7 “BE’s” of Effective Leadership and Management

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One of the chief goals of this blog is to encourage better leadership. In this post, I’m including the term management. I believe the two are different functions, but both are vital to a healthy organization. Whether you lead or manage a large or small organization — or church — there are principles for being effective.

Here are 7:

Be aware – Know your team. People are individuals. They have unique expectations and they require different things from leadership. Some require more attention and some less. Use personality profiles or just get to know them over time, but learn the people you are supposed to be leading or managing.

Be open – Let them know you — as a person outside of the role as leader or manager. Be transparent enough that they can learn to trust you.

Be responsive – Don’t leave people waiting too long for a response. They’ll make up their own if you do — and it’s usually not the conclusion you want them to reach.

Be approachable – You can’t be everything to everyone, and you may not always be available, but for the people you are called to lead or manage, you need to be approachable. They need to know if there is a problem — or a concern — you will be receptive to hearing from them. I realize the larger the organization the more difficult this becomes, but build systems that allow you to hear from people at every level within the organization.

Be consistent – Over time, the team you lead or manage needs to know you are going to be dependable. The world is changing fast. It’s hard to know who to trust these days. We certainly need to be able to trust people we are supposed to follow.

Be trustworthy – Follow through on what you say you will do. If you make a promise — keep it. If you can’t support something — say it. If you’re not going to do it — say no. Let your word be your bond. Spend time building and protecting your character. Be the quality of person you would want to follow.

Be appreciative – Recognize you can’t do it alone. Be grateful. Be rewarding. Celebrate. Love others genuinely and display it well.

What would you add? Upon which of these do you most need to improve?

My Thoughts on Bob Coy’s Resignation — And the Epidemic of Moral Failure in the Church

I was devastated — heart sick — this morning to open my Facebook and the top story shared by a couple ministry friends was the resignation of pastor Bob Coy due to moral failure. Coy founded and led Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States, attracting some 20,000 people every week. In addition, Coy shared on a radio teaching program heard worldwide.

I heard of another pastor within the last couple weeks closer to home. I have personally dealt with nearly a dozen churches in the past couple years who lost a pastor due to a moral issue. One of the leaders in our denomination used the word “epidemic” recently to describe the number of pastors who are leaving the ministry because of moral failures.

I debated actually posting anything about this, however, having dealt with this issue so many times, and knowing there would be a flurry of news reports about this resignation, I decided to add a perspective to hopefully help steer some of the thoughts and discussions. Most of my readers are from the church — the body of Christ. This is intended as family talk. I believe there are things we can learn from times like this — as tragic as they appear to us.

My thoughts:

It does not negate Bob Coy’s teaching. No doubt now there was sin in Bob’s life. And, obviously, this sin was occurring while he was teaching. But, that doesn’t mean his teaching wasn’t true. Frankly, I love his teaching. My first church was an hour from where I lived. I was there for a one year commitment and I listened to Bob Coy every Sunday driving to that church. His teaching helped me be a better teacher. I’m certain his influence still impacts me today in a positive way. Many times I hear people wondering what it means from all the things they learned under a pastor who falls. There are thousands who have been positively shaped by the teaching of Bob Coy. If the person was teaching truth, God’s Spirit is the ultimate teacher and that doesn’t change with yesterday’s resignation.

The enemy gets a new “attaboy” for his efforts. Satan loves to attack the good ones. Others will now say, “See, pastors are no different from us.” And, we are not, but the enemy will attempt to use this to draw people away from their faith in Christ.

Bob Coy can be restored. Fully. It will depend on his repentance, humility, willingness to be completely transparent to those who need to know, and his acceptance of the grace of God. But, he can be restored. God used Moses, David, Noah, Jacob and so many others as Biblical examples of how He can use what is sinful for eventual good.

Every pastor is susceptible. Stand guard. If we ever believe we are above temptation we have opened the door for the enemies prowl to be effective. Most of the time it begins subtly. No one wakes up in a single day and thinks about destroying their personal life. It happens gradually over time. The time to build our systems of accountability, support and protection is always now.

Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is still a great church. From what I read they are handling this as well as could be expected. My prayer is that few would leave and the church would see a renewal during this time. Many times, as in our personal life, with proper leadership, a church can grow stronger during a trial.

We don’t need to know any more. We now know enough. It’s bad. We need to avoid our natural tendencies to want to know more about the situation than what the church and the Coy family chooses to release. And, hopefully that will be minimal. More information only stirs more false information and broadens the damage. People often criticize a church for “not extending grace” to the fallen pastor, but many times the grace is extended — to the person, family, and everyone involved — in not sharing all the details.

Christ and His church will survive. The gates of Hell shall not prevail. Jesus promised this.

I’m so burdened by this news. I have a heart for the hurting pastor. For several years I’ve owned the domain name hurtingpastors.org. I recently acquired ministrytransition.com Right now they point to my blog, but my hope has been to launch a ministry aimed at helping fallen, burdened, or misplaced ministers. We are losing too many men and women who once sensed a call of God on their life, but have, for whatever reason, left their current position. The Kingdom is left void of the ideas, passion and work of someone God intended to use for His glory. As my friend said, it’s epidemic.

This is a good time to pause, pray for Bob Coy and his family, for Calvary Chapel, and for your pastor and church.

The Delivery Truck Principle of Leadership

Delivery Truck

When I was in business, I once owned of a small manufacturing company. Most of my time was spent in an office or on the road somewhere, but when I had time I loved to hang out in the factory, especially when delivery trucks dropped off merchandise. For me it meant that we were receiving materials, we could make something, and then — eventually — we could bill someone.

Of course, collecting from the bill was another story, but anyone who has ever owned a business and had to make a payroll knows how exciting it is to develop cash flow.

As much as I loved the opportunity, the truck’s delivery was always bittersweet though.

We could now build a product…

But we also had to pay for the materials…

Sometimes (okay…truthfully all the time) that would stretch our cash flow until we could ship a product, send a bill, and collect some cash.

It was through watching that process a leadership principle came to me.

Delivery Truck Principle of Leadership.

This principle points to a tension which exists in all leadership decisions. The return on investment for any opportunity doesn’t come until after the investment has been made. Sometimes that’s a long time following the initial investment.

We see that in many areas of our life. Some examples from society that come to mind:

  • New people come to a church and participate in programs, but they don’t immediately start contributing.
  • New houses are built in a community but it takes years to recover money invested in the roads, schools and emergency services to add them.
  • Hiring new employees may eliminate some stress, but it may be months before they understand the culture and their role and are able to contribute.
  • Gaining new clients for a business takes upfront marketing money, but becoming a loyal customer may take months or years — if ever.
  • Developing a new program at your church may reach more people, but may pull resources from other programs.

You could add many more examples to this random list.

The principle I’m making is simple…

With every opportunity comes a cost.

The leader must discern when the cost exceeds the return, stretches the organization beyond its current capacity, or the opportunity’s costs simply aren’t received well within the organization.

Many leaders only see the potential in the opportunity, but fail to consider the costs associated. When a wonderful-sounding idea is thrown out in a creative meeting, I can get excited with everyone, but I’m also reminded that someone will have to develop a plan and do the work.

There have been so many opportunities or ideas I have left behind because I didn’t sense our team was willing or able to assume the costs associated. (There is also a cost associated with not taking an opportunity, but I spend far more of my time on this blog addressing those types of costs.)

Deciding to grow an organization is an admirable goal. I highly encourage it. Helping leaders grow and develop will continue to be a major focus of this blog.

My point in this post is simply to remind you of this:

With every opportunity to grow, someone must be willing to count and eventually pay the costs associated with that growth.

The wise leader considers those costs along with the excitement of the opportunity.

If you wish to continue this thought process answer this question:

Is your organization better at:

Coming up with ideas

Counting the costs

Completing a plan

While this may be the subject of another post, in my experience, organizations and/or individuals tend to excel in one of these three. Understanding the importance of each of them is a key to success.

Would anyone say their organization is excellent at all three?

If I Were God — Would I Hire Me?

Application for employment

I’m not trying to be cute or clever with the title or with this post. The thought occurred to me recently.

If I were God — would I hire me?

Now granted, I’m not God. You can say a loud amen to that. And, God is not like me. Bigger amen expected.

Everyone God calls is unqualified apart from His grace. And, God calls unlikely people to do extraordinary work.

But, just for my own thought and evaluation process, my thoughts pondered this question recently.

If I were God — like if for a minute I got to make a choice concerning my employment for God — what would I choose?

Would I choose me?

Do I often complain more than I try to find solutions?

Do I fail to see the long-term gain favoring instead the momentary personal pleasure?

Do I misuse my talents or do I invest them wisely for a greater good?

Do I consistently walk by faith or am I consumed with fear?

Do I learn from my failures or am I too full of pride to be teachable?

Do I obey quickly or find a million excuses why I can’t do what I’ve been asked to do?

Do I put others’ interests ahead of my own or am I selfish towards others?

If I were God — would I hire me?

The good news is — God did hire me — and yet I answer all those questions the wrong way at times. I’m so glad God is not like me — and that I’m not God.

But, the application of my thought process — understanding the grace extended to me — I want to be a good employee. A good servant. One who hears “Well done…”

What about you?

One of the Worst Leadership Mistakes We Make as Pastors (And Leaders)

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There are many leadership mistakes we make as pastors. I’m certain I make one nearly everyday.

This post is only about one mistake. One of the worst.

And, frankly, I’m as guilty of this one as anyone. I think most of us are prone to making this mistake. In any realm of leadership.

Here is one of the worst mistakes pastors make in leadership:

Pursuing the few negative voices in lieu of pursuing the majority supporters.

Have you been guilty of that mistake?

Be careful. There is a Biblical principle here.

“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6)

When we place our focus on the few negatives, it injures everyone.

We cater to them.
We try to appease them.
We worry about them.
We neglect the greater good.

And, in the end, here’s the strange part I’ve seen –

We usually find out that nothing we could have done would have made them happy anyway.

Wasted energy.

And, in the process, everyone loses.

The bottom line is that this mistake drains your energy as a leader and keeps you from investing fully in people who are believe in the vision, support leadership and are ready to help you build a great church.

It’s counterproductive. At best.

Be honest with yourself.

Is your leadership of the church being dominated by a few negative voices?

That said, we should listen to negative voices. We grow that way. I have written before that I even listen to anonymous voices. I’ve written about the Right Ways and the Wrong Ways to respond to criticism. I’m not afraid of criticism. I just believe we just have to be careful that we filter them in a healthy way.

For example, when you deal with critical people, ask yourself:

  1. Are these people generally positive, supportive people — or are they negative, divisive people?
  2. Is what they are saying helpful? If you took their suggestion, would it improve the overall vision of the church?
  3. Do they represent a larger audience — or are they lone voices? You need to know if the criticism is representative or personal.The fact is some people will never be on board with the direction of the church and you can’t do anything about that. Sometimes they represent a larger audience.

Your answers should change the weight you carry and the attention you give to their complaints. And, frankly, the amount of time you allot to appeasing those complainers.

I know. Heavy post right? And, if you’ve been yielding to the few negative voices it might even sting a bit.

On the other hand, if you’re one of the negative voices — the kind who is wasting everyone’s time — well, you don’t like me much right now. I just called you out. Sorry about that.

7 Helpful Skills for Pastors Leading Growing Churches

racial diversity

I came close to titling these “essential” skills, but I knew that was unfair. God can and does work through all different types of people. But, He has appointed some to be leaders, some teachers, etc. And, I know this from my experience working with and hearing from dozens of pastors each month. There are some great pastors who admit they aren’t skilled at leading the church.

I hear it at least weekly — “I know how to teach and cafe for the people, but I’m simply not always sure how to lead.” And, yet they recognize the value in and the need for leadership. They aren’t afraid of church leadership, as I’ve written about previously.

I believe there are some helpful skills for those who want to lead a church to not only care for and disciple the people in the church now, but actually grow and be healthy at the same time — where there is momentum and unity and excitement around the vision of the Great Commission.

Here are a 7 helpful skills I’ve observed:

Networking – For definition purposes, this is “the cultivation of productive relationships”. It is the ability to bring the right people to the table to accomplish the mission and it is invaluable for any position of leadership. This is true inside and outside the church. One place where good relationships are proving helpful in the community, for example, is within school systems. With the right people, churches can make significant missional differences in their community with school relationships. Those relationships are formed through networking. And, the possibilities here are endless.

Connecting – If the church is large or small, the best leaders bring people together. When a new person comes into the church, it’s important that they be able to connect quickly to others. First, the pastor needs to meet them, but that isn’t enough to really make people feel connected to a church. Good leaders connect them to people within the church, or help create systems of connection. They value connectivity — creating healthy, life-changing relationships in the church – and see that it is a natural, but intentional part of the church’s overall mission.

Visioneering – Good leaders are able to cast a picture beyond today worthy of taking a risk to seek. They may not always have all the ideas of what’s next — they should have some — but they can rally people behind the vision.

Pioneering – To lead a church by faith, a leader has to be willing to lead into an unknown, and take the first step in that direction. People won’t follow until they know the leader is willing to go first. Momentum and change almost always starts with new — doing things differently — creating new groups, new opportunities — trying things you’ve not tried before. Pioneering leaders watch to see where God may be stirring hearts and are willing to boldly lead into the unknown.

Delegating – No one person can or should attempt to do it all. It’s not healthy, nor is it Biblical. This may, however, be the number one reason I see for pastoral burnout, frustration and lack of church growth. Good leaders learn to raise up armies of people who believe in the mission and are willing to take ownership and provide leadership to completing a specific aspect of attaining that vision.

Confronting - If you lead anything, you will face opposition. Period. Leadership involves change and change in church involves change in people. And, most people have some opposition to change. After a pastor is certain of God’s leadership, has sought input from others, cast a vision, and organized people around a plan, there will be opposition. Perhaps even organized opposition. Good leaders learn to confront in love.

Following – Ultimately, it’s all about Christ. I can’t lead people closer to Him — certainly not be more like Him — unless I’m personally growing closer to Christ. But, following also involves allowing others to speak into my life. It means I have mentors, people who hold me accountable and healthy family relationships. Good leaders have systems in place that personally keep them on track. Self leadership — and following others who are healthy — keeps a leader in it for the duration.

That’s my list. Or, at least seven on my list.

What would you add?

12 Ways Christians Can be Less Mean

Mister nice guy

I wrote a post recently encouraging Christians to be less mean — especially online. It was called “When Did Christians Become So Mean?

It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.

Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.

But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.

It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.

The post got a little attention.

Actually, some people, proved the need for the post by the way they responded. :)

Still others asked for some suggestions of how we could improve — some even wanted examples.

I decided not to share specific examples. In my opinion, that would be mean. So, you’re meanness will remain anonymous in this post. If you are mean, most likely others already know your name. :).

I did decide to share some ways we can be “less mean” online.

Here are a dozen suggestions:

Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Love one another (John 13:34)

Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

Treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31)

Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Just a few of those should improve the quality of our online involvement.

And, finally, a bonus one:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Those are some of my suggestions.

Got any others?

My Greatest Success in Life

success

I was interviewed recently for a leadership podcast. One of the questions took me by surprise at first. I have been interviewed for this type of thing many times and so answers usually come fairly easily. They didn’t this time. At least to this question.

The question:

What has been your greatest success in life and what did you learn from it?

Greatest success? That goes contrary to my normal thought process. I don’t think I’m keeping a mental record of that. I guess I should more often. I didn’t have an easy answer.

The first answer that came to mind:

Apart from knowing Christ and being known by Him…

My greatest success has been failure.

And, in addition to that, the ability to get back up and try again.

Having had time to think about the answer I gave more — I’m sticking with it.

You see, I have had lots of failure. I’ve been on the bottom several times and, by God’s grace and through commitment and perseverance, I always climbed back.

I’ve gained my greatest lessons from life through the hardest times of my life.

And, something tells me I’m not finished learning.

I’m not sharing that to boast about anything in my life. I share it to encourage you. You may feel discouraged today. You may have just about lost all hope. You may feel a complete failure — like the best of life is past for you.

It’s not! You can stand strong again. By God’s grace — and through commitment and perseverance.

That’s almost always the story of people of success. You often only see them when they’re standing, but you didn’t see the times they fell. 

Your greatest success in life may be your ability to endure through the hard times — even through failure — get up and move forward again.