Concerned or Responsible?

I start with the premise that many (and, maybe, most) people are trying to do too much and traveling too fast. Our plates are getting bigger and still overflowing.

Two conventional ways of dealing with the problem are:

  1. Work smarter, not merely longer and harder.

  2. Delegate to capable people and stay out of their way.

I recently read a very helpful book by Wayne Cordeiro titled, Leading on Empty. You can find a recap under Book Notes at In Leading on Empty, Wayne makes a distinction between being concerned and being responsible. I am confident he is on to something big.

I am concerned about many things.  Does that mean I need to take responsibility and do something about every concern I have?  I think not.  On March 5 in “My Utmost For His Highest” Oswald Chambers makes the statement that, “The need is never the call.” The needs will always, always exceed my resources.

I should be concerned about many things, but responsible for a few things in light of my gifts, experiences, passion and calendar time. Turning every concern into a personal responsibility could turn my life into a premature death.

So what do I do with those things for which I am concerned but for which I should probably not assume responsibility?

  1. Pray about them

  2. Give to the concerns, if there are financial needs

  3. Find, and develop, others to capably step up to the plate

C. S. Lewis said that “everyone is composed of a few themes,” and the Apostle Paul said,  “This one thing I do”--not these 40 things I am responsible for. Longevity in life and ministry will be a result of your saying “no” (refusing responsibility) to a lot of things so you can say “yes” (accepting responsibility) to a few things. May you, by His grace, live a long and fruitful life and not meet Jesus prematurely!



Ears and Rears

A few weeks ago I ran across a statement by Pastor Rick Warren. 

“Sometimes those in our churches with the biggest ears also have the biggest rears.”

It first provoked a laugh and then starting me thinking of how true this is; so good at hearing, but also so good at sitting on my rear and doing nothing with it. I want to leave footprints, not butt-prints for the glory of Jesus. Here is another chuckle for you:

One night I had a wondrous dream,

One set of footprints here was seen,

The footprints of my precious Lord,

but mine were not along the shore

But then some stranger prints appeared,

And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"

Those prints are large and round and neat,

But Lord, they are too big for feet

My child, He said in somber tones,

For miles I carried you alone.

I challenged you to walk in faith

But you refused and made me wait.

You disobeyed, you would not grow,

The walk of faith, you would not know

So I got tired, I got fed up,

And there I dropped you, on your butt

Because in life, there comes a time,

When men must fight and men must climb.

When men must rise and men must stand,

Or leave their butt prints in the sand.

It comes down to the endless discussion of the need for not just information, but transformation.

Jesus addresses this issue in the Sermon on the Mount when he says that those who hear but do not apply are building their house on the sand instead of the rock.  James addresses the same issue in his letter, chapter 2, verses 22-25 telling us that those who hear and do not do are deceiving themselves. Those with big rears are self-deceived-building-on sand followers.

It is so easy to take in more and more information and yet not respond in humble and quick obedience to what God is showing me.

Psalm 119:59,60-“When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.”

Okay now I am going to stop teaching and start meddling; you have been forewarned:


  1. What is the last thing that Jesus made clear he wanted you to do?

  2. How long ago did he tell you this?

  3. What have you done with it?

  4. Have you gradually fallen into the habit of reading and studying more and applying less?

  5. When you hear a speaker, watch a video, or read an article,  are you  eager to apply and see Gospel changes in your life or just eager to gather more information

Please be brutally honest with yourself?



Push or Pull

Experience has led me to believe that the success of any organization, church, or group is having high morale because people are motivated and glad to be working there. One of the skill sets that every leader needs to develop is motivating people to perform at their highest level of competency.

Many of us have done business with unmotivated people in low-morale organizations who were only there for the paycheck and cared neither about the company nor the customer.

In the 50’s then-president Eisenhower, sharing his philosophy of leadership with a subordinate, put a small piece of string on his desk. He then pushed it as the listener watched the string get bunched up and move nowhere. Then he pulled the piece of string and it moved quite easily.  There are two main ways to motivate those whom you lead:

The Push Method:  This method is designed to stimulate action through fear, threats and harassment. You manipulate. This method begins with the premise that people are lazy, unmotivated and need a swift kick in the rear to get them moving and performing up to expectations. So we bribe and verbally “beat” them into action. The fact is that a pat on the back goes a lot further than a kick in the rear. Which bring us to the second method.

The Pull Method:  The Pull Method assumes the best about people--that they really want to work, contribute and make a difference. If those we lead are properly shepherded, affirmed, listened to and verbally and tangibly appreciated for their efforts, they can persevere and perform well even the most difficult and challenging of tasks and responsibilities. We pull people along by caring and holding up a vibrant vision to which they can contribute.
Are you a push or pull leader? Do you lead through motivation or manipulation?



Hi, my name is Dave and I am a “Mediaholic”

Just recently I heard about a person who had  700 Facebook friends but knew none of the neighbors. It seems that an increasing number of leaders are spending insane amounts of time on any number of social media venues (Twitter, Facebook, My Space, to name a few). 

Add to this that the creating, responding to and filing of hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of daily emails composes a huge part of the average leader’s day.  Has it gone too far? Are we spending too much time at our computers and too little time connecting with real people in real time? Some of us can’t let the phone alone when we are aware that a voice message or email has just arrived.

I have watched leaders at a dinner, in a home with a few people, or in a meeting, respond and begin emailing or twittering and ignore the people they are sitting with. When that happens regularly, you know you have a serious addiction.

I know I have work to do on this as I am a workaholic and love to see things get done and wrapped up.

Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. have become a social addiction of enormous proportions among leaders.

If it is your intention to do the real work of producing and “shipping” things that really matter, whether it is a product or a service, you are going to have to be honest with your screen time (social media and email) and ask yourself if it is truly helping you lead well and impact people.

When the time has come (and for some of us it has already arrived) that social media is a significant (perhaps approaching dangerous?) portion of each day, it may be time to take charge of your time and your addiction and pull some plugs.

You are the steward of your time and your days before the Lord. Are you being proactive or reactive in how you lead and use your time?

Are you using social media wisely and proportionately, as a tool, or have you become its bond-slave?



Lower The Bar

Some of you might be thinking that the last person you can think of that would encourage somebody to lower the bar would be me. Now before you overreact and think that I’ve gone soft in the noggin in my old age, hang with me for a few paragraphs. This might sound counterintuitive, but it is true.

One of the contributing factors for people underachieving is that the expectations, the desired result, the goal is too big; the bar is too high. They can’t get their head, heart or hands around it so are not motivated to go for it.

You shouldn't expect a new music student to play a flawless piece after one or two lessons.  A kid trying out for the basketball team is not going to be motivated in being a 90% free-throw shooter at the start of his first season. Okay, I will admit that there are a few (and very few) exceptions here, but this is not the norm.

Here is the principle: 

"Lower the bar" in the short term so you can raise it in the long term. 

It works with raising children, training pets, becoming good at anything you do. How did the trainer get that monkey, elephant or seal  to do all those tricks? One step at a time!

A fledging high jumper doesn’t have a goal to break the world record in the first few years. But it might be his longer-term goal.  So he starts out with a lower (challenging, but accomplishable) bar and then incrementally work his way up.

No new coach in his right mind would try to motivate a team with a five year loosing record to go for the National Championship in his first year. If he does, the team will be de-motivated and achieve another loosing season. This coach sets a challenging, but realistic, goal and then another and another until, voila, they have won the the big prize!

It’s like climbing a tall ladder and focusing on the next step rather than gawking up at the top and giving up all hope.

If the people you lead are facing a daunting task and their instinct is to avoid it with grave doubts eating away at them, the bar may be too high. Lower the bar by breaking down the desired end into smaller steps. Make the steps achievable so that they can’t help but score victory after victory; and be sure to profusely celebrate each and every win, however small!