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Entries by Dave Kraft (1015)

Tuesday
Mar142017

Four ways to become a much better leader

I’m going to assume that any leader worth his salt wants to become a better leader by growing in his/her walk with Jesus and, flowing out of that, be the best leader he/she can be. I know I do!

 I am sure that the number of things you could do with those you lead to become a better leader are endless, but here are four with which to start right now!

1.  Inform them

The people you lead will respect your leadership and do excellently if you inform them of the Purpose/Values/Vision and key initiatives your team, group or organization is currently operating from. This gets everyone on the same page and keeps alignment strong and healthy.

Additionally, it has been my experience that people function (and serve) much better when they are clear on what you are asking them to do (a written ministry or job description) and are also clear on your expectations for the role. Spell it out for them in as much detail as necessary and make sure there is adequate understanding. A clear job description and a clear articulation of expectations can also be the basis for future evaluations.

2.  Empower them

Set your people free to do what you have asked them to do. Don’t look over their shoulders or micromanage them. Give them freedom and turn them loose.  The more freedom you give people to do their jobs the way they’d like to do them, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work. Most leaders are supposed to be a little smarter than other people and, in most respects, they probably are. But if leaders insist on doing all the thinking for their organizations, if everything has to be done THEIR way, what’s left for the people who work for them to be proud of?

How much personal satisfaction can there be in doing a job that is completely programmed, where your muscles or brain are used to perform repetitive operations already planned and dictated by someone else?

Turn people loose, get out of their way and watch what happens!

3.  Encourage them

I have never met a person who felt that they were encouraged too much and couldn’t handle any more. Build the habit of frequently (and publically, as much as possible) expressing appreciation and gratitude for what they are doing and how they are behaving in their responsibilities. Be specific. “You’re doing great” won’t cut it.  Mention something specific that they have recently done and tell them  how it has benefited the organization or team. Send along that encouragement as soon as you can after you notice something to be commended. For it to be effective, encouragement needs to be specific, enthusiastic and timely. Recently I was impressed with Acts 20:2 in The Message: “Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he (Paul) gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.”

That became a memory verse for me that I take very much to heart!

4.  Confront them

Just as people need to be encouraged when they are doing well, they also need to be confronted when they are doing poorly. This should also be very specific so that they know what they need to give attention to. And, as opposed to publically, this confrontation needs to be private. Point out where they need to improve or change and walk with them in the process. Make resources, people and tools available to help them grow and change. Be honest and frank, but considerate, when confronting. Reassure them that you believe in them and are confident that they can address the issue(s) that are holding them back.

As a leader, if you inform, empower, encourage and confront with the help of the Holy Spirit and in such a way that honors the Lord Jesus, you will be a better leader and the people you are privileged to lead will fare much better as valued team members.

 

Saturday
Mar112017

Ten steps to confront when you don't like confrontation!

Having the difficult conversations and confronting people when it's necessary is a skill every leader needs to develop. Good leaders and healthy teams are willing to do this. It's difficult and tempting to avoid but nonetheless essential.

Chuck Lawless shares “Ten Steps To Confront When You Don’t Like Confrontation.”

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

I admit it. I don’t like confrontation. I often work with students and church leaders who face the same issue, even when they know ignoring the issue isn’t wise. Here are some steps that help me in those tough times.

1.  Make sure you’re walking with God. If you’re not being faithful in other areas of your life, I doubt you should expect God’s blessing in confrontation. Why should He guide you when you’re not listening to Him in other areas of your life?

2.  Check your heart. If your motive is revenge or harm or gloating, don’t take the next step until your heart is right.

3.  Pray. The Holy Spirit is much better than we are at helping us and others realize our wrong. To confront without praying first simply isn’t very smart. 

4.  Recognize that not confronting can open the door for the enemy. The more you delay confronting, the more anxious you’ll be – and the deeper someone else might go into sin.   

5.  Do your homework. Get your facts straight before you confront. Bad information leads to unnecessary scars.

6.  Consider possible reactions, responses, and goals ahead of time. It’s almost always better to think through a response rather than react on the fly. Wise preparation can take you a long way down the right path.

7.  Clarify and state your goal: to redeem even if you must rebuke. Your goal should be to strengthen a brother or sister in Christ, not hurt him or her. Make sure this goal is clear up front.

8.  Ask questions more than make statements. Questions soften the blows, and they allow the person confronted to explain without being backed into a corner.

9.  Work toward a stated solution. Trust God to direct both of you toward a resolution that is pleasing to Him. Confront toward repentance and reconciliation, not away from it.

10.  Assume you will pray together after the conversation. When you start the conversation knowing it will end with prayer, you’ll be more careful in what you say and how you say it. 

 

 

 

Friday
Mar102017

Is biblical conviction or personal stubbornness driving your position or decision?


As you can well imagine, I have been on numerous teams and in numerous meetings over the years where discussions have taken place and decisions have been make.

I have seen productive meetings where healthy dialogue has occurred and I have been in unhealthy meetings (as well as on unhealthy teams) where I have witnessed the proverbial “Hatfield and McCoy” shootout in which one person, or several people, have held the team back from making a decision due to a refusal to change their minds or their opinion--sort of like a deadlocked jury that cannot or will not make a decision.

Sometimes it’s not clear who has the authority to make the final decision so there is a power struggle and no decision is made when a decision clearly needs to be made and should be made.

As I have observed this sort of scenario play itself out I have asked myself if what is at stake is biblical conviction or personal preference dressed in an attitude of stubbornness. The first is appropriate the other is not. I have left a team more than once where I felt clear biblical teaching was ignored or violated and I have given up my position more than once for the sake of the team when my position was a matter of personal preference.

I think it is essential for a leader to hold his ground when his position is based on what he/she believes God’s word clearly teaches. On the other hand it is, in my opinion, not appropriate for a leader or a team member to hold a group hostage over a personal preference that has no biblical foundations when the rest of the team wants to move forward.

There are numerous issues being bantered about in local churches today which are clearly a matter of personal preference and one needs to be careful not to hold these types of positions with a tight fist, but rather be willing to give them up for the sake of the rest of the team so a decision can be made and the ball moved down the field.

Varying ideas on worship style and song choice would be an example of this—“affectionately” known as “Worship Wars” which are, to my knowledge, still ongoing in many churches.

In my coaching I have had the experience of one or more leaders who have seriously considered leaving a staff position over personal preference issues which are, admittedly, not a matter of biblical conviction. The question for me or anyone else to ask is: is my refusal to change my position based on preference or conviction?  If preference, am I willing to “go with the flow” for the sake of the team I’m on and not fight an unnecessary battle?

Now, I ‘ll be the first to admit that it can be difficult at times to discern whether my unmovable position is due to conviction based on the Bible or my preference based on my experience. It takes lots of God-give wisdom, grace and love for my fellow team members to make the right choices.

This has been referred to as closed-handed versus open-handed thinking and decision-making--closed-handed being biblical conviction and open-handed being personal preference.

As a young leader, I had too many things in the closed hand and too few things in the open hand. As I grew and became wiser, I now have fewer things in the closed hand.  I don’t need to start a war over every issue, and I don’t need to hold an unmovable opinion about every decision. The same principle holds true in my marriage.

So here is the critical question for all of us!

How is the team you are on doing with one or more team members who are holding things up over preference issues which are not really biblically based, and how will the team deal with this so appropriate decisions can be made and progress can be experienced?

 

Tuesday
Mar072017

Ten Ways to be a Mature Leader Even if you’re Young

Every leader should want to continue to grow in maturity regardless of age. Sometimes younger leaders feel at a disadvantage. Here are some great ideas for the younger leaders on what Maturity can look like!

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Ten Ways to be a Mature Leader Even if you’re Young

I just got home from a conversation about maturity with some really smart college students. This post is inspired by our conversation.

Ten expressions of immaturity:

  1. Don’t realize or don’t care that their behaviors have negative consequences for teammates.
  2. Won’t make commitments. Commitment requires responsibility, something immaturity can’t tolderate.
  3. Repeat ineffective behaviors, while hoping to achieve better results.
  4. Say things like, “Deal with it,” and, “I don’t care what you think.”
  5. Break promises. Immaturity and unreliability are bedfellows.
  6. Always know the right thing to do.
  7. Reject wise counsel.
  8. Focus on serving themselves, even if others suffer.
  9. Create drama. Everything’s a crisis to the immature.
  10. Repeat the past because they don’t learn from it.

Five things immature leaders end up saying:

  1. I didn’t mean to hurt you.
  2. I didn’t realize this would impact your area.
  3. Get over it.
  4. I’m right.
  5. What’s wrong with you?

Mature leaders:

  1. Maintain perspective. Solve drama, rather than create turmoil. Don’t turn molehills into mountains.
  2. Press through setbacks and obstacles. Maturity is the result of endurance.
  3. Continue striving for excellence, even after achieving excellence.
  4. Seek input and listen to suggestions. Mature leaders ask, “What do you think.” Babies need their own way.
  5. Admit failures without making excuses.
  6. Appreciate and honor mentors, coaches, and advisers.
  7. Let go past failures and offenses. Mature leaders don’t circle black-holes. Never allow the past to define your future, especially if it’s dark.
  8. Rise to service quickly and freely.
  9. Commit to learning, unlearning, and relearning.
  10. Aggressively face forward.

Immature leaders circle the past. Mature leaders always press into the future.

What are the fundamental marks of mature leadership?

Which of the 10 marks of mature leadership seem most important to you?

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar052017

I heard him say it 53 years ago, but it still affects me to this day

The year was 1964 and I was in San Diego to counsel at a Billy Graham crusade.  It was a Sunday evening youth meeting at College Avenue Baptist Church and the speaker was Grady Wilson, one of Billy’s associate evangelists. When Grady finished speaking they had a Q&A time and one of the questions was this:

“During all these years, how has Billy Graham managed to stay humble?”

To this day I still remember word for word, how Grady answered this question. He sai:

“When the team first formed we made a deal with Billy that if God would keep him anointed, we would keep him humble.”

Wow!

What a powerful two-fold secret to ministry fruitfulness!

1.  The hand of God on my life ~ Anointing

2.  A few good friends in my life ~ Rebuking

I am reminded of the fact that King David had Jonathan to encourage him and Nathan to rebuke him. You and I need both.

In this particular case, we are talking about a few Nathans (Billy’s team members.)

Let’s take these one at a time.

1.  God’s Anointing:

There can be no substitute for the clear hand of God, the anointing of God, on my life  for ministry fruitfulness. What difference does anything I do make if it is not clear that God is empowering and leading me? As Paul says in I Corinthians 3:5-7: “…God gave the growth.”  Yes, one waters and another plants, but God makes it happen. Without the hand of God on what I do, without the Holy Spirit clearly and powerfully at work, what difference does any of my work or activities really make?

More than at any time in my life, I deeply long for and pray for God’s anointing hand on all that I undertake. I am more dependent, more expectant than I’ve ever been. I have zero confidence in my gifts, personality or experience to make something of eternal value happen. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1, ESV.

We can discuss exactly what “Anointing” actually looks like and there may be differences of opinion on this, but I can’t imagine a single Christian Leader not longing, praying and believing the Lord for this on his or her life.

Anointing falls into the category of things we don’t think much about or talk much about anymore, but should! It sems to me that we hear about anointing more in charismatic than reformed circles. The anointing of God on life and ministry needs to be given more serious thought and attention.

2.  Friend's Rebuke:

As I look over the landscape of Christian leadership today, I am grieved and saddened over the gifted leaders I hear and read about (and some I personally know) who have fallen due to moral failure of some sort: sexual, relational or financial. Where was the accountability? Where were the Nathans, the real friends to keep them humble and accountable?

Either those “friends” didn’t have the courage to speak up and to speak out, or the leader was not open to any of his so-called “friends” challenging him or rebuking him when it was obvious and necessary.

I desperately need some people in my life (and am glad I have some, starting with my wife) who will call a spade a spade and not be afraid to confront me, regardless of how popular, respected or successful I appear to be.  If I’m about to drive my car off the cliff, I sincerely and desperately pray and trust  that someone would courageously step in, rather than say, “Well, it’s his car. If he wants to drive it off a cliff I guess that’s his business.”  No! No!  It’s not my business that’s at stake here, but the business of God’s kingdom. It affects dozens if not hundreds of people when a leader falls…goes over the cliff.

My fellow leaders, may I lovingly challenge and encourage you to be on your knees praying for God’s anointing on your life, your family and the ministry he has called you to?

May I lovingly challenge you to surround yourself with some real friends who will stand solidly between you and the edge of the cliff?