Entries by Dave Kraft (969)


One of the main reasons your church may not be growing!

A controlling leader is hardly ever a good and effective leader. As a leader you want to make sure that everything is lining up with your purpose, values, vision and philosophy; but at the same time making sure you are not trying to manage and control the activities methods and decisions of your direct reports.

Give them wings and let them fly, don’t put them in a box or cage. Cary Nieuwhof shares how being a control freak will stunt the growth of your church, or any organization.

Being a control freak can be one of the main reasons your church isn’t experiencing the growth it could.

Originally posted by Carey Nieuwhof

How Your Control Freak Tendencies Stunt Your Church’s Growth

So you might have a love hate relationship with control: you love controlling things, but you hate being controlled.

It’s not surprising. People who like control seem to have a natural ability to get into leadership positions. Or sometimes they create positions, start things and build their own organizations.

For years, I resisted the control freak label.

I wasn’t a control freak. I was…


Detail oriented (of course, only very selectively about the things for which I had the most passion).

Good at what I did (okay, you don’t say that one out loud…but control freaks, you know what happens when you delegate to other people who just can’t get the job done, right?).

Control freaks, after all, usually get things done.

Our church grew rapidly when I was in my undiagnosed control freak days. So you would think, well, the sky’s the limit, right?


There’s a lid that comes with your control freak tendencies. You will eventually hit a wall in which the size of your church shrinks back to the size of your personal span of care. Until you let go.

In other words, if you want to limit your church’s growth, attempt to control everything.

The size of your church will always shrink back to the span of your personal care.

Apparently, Jesus didn’t model control freakishness very well for those of us who want to follow in his footsteps.

He only ministered for three years, building into some questionable characters he called disciples. He poured his life into them and then left the planet and put them in charge.

A number of years ago I finally admitted I have a problem (only after about 1,282 other people had gently hinted that I might). And I began to let go.

Don’t get me wrong, the impulses still surface from time to time. But over the years it’s gotten so much better. Fortunately for all of us, learned behavior has a wonderful way of compensating for bad impulses that no leader should act on.

Here are 5 insights that help me remember that controlling everything means you will eventually end up leading nothing significant.

If you want to limit your church’s growth, attempt to control everything

1. Control Is Often A Substitute For A Lack Of Clear Strategy Or Alignment

Poor leaders substitute control for clarity.

Here’s why. If you don’t know with absolute clarity what your organization is, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there (in other words, if you’re fuzzy about your mission, vision and strategy), you can never truly align a team. And as a result, you will always want to control it.

Poor leaders substitute control for clarity.

You will default to control because, in the absence of clarity, you worry that leaders will take your church or organization to places you don’t believe it should go. And the truth is, they will. Because you haven’t been clear.

In so many cases, the real reason you can’t ‘trust’ people of even stellar character is not because they aren’t trustworthy, it’s because you haven’t stated the mission, vision and strategy clearly enough that it’s repeatable and reproducible for anybody other than you. In the absence of clarity, well-intentioned team members end up going rogue, not because they’re trying to be disloyal, but because you never clearly defined the destination.

Healthy people usually only run in the wrong direction when their leader never made it clear what the right direction is.

The more clarity you have as a leader, the less you will feel a need to control anything.

If you’re fuzzy on where your organization is going, you’ll always try to control it.

2. Control Rarely Delegates

One of the reasons many leaders becoming controlling is because they gave the job to someone else and, well, that person just didn’t do a good job.

So is it that they didn’t do a good job, or is it that you didn’t set them up to win?

The more you control, the less you will delegate. The less you delegate, the fewer leaders you will raise up. The fewer leaders you raise up, the weaker your church becomes.

It’s a domino effect.

The clearer you are, the better you train others, the more razor sharp your strategy is, the more your team will scale, grow and begin to truly advance.

When you grow your team, you grow your mission.

When you grow your team, you grow your mission.

3. Your Need To Control And The Size Of Your Organization Are Inversely Proportional

Of all the reasons, this one haunts me most. Your need to control and the size of your organization are inversely proportional.

The more controlling you are, the smaller your church will be.

The more controlling you are, the smaller your church will be.

We grew to about 500 before I really had to come to terms with my desire to know everything and be involved in everything.

Now, we see almost triple that number join our church in person and online every weekend, and far more than that call our church home.  In addition, the blog, podcasts, and books I write are all deeply supported by an exceptional team of highly skilled people.

If everything needs to flow through you, you will not only bottleneck your organization, you’ll kill your mission. The more you can release (around a crystal clear mission, vision, and strategy), the more it has a chance to finally grow.

Your need to control and the size of your organization are inversely proportional.

4. Control Repels Great Leaders

If you want great leaders to flee your organization, control them. They’ll leave.

If you want to attract great leaders, release them with a clear mission, vision, and strategy (and give them input to shape it). As long as you micromanage everything, you will only have do-ers in your organization, not leaders.

Enough said.

If you want great leaders to flee your organization, control them.

5. The More You Let Go, The More Amazing Your Church Will Be

There was a day where I initiated and led almost everything our church did.

Then as we grew the team and the mission, there was a season where I was involved in virtually everything our church did.

That morphed into a season in which I was aware of everything our church did.

Then, as more leaders were raised up, we moved into a season where I wasn’t even aware of everything that was happening. I couldn’t be. It would have slowed everyone down. But again, there was no worry attached to the lack of knowledge. I was still responsible as the leader, but because a capable, empowered, aligned team was in place, they could take new ground without my involvement or even blessing.

It’s a strange feeling as a leader to not know everything that’s happening. But it’s also a tremendous sign of progress. It’s not that you don’t care. You care passionately. But you’ve released a team to do what God has called them to do.

Last year we moved into a new building. I always joke that I’m the worst tour guide because people ask me many questions to which I simply have to answer, “I don’t know.” My job was to raise vision, raise money and steer the overall scope and mission of the project, but everything else was left to our team.

I’ve learned this in leadership: the more I get out of the way, the stronger our team and organization get.

Sure, you play a role as a senior leader, but you shouldn’t play every role.



The most important thing I ever learned about goal setting:

This is the time of year when many of us will begin to set goals for 2017. I am going to spend 3 days away later this month to do exactly that, as I evaluate 2016 and get ready for 2017.

I’ve said in the past that if I get one good idea from a book, it’s well worth whatever price I paid for it.

If I attend a weekend conference somewhere and come home with one life-changing, paradigm shifting concept or tool, it was worth the airfare and price of admission.

With this in mind, a number of years ago I read a book by Larry Crabb titled “The Marriage Builder.” In the book he talks about goals in marriage and makes the comment that you can’t set a goal to have a certain kind of marriage. That is more a desire because you can’t control the behavior of your spouse

He then says that you should only set goals in terms of your own behavior: what you intend to do or not do in order to have a certain kind of marriage.

The bells and whistles in my brain and spirit went into overdrive as I saw the implications of the idea in almost every area of life and ministry.

I can have a desire to see this or that happen (results) but I have no control over the results because, in most cases, it involves other people. By His grace, I do have control over what I choose to do or not do at any given moment on any given day.

So, I should set goals in terms of my behavior and pray to the end that my behavior will affect others in such a way that certain kinds of results will be achieved.

I am a big goal-setter, and over the years since understanding the difference between goals and desires,  I’ve learned how to focus on what I’m going to do and leave the results to the “Lord of the Harvest.” (Matthew 9:38) when it comes to ministry.

 It was Lorne Sanny (president of The Navigators for 30 years) who said,

“It was a wonderful day--the day I resigned as master of the universe.”

When I set goals which entail how others will behave or react, I personally tend to slip into control and manipulation mode, trying to make the end-results happen--whether that’s seeing someone become a Christian, a disciple, a good leader or to get my kids (and, now, grandkids) to behave in certain ways.

Mark 4:26, 27 in the 1996 version of the New Living translation reads:

“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.”

I Corinthians 3:6-7  (ESV):

“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.”

Both of these passages are simply saying that God brings the end results, since he is the Lord of the Harvest, as mentioned earlier.

Every farmer will do certain things to ensure a good harvest; but once he does what he can, the rest is out of his hands: the rain, the freezing cold, the insects, the tornados, etc.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying it‘s wrong to desire certain end-results that are pleasing and honoring to the Lord. What I am saying  is focus on your own behavior (work ethic, attitude, loving others) and rest in the sovereign grace of the Lord of the Harvest (the Lord over the results.)

It’s a brand new world when I focus on God-pleasing and God-empowered behavior and not the results. I can have desires and dreams for certain results, but only God controls the end results. I believe the same truth applies to setting goals in the market place; admittedly though it goes against the traditional goal-setting, which usually has to do with results, not bahavior.

There is a post on my blog site called Learning from Frog and Toad which deals with this same concept that I would encourage you to read as well.

I cannot begin to tell you how freeing and liberating this insight has been for me through the years.

Thank you, Larry Crabb.


As a leader, loneliness goes with the territory, but is there anything you can do about it?

It’s lonely at the top. No question about it. If you are a leader, loneliness goes with the territory.

What can cause loneliness and is there anything you can do about it?

According to Dan Rockwell, the answer is a resounding YES.

Read on.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.” Albert Einstein

You can be loved, respected, successful, and appreciated, but still feel like you’re swinging the sword alone.

t’s normal to feel alone. It’s the pattern that weakens your knees and crushes your spirit.

10 reasons you feel alone:

  1. Work consumes all of life. Everything is about getting something done.
  2. You care and help in self-destructive ways. Lonely leaders need dependent followers.
  3. You’re hiding inner pain. Secrets make you lonely. Fear of rejection keeps you crouching behind the bushes.
  4. Listening and judging are the same thing.
  5. Drink, food, or tobacco are an escape.
  6. Control is your middle name.
  7. You unintentionally intimidate others.
  8. You always know more than others.
  9. Your public self has strangled your private self.
  10. You can’t be alone.

4 ways to deal with leadership loneliness:

There is no permanent cure for leadership loneliness, only regular treatments.

#1. Feeling alone is about you. Expecting others to solve our loneliness only makes us feel more alone. Others help, but can’t solve loneliness.

#2. Deal with feeling alone by getting alone. When you feel alone in crowd, it’s time to get alone with yourself. Isolation, as a pattern, limits leaders. Solitude, as a practice, strengthens.

Those who fear being alone, can’t be alone.

#3. Practice forward-facing vulnerability with an inner circle of trusted friends. (Even though others can’t solve leadership loneliness, develop a small group of friends you trust and respect.)

Vitality feeds on long-term authentic connection.

#4. Live like the world will go on without you. Yes, you’re filling an important role. You’ll be missed when you step away. But the sun will still rise when you’re gone.

What are some causes of leadership loneliness?

How might leaders address the feeling of being an army of one?


This may well be the devil’s most powerful weapon against leaders

Far too many Christian leaders live in constant defeat and self pity. It holds them down, holds them back, and keeps them from experiencing all that God has for them.

Self pity is one of the devil’s most effective tactics. At times, what begins as self pity can evolve into depression that can last for years.

Self pity is a result of focusing on yourself;  your problems, your impossibilities, your defeats and, for all practical purposes,  leaving God out of the equation.

Here are some thoughts which I have adapted from Kris Vallotton on Instagram

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself, there is always someone in worse straights than you. Self pity can be  a wall between you and the miracles Jesus wants to perform in your life.

Self pity is a sure fire way to experience a life-time of defeat and discouragement. Life will knock you down and feeling sorry for yourself can keep you down permantely!

6 ideas to help you excape the cluches of self pity:

1.  Stop complaining about your circumstances (Philippians 2:14)

2.  Write down a few things you are thankful for and pray about them daily for a few weeks (I Thessalonians 5:18)

3.  Find someone who is facing bigger difficulties and challenges then you are and serve them in the name of Jesus

4.  Ask God for His perspective on your problems

5.  Focus on solutions and beware of your so called “friends” who don’t encourage you to face your problems, but rather complain about them,  and run from them

6.  Don’t quit and, by His grace, refuse to give up ( I Corinthians 15:58)






Seven surprising questions to measure your leadership effectiveness

From time to time it’s a good idea to take a personal inventory as to how you're doing as a leader; especially now, when the year is drawing to a close.How did you do in 2016?

Dan Rockwell shares seven surprising questions to measure your leadership.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

You can’t know how you’re doing until you’re measured.

Evaluation might feel uncomfortable, but the alternative is self-deception, lost potential, and mediocrity.

7 surprising questions to measure your leadership:

  1. How are you becoming dispensable?
    • Create systems that function without you.
    • Give control with accountability.
    • Develop vision as a team, not an individual.
    • Build redundant talent. Cross-train and rotate jobs.
  2. How are you making it safe for teammates to speak truth to power?
    • Listen calmly.
    • Honor constructive dissent.
    • Lower the volume of your voice.
    • Smile.
    • Avoid power positions. Sit in lower seats.
  3. How are you expanding organizational capacity?
    • What have you recently let go?
    • What have you learned from failure?
    • Who are you mentoring?
  4. How are you learning?
    • What are teammates teaching you? You aren’t smarter than everyone on your team, are you?
    • What are you reading?
    • How are you connecting with people that excel beyond your achievements?
  5. How are you making yourself accountable to those you serve?
    • Complete this sentence. “I’m accountable to _______ (insert a behavior) my employees.
    • My team members know I’m accountable to them because I _______.
    • What character quality are you developing? Who’s asking you about it?
  6. How are you actively seeking feedback?
    • Open yourself to 360 degree evaluations. What might those closest to you say, if they were completely safe?
    • Don’t tell teammates what you’re doing. Ask them to explain your goals and priorities based on your behaviors.
    • What questions do you ask others about your leadership?
  7. How are you making others feel powerful?
    • Trust people to take on big challenges.
    • Provide coaching and training.
    • Focus more on maximizing strengths than fixing weaknesses.
    • Connect their values to leadership roles and goals.


  1. Confronts self-deception.
  2. Minimizes waste.
  3. Expands potential.
  4. Identifies capacity.
  5. Invites development.

How might leaders evaluate their leadership?