Friday, December 13, 2013

Joy in Leadership

It’s Christmas time.  When I think of Christmas I think of joy.  Jesus was born to bring us joy through a restored relationship with God.  On that first Christmas night the angels came proclaiming to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The angels were speaking of joy through Christ.  It’s a reminder that Jesus came to give us joy.  The word "joy" is prevalent in the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus.

  • Luke 1:14 “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
  • Luke 1:44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
  • Luke 2:10 “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
  • Matthew 2:10 “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

Jesus came to give you joy.  Do you have joy in your leadership?  You may ask, “What does joy have to do with leadership?”  I believe it has everything to do with it.  If you have no joy, those you lead will have no joy.  And that makes for a joyless environment.  Moreover, I have yet to meet a person who delights in following a joyless, grinch-like leader.

The best leaders I know have a contagious joy about them.  I took some time to think through the traits of the most joyful leaders I have met.

1. They love what they do.  In fact their attitude is that of Thomas Edison who said, “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun."  When they awake in the morning, they look forward to the day - the people they will see and the tasks they will do.

2. They love their family.  Their family holds a place of higher priority than their work. Their wife is their best friend and they enjoy spending time with their kids and/or grandchildren.  In fact, the most joyous leaders I know not only enjoy time with their family, they make time for their family.

3. They love people.  They love being around people and talking to people.  They believe the best in people.  They have taken to heart the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

4. They have a positive attitude.  They are optimistic about their future and have a hopeful state of mind.  They understand the power of a positive thought life.  They understand what Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

5. They have a passion for personal growth.  They are continual learners.  They read every day desiring to learn something new.  They have mentors.  New experiences excite them.

6. They delight in adding value to people.  Knowing that they had a part in another person’s success brings them great joy.

7. They work within their strength zone.  They know what their strengths and weaknesses are.  They don’t waste their time and energy trying to do things they are not gifted or equipped to do.  They know what activities and tasks produce the most fruit and bring them the greatest return and they stick to those.

8. They have learned to deal with criticism.  Every leader faces criticism.  They have learned to handle criticism in a positive way.  They know how to differentiate between positive and negative criticism.  They learn from the positive and forget the negative.  They have learned to forgive and move on.

9. They have a vision for the future.  They understand that what they do today will determine where they will be tomorrow.  They work with enthusiasm on what is most important to them knowing that at the end of the day they will be one step closer to seeing their dream realized.

10. They like to have fun.  “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing,” wrote Dale Carnegie.  They know how to have fun at work and away from work.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Characteristics of Pastors That Last

Over the years I have read many times that one of the leading marks of a successful organization is that it’s leadership has been in place for many years.  Successful organizations have leaders who last.

Recently I read an article that started me thinking on this issue of pastoral leadership and church growth.  The article stated that the Southern Baptist Convention found a relationship between the length of time pastors had been in their churches and the growth or decline of those churches.  Approximately 3/4 of growing churches were being led by pastors who had been in place for more than four years, while 2/3 of declining churches were being led by pastors who had been in place less than four years.  Their conclusion: While long-term pastorates will not guarantee church growth, short-term pastorates essentially guarantee that a church will not grow.

Amazingly according to a 2009 Barna study the average length of a pastorate is just four years.  It seems that pastors are leaving their churches right at the time they should start seeing positive growth.  Why is it that some pastors can stay at their churches for many years while most pastors seem to move from church to church every four years?  What is the difference between the long-term pastor and the short-term pastor?  Here are some thoughts.

1. Long term pastors have a God-sized vision for the future.
Long term pastors come to their churches with a vision that motivates them.  It provides them with the zeal to stay the course.  A God-sized vision is one which cannot be accomplished in a few short years.  Capturing your town for Christ cannot be done over-night.  Developing leaders to start new churches or  multiple campuses takes years.  Sending missionaries to every continent is a long-term strategy.  Building a dynamic small group ministry that transforms lives can take a whole generation.  These are examples of  God-sized visions which cannot be accomplished in a short four year span.  Long term pastors have visions that are much bigger than they are.

2. Long term pastors protect their integrity.
Long term pastors work hard to protect their integrity.  They set moral and ethical  boundaries for themselves that they refuse to cross.  They not only hold themselves accountable but they allow others to hold them accountable.  Accountability partners have permission to challenge them.

3. Long term pastors have a sense of calling to their church.
Long term pastors sense that they are placed where they are by the sovereignty of God.   God placed them at that particular church for a purpose, therefore it is not seen as a mere rung on the ecclesiastical ladder in their climb to a larger more prestigious church.

4. Long term pastors maintain spiritual vitality
They take care of themselves spiritually.  They read the Scriptures, pray, study, worship, fellowship—and lead out of the overflow of their walk with God.

5. Long term pastors maintain physical health.
The long-lasting leaders eat properly, exercise regularly, and sleep well.

6. Long term pastors maintain mental health.
They are passionate about personal growth. They read every day.  They have an appetite to hear other pastors and leaders preach and speak.  They have a mentor.  They listen to wise counsel.  Their appetite for new knowledge and learning is insatiable.  They do not like failure, but they know that failing at something does not make them a failure.  They have learned how to make the most of their failures.

7. Long term pastors maintain family health.
The church does not come before their family.  In fact they openly share with the church that their family will always have a higher priority in their life than the church.  They understand that if they lose their family, they lose everything.

8. Long term pastors maintain healthy relationships.
They love people.  Long term leaders are likeable.  People respect them because they respect people.  When attacked by others they don’t become bitter but forgive.  To put it in the words of the apostle Paul, long term leaders are patient and kind; they do not envy or boast; they are not arrogant or rude. They do not insist on their own way; they are not irritable or resentful (1 Cor 14:4-5).

9. Long term pastors maintain a healthy sense of humor.
They have learned to laugh.  They do not take themselves too seriously.  They laugh at themselves and they laugh with others.

10. Long term pastors maintain a healthy legacy.
They understand that leadership is highly visual.  They know they are being watched and scrutinized as a Christians leader.  Therefore they work to insure that they are setting a godly example.  They know that how they live today will determine how they will be judged tomorrow.  They have a desire to leave their churches in a position to continue to succeed after they are gone.  They understand they are accountable to God for how they lead where they are in the time they have.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is There Time?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace."

As I was rereading this well known passage, which was popularized by The Byrds in their song "Turn, Turn, Turn", I was reminded just how precious and limited the resource of time really is. Unlike financial and human resources, time is the one resource that cannot be replenished. Time is also no respecter of persons. Time does not play favorites. It does not matter whether you are the president of a nation, the CEO of a fortune 500 company, a waitress at a restaurant, or a pastor. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 8760 hours in a year.

So why is it that some people seem to be able to get a lot more accomplished in the time they have?  It is because they understand that the question is not "What am I doing with my time?"  The question is "What am I accomplishing in my time?"  It comes down to priorities.

I came across the following story a number of years ago.  I have since seen it demonstrated in several conferences. It speaks of effective time management and its relationship to values and priorities.

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He then pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table. He produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them one at a time into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing it to work down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand and started dumping the sand in the jar until it filled the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good.”

Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that's not the point.”

“The truth this illustration teaches us is that if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all. What are the 'big rocks' in your life? Your children, your loved ones, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching others, doing things that you love, your health; your mate. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. If you sweat about the little stuff then you'll fill your life with little things and you'll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff.”

So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life? Then, put those in your jar first.

Effective time management cannot be disconnected values and effective prioritizing.  So how do I prioritize activities in my calendar?  I use a procedure I learned from John Maxwell.  It involves asking myself three questions:

What is required of me? In other words what must I do that no one else in the organization can can do for me?  For example, I am required to prepare and preach messages from God's Word every Sunday morning.  That is what my church hired me to do.  I cannot, on a regular basis, pass this responsibility off on someone else.  I have a number of other responsibilities that my job requires of me.  These I cannot dump on another person.  Once I know what is required of me, I must make sure that I schedule time to fulfill those requirements.

What brings me the greatest return? In other words, what are my strengths? What can I do that will bear the greatest fruit for me and the organization?  The key is staying in my strength zone and out of my weak zone.  I don't need to be working in areas that I am weak in.  For example, I am not good with my hands. I am not good at word-working, landscaping, decorating, painting,... you get the point. Whenever I try fix something at home I always end up making a bigger mess and calling a repairman anyway. I am good at teaching, preaching, vision casting, and leading. These are the areas that I need to spend most of my time on.

What brings me the greatest reward? What activities bring me the greatest joy and fulfillment?  What activities re-energize me?  These need to be priorities and included in my calendar.  I enjoy spending time with my wife on the water.  I enjoy reading.  I like to watch football.  I have to put these on the calendar.  If not, something else will end up taking their place.

The question is not, "Is my calendar going to be filled?"  It will be filled. The question is, "Who is going to fill my calendar?"  There are plenty of people who want to fill my calendar for me and they will fill it based on their priorities and not mine.  The danger is that, if not careful, I could find myself drowning in activities that accomplish nothing.

Is there time? Yes. But you must learn that there is a connection between time and priorities. Think of it like this:

Time minus right priorities = activity
Time plus right priorities = accomplishment

One more thing.  For the Christian leader time is not just about the hear and now. Solomon said God "has put eternity into man’s heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  The Christian leader understands that people were made for eternity.   The Christian leader works within the confines of time but always with eternity in mind.  The question that I constantly ask myself is "Will what I'm doing now help people to know Christ, grow in Christ, or go in Christ?"  I know that one day when time is over, I will stand in eternity before God and He will judge me based on what I did with the time He gave me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

12 Lessons From Leaders In The Bible - Part 4

In my last three posts we have looked at ten different leaders from the Bible and what we can learn from them.  I had originally planned for this to be a three part series. However, because my last post was a little longer, I decided to extend this to a four part series.  Today we will look at two more Biblical Leaders and lessons we can learn from their lives.

11. Peter: Leaders Fail Forward
When Jesus was arrested and being questioned, Peter, the most well-known of Jesus’ disciples is in the courtyard just outside where Jesus is being held.  Three times he is confronted with being a disciple of Jesus and three times Peter denies being affiliated with Jesus in any way.  What makes this failure even worse is that just hours prior to his denying Jesus, Peter assured Jesus that he would never deny him even to the death. Jesus responded to Peter by saying, “before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.”  When the rooster crowed,  Peter realized what he had done and wept bitterly. Fast forward a few weeks and we see Peter in Acts chapter 2, giving the first sermon after Jesus’ ascension, to a crowd of thousands of people.  Peter has emerged as the leader of the early church.  Leaders learn from their failings.  They understand that failure is a part of life and leadership.  They make the most of the failure by gleaning lessons from it and they pick themselves back up and move on having learned from their failure.

12. Paul: Leaders Are Passionate For What They Do and Believe.
When you read the life, ministry, and teaching of the Apostle Paul, one thing stands out very quickly - he is consumed with his mission.  As a Pharisee, he zealously and violently opposes the spread of Christianity.  Paul said himself that he was zealous to kill and imprison Christians.  In Acts chapter 9 while Paul is on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, he has an encounter with the risen Jesus, resulting in a transformed life and a new purpose.  As passionate as he was about destroying Christianity he is now just as passionate for the spread of the gospel.  Paul travels across the known world establishing churches.  Leaders are passionately driven by a sense of purpose.  Leaders have a fire lit under them and are consumed with their mission in life.  There is no place for apathy in the life of a leader. Leaders are passionate about what they believe and what they are doing.

Friday, June 7, 2013

12 Lessons From Leaders in the Bible - Part 3

The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible.  Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of Scripture.  For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.  In my last two posts we looked at seven of these great leaders and what we can learn from them.  Here are three more Bible leaders we can learn from.

8. Daniel: Leaders maintain their values and principles even when it will cost them.
Many of us are at least familiar with the account of Daniel in the lion’s den. In the sixth chapter of Daniel, Daniel is a highly esteemed government official whose colleagues become jealous. Seeking to get rid of him and knowing that he is a man of faith and prayer, his colleagues convince the king to enact an official decree stating that prayer can be made to no god except to the king himself.  When Daniel found out about the law he had to decide whether he would submit to the kings edict or stay true to his convictions.  He continues to pray to God as he had always done.  When he is caught, the king, albeit reluctantly, is forced to throw Daniel to the lions.  The next morning, the king finds Daniel alive and unharmed.  Daniel’s faith, values, and principles is what made him a great leader to begin with.  And he maintained those values, even when he knew it would cost him. Great leaders have values and principles that enable them to make decisions quickly and confidently, even when those decisions may require a great cost.

9. John the Baptist: Great leaders are great followers.
In Matthew 3 people are coming out in throngs to hear John the Baptist preach.  At this point he had already developed a strong following and had a number of disciples.  He is baptizing scores of people and preaching about the coming of Jesus the Messiah.  John knew that his purpose and role was to point people to and prepare people for the coming Messiah.  And when Jesus came John humbly submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. While John was baptizing, Jesus approaches him.  John laid his ego aside and publicly said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you.”  At another time when Jesus’ popularity was growing John’s disciples approached John and pointed it out.  John, once again demonstrated humility and respect and said, “He must increase but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).  Great leaders “yield to stronger leaders when they appear because the cause is more important than personal popularity” (John Maxwell).

10. Jesus: Leaders are servants.
The greatest leader in the world proved himself to be the greatest servant in the world.  One of the most powerful images in the life of Jesus is when he washed the feet of his disciples in John 13. When he finished, he said to them, “You call me teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus, of course, isn’t talking about feet. He’s talking about servant-leadership. Jesus always focused on the needs of others.  Great leaders focus on serving those who follow them. One day when Jesus caught his disciples arguing over who was the greatest among them, he didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great, he gave them a formula for greatness: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).  Great leaders are servant leaders.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

12 Lessons From Leaders in the Bible (Part 2 of 3)

The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible.  Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of the Bible.  For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.  I discussed four of them in my last post.  Here are three more Bible leaders we can learn from.

5. Joshua: Leaders lead and inspire by example.
In Joshua 24:15, after leading his people into the Promised Land, in one of the most inspiring speeches of the Old Testament Joshua places two choices before the children of Israel. “But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living” (HCSB)  Joshua said, “You have two choices.  Choice one: Serve the God who brought you into the land. Or choice two: serve the false gods of other peoples.  And then, Joshua leads by example by revealing his choice. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (ESV).

Because the people believed in Joshua’s leadership, they follow his example. “Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (Joshua 24:16-18 ESV).  Joshua didn’t have to force or threaten them; by his example he inspires them to follow his lead.

6. David: Leaders are willing to face giants head on.
The story of David and Goliath may be the most famous story in the Bible.  In 1 Samuel 17, the Israelites are being humiliated by the Philistines and their 9-foot tall giant - Goliath.  Goliath taunts the Israelites and challenges them to send him one man and, if that man should defeat him, the Philistines would become their servants.  David, a small shepherd boy who will not even fit into the armor he is provided, volunteers. When Goliath mocks him, David says, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (v45 ESV).  He then takes a stone, slings it at Goliath, striking him in the forehead and knocks the giant to the ground - dead.  Leaders understand where their real strength comes from.  Therefore, they don’t run from problems, they face them head on.

7. Isaiah: Leaders rise to the occasion
In Isaiah chapter 6, God lays out a need for someone to go and speak for Him.  God has a message and needs a messenger.  Isaiah responds, “Here am I. Send me!”  God issued a call for someone to go.  Isaiah saw it as an opportunity to make a difference for the glory of God.  Leaders don’t wait for someone else to step up when something needs done. They take initiative. Leaders rise to the occasion when the occasion calls for a leader.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

12 Lessons From Leaders in the Bible (Part 1 of 3)

The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible.  Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of the Bible.  For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.

1. Noah: Leaders do what’s right even when no one else is.
In Genesis 6, because of humanity’s wickedness God decides to blot out the human race and start over. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” because he was “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Gen 6:8-9).  “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Gen 7:1). In a world of unrighteousness Noah was willing to stand alone and do what was right because it was right.  Leaders do what’s right even when no one else does.

2. Abraham: Leaders take risks.
“The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1)  Abraham lived in Ur in Chaldea with his family. God tells him to leave his homeland and take his family with him and go to a land which God will lead him to. God does not tell Abraham where He is sending him.  He simply tells Abraham to go. To put it another way, Abraham is instructed to leave his comfort zone and march into unknown territory.  Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” Leaders are willing to take risks in order to grow to their maximum potential.

3. Joseph: Leaders maintain integrity.
The story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37 is powerful. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal.  He was falsely accused and thrown into prison because he refused to sleep with his owners wife. Leaders are consistently faced with circumstances which tests their integrity.  Although Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, he maintained his values. Two full years passed before Joseph was presented with an opportunity to get out.  Ultimately, Joseph became the leader of all Egypt–second only to the Pharaoh. Because he maintained his integrity God used him to save an entire race of people.

4. Moses: Leaders can take criticism.
Leaders are loyal to their followers even when their followers complain and criticize. When Moses was leading the Israelite’s in the wilderness, numerous times they complained and blamed God and/or him for their hardship. Several times God wanted to wipe the people out and start over. But Moses interceded for the people and prayed for God to have mercy on them.  Most people would have said, “Ok God, wipe them out.”  Moses demonstrates that effective leaders love and care for their people even when the people are unlovely and criticize them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Growth Through Multiplication

If you really want to see growth in your team or organization you must learn what John Maxwell calls “The Law of Explosive Growth.”  The Law of Explosive Growth says, “to add growth, lead followers - to multiply, lead leaders.”

As you pour yourself into developing followers to be leaders you can multiply yourself exponentially. Leaders who develop followers grow their organizations only one person at a time.  But leaders who focus on developing more leaders will multiply their growth because for every leader they develop they also reap the fruit of that leader’s followers.  In other words, add ten leaders to your organization and you have the results of not only your leadership, but the results of ten other leaders.  You have growth from not only those who follow you, but also from those who follow the ten leaders.

Effective leaders who really want to see their organizations grow focus not so much on gaining followers, but on developing the followers they have to be leaders.

How did Jesus grow His church?  By developing ordinary men to become extraordinary leaders.  We find the process He used in Matthew 10.  Here is the process He used.

1. He called them. (vv1-4)
2. He commissioned them. (vv5-6)
3. He equipped them. (vv7-8a)
4. He empowered them. (v 1)
5. He prepared them (v14)
6. He encouraged them. (v15)
7. He evaluated them. (Luke 9:10)

Here is the progression of equipping leaders:

I do it - you watch.
I do it - you help.
You do it - I help.
You do it - I watch.
You do it.

How do you equip leaders?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Home Run the Movie

I had the privilege to preview the soon to be released movie "Home Run" today.  It is a great story of forgiveness, second chances, and power from above to overcome addictions.  I highly recommend it.  A great story.  In theaters beginning April 19.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Managing Multiple Tasks

I sat in my home office reflecting on the week ahead.  As I was reviewing my calendar and the responsibilities I had for that week I quickly realized that I had a multitude of tasks for which I was responsible.  People were counting on me to be well prepared.  I had a weekly staff meeting, two sermons to prepare, two leadership classes to teach, a mastermind group to lead, a  meeting with a new young pastor I am mentoring to lead a new church we are planting, plus a number of other responsibilities.

I immediately thought of Ecclesiastes 3:1 which says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  How do I balance the meetings on the calendar with phone calls that need to be made, the sermons that have to be written, and so many other tasks that call for my attention?  I knew, especially for that week, I needed to be a good steward of my time.

Four Tips For Keeping Your Life In Balance

Set Your Priorities
A  simple to-do list does not work when you have so many responsibilities.  You need to have a prioritized to-do list.  You must constantly be asking and answering the question, "What matters most?"  You need to identify what is really most important.

Get it Together
In other words, “Get organized.”  You need to find a system that works for you.  I use Google Calendar and Google “Go Tasks” to help me keep it together.  It does not matter what system you use.  What matters is that you have a system that works for you.   Some people can use notes on index cards very effectively.

Learn to Delegate and Empower
There are some things that only you can do.  There are many things that you do not have to do.  When you have weeks like mine described above, you can't do everything that needs to be done.  Therefore you must delegate some tasks, including important ones, and empower others to accomplish them so that you are able to focus your time and attention on what is most important.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Ten Commandments of Personal Growth

Continuing on the topic of personal growth and development from last week, I want to share with you something I read several years ago but was reunited with this week.  It’s called “The Ten Commandments of Personal Growth.”  It is by Dave Early from his book 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders.

The Ten Commandments of Personal Growth
1.   Make the choice to be an ever-growing person.
2.   Focus your activities and set some goals.
3.   Gather any needed tools.
4.   Develop a plan that fits you.
5.   Schedule the needed time.
6.   Sow before you hope to reap.
7.   Make yourself accountable.
8.   Share what you learn with others.
9.   Associate with growing people.
10. Put what you learn into practice.

Sample Growth Goals

Grow mentally by:
Reading a _____________ a _____________.
Listening to _______ CD’s, podcasts, etc. a ______________.

Develop spiritual fitness by:
Reading the Bible ____ minutes daily or _____ chapters daily.
Praying ______ minutes daily.
Journaling _____ minutes daily.
Leading family devotions _______ minutes a day, _____ days a week.
Fasting ____ days a month.

Increasing physical fitness by:
Exercising _____ minutes ______ days a week.
Sleeping ____ hours a night.
Eating less ____________ and more ____________.

Investing In relationships with:
Spouse ___________ minutes a day/hours a week.
Children __________ minutes a day/hours a week.
Apprentice ________ minutes a day/hours a week.
Other ____________ minutes a day/hours a week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creating A Personal Growth Plan

I don’t know of anyone who would admit that they do not want to grow. Yet, most people I know do not grow.  For some it’s because their desire to grow is nothing more than vocal.  For others, it truly is heartfelt but they don’t know how.  I have found that if I am going to grow, I have to intentionally create a personal growth plan; a plan that I can follow each day to help me get where I want to be.

Personal growth and development are like going on a journey.  You need to know where you want to go and you need a map or plan to get you there. .

Here is how I developed my growth plan for 2013.

Step 1: I determined areas that I wanted to focus on this year.  For me it was my walk with Christ, the growth of my church through multiplication, my preaching, and the equipping of others in leadership.

Step 2: I determined what resources I would need.  I knew I would need books, CD’s, podcasts, or websites, conferences, journals, and people.  Books and trade magazines I need to read.  Speakers, I need to listen to on CD, podcasts, or the web.  And finally people I want to invest in.

Step 3: I set goals.  The goals I set for this year include:

Reading my Bible through in one year.
Reading one book per month.
Reading 2 journals per month.
Reading every day.
Listening to one leadership lesson per week via CD, podcast, or webcast.
Listening to one sermon per week via CD, podcast, or webcast.
Attend one Leadership Conference.
Attend one Bible or Church Growth Conference.

Step 4: I started gathering the resources.  I picked a daily Bible reading plan that would take me through the Bible in a year.  I determined I wanted to read two books on leadership, two books on church growth through multiplication, two books in the area of spiritual growth, and one book on mentoring others.  There are always books that come along that might not fit into my plan but really catch my interest because of where I am in my life.  So I don’t pick a book for every month.

I started looking at websites such as and to see what books are available in the areas of my interest.  Once I found a book that interested me I  read the reviews to see what others were saying about that book.  I also looked to see what books other leaders are reading and recommend.  I don’t buy the books immediately.  I either put them on my wishlist on the site or I write the name and author down on my notepad app on my Ipad.  I buy them when I’m ready to read them.  I already subscribe to a number of journals, so picking those out was not an issue.

I know which preachers I like to listen to and already have their websites bookmarked on my web-browser, so that part was easy as well.  I watch or listen to the leadership lessons and the sermons while I’m on my elliptical every morning.  I will meet this goal with no problem.

I constantly receive email, postal mail flyers, and brochures for conferences. From these I choose which conferences I will attend.  I believe everyone should have at least one conference on their personal growth plan.

There it is.  My personal growth plan.  It’s simple.  The plan for the whole year took less than two hours to develop.  I now know where I’m going in my personal development and how I’m going to get there.

Do you have a growth plan?  If so, share it with me.  If you do not, it’s not too late for 2013.  Take some time in the next week to develop your plan.