing to move by faith. There are times when an organization has to take a risk or it will miss out on the opportunity.

How is your organization taking advantage of opportunities as they come available?

Pre-Planning Your Week For Efficiency

Here’s a quick encouragement to help you have a great week.

Spend the first 30 minutes of your workweek pre-planning for the week.   Follow these steps:

Set goals for the week. – What do you need to and want to accomplish by the week’s end?  Be realistic, but make sure you include some stretch goals.

List the major tasks required to accomplish your goals – Break down each objective into the activities you will need to do to complete them.

Allot time for each activity – Again, be realistic, but determine that you are going to work diligently to meet your goals.

Schedule your week – Calendar each of the activities throughout the week. Be sure and allow for downtime, reflection, prayer and devotion time.  Those times keep you grounded and fresh.  If your schedule fills up before you finish you are probably either planning to do too much or allotting too much time for each activity.

With this pre-planning period you will be better able to enjoy your week with less stress, more productivity, and a better attitude at the end of the week.

Let me know how this works for you.

Spiritual Growth and Maturity Survey

As a part of my Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University I am to conduct a qualitative research project.  I wrote about the master’s program in yesterday’s post.  Read it HERE.  I decided to survey the spiritual health of our church by asking a cross-section of people questions about their own spiritual maturity and growth.

Specifically this research will attempt to measure:

  • What contributes to a person’s spiritual growth most?
  • What has caused or will cause them to want to take next steps in their spiritual growth?

I am asking people to answer the following questions:

  1. What do you believe is spiritual growth?
  2. Do you feel you are growing spiritually now?  Why?
  3. What has caused your life to improve spiritually in the past?  Were there key events/people/times?  Can you explain?
  4. How has Grace Community Church influenced your spiritual growth since you began attending?
  5. What would help you grow more spiritually mature?
  6. What changes do you need to make to grow more spiritually?
  7. Are there any comments or thoughts you have about the church and what we are doing to spur people to “become growing followers of Jesus Christ”?

I am getting great responses so far.  I will share some of my results in future posts.

Feel free to play along.   How would you answer these questions?

Master’s In Organizational Leadership (WHY?)

81logoI have been asked consistently for the past year why I would subject myself to the discipline of obtaining a second master’s degree.  I have a seminary master’s in counseling, but last year I began work on a master’s in organizational leadership from Eastern University in Philadelphia.  I should finish this degree in early 2010.

The answer is fairly simple.  I am an idiot who loves to torture myself.

Actually, the truth is that I felt the need for more education in a field that I practice most.  As a pastor and church planter I need seminary training.  Honestly though, I went to seminary later in life also and much of what I learned about the Bible I had studied previously as a layperson.  I have been a student of the Bible since I was in my early twenties.  What I have found the need for most in my leadership role in the church is insight on leading an organization.  The more we have grown the more I have sensed the need to grow personally.

So far in my studies we have looked at organizational leadership, strategic planning, organizational efficiency, human resources, strategic thinking and change management and financial management.  All of these are vital to what I do at Grace Community Church and the training has been directly transferable to my work.

There are a few other reasons I am pursuing this degree.

  • Our church has grown faster than my ability to keep up with it at times.  I recently wrote about leadership capacity and, as with many posts, this one had personal implications.
  • I want to make the organization of the church better.  One of the reasons I blog is to help others grow in their leadership with principles I have learned in business, church and through my education.
  • I am a Kingdom-builder. When God called me into ministry, He called me for who I am.  I am not a sit still, detailed, or single-minded person.  I think big!
  • I never want to stop learning.  Ever!

It has been a fun, but stretching and expensive venture for Cheryl and me, but I am thankful God has given me the opportunity.  I am also thankful to Cheryl for allowing me the time and to spend our money to do this.  As an added benefit, I have learned to love Philly cheesesteak.  I even have a favorite.

How are you learning and keeping up these days?