Entries by Dave Kraft (1143)


The price and payoff of leadership

As I look around the landscape and see all the corporate / political damage and “dead bodies,” it really is scary and unnerving. At times I ask myself if being a leader is worth it.

The Price Of Leadership

First of all, there IS a price to pay. Often it is the price of loneliness. The loneliness of wrestling with issues that, at times, others don’t see or care about. There is the loneliness of making tough and unpleasant decisions. Part of what makes some decisions hard is the temptation to keep everyone happy. Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know what the secret to success is but I know what the secret to failure is, and that’s trying to keep everybody happy.” Would you be inclined to agree? I would.

 I collect definitions of leadership and one of my favorite’s is: “A leaders is a person who makes decisions some of which are right.” But the price a Christian leader pays in praying, thinking, information gathering, and emotional and mental sweating can be high. Leaders live with a lot more stress than others due to the nature of the decisions that fall to their lot. Your motives can be judged, called into question, or outright attacked. Maybe that’s why there is so much “buck passing” and finger pointing when a decision turns out to be a bad one.

Years ago someone told me that if I accepted the role of a leader, I should plan on being misunderstood. I didn’t comprehend it then, but I certainly do now. Oh, the horror stories I have heard of what has happened to good leaders of integrity who have been ambushed by what Marshall Shelley calls, “Well-Intentioned Dragons.” In the book by that title, Shelly says, “Criticism comes with the territory-some of it deserved, some of it unfair, all of it devastating.” How true. How true. There is a big price tag on leadership.

In II Corinthians 4: 8, 9 the Apostle Paul speaks to the price when he says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” And, again, in II Corinthians 11:27, 28, “In weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches.” Now, admittedly, some of what Paul faced had to do with his calling as a mobile apostle, but at the same time it was part of being a leader.

The high price of leadership keeps some from ever stepping into it and forces others into quickly stepping out of it. I have long since lost track of those who once served as leaders who would rather drink motor oil than try again. It is so sad. I think that the key to lasting as a leader is weighing the price against the pay off. I have been tempted to quit many times. To come to the conclusion in my mind that I can’t handle it any longer, but the grace of God and the promises of God give me the fortitude to continue on.

The Payoff Of Leadership

The thrill of winning a game keeps people on the floor, the field or the ice and allows them to put up with the training, the pain and the pressure. The coach’s job is to help the players keep perspective and keep their eyes on the payoff. Winning the game, the league championship, being world champions, the end result of the process.

Is it any different in the world of Christian leadership? It’s imperative to keep our eyes on the end goal. Standing before the Savior with joy and love in our hearts and hearing his “well done.” I heard the story of a missionary couple returning home by ship after many years of faithful and difficult service. As it turned out Teddy Roosevelt’s ship came in about the same time. There were great crowds awaiting Teddy’s arrival , but hardly anyone welcoming this couple home. As he started to be discouraged, he heard the Lord quietly remind him, “But you’re not ”home” yet.

Paul again has something to say to the weary. beat up and  discouraged leaders who are paying a high price that is exacting a toll. “Therefore we do not lose heart. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Cor 4:16-18.

When we get to heaven and see all the people we have deeply impacted, the lives that have been transformed, the people who have come to faith through our lives and our lips, it will be worth it all. I heard about a Christian lady named Helen .

Ever since she was a small girl she made decisions by asking herself “Is it worth it?” After serving the Lord for many years, things got tough and she was paying the price of leadership. She began to waver and asked herself if “it was worth it.” Jesus put a vastly different question to her, “Am I worth it?”

Yes, Jesus is worth it. The price is worth the pay off. As the old song puts it, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. All problems seem so small when we see Christ. One look at his dear face, all trials will erase, so bravely run the race ‘till we see Christ.”

So fellow leader. Hang in there. Don’t quite because of the price. He didn’t quit when the price was high! “Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2



I love lists of things to think about, pray about and pick a few things to trust God for in my own personal and leadership development. Here are several lists from Dan Rockwell. Don't let the lists overwhelm you. Read, think, pray and pick one or  two that will take your leadership to a new level.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


Extraordinary leadership is about who you are. There’s hope for all of us.

One quality rises to the top when I think of extraordinary leaders. Before I give you that quality, here’s my complete list of extraordinary leadership qualities and behaviors – minus one.

The list:

1.  Face reality.

2.  Define “better.”

3.  Live organizational values.

4.  Serve.

5.  Reach high.

6.  Take responsibility.

7.  Make decisions.

8.  Set goals.

9.  Act with boldness.

10.  Adapt.

11.  Deliver results.

12.  Measure progress.

13.  Instill confidence in others.

14.  Listen.

15.  Trust.

16.  Connect.

17.  Receive help.

18.  Delegate. (Different from #15.)

19.  Provide abundant feedback.

20.  Leverage areas of above average intelligence.

21.  Learn persistently.

22.  Develop leaders.

23.  Possess high EQ – behave authentically.

24.  Take care of yourself.

Plus one:

All the skill in the world won’t compensate for a stingy heart. 

Ridiculous generosity makes you remarkable.

The difference between successful and extraordinary is generosity.

Generosity requires:

1.  Humility.

2.  Courage.

3.  Compassion.

4.  Connection.

No-strings-attached generosity lifts you above the pack. Half-hearted generosity is barter.

Some will take advantage of generosity.

Be wise, but be more generous than wise.

13 elements of generous leadership:

1.  Courageously give yourself first. Generosity is about who you are.

2.  Slow down. You can’t be generous and frantic at the same time.

3.  Look for everyday opportunities to practice generosity in small ways.

4.  Define enough. What is enough for you today?

5.  Carry cash. Give yourself a daily generosity budget.

6.  Stand up for others.

7.  Forget barter. Don’t give to get. Give to give.

8.  Earn to give. Don’t give it all away. Earn more so you can give more.

9.  Hang with the lower-crust. The upper-crust is disconnected.

10.  Feel it. Generosity that doesn’t touch you is nice, not remarkable.

11.  Get your hands dirty. Don’t delegate generosity.

12.  Build channels of generosity for others.

13.  Honor generosity when you see it.

What would you add to these qualities and behaviors?

What are your top ten qualities and behaviors of extraordinary leaders?

How might you practice generosity?




Is it time to move on? Questions to ask yourself!

First posted on “Leading Smart.”

Change is always uncomfortable, no matter the circumstances.

I love this quote from Henry Cloud’s book Necessary Endings: “Endings are not only part of life; they are a requirement for living and thriving, professionally and personally. Being alive requires that we sometimes kill off things in which we were once invested, uproot what we previously nurtured, and tear down what we built for an earlier time.”

Is it time for you to have a necessary ending?

If you're experiencing any of these ten circumstances, it might mean that it's time.

1.  You are wearing yourself out with sideways energy.

Instead of moving the mission forward, so many of your team’s conversations are about structure, analyzing what’s happened in the past, talking about things that don’t matter, navigating difficult relationships, or debating the direction with other leaders in the church. It’s okay to do this for a short season to fix a problem—but sideways energy in the long haul will suck the life out of you.

2.  You dread coming back after vacation.

Everyone has a pile on their desk after vacation—so I’m not talking about the normal struggle of working your way through the post-vacation pile. But if you return after a restful vacation and find yourself dreading the work, relationships, conversations, and meetings, then it might be time to move to something you can love again.

3.  You like your team but can’t stand your senior pastor.

“Houston, we have a problem.” There is no way to be supportive to your church if you’ve lost trust in your lead pastor. You can’t fake it. Stop trying. You are cheating yourself and cheating your church.

4.  The only reason you are staying is for security.

It might be the security of a paycheck; or because you don’t want to uproot your family; or because it took a long time to find a mechanic and you really don’t want to go through that again. Security shouldn’t be ignored, and supporting your family is an important factor to consider. But gone are the days when you have to stay in a stress-filled job that you stopped loving long ago.

5.  Outwardly you are supporting the leadership, but inside you find yourself questioning more all the time.

You probably aren’t as much in stealth mode as you think. If you are having an internal problem in supporting the leadership—then it’s probably seeping out and impacting others. Don’t do damage to your church. Find a place where you can wholeheartedly support your leaders.

6.  You aren’t even sure you believe in the mission anymore.

Perhaps nothing changed at the church, but you’ve been learning and growing and discovering—and you aren’t the same person you were when you joined the staff. That is the natural course of being human. It’s possible that the best gift you can give your pastor and church is to quietly resign, and move to a place where you can embrace the mission once again. 

7.  You are going through the motions.

You’ve shifted into neutral. You used to love it and have passion for the vision, but you’ve decided that the only way you can stay is if you stop caring. The problem is, you can’t stop caring. God hasn’t wired you to coast. You were created for more than that. You must find a place where you can thrive and grow and contribute with everything you have.

8.  You stopped giving (or are thinking about no longer giving) to the church where you lead.

The Bible is pretty clear—“where your heart is, that’s where your treasure will be.” So if you have a really hard time giving money to your church, then it’s likely symbolic of something going on in your heart. I remember Mark Beeson saying, “First your heart leaves, then your mind wanders, and the last thing to leave is your body.”

9.  There is a lack of integrity not being addressed.

You see stuff no one else sees. You may not be in a structure where there is a clear way to confront such issues, and so it might just be time to leave. To stay might mean you are contributing to the problem.

10.  You know you were created for something more.

That doesn’t mean you are better than your current surroundings. It doesn’t mean they don’t measure up. It could just mean that God has wired you for something different. Perhaps you are angry because you came to this place thinking it was “the” place. But it wasn’t. And it’s not. And you don’t want to move your family again. But the damage of staying where you are is likely worse, long-term, than the pain of moving once again.

What would you add to this list?



Want to grow? Keep asking "What if?"

What if we tried____? What if we stopped_____? What if we quit listening to those who keep telling us it won’t work?  What if we believed God for the impossible in ______.

Here are a few more “What If's” from Dan Rockwell

Originally posted by  Dan Rockwell


Stop asking, “What about?” Start asking, “What if?”

What if the people you’re trying to please approved of you? How would you spend your energy? Living to please others is serving fear.

Serve freely.

What if you’re preparing for problems that won’t happen? It’s true. Bad things happen. Anticipating problems is useful, but not if that’s all you do.

Press forward.

What if you’re imperfect? Your knowledge, skills, and talents are lacking. Imperfection is permission to try. Don’t use imperfection as an excuse. I hate the thought that imperfection becomes indulgence and entitlement. 

Bring what you have.

What if success is serving, not working for artificial results? Think less about the scoreboard and more about the game.

Show up to serve.

What if the perfect set of circumstances doesn’t exist? You’re waiting for the stars to align, but they aren’t cooperating. Now what?

Stay busy.

What if you stopped feeling sorry for yourself? Think of the energy you might experience if it wasn’t wasted on self-pity, anger, or resentment.

Release disappointment.

What if?



Starting and Finishing!

Someone has observed that it’s not what you don’t know that can hurt you, but what you think you know that just ain’t so.

Here is one of those “just-ain’t-so”

It’s not how you start but how you finish that counts”

First of all, if you don’t start something, you can’t finish it.

Secondly, how you start something can greatly impact how well you finish it…whether you are talking about a day, a job, a project or a marriage.

Procrastination is the father of failure and it’s no secret that the biggest waste of time is the waste of time in getting started.

It takes determination, being focused and being proactive, along with a good game plan, to get going. Good intentions and noble desires won’t cut it.

In 2018, you may have the chance to start lots of things, here are some simple and practical thoughts on starting well so you don’t sputter out three months down the road.

Start with yourself. It is tempting to want to change everything and everyone around you but not begin with yourself. By God’s grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit, where specifically do you want to see some changes in your life?

Start the first step now rather than later. Don’t put off till tomorrow, next week or next month what you can do today. Start right now. Whatever you are thinking about won’t get any easier the longer you wait. Make the phone call now.  Go to the gym now.  Write that letter of apology now. Begin working on that family budget now. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

I have the germ idea of an article in my head titled “One of these days.” One of these days I am going to get my life in order. One of these days I’m going to work on my health. One of these days I am going to give quality time to my wife and children. One of these days is right now…today!

 John Maxwell says:

“It may be a cliché to say that every journey begins with the first step, yet it is still true.  Successful people don’t wait for everything to be perfect to move forward. They don’t wait for all the problems or obstacles to disappear.  They don’t wait until their fear subsides. They take initiative. They know a secret that good leaders understand: momentum is their friend. As soon as they take that first step and start moving forward, things become a little easier. If the momentum gets strong enough, many of the problems take care of themselves. But it starts only after you’ve taken those first steps.”

Start with the hard ones first. We talk ourselves into saving the hard tasks until later, or last, and then postpone them to the next day, the next week or the next month. Tackle, and finish, the hardest ones first and watch what happens to your motivation, joy and sense of accomplishment.

Start small. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the task before you is not big enough. I need something really big to get me going. The big “deals” are usually accomplished through a combination of smaller tasks. Break down a large intimidating task into small steps and begin with a first step and then another and yet another. Before you know it, you’ll be there!

Start with the end in mind. I read somewhere that author H. G. Wells would, at times, write the last chapter of a book first so he knew how he wanted to end and then begin the first chapter with the end in view. At Mars Hill Church we call this “reverse engineering.” It creates motivation and momentum to start with where you want to wind up in a given area, back up from there and begin with the end in mind.

I finish with the most important tip of all. 

Start with Jesus. Do what you do out of love for Jesus--not to be more wealthy, more popular, more admired, or more successful

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 ESV

Be Bible-based, Cross and Resurrection centered, Holy Spirit empowered and Jesus honoring as you start well--and aim to finish well!

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