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Wednesday
Aug022017

Ten things that can cause church conflicts to get out of hand!

Conflict is not necessarily bad, but the way it’s handled can be bad. Where there are no conflicts there probably aren’t real deep relationships either.

Chuck Lawless shares ten things that contribute to conflict in churches getting out of hand.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

Some years ago, I was a volunteer firefighter. It was amazing to see what could happen when a tiny spark ignited a small blaze that could quickly become a roaring fire. Given the right conditions, a spark could lead to absolute destruction. 

That happens in church conflict, too. Here are 10 “right conditions” for escalating conflict in a church. 

1.  The church is made up of sinners. That’s the case, of course, and that fact won’t change. Sinful people are naturally selfish and divisive. Sanctification sometimes takes a while to correct these tendencies.

2.  Members care about something. This “condition” might seem strange, so hear my point. Some conflict in the church heats up in direct proportion to how much people care about some issue in the church. Their care may be misdirected, and their sense of ownership may be problematic – but they fight for something precisely because they care about it that much. 

3.  The church has no “up front” relational expectations. The churches I know that deal well with conflict are usually those who teach how to deal with relational conflict as early as their membership class. The church that ignores these potential issues invites problems.

4.  Nobody’s praying for unity.  Jesus prayed this way in John 17:21 – “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.” If Jesus prayed that prayer for His followers, we, too, should be praying for this unity.

5.  Church leaders have not taught biblical principles for conflict resolution. Matthew 18:15-20 is a starting point. Putting others before self (Phil. 2:3) obviously matters. Believers who don’t know what the Bible teaches about reconciliation will follow the ways of the world – and the way of the world is often, “I want to win.” 

6.  Leaders do not address legitimate concerns.  At times, the concerns that church members raise are legitimate. When church leaders blatantly ignore those concerns, nonchalantly hear them, or superficially address them, the conflict is not resolved. Its resolution is only delayed.

7.  Conflict is not separated from emotion. I think, for example, of battles over worship styles. These preferences are so connected with emotions that it’s often difficult to separate the two. Conflict escalates because emotions heat up.

8.  People operate in secret. You know the scenarios. Anonymous complaints. Unsigned letters. Behind the scenes meetings. Opposition rallies cloaked as “prayer meetings.” It’s all secretive – and it’s often demonic.

9.  People listen to gossip. Once conflict begins, it’s often fueled by rumor and innuendo. Those who spread the rumors are acting in sin, but so are those folks who stoke the coals by listening. As long as anyone listens, the fire spreads.

10.  Nobody carries out church discipline. It would be ideal if all conflict were resolved before discipline became necessary. The Bible, though, assumes that churches will take necessary steps to deal with troublesome members. If the church doesn’t do so (or, if they do so, but in an unbiblical or uncharitable way), they prolong the conflict. 

 

 

 

Sunday
Jul302017

Much of it boils down to just one thing!

It all basically comes down to one thing…in many cases:

Habits!

I had a coaching call with one of my clients recently and the entire call was pretty much a discussion about some bad habits he had gotten into and what he needed to do to break the vicious cycle and build some good habits.

Much of life, in general, and of the life of a leader, in particular, is all about breaking bad habits and forming good habits; as we are led by him, empowered by him and seek to honor Him.

Habits in how we are:

1) Using time

2) Spending money

3) Making decisions

4) Dealing with Conflict

5) Reading

6) Leading meetings

7) Hiring the right people

8) Letting the wrong people go

9) Continuing to grow ourselves and our leadership potential

10) Sleeping

11) Exercising

12) Eating

Using the above list what bad habits, over time, have you allowed yourself to get into?

There is something commendable about, by his grace, trying to stop doing things which are hurting you and the ministry and to, instead, start doing thing which will help you and the ministry. In a sense, we are all creatures of habit to one degree or another, for better or worse.

Let’s stop over-spiritualizing what’s wrong and look at our habits which are getting us into trouble…maybe even lots of trouble.

Oh, it’s the devil, or it’s this town, or it’s the people in my church or organization.  Maybe it’s YOU!  Maybe it’s some bad habits you have allowed to creep in, start with yourself. I have the habit of (fill in the blank).

By way of application, ask yourself these two questions:

1) What is one habit I have gotten into which is hurting me and the work I’m called to do?

2) What can I, will I, do to stop that habit and start building the habit of doing things differently which could make all the difference in the world?

 

Wednesday
Jul262017

Critiquing without crushing

 

Constructive critique is an absolute skill set every effective leader needs to acquaire. Eric Geiger share five ways to critique without crushing! Good stuff!

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

 Five Ways to Critique Without Crushing

As a leader, you owe it to those you lead to offer them feedback. Without feedback, development is hampered, as people don’t know what actions to repeat and what actions to tweak. Giving encouragement and accolades is not something leaders dread, but offering feedback that could be perceived as critical is something many leaders struggle with. Yet wise and loving leaders critique because they love those on their teams and long to help them develop.

The goal of a leader’s critique must be to equip and prepare, not crush and demoralize. A leader who critiques haphazardly is likely to harm team members and not help them. Here are five ways to critique without crushing those you lead:

1.  Check your own motivations.

Before you have a feedback conversation, check your own motivations. Do you want to prove that you are right, that you are smarter? Or do you really want to help the person? Do you want to unload on someone or do you want to develop a person on your team? If you want to blow someone up, just know that you are really offering critique for your sake and not those you lead.

2.  Affirm what is affirmable.

When giving difficult feedback, be sure to affirm what is affirmable. Be sincere. Don’t affirm something that you don’t really appreciate or value. But if you do not offer any affirmation, you risk crushing the person with the belief that they are doing nothing right at all. If the person is not doing anything well, then just move the person off the team. It is cruel and unloving to leave the person in the role and continually crush him in hopes that he just leaves.

3.  Be immediate.

A quick way to erode trust on your team is to keep a long list of wrongs. If you store up critical feedback for one long session, you will crush the person, and the team member will always wonder if a new list is being formed. Delayed feedback hampers development, as people are unable to adjust and learn. Real-time feedback helps the person develop and simultaneously builds trust.

4.  Be specific.

If you just say, “Get better,” “Lead stronger,” or “Here is what I am sensing,” without offering specificity, you crush the person with lack of clarity. Without specificity in a critique, there is no way for the person to adjust. If you only speak in generalities, you crush people with expectations they cannot meet because they don’t even know what the expectations are.

5.  Dialog on action steps.

A critique should not be a monologue but a dialogue. Work with the person to discuss action items and next steps. Without action steps, the team member leaves your office crushed with uncertainty about what is next. Actions steps provide a sense of closure to the issue and a path forward.

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jul212017

Three universal leadership principles

I recall having a conversation with a twenty-something leader a few years ago. He had an opinion on almost everything and felt a strong compulsion to express those opinions. I was thinking (and I may have told him but don’t recall) that at such a young age he should be learning and growing and not forming strong opinions on most everything--at least not at his young age.  He should be saying things like, “This is where I am currently standing on such and such an issue, but I am open to hearing other ideas and am also open to the possibility of being wrong.”

Well, suffice it to say, I’m a bit older than twenty-something and am still growing and learning new things all the time. Along the way, I have also learned what I would call "Universal Principles;" and, after years of experience, have come to believe that they are true in most contexts which is why I would call them universal.

Here Are Three That I Am Currently Thinking About:

1. There is a significant difference between being concerned about something and being responsible for it.

Because I am finite, I can only be responsible for so much. However I can have concerns about a lot of things. It takes a lot of wisdom and grace from the Lord to know the difference. Concerns may lead me to pray, but not to act.

2. The cumulative effect of small things over an extended period of time. 

This works in almost any area of life--both positively and negatively. In finances, in eating, in reading and in relationships (with the Lord and others).

3. The needs will almost always exceed the resources.

Number three is closely related to number one.

In my 49 years of vocational Christian ministry, I have never seen this not be true--that the needs will almost always exceed the resources.

There are more needs than there is money, time and people to address those needs. Invariably when you start out trying to meet a need, you will run out of resources before the need is fully and genuinely met.

There are more hurting people than there are resources to help them. There are more leadership positions to fill than there are leaders to fill them.  There are more pressing financial needs than there are finances to meet them. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. For me this means at least two things:

  • Because there is a need doesn’t necessarily mean I am the one to meet it. Oswald Chambers said, “The need is not the call.” Over the years I have come to deeply believe that this is true.
  • I need to pray about the limited finances, time and gifts I have and make wise decisions as to where they are invested.

Saying yes to one set of needs obviously means saying no to other needs. We need to make critical choices in what we say yes and no to. We will never be able to meet all the needs that we are aware of or that come our way, because, the needs will pretty much always exceed the resources…always!

We will want to have increasing clarity as to our purpose, values and vision in order to make such decisions: who are we in Jesus, and what he has called and gifted us to be able to do. We need to be careful, for the good can become the enemy of the best.

Our goal is not to keep everybody happy by saying yes to every request and every needy person, but to be true to our gifts, calling and passion.

My favorite quote in recent months is by Eric Geiger,

"If your goal in life is to keep everybody happy, don't become a leader, sell ice cream."

We will have to get comfortable and not feel guilty in saying no. Saying yes all the time, will soon lead to exhaustion, burnout and even physical illness and then we will be in no shape to meet any legitimate needs.

Wednesday
Jul192017

Learning from Amazon on what NOT to do

Our work pace and work habits are killing us.

What can we learn, or unlearn, from the culture of Amazon. Michael Hyatt teaches us some valuable lessons so we can keep work in balance with everything else in our lives.

Originally posted by Michael Hyatt


I love Amazon, but like many I was disturbed by what I read in the New York Times’ recent exposé. Still, I was actually more disturbed by what came next.

I read defenses of Amazon from entrepreneurs, leaders, tech writers, and others. Some were easy to agree with. It’s a free country, after all. People can work where they want—even high-intensity, always-on companies like Amazon.

That wasn’t the problem.

What bothered me was the widely held assumption that this kind of environment is necessary for profitable, competitive companies—as if entrepreneur were just another word for workaholic. Or that free market is code for kiss nights and weekends goodbye.

Can we just label this what it is? Self-destructive and stupid. I know because I’ve proven it personally.

Winning at Work and Succeeding at Life

Anyone who knows me, reads this blog, or listens to my podcast knows I’ve always been a high-achiever. As an up-and-coming executive, business owner, corporate CEO, solopreneur, I’ve always had big goals.

I’ve also made a lot of sacrifices at the expense of my family and health over the years. I’m convinced the tradeoff wasn’t worth it—not only for my personal life, but also for my professional life.

Now my mission is to help people win at work and succeed at life. What I missed for years, and what Amazon seems to miss right now, is that these goals are only achieved in tandem. If we try doing one at the expense of the other, we eventually fail at both.

Actions Reveal Our Values

The Amazon story jumped out for me because I was planning a strategic retreat for my company to look at the past year and set goals for the next several years. We also planned to review our values.

Two of those values—fast action and consistent growth—would be recognizable to Amazon. But based on the exposé, another two would be less recognizable—significant margin and prioritizing our team.

This is a struggle in our business. We’ve had plenty of times on launches or major projects where the team has had to put in excessive hours. But none of us is proud of that. Instead, we’re actively improving our processes to preserve the team’s time even in the middle of high-stakes initiatives.

Why? Because we know our team members and their margin matter for our ultimate success.

Three Reasons Amazon Should Rethink its Culture

Jeff Bezos is known as a data guy. Me too. And with that in mind, here are three reasons Amazon’s leadership should seriously reconsider the culture they’re building.

1.  Rested employees are better employees. 

One person in the NYT story claimed she skipped sleep for four straight days. That’s not heroic. That’s dumb. And it’s terrible for the business.

I’ve written a lot about the importance of sleep and margin. What the research tells us is simple. When we cheat our sleep and recreation, we’re less effective employees. Our productivity dive bombs along with our creativity, judgment, and everything else.

Amazon and its customers would be better served if employees tucked in by ten and didn’t check their email over the weekend.

2.  You can’t easily separate work life and home life. 

Technology has erased the divide between work life and home life. Our phones and portable devices mean we’re always on—as much as seventy hours a week or more. That’s not all happening at the office. It bleeds into nights and weekends, which leaves little to no room for family.

And this goes both ways. When our personal lives are out of kilter, it wrecks our professional performance. We eat up family time, and our family suffers. Then we drag that stress into the office. I can’t think of one person I’ve worked with in forty years who’s productivity improved while their marriage ended or their kids were going off a cliff.Bottom line: A culture that encourages employees to work all hours will damage the support structure at home that makes those employees good at their jobs in the first place.

3.  Burnout breeds cynicism. 

There’s no way around this. Not only does burnout hurt the employee’s professional and personal life, it breeds the kind of cynicism that kills offices and hinders customer relations. Why? Because employees get the message they don’t matter.

When employees think the company only wins when they lose, it’s easy to get bitter and spread that attitude through the organization. It even hurts customer relations because the customer becomes the reason Dad missed his daughter’s soccer game, or Mom missed her son’s band performance.

And what for? Thanks to lower productivity, it’s not like these employees are even making any real gains for their sacrifices. It’s all about getting along in a wrongheaded office environment.

A Failure of Imagination

I love making money as much as the next guy—probably more. That’s exactly why I’m not only committed to consistent growth, but also instilling rest in my company culture. I want a business with increasing financial margin and personal margin for my whole team.

Our always-on culture is not only unnecessary, it’s also counterproductive. If Amazon is truly interested in serving customers—which it lists as its primary value—doesn’t it want employees serving those customers at peak performance, not sleep deprived, emotionally depleted, and drained of energy?

It’s never too late to steer the ship another direction. Amazon has done wonders since its inception. Imagine what could happen if it were actually operating at full capacity instead of the mirage of it?

An overbusy life is not an economic necessity; it’s a failure of imagination.MICHAEL HYATT

An overbusy life is not an economic necessity; it’s a failure of imagination. Constraints spur creativity. What if we determined that we would not work certain hours and instead got smarter and more creative with the time we have?

Instead of grinding that found time back into the business, we could truly help our teams and our businesses by resting, playing, spending time with our families, or—something Amazon knows a lot about—reading a good novel.

It would do wonders for Amazon. It would do wonders for us all.