Entries by Dave Kraft (894)


Two fantastic books on leadership...must reads!

As most of you know, I am hugely focused on leadership development and have been so for over 30 years.

Everything I do is directed toward: Encouraging, equipping, empowering, resourcing and praying for and weeping with the next generation of leaders in local churches.

My marching orders are Matthew 9:36-38 where Jesus mentions the lack of leaders, encourages his disciples to pray for them and then sends them out!

In my quest to do the best I can with leaders, I’m always reading, writing, thinking and looking for ideas and resources. One of my core beliefs is that leaders are readers.

Recently I finished two business books I felt were outstanding on the subject of leadership and had lots to say for those of us leading from a “Christian World View.”

The first of these two books is A Passion for Leadership by Robert Gates. He served as Secretary of Defense for a period of time, was President of Texas A&M and served in numerous other top leadership roles.

If you go to my website you will find a Book Note on this outstanding book. He shares from 50 years of public service.  Here are a few quotes from the book to whet your appetite:

“All such institutions have one thing in common: the need for bold, visionary leaders at all levels who can discern a different and better future for the organization, no matter its size, and who can map a realistic path to attaining that future.”

“Ironically, the more information I was willing to share, the more people were inclined to trust me—and support what I was trying to do.  I think that is almost always the case in leadership positions. Leaders who exclude others from decision-making run a high rise of failure.” 

“If you fundamentally don’t like or respect most people, or if you think you are superior to others, chances are you won’t be much of a leader—at least in a democracy like ours. Just because you are high on the organizational ladder and can tell people what to do doesn’t make you a leader. Just a boss.”

Read the “Book Note” and then buy the book…you’ll love it and profit from it.

 The 2nd book (Work Rules by Laszlo Bock) is all about what makes Google the success it has become.  Bock gives us an incredible inside look at what makes Google work and why it's the most sought-after place to work on the planet, according to Linkedin.

I learned so much about culture making, how to treat people and how to motivate and inspire people from this outstanding book. Once again here are a few quote to whet your appetite:

 “Larry and Sergey (founders of Google) had ambitions beyond developing a great search engine. They started out knowing how they wanted people to be treated. Quixotic as it sounds, they both wanted to create a company where work was meaningful, employees felt free to pursue their passions, and people and their families were cared for.”

 “Managers find many reasons not to trust their people. Most organizations are designed to resist change and enfeeble employees.”

 “Think of your work as a calling, with a mission that matters. Give people slightly more trust, freedom, and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you’re not nervous, you haven’t given them enough.”

 Read the “Book Note” and then buy the book…you’ll love it and profit from it.

























What might exceptional leadership look like?

Leadership is on a lot of lips and minds today.  Christian organizations are constantly on the hunt for gifted, called and anointed leaders, but few know how to actually identify, recruit and develop the leaders they need and want. Experience has taught me that it is much easier for someone to want to be known as a leader than to actually be a leader--an exceptional leader. We already have enough mediocre and/or average leaders.

I have been studying and practicing leadership for over forty years.  I continue to grow in both leading and learning how to lead better. I read all I can on the subject. I’m not what I want to be or what I will be, but at least I’m not what I was…even last year. By God’s grace I’m still a life-long learner…trusting Jesus to be excellent in how I lead others.

What does excellent leadership really look like? How would you personally define excellent leadership? What qualities are high on your list?

To get the ball rolling on what excellent, stellar and exceptional leadership looks like, here are four attributes that have been on my mind lately. This is not meant to be exhaustive…just a few I have been thinking and praying about.


Telling the truth at all times and at all costs. Being a person who says what he means and means what he says…consistency between what is said and what is done. (See Psalm 15:4B)


Sees things through to completion. Doesn’t make promises that aren’t kept. Takes responsibility seriously; doesn’t intentionally or lazily let things fall through the cracks. Owns sin and mistakes without playing the blame game.


Makes the tough calls and confronts when necessary. Decides when it’s as clear as it’s ever going to be without trying to keep everybody happy or being afraid to make a mistake. Show me a leader who never made a mistake and I’ll show you a leader who never “made” anything


Genuinely cares. Affirms and encourages the people being led. Not in it for personal gain or accolades (See I Peter 5:1-3). Leadership is not about the leader, but about Jesus and those He has entrusted to the leader.

In my opinion, excellent leadership would include ALL FOUR of these. What do you think? Please add a few at the top of your list that would separate an average leader from an exceptional leader.


Critically important questions to ask when selecting leaders!


Picking the right leaders for the team, church organization is one of the most important decisions that can be made. Here is Dan Rockwell sharing ten questions to ask when choosing new leaders!

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

One of the most painful mistakes of leadership is choosing the wrong leaders.

The difference between success and failure begins with choosing the right leaders. (And ejecting the wrong.)

Three mistakes when choosing leaders:

#1. Overlooking introverts. Extroversion is not a requirement to lead.

#2. Succumbing to the seduction of charisma, talent, education, or good looks.

Degrees, talent, and charisma might open doors. But, all the talent in the world doesn’t compensate for bad character.

  1. Entitlement.
  2. Laziness.
  3. Blaming.
  4. Insensitivity.
  5. Cowardice.

#3. Thinking doers are leaders. You sweat your way into leadership, but leadership is more than getting things done.

It’s foolish to define leadership as getting things done. The focus of leadership is people. You earn leadership opportunities by getting things done. You become a leader when you get things done through others.

  1. How do they make people feel?
  2. How do they maximize the skills and talents of others?
  3. How are they instilling a sense of mission?
  4. How are they developing others?
  5. How are their values, not urgencies, guiding decisions.

When someone steps into leadership they leverage the talent of others.

10 questions to answer when choosing leaders:

  1. What is their definition of leadership?
  2. How are they expressing curiosity?
  3. Where do they fall on the scale of optimistic vs. pessimistic?
  4. How are their values?
  5. How do they appreciate the impact of their behaviors on others?
  6. What makes you believe they can focus on “what” needs to be done without getting lost in “how” things get done?
  7. How are they able to see the world through the lens of others?
  8. How are they including others in decision-making?
  9. How do they respond to failure or correction?
  10. How do they respond to authority?

Bonus: Do they aspire to lead?

How might leaders choose leaders?



Biblical leaders consistently say 5 things

Leaders use lots of words in carrying out their responsibilities. They are communicators, talkers, vision-casters and exhorters; they should also be above average in listening.

Here are 5 things leaders consistently say if they are truly excellent leaders.

1. Forgive Me

There is something healing and team-building about asking for forgiveness. Better to err on the side of asking for forgiveness rather than making excuses and conjuring up reasons that it was not really your fault. Good leaders take a little less of the credit and a little more of the blame with their teams.

2. You're Right

Give credit where credit is due. When a team member has a good idea or a solution to a perplexing problem, publically acknowledge and affirm them. I have never met a person who felt they were encouraged too much. The rule of thumb is to praise publically and confront privately.

3. You're Wrong

We need to function as both Jonathans (encourage) and Nathans (confront) with team members. Don’t shy away from the tough conversations. When people have sinned and are clearly out of line, be bold to tell them so in private.  Don’t wimp out. Be a courageous leader and trust God to handle the results and the relationships.

4. Jesus Loves You

The phrase “Jesus loves you and so do I” has run its course and is not taken seriously anymore when uttered by a leader.  It is nevertheless still true that Jesus loves us and we need to regularly remind our people of the gospel’s central message that they are loved by Jesus Christ, and that amazing and incredible love is demonstrated by a bloody cross and an empty tomb. “What the world needs now is love” is still true for everybody; but, as a song says, “We are looking for love in all the wrong places.” A deeply-held belief that we are loved by Jesus can get us through lots of difficult times and circumstances. When life is tough at home, in the church or in the work place, we need to return to the simple biblical fact that we are loved. Say it often and say it with sincerity.

5. Me Too

Pastors and spiritual leaders are human, like everybody else. We sin, we doubt, we struggle, we get angry, we get envious and we repent. People need to know we can identify with them in whatever they are going through. It doesn’t decrease but, rather, increases your credibility as a leader when you admit to and own your sin and your folly. Better to say “me too” than “not me,” insinuating that you are a leader who is above and beyond what others are experiencing.


Seven Relational Skills of Great Church Leaders

The longer I am in ministry the more I realize how important relationships are; at home and at the church. Growing in my relational skills will take my leadership to another level. Ignoring them may mean the end of effective leadership.

Here is Thom Rainer sharing “Seven Relational Skills of Great Church Leaders.”

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

They are the two most common causes of forced termination of pastors.

  1. Weak leadership skills.
  2. Poor relational skills.

Much has been written in the past decade on leadership skills. The body of literature on the topic is massive and growing. I certainly have little to add in a brief blog post.

It is for that reason I focus specifically on the relational skills of great church leaders. Admittedly, my approach is both anecdotal and subjective. But I have been in the ministry of working with church leaders for thirty years. I think my cursory overview would be supported by more thorough research.

Most pastors and church leaders have never received formal training in relational skills. Perhaps these seven observations of outstanding leaders will prove helpful to many of you.

  1. They have a vibrant prayer life. The more we are in conversation with God, the more we realize His mercy and grace. That realization leads to a greater humility, which is a key attribute of those with great relational skills.
  2. They ask about others. Listen to people with whom you have regular conversations. How many of them focus the conversation on you and others? A key sign of relational health is a desire to direct the conversation to concern and questions about others.
  3. They rarely speak about themselves. This trait is the corollary to the previous characteristic. Have you ever known someone who seems always to talk about himself or herself? They are usually boring or irritating. They are definitely self-absorbed.
  4. They are intentional about relationships. They don’t wait for others to take the initiative. They are so focused on others that they naturally seek to develop relationships.
  5. They have a healthy sense of humor. This trait is natural because the leaders are not thinking obsessively about themselves. Indeed, they are prone to laugh at themselves and their own perceived inadequacies.
  6. They are not usually defensive. Pastors and other church leaders deal with critics regularly. Sometimes a defense is right and necessary. Most of the time, the leaders with great relational skills will not take the criticism too personally.
  7. They constantly seek input. Their egos are not so tender that they are unwilling to receive constructive criticism. To the contrary, many of these leaders seek such input on a regular basis.