The Church Is A Results Oriented Organization

By Hakandahlstrom at en.wikipedia Later versions were uploaded by IrisKawling at en.wikipedia. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

By Hakandahlstrom at en.wikipedia Later versions were uploaded by IrisKawling at en.wikipedia. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Famed hockey player and coach Wayne Gretzky is famous for saying “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”  

That’s true in leadership too.

So often, I’m reticent to take a flyer, to try something big and audacious.  But that’s the only way to accomplish something big and audacious!

This year at Southview we’re stepping out and trying a few new things.  They may fail badly – or they may succeed beyond our hopes.  The only way to know is to step out and take the shot.

I heard a quote the other day from pastor Bill Hybels – “we are a results oriented organization, and we make no apologies for that.” I agree with that – the church IS a results oriented organization!  We have a mission given to us by Jesus, and we are responsible and will be held accountable for how we lead and what we do with that mission.

I think there’s a common perception in churches that we shouldn’t focus on results, that we should just be faithful and keep on keeping on.  I agree with the first part – we should be faithful – but being faithful involves more than just maintaining the status quo.  It involves taking shots that we’re not 100% sure will work! It involves trying new things, being creative, thinking beyond what worked yesterday.  It involves realizing when something isn’t working and stopping or changing it.  It involves evaluating results – and seeking better results.  And none of that just happens; it all requires intentionality.

The church is a results oriented organization, and we should make no apologies for it.  We should constantly be asking “how can we do this better?”  The mission – reaching people with the message of Jesus and helping them grow to maturity in Him – is too important not to.

Do you agree that the church is a results oriented organization?  Why or why not?

Mark Zuckerberg’s 1 Simple Rule For Hiring

Facebook_like_thumbYesterday I saw an article about a monthly town hall meeting Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had in Barcelona.  He was speaking about Facebook’s hiring process, and he said when he’s looking at bringing someone on board, he asks one simple question to determine if it’s a good fit or not.

Would I be happy working for this person?

He said “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.  It’s a pretty good test.”

When I read the article, it made me think – and after reflecting on it a bit, I think Mark’s on to something with this.

One of the criteria I’ve used for hiring for many years now is chemistry.  Does this person have good chemistry with me and the rest of the team?  Does this person demonstrate a humble, teachable spirit?  If the answer to both of those is yes, then we move ahead.  I think those questions relate to Mark’s question.  If I have the opportunity to work for someone I genuinely like being around, who leads from a place of humility and teachability, that’s a good place to be.

Leaders, I think this is a great question to ask when we look at adding to our teams.  If the answer is no, put the brakes on and find someone who’s a better fit.

What do you think of Mark’s question?

Twenty Years From Now


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

I turn 40 later this year.  In our culture, this is considered to be somewhat of a milestone, a halfway point of our lives on this earth.  And as I’ve begun to think more about this, the above quote by Mark Twain has begun to take on more meaning than ever before.

What do I want my leadership to look like twenty years from now?

What am I dreaming about today for twenty years from now?

Too often, I get caught up in the day to day minutiae of life, and that’s not conducive to big picture thinking.  One of my goals is to regularly get into environments where I am inspired to dream beyond today.  Last August at the Global Leadership Summit, I heard Bill Hybels say, “Enough of playing small, enough of playing safe: it’s time for a grander vision.”

What could Southview look like twenty years from now?  What could God be using this local church to do in this community and in this world?

An old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The second best time is now.”

Do you want your leadership to be stronger and better twenty years from now? Do you want your life to be better twenty years from now? If you’re a follower of Jesus, do you want to be more like Jesus twenty years from now? I do.

We’d better start working on that today.

What do you dream “could be” twenty years from now?

The Tragedy of Living Below Our Capacities

I came across a quote today that really resonated with me.

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.”—Benjamin E. Mays

I was not familiar with that name, so I spent some time reading more about this fascinating man.  Benjamin Mays was a pastor, college professor, dean, and college president.  His most famous student was Martin Luther King, Jr.  King referred to Dr. Mays as his “spiritual mentor,” and he said he saw in Dr. Mays “the ideal of what he wanted a minister to be.” Dr. Mays delivered the eulogy at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral. (source: Wikipedia)

The quote by Dr. Mays above speaks to a common tragedy in the lives of so many: the tragedy of what could have been.  Too often, I believe we trade what could be for the comfort and supposed security of what is.  How many people, near the end of their lives, look back with regret over relationships not reconciled, decisions not made, or actions not taken?

Leaders are not immune to this.  Often, after a season of opposition, a leader’s tendency can be to throttle back, to coast and not make too many waves.  The tragedy is that when a leader begins to coast in complacency, so do the people they lead!  The mission is not advanced; the ball is not moved up the field; and a maintenance mindset begins to take hold.  Be careful — once that mindset takes root, its tough to dig it out.

Last Sunday at Southview, I taught on how God has wired us according to our spiritual gifts, our passions, and talents, and if we are serving in the intersection of those, we will find fulfillment that will last.  Our spiritual gifts are given to us by God for the benefit of others.  The question we should ask, concerning our gifts, is how can I use this for others?

The tragedy is “not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little.” How often is there a dream in the mind and heart of a leader that goes unseen, unheard, and unrealized? By playing it safe, you create fewer waves, sure, but the tragedy is that the dream is left in the land of potential, and all those who could have benefitted from it will not.

I don’t want to live “below my capacity” – I want to top out!  I want to see God use every gift He has given me for the benefit of others.  I don’t want to do too little – I want to leverage every moment I can for the work He has designed me to do.  I believe when I do that, He is glorified and I will find the freedom and contentment that come from being who God designed me to be.

And I want the same thing for you.

In 2015, what are you doing differently to top out your capacity for what God created and designed you to do? 

Why Does The Local Church Matter?

This is why.  This video is from NewSpring Church in South Carolina.  This is the best video I’ve ever seen about why we do what we do at Southview and in every local church.

Thanks to Brian Dodd for posting this.

“The local church is the hope of the world, and it’s future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.”  –Bill Hybels

4 Reminders For Sleepless Leaders

file0001662840435I mentioned last week how my valuing of sleep has ratcheted up several notches after going through a season where sleep was elusive.  And as I’ve thought more about that, there’s one more thing that I want to say about the subject of sleeplessness.

Sometimes sleeplessness is part of leadership.

As a leader, have you ever been kept awake because your mind is racing with possibilities?  Whether positive or negative, I think any leader who is truly invested has dealt with this issue.  We are by nature do-ers.  We are FILO – first in, last out.  We invest our heart and soul into what we lead.  And sometimes the challenges, the issues, and the future possibilities can cause our minds to rev up to the point we can barely close our eyes.  It’s not a medication that does that – it’s leadership adrenaline.

There’s a quote that I’ve got taped to the wall above my desk. One day I want to get it printed and framed; it’s one of those quotes that captures perfectly the essence of leadership passion.

 “Enough of playing small; enough of playing safe; it’s time for a grander vision.”  –Bill Hybels

I think any leader can read that and immediately their heart starts pounding a little harder and their body tenses for action!  That’s what leadership adrenaline does.  But what do you do as a leader when you start losing sleep because you can’t rev down and turn your mind off?

For me, there are four things I have to constantly remind myself of:

1) There are factors that I can simply do nothing about.

Guess what?  Every church, every business, every organization deals with factors that the leader does not have 100% control over.  We have to acknowledge that fact as reality and own it. Thus it has always been; thus it will always be.

2) I cannot fix everything.

For someone with a fixer mentality like me, that’s sometimes hard to admit.  But as a leader, I KNOW it’s true.  I cannot fix everything – I can’t even fix most things!  But I can lead teams to do so.  Which takes me to number 3…

3) I have a team that is MORE than capable of handling what arises.

Yes indeed.  I am privileged to work with a team that is MORE than capable, and it’s only when I forget that fact that I start to rev up and amp up.  The tendency in any type A leader is to want to do it yourself, but that’s NOT leading with diligence – in fact, it’s very poor leadership.  When I recognize this behavior pattern asserting itself, I have to take a step back, remember that the team I lead is incredibly capable (else they wouldn’t be here!), and allow/encourage them to lead.  And take my hands off.  That’s the hard part.

When I actually remember that and do that (far too seldom at first blush), I find that things go WAY better than if I had invested my limited time and energy in doing it my way.  Leaders invest in others – they don’t try to do it all themselves because guess what?  You don’t have all the gifts and skills and abilities, and neither do I.

4) God is sovereign.

I’m teaching a series on the book of Nahum right now, and this is a central point to that book.  God is sovereign.  Which means that I am not.  Shocking, I know.  Leaders, we are not the all, end all, be all.  The sun does not rise with our awakening in the morning, and the sun does not set when we lie down. When I remember that God is sovereign and I am not, it really helps me to put things in proper perspective.

Have you ever lost sleep as a leader?  What would you add to the list above?

Download My New eBook Today for Free!

97NuggetsCoverI’ve just completed my new eBook, and right now you can get a copy free!  Read below for more details.

I’ve been going to leadership conferences for 15 years now.  I’ve got notebook after notebook filled with scribbled notes, ideas for possible implementation, and random thoughts that speakers inspired as I listened.  Recently I took some time and went back through all those notebooks, and I put together an eBook with 97 leadership “nuggets” that I think every leader should know.  Whether you lead in the business world, in academia, in a non-profit context, or in a local church like I do, these principles can help inspire you and clarify your own leadership challenges and decisions.

You can get a copy free by subscribing to my blog updates via email in the sidebar on the right.  After you confirm your subscription, you’ll get an email with a link where you can download the eBook in PDF format that you can read on your tablet, e-reader, or computer.

My hope is that you find these nuggets to be as helpful, relevant, and inspiring as I did when I first heard them, and when I’ve reflected on and applied many of them in the days since.  My goal is to inspire leaders to lead with all diligence, and this is just one way I hope to help you.

What leadership nuggets, quotes, and principles would you add to my list?

A Great Leader and a Great Man


Photo from

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, died earlier this week at the age of 93.  I’ve watched his leadership from afar for many years and read some of his writings on leadership and business.  He was devoted to his family, and by all accounts was a strong man of faith.  He was one of the most laser focused leaders I’ve ever seen; he knew what he believed in and he worked tirelessly and determinedly to make his vision a reality.

Owning and leading a business using principles of faith is not for the faint of heart.  In recent years, he and his company came under attack for the beliefs that he held and operated according to.  But as any leader worth their salt knows, there will always be people who disagree with what you do and how you do it.  Always.  I mean, even Jesus, the greatest leader in history, had those who disagreed with what He did and how He did it!

The question is this: will you allow the feelings and opinions of others to drive your behavior away from what you believe is the best course of action, or will you lead according to your principles, according to what you believe is best for the people and the organization you lead?  Cathy did the latter, and I always admired him for that.  Whether you agree with what he believed or not, you must admire a leader that started with one restaurant and built it into a nationwide chain worth billions, and who always acted according to his core principles and values.

Many bloggers this week have posted some of their favorite quotes from this great leader, and I wanted to add a few of mine as well.

  • “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”

This is my favorite.  How many leaders have you heard articulate this?  Priorities are CRITICAL for everyone, but most especially for those who lead others.

  • “Sometimes success is disguised as hard work.”

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Hard work is not optional if you want to succeed, yet it is often overlooked in the search for the easy, silver bullet.  Guess what?  That mythical creature doesn’t exist.

  • “Repetition yields constants. Constants create cultures.” 

Do you want to know how to build organizational culture?  This is how.  Consistent repetition, so that expectations can be set and met by those you lead.

  • “Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”

This is too often overlooked, and is based on a teaching of Jesus found in the Bible – “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  Wouldn’t you like to be led by a leader who lived this way?  Then be that kind of leader.

  • “I believe that you can combine biblical principles and good business practices.”

Too often, there is a big gap between what happens on Sunday at church and what happens on Tuesday at the office.  Cathy found a way to bridge that gap and bring his faith alive in his work.  That’s something I believe every leader and every follower of Jesus should and can aspire to do.

What did you learn from Truett Cathy’s life and leadership?  Add your favorite quote from Truett Cathy in the comments below.

4 Leadership Quotes From Man of Steel

One of my favorite movies of recent years is Man of Steel.  If you know me, you know that I’m a big Superman fan, and the latest movie did a phenomenal job of rebooting the franchise (which really needed it, especially after the last movie).

There are so many things I could point to as leadership truths and principles from this movie – truly – but here are a couple that jumped out.

1. “Endless debates lead to nothing.”  General Zod said this to Jor-El as Jor-El tried to talk him out of leading a coup against the Kryptonian government.  Have you ever been in a meeting where the debate goes on and on and on, and NOTHING gets accomplished?  Endless debates lead to nothing.  One of my goals for every discussion in a meeting I’m in is to get to a point of resolution, where tasks or projects can be assigned to someone who is then responsible for them.  Without that, it’s just endless talking.

2. “A good death is it’s own reward.” –Faora-Ul.  Leaders understand this.  How we lead, not just out of the gate, but all the way to the finish line, matters.  Too many leaders sprint out great and then sizzle out.  The apostle Paul taught us that finishing well is critically important.  Leaders lead knowing they are in a marathon, not a sprint.

3. “People are afraid of what they don’t understand.”  –Jonathan Kent.  Think about this in the context of change.  Any leader who’s tried to lead an organization through change understands that people are afraid of what they don’t understand.  They don’t always see how what could be is better than what is – the leader’s job is to help them understand that.  That’s what visioncasting is all about – helping people understand what could be and why it should be.

4.  “There is more at stake here than just our lives.  It is the lives around us.”  –Jonathan Kent.  In the context of what I do, this one hits home.  57% of Fairfax county residents are religiously unaffiliated – they don’t know Jesus.  And they are facing a life now and an eternity apart from God, who loves them more than they can imagine.  It’s far too easy for followers of Jesus in our culture to just blend in, be like everyone else, and forget that we are here in this place for a reason.  There is more at stake here than just living our lives like everyone else.  It is the lives around us.  They matter to God and to us, and we have to do whatever it takes to connect them with Jesus.

Those four really made me think.  What quotes do you remember that impacted you?