4 Questions with Brad Lomenick about “The Catalyst Leader”

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I have loved working with Catalyst over the last few years. Love what they are doing. Love how they are impacting the church by helping us think and lead bigger and better. Probably none of us realize the impact Catalyst has had on the Kingdom in the past decade or so. Catalyst is lead by an impressive guy. Brad Lomenick is a leader’s leader. He’s sharp, connected, and passionate about what he feels called to do.

Brad recently released The Catalyst Leader, a book only he could write. It’s a reflection on leadership from the perspective of where he sits, interacting with some of the more prominent Christian leaders of our day, but also with thousands of younger church leaders in our country. In the past 10 years of leading Catalyst, he’s learned a few things. Regardless of your time in ministry, this will be a helpful book.

Recently I asked Brad four questions about the book:

What is the Catalyst Leader about?

The Catalyst Leader lays out the eight essentials for becoming a change maker. The traits that I believe one must develop in order to become a change maker, and ultimately a Catalyst Leader. I hope this book will provide practical leadership answers for a new generation of aspiring leaders who are looking for answers and solutions, and not just leadership theory. It’s a practical guide for leading now, and leading well, serving as a leadership handbook for the next generation of leaders in our country. The book presents the key essentials that I believe will define our generation’s ability to influence over the next 20-25 years, laying out what it means to be a Catalyst in this generation. The Catalyst Leader is packed with a combination of candid interviews with thought leaders, research with the core leadership community, and overall leadership best practices. A rising generation of leaders need to be equipped for the task of leadership.

Why write this book now?

Because I believe we are at a crossroads of leadership in the US, and ultimately around the world. In fact, I believe we have a leadership crisis in our country. And based on the research we did in partnership with The Barna Group for the book, the survey and data would validate that assumption. We currently have a dearth of leadership in our country. In general, we trust our leaders less today than we have in the past. There is a lot at stake. And it’s time for a new generation of leaders to rise up and take charge. Catalyst has gathered leaders for 13 years now. We wanted to create a leadership guide, the “ultimate” handbook on influence. It’s our turn to lead now, but we have to make sure we are leading well. I want to see leaders all over the world take their leadership and influence to a whole new level. Lots of great leaders have created great leadership resources, but most of them aren’t peers to me or my generation. We wanted to create a community driven resource that would be a practical guide for leading over the next 20-30 years. I’m passionate about raising up great leaders, and I’ve devoted much of my life to convening and equipping leaders of all ages and stages in life who want to grow in their leadership abilities. And I’ve written the Catalyst Leader to empower you to lead better, and lead longer. Perhaps never before have so many young leaders been poised and positioned for influence. Scores of twenty and thirty somethings are running companies, nonprofits, churches, and social innovation projects. They don’t have 10-15 years to figure things out anymore; they need to be equipped and prepared for the journey now. Many leaders today have platforms that exceed their wisdom, experience and maturity. These leaders need the tools and know how for getting it right. I hope The Catalyst Leader is a resource for them to do just that. A roadmap for our generation to lead well. Our tribe and community of Catalyst leaders are in need of practical and relevant help in regards to their leadership and influence. We currently are dealing with a demise of leadership mentoring in our culture, especially in organizational life, and I want to truly help leaders lead well.

Talk about the 8 Essentials. A catalyst leader must be the following:

  • Called by God to leadership and willing to seek his will
  • Authentic and humble, becoming influential rather than impressive
  • Passionate about God, committed to developing a heart for the creator
  • Capable and determined, working harder than anyone on the team
  • Courageous when the time comes to take a leap
  • Principled in every decision made, unwilling to compromise for convenience
  • Hopeful despite challenges, believing God can do what we cannot
  • Collaborative, drawing on the strength of others and sharing praise

Living and leading by these essentials provides both spiritual and practical avenues to developing the qualities essential to leaders hoping to build a passionate, effective team that will last. This is not a book of theories. It is not a bragging autobiography from one successful boss. It is an honest and authentic examination of what you must be and do in order to empower and lead others to success and righteousness.

Who do you hope to impact with, “The Catalyst Leader?”

All leaders, but specifically those in the first half of their vocation life. I’m writing specifically to the called-but-not-yet-equipped leader. Young leaders (primarily in their 20’s and 30’s) who are called and passionate hopefuls who want to change the world but are unequipped, and need tools and a roadmap for how to get that done. I want to help me. I’m in the same boat as leaders I’m writing this book for. I am a called but not yet equipped leader. I desire to be a true change maker, and ultimately a Catalyst leader, but I know I fall short constantly. So I’ve written this book really for me and my peers, and ultimately my generation. This book is for anyone that leads, but the strike zone is a 35 yr old senior manager, church planter or senior pastor, innovator or entrepreneur. Take Jim, who runs a 2 million dollar small business with 20 employees. He needs someone to help him Lead well now. He’s trying to figure out how to lead with courage, to be a collaborator. Take my friend Shawn, who leads a thriving social innovation company. He’s grown from 5 employees to 50 in the past year, and wrestling with how best to manage his staff of 20 somethings. Take Hannah, a 23 year old recent college graduate who is struggling with trying to figure out what God has called her to. Take my friend James, leading a growing church in downtown Chicago, has board members who are difficult to manage and tension between his older staff and younger more progressive and innovative staff.

Thanks Brad for your time and for writing a most helpful book for the church today.

Buy the book HERE NOW.

Join Me on a Free Lifeway Webcast, with Pete Wilson, Ronnie Floyd and Eric Geiger

I recently completed a Bible study for Lifeway on addressing conflict within relationships. (Not that any of us would need such a thing. :) ) Several other pastors are involved in this project, addressing other areas, but all in the newly designed Bible Studies for Life Series by Lifeway. I was honored to be a part, because I think it will be helpful, practical studies.

Along with the release of this project, Lifeway is providing a free webcast, Wednesday, May 8th, from 12:00 to 12:30 CST. I will be one of several prominent names, Eric Geiger, Pete Wilson, and Ronnie Floyd. (Again, I’m honored to be a part.) You can find more information and register for this at BibleStudiesforLife.com/webcast.

For a preview, here are a couple of videos about the webcast…one from me, and one from my much cooler friend, Pastor Pete Wilson.

Hope to have you online with us.

Danger: A Team Without a Leader…

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I’ve seen many leaders make this mistake. They believe in teams, so they create a bunch of them. They charge them with carrying out a mission…an assigned task…part of a great vision.

But, the team doesn’t work. Nothing gets accomplished. There is no forward movement.

Why? They had a great team.

But, they didn’t have a leader.

I believe in teams.

I even love the word.

TEAM

It sounds cooperative. Energy-building. Inclusive.

Create great teams. I think you should.

But, make no mistake about it…every team need a leader.

Teams are great, but at some point in time, a leader needs to stand up. And lead.

An organizational team without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach.

Would you recommend that for your favorite sports team?

Of course not.

Lead by teams. But, make sure every team has a leader.

Make it a point to never appoint or release a team to do work…until you make sure a leader is chosen.

Have you seen a leaderless team flounder?

Establish Authority before Exhibiting Authority

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A pastor went into a church and started making changes quickly. They were good changes. All of them, in my opinion. Genius a few of them. I was impressed.

But, he didn’t last two years in that church. He was run out of town. Dismissed. Sent packing with barely a severance check. A few of the leaders in the church, some he didn’t even know were leaders, decided they didn’t like the changes. And, soon they no longer liked him.

Heartbroken and discouraged he asked for my opinion on what went wrong.

Now that’s a true story, but it’s not just one pastor’s story. It’s a dozen pastor’s story. I’ve heard it so many times I can’t remember them all. I am not saying I agree with those churches who responded to a new pastor that way. I don’t. Not at all. Or, not in the way they went about things. The controlling, afraid to change mindset usually keeps churches from growing and moving forward.

There were probably better solutions to the problem. Maybe a mediator. Maybe some humility. For both the church and the pastor. Maybe a smarter approach. Maybe a little better change management. Maybe a little more grace. Maybe a church takeover. (Just kidding on the last one. Mostly.)

But it helps us understand something else about leadership.

In watching new leaders in a church or organization, I’ve noticed a sometimes fatal error occur.

They forgot to establish their authority before making major changes.

Here’s the principle to remember…this is the gold of this post learned by experience:

You have to establish authority before you exhibit authority.

Positional authority is what this pastor used. By definition, this kind of power comes with the position. He was the pastor. So he made the pastor-like decisions. You’ll need positional authority at times. Many times. Don’t be afraid to use it when necessary. You need it when protecting the vision. Or in times of crisis. And, it is especially helpful in honeymoon situations, which is what this pastor used.

But, positional authority is limited in effectiveness. This pastor abused his positional authority. People may do what you say, because of your position, but they will not always do it with as much passion. And, eventually, if not handled well, people will rebel against that kind of authority; especially when it is the only authority exhibited.

What’s the alternative?

Relational authority is far more effective. As the title indicates, relational authority is part of a relationship. It develops with trust and respect. It develops over time and experience. It develops as those you attempt to lead get to know you and learn that you are the leader and person you claim to be.

I would have advised this leader to be more intentional. More strategic. There were probably times to use positional authority. Times to get some quick “wins”. Things that were less controversial and easier to change. Things that built momentum. Things that clearly got in the way of accomplishing the vision.

But, I would have advised him to develop more relational authority before he changed the controversial issues…the sacred cows. Many times these are small issues, but they hold big sentimental and traditional values. In the end, many of these issues don’t matter. You’d love them changed, but if it takes a year…or two years…that’s okay. In the meantime, you can develop your relational authority.

Before you exhibit too much authority, make sure you’ve established your authority. The proper authority. Especially relational authority. That takes time, and the privilege is great, but it is so incredibly powerful.

Have you seen a leader try to exhibit authority before establishing authority? How’d that go?

A New Book That I Highly Recommend – Get 25 Free Gifts If You Get It Now By May 7th

My friend Frank Viola has just released a new book called God’s Favorite Place on Earth. Frank makes a bold claim with his newest release. This book “could literally change your relationship with God, help you defeat bitterness, free you from a guilty conscience, and help you overcome fear, doubt and discouragement once and for all.”

This is a book that will jar you out of your “Christian rut” and give you new eyes for looking at EVERYTHING. It’s a quick, inspiring, and entertaining read.

In addition, if you get the book between May 1st to May 7th, you will also get 25 FREE GIFTS from 15 different authors including Leonard Sweet, Jeff Goins, Andrew Farley, Steve McVey, DeVern Fromke, Pete Briscoe, Frank Viola himself, and many others.

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Over 47 Christian leaders have recommended the book, including me.

Here is my endorsement for “God’s Favorite Place on Earth”:

“Frank Viola is a powerful story teller. The story in this book changed Frank’s life. That’s a powerful statement. After reading the pages of this book, I’m convinced that learning God’s favorite place on earth might just change yours also. Do you need some encouragement? Ever feel rejected in your Christian walk? Read this book!”

The premise of the book is simple and 100% Biblical: when Jesus was on the earth, He was rejected everywhere He went . . . from Bethlehem, to Nazareth, to Jerusalem. The only exception was the little village of Bethany.

The curtain opens with Lazarus, who is now ready to die, telling the incomparable story of Jesus’ interactions with him, Martha, and Mary. God’s Favorite Place on Earth blends drama, devotion, biblical narrative, and first-century history to create a riveting book that you’ll find difficult to put down. Within each narrative, the common struggles Christians face are addressed and answered.

Go to GodsFavoritePlace.com to claim your 25 FREE GIFTS, read a Sampler of the book, and watch the gripping video trailer.

Sometimes Boring is Better

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If I’m attending a church for the first time, I want to know who you are. What are you trying to accomplish? What is your DNA? What drives the church?

What’s your vision?

If you’ve heard your vision before, then it’s probably not “news” to you.

In fact, it may even be boring if you have heard it so many times.

Repeating vision can be “boring” to those who know the vision well.

New people don’t know your vision. Occasional attenders forget your vision. Unconnected people haven’t learned your vision. Committed people need to be reminded of your vision.

Sometimes boring is better.

And when it is, it is every time.

Let me repeat that.

Sometimes boring is better.

And when it is, it is every time.

Again.

Sometimes boring is better.

And when it is, it is every time.

It may be boring for you, but for some, it’s fresh and vital information.

Share your vision.

Share it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Are you bored with this post yet?

Well, good, maybe you get the message.

It’s not true many times, but sometimes boring is better. When it is, it is every time.

10 Specific Ways You Can Support Your Pastor

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I recently wrote 7 Ways to Support your pastor on Sunday, and it was very popular. One frequent suggestion was a post about every day of the week.

It makes sense. I know I am frequently asked how people can support me. What a tremendous boost of encouragement that question is for any pastor. From the frequency of the request, and the popularity of the other post, it’s obviously a question of many in the church.

It primarily, however, made me think most about other pastors. That is the primary focus audience of this blog. I realize I am very blessed. I’m in a good setting. I serve in a fairly large church. They afford us an adequate staff and ours is a healthy staff culture. I don’t lead alone. The church takes care of me and my wife wonderfully. Of course, there are always issues of leadership…lots of them, but I feel very much supported.

So, in case you are wondering, what can you do to support your pastor? (By the way, for ease of writing, this is written using a male connotation and the specific title of pastor, but it is equally true for any people in ministry, regardless of their title or gender.)

Here are 10 suggestions:

Let him have family time – Let him be off when he’s off. There will always be interruptions. He wants to be a part of your life and life doesn’t happen around a schedule. He knows that. But, if your situation can be handled during his normal working hours, please help him protect his family time. Most likely, like most pastors (and people) he struggles to say no to your requests, so think of his family first whenever you ask for his time.

Don’t expect him to be everywhere – Don’t even expect him to be at everything the church does. He has so many hours in a day. And, if you want him to be healthy and effective, then he needs to prioritize his time. Let him do so without feeling needless guilt and pressure.

Lower the expectations on his kids and spouse – Kids are kids. Let them be. The spouse has responsibilities unique from the pastor. The pastor has higher standards placed on him, but the family should not have unrealistic expectations placed on them.

Respect his leadership – If God called him, let him lead. If he’s behaving outside Biblical standards then you have every right and expectation to intercede. If you’re objecting to your personal preference or out of the traditions set by men, humble yourself and follow his leadership unless The Lord removes him.

Encourage him – The best way to do this is through personal notes or emails about the impact the ministry is having on your life. Don’t assume he knows or hears it all the time. Chances are he doesn’t. And if everyone thinks the same, he will usually receive far more criticism than encouragement. In fact, that’s probably true anyway, so send the encouragement now! Today!

Stop gossip – I’ve never known a church where there isn’t some talk about the pastor behind the pastor’s back. Don’t be a party to this and help stop it when you hear it.

Pay him fairly – Consider his experience, his education, and the level of professionalism, leadership and responsibility he will have and the expectations you have for him. My personal advice is to pay him adequately where he can provide for his family, without taking energy away from ministry while worrying over finances. Depending on the person, he may even need help from someone with more experiences in the area of budgeting and finance. Many pastors are not gifted in this area.

Serve with him – Don’t make him beg for you to serve the church…or give to the church. Carry out your role as someone who loves the church. Find a place to serve. Support the church financially.

Pray for him – Daily. Don’t just say you are; actually do it. Pray for him personally. His walk with Christ. His study time. His family time. Pray for his family. Pray for the things about him that bother you. That works better than complaining anyway. Pray for God do to exceedingly abundantly all you could think or imagine through him at your church.

Grow personally – This is not last as a last thought. It’s the one I want to leave you with most. The real struggle for most pastors is undisciplined, immature believers. It’s not the lost. They usually fuel his passion to “seek and save the lost”. It’s not the mature in Christ. They don’t seem to complain. They work to support the church, the pastor, and fulfill the Great Commission. It’s the ones who are in the church, but are still babies in their spiritual maturity. (We all know this, but most won’t say it.) Commit to mature in your walk with Christ. Strive daily to be like Christ. You’ll be in the best position to support not only your pastor, but the church.

Those are my suggestions. With a few genuine people supporting their pastor in this way…watch out for what God can do through this church.

Pastors, what would you add to my list?

Seeing Behind the Tinted Windows

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I am in Orlando as this post is written. I come here in April for the Exponential Conference. If you’re into church planting or revitalization, don’t miss this conference next year.

While I am here I always run. I love to run in this city. One thing that stood out to me this time in Orlando is that most everyone here has tinted windows. The sun shines a lot. It makes sense. Some are tinted more than others, but almost all are tinted. Some are tinted so much that you can’t see the driver. That’s hard for us runners.

But car windows are tinted…

Where I come from, highly tinted windows are illegal. And, so when someone’s windows are highly tinted, people often assume you’re hiding something.

Selling drugs…in a gang…you know.

But almost everyone has them in Orlando…

And I don’t think all of them are selling something. At least not something illegal.

As I was running this week though, the thought occurred to me.

All of us…everyone of us…in every city…regardless of where you live…have tinted windows. To some extent.

We have tinted windows to our life.

Everyone has something to hide…

Something they’d rather everyone not know. Some secret. Some hidden pain. Some past mistake.

We all have tinted our windows. Some darker than others…But we all have a story we are hiding…or trying to hide.

Some we hide better than others.

That’s okay. Not everyone needs to know all our story. Sometimes it’s none of their business. Many times it’s none of their business.

But, here’s my experience. All of us need someone who sees behind the tinted windows. All of us need some people in our life who know the whole story. All of us need someone who loves us, but is willing to shine a light into our darkest places.

All of us.

Who sees behind your tinted windows?

7 False Assumptions Made About Introverts

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I am an introvert. Some people can question whether they are or not. I don’t. I’m certified in Myers Briggs, so I know the language well. I’ve studied the concept. It didn’t require much study though for me. I’m in the camp.

It means Sundays I’m more tired when I go home. It means I avoid certain crowds unless I have a clear purpose for being there. It means I run alone…and I’m okay with that. It means I’m probably harder to get to know that some people. I get all that. I own it. It’s me.

I’ve written before about the struggles of introversion in ministry (read that HERE) and ways I work to overcome those limitations (read that HERE). What surprises me is how misunderstood introverts are sometimes. There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted.

Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert:

I’m shy – That may be your word, but it’s not mine. I prefer purposeful for me. Others may call it something else. I talk when there’s a purpose. I’m not even afraid to do so. Three year olds are shy when they hide behind their daddy. That’s not me.

I need more courage – Why I oughta… (You’ll get that if you are a Moe Howard…Three Stooges fan.) Seriously, I “ain’t chicken” when I choose not to speak. I’m just being comfortable.

I’ve got nothing to say – Actually I have lots to say. Did you notice I blog almost every day? Do you see how often I update Twitter and Facebook? I have bunches to say. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t express it, but many times how I choose to communicate will be different than how others choose to communicate.

I’m dumb – Yea, in a lot of ways I am. But, in some ways I’m smarter than the guy who never quits talking. You know the one. I am less likely to say the thing I wish I hadn’t said, because I didn’t think before I talked. It happens, but not as often as it might for some.

I am arrogant or don’t like you – Honestly, I love everyone. Or at least that’s my Biblical command and personal goal. Whether or not I talk to you will not be a good determination of whether or not I like you. It might even mean I respect you enough to listen more than speak. Maybe.

I need you to talk for me – Ummm….actually I’d rather you not. Now that said, I sometimes let my wife talk for me. She’s good at it too. But, if I have an opinion I think needs sharing, I’ll speak for myself. Or regret later than I didn’t. But, either way, please don’t try to be my voice.

I need to change, mature, grow as a person or leader – There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quieter than some. Actually, there are lots of things wrong with me. Introversion isn’t one of them.

Those are some of the false assumptions that have been made of this introvert.

Introverts, what misunderstandings have been made about you?