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Saturday
Jun202015

A leaders greatest Fault

A number of years ago Warren Myers (one of my early mentors, who has since gone to be with Jesus) returned from an overseas trip and I picked him up at the airport.  He had been working on the attributes and qualities of the type of person who would make a good cross-cultural missionary.
He shared his list with me as I drove him to his home.  He then asked me (always amazed me that he wanted my opinion on anything...he was one of the most teachable and eager learners I have known) what I thought.
I told him that one trait seemed to be missing…teachability. He added it.

Fast forward 50+ years. Recently I watched a 30-second video clip from a leader on what he thought was a leader’s greatest fault.

Following that clip, and for several weeks running, various leaders from around the country would be weighing in on what, in their opinion, would be a leader’s greatest fault.

What do you think a leader’s greatest fault would be?

Would it be:

  1. Insecurity?
  2. Pride?
  3. Sexual impurity?
  4. Ministry idolatry?
  5. Financial mismanagement?
  6. Lack of honesty/integrity?

After many years of thinking and praying about this, my answer would be:

Not being teachable!

The same trait I mentioned to Warren Myers.  Maybe it’s true that some things never change.

Dave, you can’t be serious in saying that teachability is more important than a leader’s walk with Jesus?

Yes, I am. 

If a leader is walking with Jesus but is not teachable, he/she won’t continue to hear from God (and others) and continue to grow and mature.

This unteachable leader will eventually fall into other sins and disqualify him/herself. If a person is truly teachable, God can get through to them on every other issue or sin. If the leader is truly teachable, then other people will have permission and freedom to speak into his/her life.

Here is my favorite verse on being teachable:

“And you say, Oh if only I had listened.  If only I had not demanded my own way.  Oh, why wouldn’t I take advice, why was I so stupid?”

 

Proverbs 5:12-13 (The Living Bible)

What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Have at it! Let me hear from you on this.

 

Friday
Jun192015

Maintaining respect while making unpopular decisions

No matter what you decide as a leader, some will like it and some will not. Leaders make decisions; that’s what leaders do.

But how do you maintain respect when making unpopular decisions that you perceive need to be made? Dan Rockwell has some good advice for all of us.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Be Respected While Making Unpopular Decisions

Indecisive leaders drive people crazy. “My boss won’t make a decision!” But, unpopular decisions have negative backlash. “The boss doesn’t care what I think.”

It’s “Solution Saturday,” Richard suggest we discuss:

“Doing unpopular things and being even more respected for it.”

It doesn’t matter what you do or say, if people don’t respect you. Being liked is nice; being respected essential.

Unpopular and respected:

The way you make unpopular decisions is as important as the decisions themselves. I can respect you, even if I don’t like you.

Respect is about character and relationship, not decisions.

Humility:

  1. Adopt a relaxed, gentle, welcoming demeanor. Breathe deep. Smile. Gentle eye-contact.
  2. Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all.
  3. Lower the volume and soften the tone of your voice.
  4. Reject the trappings of position and authority. When you pull rank, they close down.
  5. Include others as early and often as possible.

The deeper issue leaders face is building relationships before unpopular decisions are made.

Transparency:

  1. Share information prolifically. Secrets lead to fear and manipulation.
  2. When you can’t share information, explain why.
  3. Answer public concerns quickly, directly, and publicly.

Vulnerability:

  1. Apologize when you exclude or walk on others. Don’t say, “I didn’t mean to.”
  2. Confess mistakes. Doing your best is not an excuse. We already know you’re doing your best. Try:
    • I’m sorry.
    • I screwed up.
    • I apologize.
    • I was wrong. Please forgive me. (This option is for the truly courageous.)
  3. Commit to what’s best for the organization, even if it hurts.

Five suggestions:

  1. Confront the brutal facts with kindness. Pretending invites disrespect.
  2. Reflect on past performance. Avoid behaviors that didn’t work.
  3. Adopt behaviors that worked in the past.
  4. Pursue outside perspectives. You get more of the same, if you do more of the same.
  5. Diffuse resistance:
    • Maintain openness regarding methods.
    • Open up, rather than pushing back.
    • Walk while talking.
    • Breathe.
    • Ask questions.
    • Accept how people feel.

How might leaders be even more respected while doing unpopular things?

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jun172015

LEARNING FROM FROG AND TOAD

When my four kids were small, I spent lots of time snuggled on the sofa reading to them. Have you ever wondered if some of these stories were written for the parents more than for the kids?  I have.

One of the books we read was called “Frog and Toad Together.” In that particular book is the story of “The Garden.”


 I can’t remember if I’ve ever asked you to pray before reading a post, but I’m asking you do so this time, as the Lord may very well have some liberating ideas to turn your heart toward.

“The Garden,” contains some truths that are amazingly applicable to ministry as it pertains to sowing and reaping, waiting and trusting. Here it is:

“Frog and Toad Together: The Garden” by Arnold Lobel

“Frog was in his garden.

“Toad came walking by.

“What a fine garden you have, Frog,” he said.

“Yes,” said Frog. “It is very nice, but it was hard work.

“I wish I had a garden,” said Toad.

“Here are some flower seeds. Plant them in the ground,” said Frog,

and soon you will have a garden.

“How soon?” asked Toad.

“Quite soon,” said Frog.

“Toad ran home.

“He planted the flower seeds.

“Now seeds,” said Toad, “start growing.”

“Toad walked up and down a few times. The seeds did not start to grow.

“Toad put his head close to the ground and said loudly, “Now seeds, start growing!”

“The seeds did not start to grow.

Toad put his head very close to the ground and shouted,

“NOW SEEDS, START GROWING!”

“Frog came running up the path.

“What is all this noise?” he asked.

“My seeds will not grow,” said Toad.

“You are shouting too much,” said Frog. “These poor seeds are afraid to grow.”

“My seeds are afraid to grow?” asked Toad.

“Of course,” said Frog. “Leave them alone for a few days.

Let the sun shine on them, let the rain fall on them. Soon your seeds will start to grow.”

 “That night Toad looked out of his window.

“Drat!” said Toad. “My seeds have not started to grow. They must be afraid of the dark.”

“Toad went out to his garden with some candles.

“I will read the seeds a story,” said Toad. “Then they will not be afraid.”

“Toad read a long story to his seeds.

“All the next day Toad sang songs to his seeds.

“And all the next day Toad read poems to his seeds.

“And all the next day Toad played music for his seeds.

“Toad looked at the ground.

“The seeds still did not start to grow.

“What shall I do?” cried Toad.

 “These must be the most frightened seeds in the whole world!”

“Then Toad felt very tired, and he fell asleep.

 “Toad, Toad, wake up,” said Frog. “Look at your garden!”

“Toad looked at his garden.

“Little green plants were coming up out of the ground.

“At last,” shouted Toad, “my seeds have stopped being afraid to grow!”

“And now you will have a nice garden too,” said Frog.

“Yes,” said Toad, but you were right, Frog. It was very hard work.”

 “Jesus also said, “Here is another illustration of what the Kingdom of God is like: A farmer planted seeds in a field, and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer’s help.”    Mark 4:26,27 (The New Living Translation)

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”   I Corinthians 3:6-9 (ESV)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

 

Tuesday
Jun162015

Leadership Fatigue 

Leaders get tired; emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. Some tiredness is expected and okay some can lead to exhaustion, burnout and moral failure. Here are thirteen symptoms of serious “Leadership Fatigue” from Chuck Lawless

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

Leadership is sometimes wearisome – so wearisome that we come close to giving up. Over the years, I’ve watched leaders slide into defeat, and I’ve seen some of these common signs of trouble.

I list these symptoms of “leadership fatigue” here not to discourage you, but instead to help you recognize them, address them, and move forward. At the end of this post, tell us how we might pray for you if you see yourself in this list.

  1. Living by a “get me through the day” philosophy – You may begin the day with prayer, but surviving the day is your prayer theme. Thriving is not even an option because that won’t happen – even with God’s help.
  2. Losing vision – A leadership vision assumes a commitment far beyond today. Fatigued leaders, though, don’t consider beyond the end of this workday. Anything longer demands too much energy.
  3. Developing poor sleep patterns – The patterns may vary, but they still reflect fatigue: too much sleep as you seek to avoid perceived reality, or too little sleep when you can’t get perceived reality out of your mind. Either way, you’re exhausted.
  4. Declining spiritual disciplines – This change may be one of the first signs of trouble for leaders who have previously been faithful in spiritual disciplines. Bible study becomes only a necessary step in doing your job, and prayer is reduced to emergencies only. Weariness leaves little room for anything that requires “discipline.”
  5. Repeating lessons and sermons – Finding something in the file is much less draining than the hard work of praying about and developing a sermon or lesson. Leadership fatigue convinces you that “nobody will remember the previous time anyway.”
  6. Faking joy and excitement – Few actions are more exhausting than pretending to have joy you don’t have. Every sentence is hard, and every nod of the head feels like a ton of weight on your shoulders. Our weariness is only compounded by our pretense.
  7. Frustrating family members – Leaders who fight to get through the day often let their guard down when they get home – and all the stress of playing the game for eight hours gets dumped on their family. The resultant pain on our family members is hardly fake.
  8. Magnifying minors – What seemed insignificant last month is unexpectedly huge when we’re tired. That simple difference of opinion now feels like blatant disagreement – even rebellion or betrayal of your leadership.
  9. Failing to return emails and phone calls – Communicating with people takes time, energy, and focus. Weary leaders tend to delay responding to others, if they choose to respond at all.
  10. Misdirecting affections – When nothing they do brings joy, fatigued leaders sometimes turn to others for affirmation. That’s when that church member’s look seems sexier, that hug feels like a caress, and that increasingly intimate relationship seems justified.
  11. Decreasing exercise – Professional and emotional fatigue quickly leads to physical tiredness. Exercise becomes that much more difficult.
  12. Focusing on a “grass is greener” syndrome – It’s amazing how leadership fatigue affects the lenses through which we see other options. Every other role, it seems, is suddenly better than our current one.
  13. Avoiding people who speak truth – When we know we’re tired of leading, it’s just easier to avoid people who know us well enough to recognize the problem.

What other symptoms of “leadership fatigue” have you seen? What recommendations would you give a leader facing these issues? If you’re dealing with leadership fatigue, tell us how we might pray for you.

 

Sunday
Jun142015

Tough Love and Tough Talk

Many leaders are devout cowards. Yes, I did just say that! I have said it for a number of years. I have had people challenge me on it, but at this point in time, I’m sticking by my guns. I must add though that when I say many leaders, I am thinking of leaders in churches where I have been involved in one way or another. Many (maybe most) of the leaders that I have been associated with have shied away from the tough conversations. They would rather quit and move on than deal with tough issues and difficult people.

I have seen more than my share of sloppy and unacceptable work in Christian ministry because leaders don’t want to lovingly and truthfully confront staff and volunteers. I have had leaders that I coach complain about the work ethic and standards of people who report to them, but don’t want to have the critical conversation, the difficult conversation, the value-changing conversation with said worker/team member. Sometimes people are let go and never told why because such a conversation would have been too painful and uncomfortable.

Some seem to play the hide-my-head-in-the-sand game, hoping it will disappear before they come up for air. Others live in total denial that there is a problem; can’t believe there’s a problem; don’t want to believe there’s a problem; would rather move on than face the problem (many do.)

Christian churches and organizations are being ripped apart by not dealing with a problem person or by not resolving conflicts. Still others have no experience or model in dealing constructively with conflict that is costing them, or may cost them, their leadership edge.

Recently, I read of a father who was the CEO of a company that employed his son who was being groomed to eventually take over the company. On a particular day, the father saw his son berating an employee in public in a totally unacceptable way that violated company values and human decency. The father immediately invited his son to his office and told him that he wore two hats, boss and father. The father went on to say, I am now putting on my boss hat and telling you that you are fired, as we have talked about this behavior of yours numerous times. After having said that, the CEO then told the son that he was now putting on his father hat and said to his son, “Son, I understand you just got fired, how can I help you?”

“If you love confrontation then most likely you are a rear end that nobody likes!!!  Confrontation is not fun…but is completely necessary if a church is going to maximize its potential and reach as many people as possible.  Reality is that if you are at a leadership table and you disagree with something mentally then you have an obligation to disagree verbally—period!  Not in a mean spirited or unkind way, but with a humble and sincere approach.” Perry Noble

Here are two key verses that give me a great deal of insight in keeping a balance between love and truth.

“Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Ephesians 4:15 ESV

“Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.” Proverb 20:28 The Message.

I don’t want to be so truthful that I am not loving,  but on the other hand, I don’t want to be so loving that I am not truthful.

Here are four practical thoughts as you seek to be lovingly truthful in your ministry.

1.  Pray for the courage to confront and collide

Always a good place to begin is to pray for courage and wisdom to exhibit tough love when it is necessary and not shirk the responsibility.

2.  Avoid either/or and maintain both/and

It is almost never a matter of being loving or being truthful, but being both loving and truthful as to what you say, when you say it and how you say it.

3.  Organizational culture affects a willingness to have the tough conversations

Some organizational and church cultures make it more or less difficult to have honest conversations. With His help we want to build cultures that are safe and open, where sharing what you perceive to be the truth will not be held against you. We want to build cultures where you don’t have to walk on eggshells, constantly looking over your shoulder.

When vulnerability-based trust exists, team members say everything that needs to be said, and there is nothing left to talk about behind closed doors. If team members are not making one another uncomfortable at times, if they’re never pushing one another outside of their emotional comfort zone during discussions, then it is extremely likely that they’re not making the best decisions for the organization.Patrick Lencioni

 4.  It won’t get easier if you wait to say the hard things

Waiting for the best time or a better time is generally a waste of time. The longer you wait to have the honest conversation, the harder it will be and the more reasons you will come up with for not having the conversation at all.

Where are you in all of this?  Love to hear from you.