You Can Grow Flowers or You Can Grow Weeds…

Someone I know liked this post on Facebook this week (on the One Spark Foundation page), and seeing it triggered some thoughts in my mind about leadership.

  • The power of a thought in a leader’s mind cannot be overstated.
  • Intentionality in what we focus on and dwell on in our minds is critical.
  • Leaders know the power of intentional focus on a goal, not on the obstacles to the goal.
  • Weeds = nature = allergies = I should always stay indoors unless I’m in Jordan where I seem to have no allergies.

What thoughts does the image above bring to your mind?

“Mistakes That Transform” – my guest post over at #BeALeader

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wrote a guest post that was published over at #BeALeader last Saturday on the topic of “Mistakes That Transform” – I’d encourage you to check it out as well as the rest of their site.  There are some really great articles over there – a resource on leadership I’d highly recommend to you!

Fridays Are For Sharing; 3 New Leadership Resources For You

I mentioned this earlier in the week, but the Lead Change Group blog is a great resource for leadership articles and resources – well worth your time to peruse what’s over there.

Carey Nieuwhof’s blog is a constant source of leadership inspiration and challenge.  As a pastor, Carey speaks to that leadership context often, but the principles he talks about are applicable no matter the arena in which you lead.

Martin Webster’s blog, Leadership Thoughts, is a new one I’m reading, and I’ve found quite a few nuggets that I’m reflecting on these days; I think you’ll enjoy looking through the archives and subscribing to his posts.

What online leadership resources are you reading/benefiting from these days? Share in the comments below!

Leadership Culture

There’s a great post from Mary Schaefer over on on “What Every Leader Should Know About Organization Culture.”

Leaders, what are your thoughts as you read this?  One line that jumped out at me was this: a leader’s mood and behavior set off a powerful chain reaction among those around her or him.” Ouch.  How important it is for us to get this right!  

This week, let’s reflect on this, and let’s think through the mood and behavior that we communicate in our organizations.  Let’s be intentional about what behaviors we model; they’re contagious.

Have you seen this at work in your organization?  How can you be more intentional about the behaviors and moods that WILL influence your organization?

The Rest of God

A few days ago, I finished The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath.

A Canadian pastor named Mark Buchanan wrote it, and I really resonated with several quotes, so I thought I’d share some this week…

Concerning sabbatical: “I don’t deserve it.  It’s a pure gift, like being born in peacetime and not war, like being forgiven, or kissed, or told you have beautiful eyes.  I never earned a minute of it.  I don’t deserve a scrap of it.  But I feel deeply obliged to the people in my church who have allowed me it. Obliged, not to come back smarter, or thinner, or more eloquent, or more studied up, though all that could help.  The obligation I feel is not to pay them back.  These things don’t work that way, on some barter system where the church trades several months of leave in exchange for shorter, pithier sermons.  The obligation I feel, rather, is to come back restored.” (page 148)

“I want to return to my work slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to become angry. I want to hide more things in my heart and ponder them there. I want to return with a sharper instinct to pray, to watch and wait, and with less impulsiveness to act straightaway. I want a stronger conviction that, though God welcomes my honest efforts, he manages quite fine without my Peter-like outbursts of ill-conceived enthusiasm and then sudden loss of nerve, my opinion swapping and bully tactics, my reckless volunteerism to fix things for God and then desperate evacuation when things go wrong.” (page 153)

“To remember is, literally, to put broken pieces back together, to re-member. It is to create an original wholeness out of what has become scattered fragments… There is a terrible cost to our busyness. It erodes memory… busyness destroys the time we need to remember well. In the confusion, we forget who we are. The broken pieces remain strewn.” (page 196)

“The Swahili word for “white man” – mazungu – literally means “one who spins around.” That’s how East Africans see Westerners: turning ourselves dizzy, a great whirl of motion without direction. We’re flurries of going nowhere.” (page 196)

“Not As Good As”

Have you ever had someone tell you that you’re not as good as someone else?

That’s a voice that many of us hear – sometimes from within, but sometimes from other people. The comparison game is one that is played everywhere, in every culture, in every community. How do you respond when someone plays it with you – when they tell you that you’re not as good as someone else – another teacher that they had, another pastor that they knew, another friend that they had?

How do you respond?
What do you say?
Do you get defensive? Do you react in hurt or in anger? Do you lash back?
Or do you get depressed, believing the words that are spoken to be true?

It’s easy to respond that way. I have. And I’ve wanted to even when I didn’t. But as a follower of Jesus, what should our response be?

Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Listen to the God who created you.
You were created by and serve an Audience of One.
His approval matters more than anyone else’s.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to live up to the expectations of other people.
Don’t try to be “as good as” someone else.
Don’t let the words of others (or yourself) cause you to deny the person God has created you to be.

Remember that you are God’s child. Your responsibility and mine is to do what He’s asked you to do, in a way that honors Him, no matter what others say or think.

Know that He loves you, today, right now, just as you are, more than you can possibly imagine.

Variety in the Church

One of the books I’m currently reading is Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures To My Students, a compilation of lectures the 19th century “Prince of Preachers” gave to the ministerial students at the Pastor’s College. Spurgeon published more than 1,900 different sermons before his death in 1892.

Check out this passage I came across:

“In order to prevent custom and routine from being enthroned among us, it will be well to vary the order of service as much as possible. Whatever the free Spirit moves us to do, that let us do at once… we will not be bound to sing here and pray there, but will vary the order of service to prevent monotony. Irregularities would do good; monotony works weariness.”

It’s so interesting to me to read these works from the late 1800’s that could work such power in churches today. One of the things I love about serving at Southview is that we have freedom to experiment and try new things, to change and vary and exercise the freedom we have in Christ. As Paul told the first century believers in Corinth, we do whatever it takes “to win as many as possible.” I want that to be true for my brothers and sisters in churches throughout the US and the world – that the idols of “sameness” would fall to the fresh winds and fresh fire of the Holy Spirit’s moving in us and through us.

Change should be a constant as we constantly ask the question “is there a better way to _____?” We must never change the doctrines of Scripture – we don’t have edit rights to that document – but the models and methods we use to reach others around us must always be changing. Jesus taught us that – new wine needs new wineskins that are flexible to hold it.

Have you ever experienced pushback to variety and change in the church?

Who Do You Want To Please?

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” –Galatians 1:10 (ESV)

This morning I was reading Galatians and this verse jumped out at me.  Paul’s statement here speaks so loudly to the spirit of our age, and the church is not immune.  In my current ministry context, this has not been a tremendous challenge, but I’ve talked to several folks lately for whom it is.  And God’s Word speaks so clearly to this, though it can be difficult to put into practice.

What a temptation it often is for pastors to simply acquiesce to the loudest voices, despite knowing that it’s not best for the church, the vision, or the mission.

What a temptation it often is for leaders to quietly allow others to “lead’ in directions that they know are not best, simply to “keep the peace.”

We must listen to the words of Paul.  Pastors and leaders, we serve an audience of One, and His voice ought to be the one we listen to most.

Thinking Orange

The last week of April, I’ll be attending the Orange conference in Atlanta, GA for the first time, along with our children’s pastor, youth pastor, and worship pastor.  Why is the entire pastoral staff team going to a conference about family ministry?

Because every life matters.

Because what we do in children’s ministry and youth ministry matters, and it’s worth everything we can put into it.

The Orange strategy is not new for us, but in 2013 we are focusing on this like never before.  We want to see the partnership between the home and the church be as strong as it can be.

Because we can’t afford to lose even one – that’s too high a price.

I’d love to see you at the conference in April – the kids and families are worth it.  And we need to learn as much as we can and do whatever it takes.

Because every life matters to God and to us.