He was one of the greatest authors and thinkers in the last 50 years on leadership issues 

He was a giant in the world of leadership ideas and thought creation. He was well ahead of his time in concepts and philosophy that are only recently beginning to be accepted as good practices and thinking.

Although not a Christian (but Jewish) as far as I know, nonetheless many of his writings and thinking have a biblical worldview flavor.

I have been, and still am, significantly influenced by him in the way I think about leadership and the way I lead.

In the Sunday edition (August 3, 2014) of the Los Angeles Times (to which we subscribe), there was an article by David Colker on Warren Bennis who passed away July 31, 2014. 

He was 89 and a fixture on the USC faculty for 35 years.  He wrote 30 books, mostly on the topic of leadership. He knew and worked with Dallas Willard, another writer and USC faculty member, from whom I have greatly profited also. Dallas passed away May 8, 2013. 

My favorite book by Warren is On Becoming A Leader

My favorite book by Dallas is Renovation of The Heart

My favorite quote by Dallas is “Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning.”

Bennis also taught at MIT, but left because he felt pressured to conform to established business norms.  In the 1960s, David Colker tells us, Bennis began formulating management principles that, at the time, were considered far off the beaten path. Gotta love it when a leader marches to a different drum beat that is well ahead of his time and spot on!

Sitting on my bookshelf are four Bennis books--just scratching the surface of the 30 he wrote. 

Susan keeps her eyes open for things related to leadership and puts them on my desk, as she did this one.

Here are a few thoughts/quotes from David's piece on Warren Bennis: In quotations are actual statements by Bennis:

Warren started to hone his ideas about leadership during the 2nd World War, where he served as an infantry officer saying that, "Leadership is most effective when it steered away from strict, top-down hierarchies." 

"A leader is someone whose actions have the most profound consequences on other people's lives, for better or for worse, sometimes for ever and ever."

Warren believed that leaders had to abandon command-and-control attitudes that stifled creativity and new ideas. And he warned against micromanaging that could get companies stuck in outmoded ways of doing things while the world changed around them. 

"The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon.The manager does things right; the leader does the right things."

I personally resonate with this and with most of what Bennis has said in the books I have read. I love it when a person sticks by his guns and does what is right, not what is popular or politically correct. 

I believe that a leader is a person who intentionally, deliberately and proactively seeks to influence and persuade people to go from where they are to someplace else--a better place.

I believe that a true leader sees a better future and is strongly motivated to go there and take as many people as possible with him/her on the journey.

My prayer and desire for you (and myself) is that all of us will be led by Him, empowered by Him and honoring Him as we lead.

May your journey toward the preferred future Jesus has allowed you to see be faith-stretching and adventurous for you and those who travel with you.




Some things leaders forget and need to be reminded of

I believe it was Samuel Johnson who said that we need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed. We forget. Here are some things that leaders often forget and need to reminded of.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

My experience is that even the best leaders tend to be forgetful at times. Usually, though, we talk about forgetting appointments or assignments or commitments – not so much these simple realities that many leaders I know (including me) forget too readily:

1.  God didn’t call me to lead because I’m such a good leader. He called me to lead because He wants His glory to fill the lands. It’s about Him, not about me. Period.

2.  Were it not for the people who graciously follow me, I would not be a leader. I get to do what I do because of kind, serving, faithful people who walk with me.

3.  My job is to point away from myself. I’m to point to others, and then ultimately to Him. If I point only to myself, I’m an idol rather than a leader. 

4.  I must raise up others to do greater things than I’ll ever do. If I wrap my ministry around myself, or if I get jealous when others do more than I, I’m not a good leader.

5.  God doesn’t need me. If I don’t believe that, He’ll teach me otherwise. I desperately need Him – it’s not the other way around.

6.  God knows everything I do, think, or say. That is, I’m not getting away with anything. Nothing’s hidden from the One who matters most.  

7.  Most of the people in the world have never heard of me. No matter how popular or famous I think I may be, billions and billions of people don’t know I exist. And, even if they heard of me, they wouldn’t be impressed.

8.  There are better speakers than I in the world. Actually, there are better speakers in my community. Perhaps in my church. Maybe even in my family. I’m never as good as I think I am.

9.  I’m a poor leader if I don’t love my spouse and family well. In fact, I might even disqualify myself for ministry if I’m a bad spouse and parent.  

10.  My church will do no more evangelism than I do. The evidence may be anecdotal, but it’s recurrent: non-evangelistic leaders lead their church to do nothing evangelistically.

11.  I can fool a lot of people, but not everybody. Somebody will see through any charades I play.

12.  It’s not my church . . . or my class . . . or my praise team . . . or my position. I don’t own anything I lead. God can take it all away in a heartbeat.

13.  I’m a bad witness if I don’t take care of myself physically. Even my deepest spirituality is hindered when I lack discipline to care for the body God gave me.

14. Jesus’ return is always near. If I really believe that biblical truth, I would live with more urgency. 

What else would you add to this list? Which characteristic in this list describes you?




Has ministry become an idol, an addiction? 

Has ministry become an idol in your life? Here are some thoughts adapted from Rick Warren:

Being content means that you never let the size of your ministry determine your value.

 You and I work too much. According to a 2009 Study by LifeWay the average full-time pastor works 55 hours a week. And that’s just the average. Forty-two percent of full-time pastors work 60 hours or more.

You weren’t meant to work that much. You can’t keep it up. Yes, the Bible honors hard work, but it also condemns workaholism as foolishness. Proverb 23:4 says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.

What wisdom do we need to show restraint in our ministry work? Here are a few questions to ask:

1. Realize Your Worth

You matter to God, not because you’re a pastor and not because of what you do for him. You matter to him because you are a child of God. No one is insignificant in God’s eyes. I John 3:1 says, “See how very much our heavenly father loves us. For he allows us to be called his children. Think of it! And we really are!” Faithfully believing you are God’s child will make all the difference in your life.

+ Key questions: How much of your overwork is tied to your self-worth? What are you trying to prove?

2. Enjoy What You Already Have

You may not be striving for more money, but you’re likely striving to build a bigger and better ministry. You won’t find rest until you’re content with what you have. That doesn’t mean you stop growing your church. You should never strop growing the church until everyone within driving distance has a relationship with Jesus.

But being content means that you never let the size of your ministry determine your value. The Bible says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” I Tim 6:6-8

+ Key questions: What do you think you need to be content where you are? Why do you think God placed you where you are? What are the positive things about your congregation that you may be over-looking?

3. Limit Your Labor

Make room for other things in your life besides your work. Decide how many hours you are going to work each week—and stick to your decision. This decision has to be conscious. Put it down on paper and schedule it. Make yourself accountable to a friend or your wife.

Exodus 20:9,10 says, “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to Me. On that day no one is to work.” That’s from the Ten Commandments. You need one day off a week. Take it, no matter what.

+ Key questions: Do you take one day a week off? How often do you really relax?

4. Adjust Your Values

You must change your thinking if you’re going to relax. Workaholics think differently. They have different values. You’re going to have to ask yourself, “What is really important to me?” Not what’s important to your neighbors or the world around you—but what’s important to you. Jesus asked a very important question in Mark 8:36,37 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Here’s the question for you: “What does it profit you to grow a big church if you lose your family in the process?”

+ Key questions: Why are you doing this? If you take a look at your work schedule, what values and priorities does it reveal?

5. Expect God’s Care

Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” Matthew 6:31,32. You can’t put your security in what you have.

No matter how much money you make or how much prestige you have in ministry, you will never have complete security. The economy could collapse, natural disasters could destroy everything you’ve earned, or bad health could come your way. Ultimately, security must be placed in something that can’t be taken from you.

+ Key questions: Take an honest assessment of your life. Where is your security in Christ, and where may it be in something else?

 I know about workaholics because I used to be one. At the end of my first year at Saddleback Church, I physically collapsed. I had been working 18- to 20-hour days. I was burned out. I took an entire month off and took my family out to Phoenix where my in-laws lived, dropped them off, and spent some time walking in the desert atmosphere. I kept asking myself, “What is it that’s driving me? What makes me work until I just collapse? Who am I trying to impress? What am I trying to prove?”

I remembered the verse in the Bible where Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18)

I told Jesus, “OK, You build the church. It’s your church. You’re the pastor.” God said, “Rick, you work on building people. And I’ll build the church.” It was a deal.

That was the most relaxing, yet crucial and frightening experience I’ve ever had. When I realized that my value as a person had absolutely nothing to do with whether the church got bigger or smaller, that was a life-changer.


Healthy leaders, healthy churches

I believe it's safe to say that healthy things grow and things that are not healthy stop growing. Rick Warren shares some excellent thoughts on becoming a healthier leader so you can lead in a healthier church.

 Originally posted by Rick Warren

When you become a pastor, you become a leader.

I’m often asked specifics about my administrative style, but I think leadership style is just as important. Understanding basic, universal leadership concepts is essential to your success.

Here are six non-negotiable facts about leadership . . .

1. Nothing happens until someone provides leadership for it.

This is a law of life. For instance, the Civil Rights Movement made little progress until a man came along named Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “I have a dream.” The NASA space program was quite limited until John F. Kennedy said, “We’re going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.”

Saddleback Church started because God said, “Rick, I want you to be a leader and get the thing off the ground.” When problems arise in your own family, nothing happens until somebody assumes leadership and says, “We’re going to do something about it.”

Everything rises or falls on leadership, and many problems can be traced to a lack of competent leadership.

I believe one of the greatest problems today is a leadership shortage within our churches.

2. Leadership is influence.

If I had to summarize leadership in one word, it would be influence — for good or for bad.

Have you ever watched a playground at school? Within about five minutes you can usually determine who the leaders are — and whether they’re good leaders or bad ones.

Every time you influence somebody, you’re assuming leadership. (Tweet this!)

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul told Timothy, “And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity” (The Message).

Age has nothing to do with leadership. You can be an influence at any age, and you’re a role model whether you like it or not.

3. The test of leadership is, is anybody following?

If you want to know whether you’re a leader or not, simply look over your shoulder.

My friend John Maxwell says, “He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.”

If you have to remind people that you’re a leader, then you’re not one. The Sunday I stand up at Saddleback and say, “Folks, we’re going to do it my way because I am the leader” — that’s the Sunday I’ve ceased to be a leader.

4. The foundation of leadership is character, not charisma.

You may have enough charisma to be a televangelist, but if you have no character, you fail. The foundation of leadership is character, not charisma.

In fact, you don’t have to have charisma to be a leader, but you do have to have character. This kind of credibility is essential because without it, no one will follow you.

5. Leadership can be learned.

Everyone can be a great leader. Philippians 4:9 says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put into practice” (NIV).

Contrary to conventional wisdom, leaders are made, not born. There is no such thing as a born leader. Leaders are made by the way they respond to circumstances.

The priority of training leaders can be seen in the ministry of Jesus. Mark 3:14 says, “He appointed twelve — designating them apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” (NIV).

Jesus had a public ministry and a private ministry. His public ministry involved preaching, teaching, and healing. His private ministry involved training the disciples.

Even within the Twelve, he had an inner circle — Peter, James, John — who got to go to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Transfiguration. They got extra attention.

In Galatians 2, Paul said Peter, James, and John were the pillars of the church. Jesus invested the maximum time with those who would bear the maximum responsibility. He fed the masses, but he spent most of his time training leadership, and that’s one reason why I believe leadership can be learned.

6. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.

All leaders must be learners. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop leading.

I believe that the moment I as a pastor stop growing, Saddleback Church will stop growing, too. You must always be developing and growing and becoming what God wants you to be.

Learning to be a leader takes a lifetime.



The fine print in the leadership contract!

Have you ever been fooled or misled with the fine print in a contract? Have you ever been deceived by being told one thing only to find out that the fine print in the contract said something quite different? Have you ever been asked to sign something with somebody saying that you don’t need to read it as it is just routine standard stuff in all contracts like this?

I must admit that when there is lots to read, I skip down to the “Agree” box, check it and really don’t pay much attention to the details. So far nothing bad has happened, but it could if I don’t know what I’m actually signing and don’t read the fine print.

When you stepped into leadership, there is a good chance that there were certain things that were never adequately explained to you or that you never really “heard”. Let’s refer to these as the “fine print” in the contract.

Here are a few of them that you may have never been told about, but are none the less true as you will find out if you haven’t already:

 1. You Will Be Misunderstood

I was at a Navigator training program years ago when one of the speakers said that if we stepped into leadership we should plan on being misunderstood. I didn’t understand it then, but I certainly do now.

Some people will not only misunderstand me, but they may misinterpret me, misrepresent, or misconstrue what I’ve said. Some of this is unintentional, but some may very well be intentional to discredit me, have me removed for a period of time, or have me disqualified for life. Your motives may be questioned and you may be slandered and gossiped about.

2. You Will Be Wrong

Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you’re always right.  One of my favorite definitions of a leader is: “A leader is a person who makes decisions, some of which are right.” You will be wrong; it’s not a just a possibility, it’s a fact. The best thing you can do is to own it, admit it, apologize for it, rather than blaming others, hiding it, or making excuses for yourself.

3. You Will Sin

You will sin. You will disappoint the Lord. You still have a sinful nature even though God’s hand of anointing may be on you and your ministry. All the effort and determination in the world will not keep you from sinning until you are in your resurrected body in heaven. Remember Peter’s promise to not turn away or deny Jesus? Well, he did, in short order!

You are capable of the most heinous of sins and the further you go in leadership the more you will be tempted to gloss over your sin, believe you really don’t sin anymore, or call it something other than sin.

Paul, in Romans 6 and 7, talks about his battle with sin. I would venture a guess that you are not as godly a leader as Paul was and yet he struggled and you will too, until the day you die.

4. You Will Be Accused

No matter what you do or how right or biblical you try to be, there will be those in your ministry and outside of your ministry who will accuse you of everything imaginable… everything under the sun. They will accuse you of being power-hungry.  trying to build your own kingdom, greedy for gain, and manipulative.

Now, some of the things people say about you might very well be true and we need to search our hearts (Psalm 119:23,24) to see if it is true. If you determine it’s not true and your motives are right (as far as you can determine) before the Lord, you need to move on and not be depressed, deflated or defeated by these accusations, as they will come as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. But if there’s truth in what you are being accused of, own it!

5. You Will Fail

You will fail--not just once, but many times in your leadership journey. It has been observed that we learn more from our failures than our successes. Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t try to avoid it at all costs. In the movie, “Patton,” General Patton said of  British General Montgomery that “he is more interested in not failing than he is in succeeding.” Most every fruitful and successful Christian leader I have heard of has failed multiple times. John Maxwell’s book "Failing Forward" is a good read on this.

6. You Will Get Angry

Especially if you are a visionary and idea-filled leader, you will, at times, be very angry that:

  • People don’t like your idea
  • People want to postpone implementation of your idea
  • People want to criticize you for your “lame-brain” idea
  • People will question the motive behind your idea

 In spite of the clear challenge in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” (ESV) Many leaders I have worked with, read about, or known are quick, rather than slow, to anger.

Once again, own it, confess it, repent of it, and apologize. We read in I Timothy 3 “self-controlled, not violent, but gentle.” In other words, don’t be an angry, short-fused, quick-tempered leader. I have met more than my share of them. Don’t be surprised by your own anger. Anger is probably not the issue but how you handle it, communicate it and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, control it and channel it. There is righteous anger and sinful anger. For the most part, the anger that leaders display falls into the sinful category.

Anyone want to add other “fine print” items you found out about and experienced on your leadership journey?