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Wednesday
Oct182017

Eight traits of outstanding staff members

 Anyone building a team wants to have some outstanding, stellar team members. What qualities would you look for in the people you want to add to your staff team? Thom Rainer shares eight of them.

 Originally posted by Thom Rainer

 Eight traits of outstanding church staff members

The stories are tragic but too common. Different members of a church staff unite in opposition to other staff. An executive pastor goes behind the back of the pastor and undermines the leadership of that pastor. The lead pastor of a church rarely communicates with the other church staff. The different members of the church staff operate in silos instead of cooperating synergistically. A lead pastor fires a staff member without any due process or compassion.

Those are but a few examples of a divided church staff. The result is always harmful to the church they are called to serve. Sometimes the negative impact of the division takes years to overcome. Sometimes it lingers the entire history of the church.

This article is for individual church staff: senior pastors, lead pastors, executive pastors, and numerous others serving in such areas as children, students, discipleship, worship, small groups, and pastoral care, to name a few.

These eight characteristics are for you as you relate to the other staff at your church, regardless of how they respond or reciprocate. The most godly and influential staff members I have known share these eight traits.

1.  They pray for other staff members individually. In their private prayer time, effective staff members pray for the others who serve on the team. They pray for those who support them. And they pray for those who oppose them and even antagonize them.

2.  They seek to build up the ministries of the other staff members. In public and private, the best church staff members say great things about the other ministries. They seek to work with the other areas of ministry instead of competing with them.

3.  They communicate openly. They have no hidden agendas. They are not duplicitous in their public words versus their words said in private. They make certain everyone else understands fully what is taking place in their ministries and why.

 4.  They express disagreements with other staff face to face. They are not cowards who spread venom behind the backs of other staff. If they have a disagreement with another staff person, they go to that person directly in a spirit of humility, honesty, and love.

5.  They seek to serve. They will show up at a ministry led by another staff person to help and demonstrate support. They will ask other staff how they can help them. I know the story of a discipleship pastor who brought a meal to the worship pastor during the busy Easter season just to let him know he appreciated him.

6.  They execute the tasks they are given. When one church staff member does not execute the tasks for which he or she is responsible, the entire staff is demoralized. There is a sense that some are working and others are not. It makes the entire staff ministry look weak or incompetent to church members. Often, other staff members have to pick up the slack.

7.  They defend other staff members to church members. Every church staff member receives criticisms on a regular basis from church members. But the best staff members will not allow a church member to denigrate other staff to him or her. The outstanding staff members will defend their fellow team member or, at the very least, direct the church member to speak directly with the person who is the subject of the criticism.

8.  They support and encourage the families of other staff. Families of church staff need support and encouragement. For sure, they often get enough of the negative feedback. Support and encouragement is especially powerful when it comes from another church staff member. Few things unify a church staff and, thus, a church as much as intentional encouragement of the families of church staff.

Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Unity and love are incredibly important for Christian witness. Unity and love are imperative for church staff who serve together.

 

Sunday
Oct152017

Critical Factors for Success

I believe that everyone wants to be successful in life/work/ministry/family, regardless of how they may define success. No one has an expressed purpose, or innate desire to fail, although some do.

I don’t think that anyone wakes up one morning to the realization that their supreme desire in life is to be a failure. I also believe that God’s definition of success is decidedly different than the world’s definition.

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

~I John 2:15,16 (The Message)

So what does the world want?

  • POPULARITY
  • POSSESSIONS
  • PRESTIGE
  • Power
  • These are a few “wants” that come to mind. I’m sure you can think of others.

    Today I want to address three critical factors that are essential to success in biblical leadership--factors that, if violated constantly and consistently, will more than likely lead to leadership failure.

    I am not saying that these are the only ones that can lead to failure if violated, but these are certainly at the top of my list based on personal experience and the experiences of those I have led, coached or worked with/for through the years.

    1. QUALITY TIME WITH GOD

    In my leadership seminars, I say that the most important item on your job description may not be on your  job description, but should be. I believe with all my heart that the primary responsibility of every Christian leader is to hear regularly from God

    “Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”    

    ~I Samuel 3:10 (NIV)  Emphasis mine

    That should be the heart cry of every sincere follower of Jesus, and especially so for his leaders. Through the time-proven practices of spiritual disciplines, we place ourselves in a postion to hear from the Lord: hear words of encouragement, hope, rebuke, challenge and guidance for life and leadership.

    When the pressure is on and the schedule is tight, oftentimes quality time with God is one of the first things that gets neglected or ignored.

    Don’t let this happen to you!

    Get lots of good quality time sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing from the triune God. Remember Mary chose to sit at Jesus feet while sister Martha hustled and bustled about and was rebuked by Jesus.

    2.  QUALITY TIME WITH FAMILY

    The second critial factor that gets neglected is quality time with family. If married, wife and children (as He blesses you with them). If not married, time with your father, mother, brothers and sisters.

    “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, andfight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

    ~Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV) 

    With his help, we need to fight for our homes and make our homes and families a priority both in time and affection.  Andy Stanley’s book, “Choosing to Cheat”is especially insightful on this topic. Ministry/work will suck everything out of you if you are not careful, and your family will get the leftovers--if there is anything left.

    At 77 years of age, I’m still working at making my wife Susan and my four adult children & seven grandchildren a high priority.

    It’s a big challenge for me and I’m not always successful at it, but I am earnestly seeking his help as I set up each week to include all of them in one way or another: to love them, cherish them, affirm them and invest in them with time and attention.

    3.  QUALITY TIME IN ASSESSING AND PICKING TEAM MEMBERS

    Lastly, we need quality time in thinking and praying about key people we want to bring into our team or our staff (both paid and volunteer).

    Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have this conversation with some leader I coach--making those important decisions about who to bring onboard.

    I love Jim Collins’ insight about getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.  

    “Then they all prayed for the right man to be chosen. O, Lord, they said, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen.” ~Acts 1:24 (NLT)

    As leaders we need to pray for the right people to be chosen and  spend sufficinet time thinking, assessing and selecting  these people, as he leads us.

    Nothing can hurt the vision, the ministry and the direction of what God is leading you to do more than having the wrong people with you, or having them in the wrong seats on the bus.

    The subject of selecting the right people is one of the topics that most often comes up in my coaching of leaders. Horror stories abound regarding this topic. Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before selecting his twelve.  That should speak volumes to us!

    So how are you doing with these three Critial Factors for Success? Anything the Lord would have you stop doing, start doing or do differently?

    Tuesday
    Oct102017

    What younger leaders are looking for in those that lead them!

    Every older leader should be investing in the next generation of younger leaders coming up. What exactly are younger leaders looking for in those that are leading, coaching and discipling them? Chuck Lawless has some very good insights for us.

    Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

    I love young people. Their passion, faith, and courage often put me to shame. They teach me, even though I’m the professor. In the past, I’ve written other posts about their concerns.  As I’ve worked with this generation for almost twenty years, here’s my most current list of what young leaders want, listed in no particular order.

    1.  Authenticity.  They’ve seen enough of the fake. They want to know adults who truly walk with God, who are Christlike in public and in private.

    2.  Modeling. Their heroes are often physically distant, available more online than in person. Still, they want someone to walk beside them, to show them how to fight temptation, love others, raise children . . .  live life.

    3.  Consistency.  Young leaders have little time for friends or mentors who are available only for a while. They’ve had too many other adults who’ve not always kept commitments, and they want consistency.

    4.  Probing.  They not only are open to probing questions from others, but they actually welcome them. I’m sometimes surprised by how willing young leaders are to talk about their issues. I trust they’re that open because they really want to be godly.

    5.  Depth.  They recognize shallow Christianity from a distance because it’s what they’ve most often seen. When they see strong, deep, biblical, Christian teaching and obedience, they gravitate in that direction. 

    6.  Teamwork. Some of this interest resides in a growing commitment to elder-led congregations. Much of it, though, also comes from their honest recognition that they need guidance. They welcome a team that helps them make good decisions.

    7.  Vulnerability. Young leaders want mentors and models who themselves are open and vulnerable. Knowing their heroes wrestle with life, too, challenges them to fight for holiness together. 

    8.  Experience.  My generation often leapt into leadership without looking to others for help. Young leaders today, though, strongly desire to learn from others who’ve preceded them in the journey. 

    9.  Impact. These leaders want to be hands-on, personally involved, heavily invested in their tasks. They believe they can in the power of God change the world, and they welcome the challenge.

    10.  Balance. They’ve watched families fall apart, and they don’t want that to happen to them.  Instead, they want someone to show them how to balance work, family, church, etc.  

    11.  Answers. Even when they strive to stand on the Word, they still want to know why they should take that stand.  Their world is asking them questions, and they want to know how to answer them. 

    12.  Affirmation. Some of the strongest young leaders I know still want affirmation. Dig into their heart, and you’ll sometimes find a leader who just wants to be loved. 

     

     

     

     

     

    Friday
    Oct062017

    A leader is a dreamer!

    They said it would never work, that it would lose money, that people wouldn’t come to see it. He had a dream and was motivated to invest a lot of his own money into the project. He, in actuality, staked his entire reputation on the three-hour epic of which he was the director, co-producer and star.

    “Dances with Wolves” took the world by storm and was nominated for twelve Oscars, winning seven of them. Kevin Costner not only danced with wolves, he marched to a different drummer. The world awarded him because he dared to dream. Welcome Kevin to the dreamers’ hall of fame.

    Zig Zigler tells the heartwarming story of Bernie and Elaine Lofchick. They had their delight dashed when they received the devastating news, your son is a spastic. He has cerebral palsy. He will never be able to walk or talk or count to ten, if you believe the prevailing medical opinions. The world-renowned specialist told them that their son David could make it and be normal but they would have to dream big and work hard. It happened…oh, it happened!

    That boy whom the experts said would never walk, talk, or ride a bike could, at the age of 13, do 1,100 pushups in a single day, had run six miles non-stop and was wearing out his third bike.  He grew to be a strapping 195 pound adult, who has a family and is leading a perfectly normal life. David made it because Bernie and Elaine dared to dream, defying the doomsayers. Welcome Bernie, Elaine and David to the dreamers’ hall of fame. May your number increase.

    As a leader, there was a time when you had a clear vision, a dream. God gave you a vivid picture, an idea of what He wants to accomplish through your leadership. But as time has progressed, perhaps you have met defeat, been discouraged, been criticized. Perhaps you have given up your desire, your determination to dream, thinking that you misheard what the Lord said, don’t have what it takes, aren’t gifted enough. Abraham Maslow said that the story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.

    Don't let it happen to you. God is not through with you, even though you might feel like it. And it's never too late, even though it might seem like it. I would encourage you to rejoin the ranks of the daring dreamers. Starting to dream again will give you a fresh start--fresh hope for the future.

    She was born in a shack in the backwoods of Tennessee. During her early childhood she was sickly and frail; and, due to a severe illness, had a paralyzed left leg for which she had to wear a brace.  But she had a wonderful mother who believed in her and taught her to dare to dream.   She dreamed of being the world’s greatest woman runner. In high school she began to enter races and came in dead last in every race she was in.  Then she finally won her first race and from then on she never lost. 

    She linked up with a coach in college who kept the dream alive and took her all the way to the Olympics.  She won the 100 meter event and the 200 meter event, she had two golds. She was a member of the 400 meter relay team. Running the last leg she found herself pitted against Jutta Heine, the greatest, fastest woman runner of her day. In her excitement Wilma dropped the baton and everyone assumed she was through…that there was no way to catch up with the fleet-footed Jutta Heine. But she did and she won her third medal. She achieved her dream. Welcome Wilma Rudolf to the dreamers’ hall of fame.

    I am personally in the dreamer’s hall of fame. I wasn't inducted. I signed myself up; and, furthermore, have issued myself a lifetime membership. At 77 years of age I am still a hopeless dreamer, a crazy visionary. I am not ready to retire and spend my time sitting on the front porch waiting for the mailman to show up, or to sit staring blankly at the TV screen, or to while the hours away hitting an elusive little white ball around the green grass numerous days a week.  

    I must tell you though that I am sad as I walk the corridors of the hall, because there are so many empty picture frames adorning the walls.  Could there be an empty frame there with your name on it?  If you were assured you could not fail what dream would you pursue?

    “Most people go to their graves with their music inside them.”-George Bernard Shaw.  May it not be said of you and me!

    Play all the music God has given you. Don’t be consumed with the fear of failure. Don’t be afraid of what others may think about you. They’re probably not thinking about you at all, because they’re too busy thinking about themselves. Let it all hang out…go for broke…leave it all on the field for Jesus! Watch what God does with your two loves and five fishes!

    Wednesday
    Oct042017

    Seven traits of courageous leaders

    There are leaders are a courageous and we admire and respect them. What do courageous leaders do, or what qualities do they possess that we can develop as well. Ron Edmondson share seven of these qualities that courageous leaders have in common.

    Originally posted by Ron Edmondson


     Seven traits of courageous leaders

    There are many courageous leaders in our world today. Certainly coming to mind are the military and emergency personnel who serve faithfully everyday.

    It takes courage to be an organizational leader also. And, I see many courageous leaders, as evidenced by the strong organizations that thrive even during difficult economic times.

    But, what does it mean when we talk about courage and leadership? Every leader I know wants to be considered brave, strong, courageous.

    Who are the truly courageous organizational leaders among us?

    I have a few thoughts. I wish I always lived up to all of them.

    Here are 7 traits of a courageous leader:

    1.  Doesn’t bail on the team when things get difficult. Courageous leaders remain steadfast when others are departing.

    2.  Not afraid to make big requests of others. They make big asks of people, but are willing to pull equal weight to accomplish them.

    3.  Willing to take the first move into unproven territory. Courageous leaders are pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks.

    4.  Moves forward by faith. Even when the outcome is unclear, courage helps these leaders face conflicts others tend to avoid. Uncharted waters are the courageous leader’s playground.

    5.  Makes hard decisions regarding people. Leaders with courage entrust others with genuine responsibilities. They empower people even before they completely prove themselves. They invest in people others are willing to dismiss — But they are also willing to acknowledge when a team member is no longer a good fit for the team and — as graciously as possible — move forward without them.

    6.  Protects the God-given vision. In the midst of criticism, hard economic times, and setbacks courageous leaders stay the course. They know God has called them to something bigger than today and they hold fast to His plans for their life and the people they lead.

    7.  Implements needed changes. Change is never easy. It’s why most of us avoid it, but even when they are uncomfortable or not immediately popular, leaders with courage push forward to lead change with diligence. They challenge the status-quo with which others have grown contented.