Invest in Something That Will Outlive You

I recently read Mark Miller’s new book, Leaders Made Here. It is an outstanding read and well worth your time, whether you lead in a church context, a non-profit context, or a business context.  Leadership principles are transferrable and apply across organizational contexts! Check out the post below from Mark dealing with Leadership Talent Reviews.


Does your company do Leadership Talent Reviews? If you’re not familiar with the idea, it’s a very straightforward concept. The process involves a systematic review of all leaders in an organization.

Leadership Talent Reviews are not a new idea. Most organizations do this in one form or another. If yours doesn’t, perhaps you should start. Here are a few of the many benefits we’ve experienced:

  • We calibrate on what’s expected of our leaders. We use the SERVE model as our baseline for conversation and comparison.
  • We calibrate on performance expectations. We talk about actual results – if there are performance issues, this is the forum for discussing them as a leadership team.
  • We also challenge each other. Sometimes, the leader doing the evaluation is biased. When you have to defend your rating of another leader, this brings a level of accountability and reality to the process.
  • We check our leadership pipeline. To accomplish this, we include a category for Emerging Leaders. These are women and men who don’t currently lead people – but could at some point in the future.
  • We talk about how to help individual leaders grow. This is one of the most valuable parts of the entire process. Anyone can be a commentator – far fewer excel at coaching leaders. If this is not the way you think naturally, after you’ve evaluated a leader, ask the question: How can we help this leader grow? Here are few tips…
  • Test for readiness. If you’re trying to change behavior, be sure the leader in question wants to change. If he or she doesn’t want to improve, don’t waste your time.
  • Attack critical gaps. When attempting to help a leader grow, I recommend starting with the big issues. What is it this leader must change if he or she wants to grow their leadership capacity? Start there.
  • Be specific. Avoid broad-brush generalities. Be as pinpointed and as behavioral as possible. If you’re coaching a leader who talks too much, there may be self-awareness issues. However, the behavior you need to address is, “Don’t talk so much!”
  • Provide recommendations. If you want to coach well, move beyond observations to recommendations. Think about a great sports coach – he doesn’t just share observations with an athlete, he offers recommendations for improvement.
  • Provide resources. Some development activities are free. “Don’t talk so much” doesn’t cost anything. However, others may require a financial investment. Don’t be surprised when you have to pay for development.
  • Provide encouragement. To grow is harder than many people realize. Often, it involves personal change. For me, that’s the hardest change of all. And, with change often comes pain. Look for opportunities to encourage leaders who are investing their best effort to improve.
  • Provide accountability. For the leaders we’re attempting to help, you’ll want to decide the level of accountability needed on an individual basis. For me and you, our accountability will come in the next Leadership Talent Review.

Of all the activities leaders engage in, none has more lasting impact than developing the next generation of leaders. Whatever your process, be sure you’re investing enough time, energy and resources in your leaders to create a legacy you’ll be proud of.


Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.


Originally published on

3 Quotes For Leaders From Drucker and Me

I read a book this week called Drucker and Me by Bob Buford (thanks to my friend Cheryl for loaning it to me!).  I expect most people who read on the subject of leadership would be familiar with the name Peter Drucker.  Drucker was an incredibly prolific writer and speaker on the subject of leadership, who taught and influenced more on the subject of leadership than just about anyone else in the twentieth century.  From business leaders to non-profit leaders to church leaders, so many people (including me) have benefited from Drucker’s writings, and if you haven’t read this new book by Buford, I’d highly recommend it to you.

Drucker has always fascinated me.  He taught so many people in so many different contexts, and seemed equally comfortable in the boardroom, the classroom, and the church meeting room.  Did you know that he wrote 1/3 of his books before age 65 and 2/3 after?  Often I think people think of 65 as a magic number, and once you’re “retired” you just kick back and stop making contributions to organizations, churches, and the world.  Never let that be said!  Drucker ran his race to the very end.  When he died at the age of 95, he was still writing, working on his next book.  I hope and pray that I’m still making a contribution to other leaders and the church all the way to the end.  What a leader.

Three of my favorite Drucker quotes from this book for leaders:

1. “What have you quit doing so that you can focus more on those things that will produce results?”  The principle of planned abandonment – critical for every leader in any organization.

2. “Thinking small yields small results.” I’ve seen this to be true more than once in my leadership.

3. “Good intentions are not enough; always measure the results of your efforts to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment of time and resources.” We measure what’s important.  Without evaluation, how will we know if we’re getting better?

What’s your favorite quote from Peter Drucker?

3 Leadership Lessons From a Jordanian Sheep

Sheep and shepherdI took this picture in Jordan earlier this year.  I was a square supervisor on an archaeological dig at Tall el-Hammam, thought to be the site of the biblical city of Sodom.  A bedouin family had set up camp next to the section of the site where I worked, and every day we’d watch the shepherd lead his sheep on their daily walk for food and water.  They were kept penned in when they were near the tent, but occasionally one of the sheep would escape his confinement and begin to wander.  And then the trouble began.

Our squares were on the side of a hill, and that hill is covered with rocks, stones, and boulders.  I don’t recall ever seeing so many rocks in my life.  And it was on this hillside that I saw one of these escaped sheep wander away from its herd.

This particular sheep did ok for a while going up the hillside, but there came a point when it realized that it had walked into quite the predicament.  It had made its way partly up the hill, but now it couldn’t get down.  It was stuck, and even a sheep knows that when you can’t move, you’re prime picking for predators.

I felt like I was watching Jesus’ story from Luke 15 in action.  The 99 sheep were safely in their pens, but the one had wandered away and was now in trouble.  What now?

When he saw what happened, the shepherd walked up the hillside to where the sheep had wandered, picked it up, and carried it back to the safety of the herd.

What does this have to do with leadership?  Three things:

1)  The Bible compares people to sheep for a reason.  Just like sheep, people need to be led.  And when we’re not led well, we can get into all sorts of jams.  It really matters how leaders lead others.

2)  Rocks are everywhere.  It’s a leader’s job to lead, to guide.  If the leader doesn’t do it, who will?

3)  Sheep aren’t typically attacked when they are in a herd; they’re attacked when they wander off into isolation.  So too with people.  Community matters, and not just for the people we lead.

Leaders, if you’re not learning from those farther down the road from you, if you’re not reading books and articles by leaders who are more mature in their leadership than you, then you’re moving slowly but surely toward a place of solitary, isolated leadership where you’re not growing.  Don’t let that happen – be intentional about your development as a leader.  That’s how you grow, and those you lead will be grateful that you did so.

How are you intentionally growing and developing your leadership these days?



4 Ways to Persevere in Ministry

lightstock_146024_medium_user_2298620Last week I read a quote that surprised me.  It said “80% of people graduating college with a ministry degree and professing a ministry calling are out of ministry within five years.”  (Miles Welch, Pastor of Leadership Expansion, 12Stone Church)


I still remember something that was said in the orientation sessions I had to take as a first year seminary student.  They told us to look to our right and to our left; 2 out of 3 people who start seminary studies don’t graduate.

So 2/3 don’t finish seminary, and of the ones that do, 80% have quit serving in ministry positions within five years??

Why is this?  And what can be done about it?

To answer the first question, I think there are a myriad of reasons.  From toxic church environments to misunderstood and miscommunicated expectations (on both the church’s and the employee’s side), there are many reasons why this stat doesn’t really surprise me.  But I don’t think it has to be so.

One of the reasons we launched the Chrysalis program of residents and interns at Southview a few years ago was to bridge the gap between the academic learning that is a part of seminary education and the “real world” experience of working in a church.  I’ve heard many times how different working in a church environment is – it’s not what people expect!  We wanted to be a part of the solution by providing an environment for young men and women who were pursuing education and an eventual position in a local church where they could experiment, try new things, even fail, but above all learn what working in a church environment is like.  By doing this, we hoped to invest in these young men and women, but also to provide a way for them to determine if working in a local church was REALLY what they were called to do.

I believe that the stat I referenced above can be improved by four actions.

1)  Pray.

This seems like SUCH a church-y thing to say.  But truly, without prayer, we are operating solely in our own strength.  That’s not good enough – by myself, I can only accomplish what I can do, but when I pray, God moves and does what only He can do.  That’s what I want.  And in order to persevere, I have to make prayer a non-negotiable priority.  Every morning, as I’m getting dressed, I pray.  Every morning, when I get to the office, I spend time in prayer.  Sometimes I’ll go over to a kneeling bench in my office that my wife’s uncle made for us for our wedding and pray there.  Sometimes I’ll stand and walk around.  But prayer is a non-negotiable way that my day has to start.  That’s critical to persevering.

2) Understand what working in ministry is and what it is not.

When I talk with a couple before they get married, I always talk about expectations. Expectations can be right on track – or they can be incredibly skewed. Just like in marriage counseling, there can be (and too often is) a HUGE gap between expectations of what ministry will be like and the reality.  Contrary to what many people might think, you’re not just sitting, praying and reading the Bible all day while worship music plays in the background.  It is, in fact, a job, and there are expectations and responsibilities. You have goals, objectives, projects, timelines, calendars, and all the rest. Working in ministry is not the easiest job I’ve ever had – after leaving the marketplace, I’ve found ministry to be one of the most difficult!  But it can also be incredibly rewarding if you are gifted for it and called to it.  But you have to right size your expectations, especially coming into it for the first time.

3) Remember Who you serve.

When we talk about serving in a local church, I think it’s important to remember Who we serve.  Yes, I’m talking about God.

How many times have I talked with pastors and church leaders who are trying to meet every need, invest in every relationship, solve every problem, and be there for every “emergency” (whether it’s truly one or not)?  And that’s just when I look in the mirror!

I am a recovering people-pleaser.  And if I’m not primarily focused on serving God, listening to His voice, doing what He tells me – then I’m going to get so busy and overwhelmed serving the whims and desires of other people that I will look for ANY escape valve to get out of that.  It’s simply not sustainable, for me or for you.  Remember Who you serve.

4) Never stop learning.

I know, I know, I talk about this a lot.  But I really do believe this is a key to persevering.  If we are not learning from men and women who are farther down the road than we are – if we’re not reading and challenging ourselves to grow intellectually and spiritually – then how can we possibly persevere, and even prevail?  I want to lead with all diligence (Romans 12:8). I want to prevail and persevere in ministry, not just for a decade or two, but for a lifetime.  And that means I have to continue to be a learner – forever.

What advice would you give a new church staff member, or one who’s thinking of calling it quits?

9 Unopened Dead Sea Scrolls Found

DSSJarCheck out the news story here:

Once unopened, the scrolls are expected to shed new light on the religious practices of the Jewish people during the Second Temple Period between the years of 530 BC and 70, an era named for a holy place of worship for the Jewish people that was constructed by the builder of ancient Jerusalem King Herod.”

I wrote my master’s thesis on one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1QpHab, and when I visited Israel for the first time, I was able to see that particular scroll in the Israeli Museum.  Earlier this year, I had the privilege of seeing several of the scrolls that are housed in Amman, Jordan in the new Jordan Museum, including the copper scroll.  Since I first began studying them, the scrolls have fascinated me, and to know that nine more unopened scrolls were just found in a store room where they’ve been since being unearthed at Qumran over half a century ago – wow.

I believe that archaeological finds such as this can illuminate the Bible for us and help us to understand the text, life in antiquity, and culture/customs of the biblical era better. I’m looking forward to learning more about what these new scrolls will bring to our understanding!

Run, Run, Run!

IMG_0578Next Friday (July 4) at 8 a.m. I’ll be running in the Firecracker 5K race at the Reston Town Center.  This’ll be my first race since I injured my Achilles last year as I began training for a half marathon (which I never got to, but still hope to).  I’m looking forward to it, and two SCCers are running with me next week.  You in?  Register here.


3 Takeaways from Essentialism by Greg McKeown

downloadA friend of mine loaned me a book that she said was worth my time – Essentialism by Greg McKeown.  She wasn’t kidding – wow.  This is going to be one of the top ten books I’ve ever read.  Very insightful, very challenging.

Among the many things I walked away from this book with, here are three:

  1. The importance of clarity. According to McKeown, essentialists say no to about 90 percent of opportunities.  That’s challenging.  90 percent.  If I am clear on what I do, then it becomes much easier to filter out and say no to what I shouldn’t. But that means I have to ask hard questions. And I have to exercise some serious discipline to make it stick.
  2. The freeing possibility of no. When I say no to what I need to say no to, I say yes to what matters most.  It frees me up to do what only I can do.  How many times have I said yes to something that I regretted saying yes to?  How many times have I completely filled my calendar to the point of no margin, then realized I wasn’t really doing anything well?  Essentialists understand that when you say no, you create margin and possibilities for what you have said yes to as a priority in your life.
  3. The power of choice. Oh man. When I forget that I choose what goes on my calendar and my to do list, when I forget that I choose what I will commit my time and focus to, I allow other people to determine what my calendar and to do list look like.  By remembering that I have the power of choice, I determine what I will (and will not) focus on.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to you.  Whether you lead in a small context or a large, or whether you’re in a church, non-profit, or business context, this book will be profitable and useful to you.  You can get it at Amazon here.

If you’ve read Essentialism, what were some of your takeaways?


Challenge Accepted!

file6151303951841Thanks, Brittany!  She’s invited me into a chain-writing. nomination-based writing competition. Brittany was our first Chrysalis resident at SCC, and she set the bar high for all who would follow!  She’s now leading worship at a church in Texas, and I’m so pumped to hear how God is using her, and I believe the best is yet to come!

Now, on to the challenge…

The rules to play:

  • Thank the blogger who gave it to you.
  • Answer the 11 questions they ask you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 500 followers.
  • Ask those 11 bloggers 11 questions.
  • Let those bloggers know they’ve been nominated so they can continue the chain!

Questions to answer:

  • If you could do or be a cause and money was no issue- what would it be?

I’ve devoted my life and career to the local church, so that would definitely be it.  If it had to be something else… I’d say providing sustainable clean water infrastructure and systems for every person on this planet.

  • What do you wish people would say about you after they spent any length of time with you?

I wish people would say that they can tell I’m trying to be more and more like Jesus every day.  I’m not there yet, but I would really like to be that guy.

  • Try to place your very first memory from childhood. What was it?

Hmm. I remember seeing a show on TV when I was maybe three or four called Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  I think that’s the first thing I remember.

  • What are 10 questions/advice you’d write to your 16-year old self?

1. Christianity is not about religious stuff.  It’s about Jesus. Get this right.

2. Introverts can lead. Don’t use that excuse and buy the lie that they can’t.

3. Be yourself – God already made other people to be them.

4. Listen more than you talk.

5. Politics is not the best way to change the world.

6. Read all you can about all you can.

7. Be intentional in who you are becoming.

8. Listen to good music, and appreciate the story of Les Miserables!

9. Start writing now.

10. Stay in touch with your friends, even when you move away.

  • If tomorrow you woke up with no-to-do list, what would you do?

Read  🙂

  • What Bible verse are you clinging to right now?

Romans 8:1-2

  • If you were a superhero what would your superpower be?


  • What are the 3 top books you’ve read?

That’s REALLY tough. If I have to choose: When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin; The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis; Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley.

  • ^ … and why?

When Crickets Cry is some of the best writing I’ve ever read.  The Last Battle has been one of my favorite books since I first read it (when I was about 8 years old).  And Deep and Wide impacted me in a big way in how I see and lead the local church.

  • When was the last time you were nervous?


  • John 16:33 says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
    Name at least one thing you’ve overcome in your life thanks to Christ.

Being more concerned with what others think about what I do than what God thinks about what I do.  But every time I think I’ve completely overcome it, I have to fight it again, so maybe it’s “in process” (like most things in my spiritual walk!).


OK, my blogger friends – I pose the same questions to you:

  • If you could do or be a cause and money was no issue- what would it be?
  • What do you wish people would say about you after they spent any length of time with you?
  • Try to place your very first memory from childhood. What was it?
  • What are 10 questions/advice you’d write to your 16-year old self?
  • If tomorrow you woke up with no-to-do list, what would you do?
  • What Bible verse are you clinging to right now?
  • If you were a superhero what would your superpower be?
  • What are the 3 top books you’ve read?
  • ^ … and why?
  • When was the last time you were nervous?
  • John 16:33 says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
    Name at least one thing you’ve overcome in your life thanks to Christ.

Blog away!

Remembering With Gratitude


We took the girls to Arlington Cemetery this week, and as we walked the paths through this solemn place, I was reminded of this quote:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address – November, 1863

Both of my grandfathers served in the armed forces during World War II – one in the Navy and one in the Army.  To those of you who served or serve today, thank you.  A grateful nation remembers today those who gave the last full measure of devotion to ensure our freedom to worship and serve God.

What Happens With Collaboration

Watch the video above, and you’ll see an amazing example of impromptu collaboration.  My wife sent me the link and I was amazed by this.  These guys don’t know each other, and yet they work together almost seamlessly and, in my wife’s words, “I love the honesty of these guys.”

You know what I thought of when I saw this and read her words?

I thought of the church.

In his letters, the apostle Paul talks about the church as a body, made up of many members, but one in purpose and mission.  Every follower of Jesus has spiritual gifts, passions, and talents that, when combined with those of others, works together in beautiful, honest, powerful collaborative effort that is simply not possible alone.

That’s the power of the church, the movement that Jesus founded and that I’ve devoted my life to leading.

Leading in the church is not easy when it’s done right – not by a long shot.  But when you see the results of collaborative effort, where people are using their gifts, passions, talents, and resources together to advance the Kingdom of God, how amazing it is.