Category: BLOG

I Will Not Feel Guilty!

I Will Not Feel Guilty!

Well, I’m admitting it.  I just burnt out.  Many difficulties, challenges, and changes have descended on my work-world that I was unable to handle.  So next week, I’ll be taking some much needed R+R and seeking whitespace.

Yet in the midst of the storm and after taking a deep, deep breath, I gave my mind and soul permission to draw a few lines in the sand regarding emotional guilt that seemed to take over.  I suggest that you do the same — for the sake of your sanity, for the sake of your leadership, for the sake of people who love you.

Each of these lines begin with the statement “I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR …”

I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR ..

  • Being who God created me to be.
  • Taking time to care for me.
  • Saying ‘no’ to people and situations that drag me down.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to people and situations that give me life.
  • Using my passion to add value to others.
  • Pouring into my strengths and managing my weaknesses.
  • Not pleasing everybody.

Draw your line.  Be your best.

Peace!

Be A Leader Of Integrity

Be A Leader Of Integrity

So this isn’t a sales pitch for a company I recently used.  But it is a pitch to those of you who run your own business or are a leader in a business.  And it’s about integrity.

Here’s what happened.

Our home HVAC system was the original from 1984 — the year our the house was built.  While it had been running fine during the 8 years we’ve lived here, both the air conditioning and the heating unit died within a week of each other.  (Personally, I think they planned it all along).

After a few bids, we settled on Priority Heating and Cooling in the Twin Cities.  Long story short, they came out and went to work.

While I was upstairs reading, two of the guys were one floor below me.  One was the expert, the other was a trainee.  I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation and took notice of how the one mentored the other.

But here’s what I want you to take from this post.  The mentor said,

“An important thing to know is that you never, never, never damage the homeowner’s property.  But the most important thing to know is that you always, always, always leave the area you’re working in looking better than how you found it.” 

Awesome instruction for any leader and remember, they didn’t know I could hear them.  If that is how the company passes down leadership, excellence, and integrity, I’d hire them again.

That’s excellence.  That’s integrity.  And yes, you should hire them in you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Peace,

You Need A Challenge And Here’s Why

You Need A Challenge And Here’s Why

okpit3.001Raise your mental hand if you have ever said ‘yes’ to something that sounded fun, realized that you were in over your head but then completely enjoyed the experience?

If you’re an ‘I’ on the DiSC personality assessment, most likely you’ll be the first to show your armpits.  We ‘i’s’ love anything that sounds fun, no matter how hard it may be.  Jump out of an airplane? I’m in.  Free-dive to an ocean depth of 150 feet? Show me my snorkel.  Play the banjo in a pit orchestra supporting a stellar high school cast performing Roger and Hammerstein’s musical, ‘Oklahoma’, when you have strummed the hummer in many moons?  I pick that! 

Yes, that has been my extra-work world for the past few weeks.  I was hoodwinked by my dear friend Jyl who needed my dusty talent to round out the sound and as an ‘i’, I took it.  I had no idea what I was doing and hadn’t played really since a kid in Shakey’s pizza parlor, but I lassoed the hard opportunity because I knew it would push me.

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That’s what hard opportunities do.  They push you — push you to grow, push you to discover, push you to be better.  Too many of us live in a comfort zone that God intended only for recovery, not for dwelling.  He designed your skills and capabilities not to be used to create a nest in which you hunker down and live ‘comfortably’.  Your unique wiring can light up the world and flood you with that illusive sense of purpose, meaning and contentment.  

When was the last time you did something that you knew was within you abilities but outside your comfort zone?  When was the last time you served in a role that matched your passion and challenged your fear?  When was the last time you said ‘yes’ to a hard opportunity because you had no idea what you were doing? 

Performance weekend is this weekend.  Our whole crew has jitters but we don’t care.  We are loving what we’re doing because we are all challenge and we are doing it together.    

Peace!

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How Your Life Is Like The Super Bowl

How Your Life Is Like The Super Bowl

supwerbowl-50Super Bowl Sunday.  It’s a national holiday, of sorts.  Two teams, having battled for months to conquer other foes, now stand at the last epic battle that for many will be marked with pain, adrenaline, defeat and victory. 

I’m always impressed at the teams that make it to the big game.  This year, one seems to outweigh the other — not in pounds but in talent.  Yet one seems to have a deeper desire for the win and one appears more ready than the other.  Each team trains all year just for this moment.  One will win.  The other will be defeated (I leave you to sort out which team is which). 

I liken the Super Bowl to battles everyone face.  Battles of forging happiness.  Battles of seeking life-clarity and battles of just getting through another day.  It is in these battles that strength is built.  It is in these battles that character is chiseled.  It is in these battles that — while mostly unseen — God shows up and leads people to victory.

You need to prepare for these battles, though.  In my book ‘Refined‘, I wrote about a message I heard in which the pastor said when you’re in the battle, its too late to prepare for it.  That’s why God shows up — to lead you in the daily training which can ultimately lead you from defeat to victory.

I’ve seen seemingly hopeless marriages redirect and end up stronger than before.  I’ve seen poor health bring people to the edge of eternity, only to have a complete healing at the last minute.  I’ve seen people with little abilities become successful in all they do.  God shows up and does extra ordinary things.

This weekend might be one of those.  The underdog might vanquish the top barker.  Or an unknown player might become this years shining star.  Who knows?  I’m just happy to watch excellence play out on the field of my favorite sport. 

Peace!

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5 Feelings Your Pastor Feels Every Week

5 Feelings Your Pastor Feels Every Week

feelingpastor.001I’ve been a pastor for many years.  I’ve been able to serve wonderful congregations and ministries and have had the privilege of being part of a team to plant a fantastic church in a Phoenix suburb.

Every year of my shepherding journey, this awkward month rolls around called ‘October’ which has been deemed “Pastor Appreciation Month.”  Mostly, I shuffle my ego during this month as it reminds me of how incapable I am in this role.  I know I’m not alone as most of us clergy-folk would rather put our proverbial noses to the ministry grindstone and do what it takes to reach people for Jesus than to receive accolades for that which we feel woefully incapable of doing. 

As I reflect on this calling, I thought it helpful to rehearse 5 feelings with which your pastor may juggle in any given week of serving this beautifully messy thing called, ‘The Church’.  Please know that I don’t pretend to be the voice of the pastorate, but hopefully you’ll find this non-exhaustive list helpful.  

  • JOY/HAPPINESS. I know that’s two and there’s a difference but I’m sewing them together for this.  When we hear that in some small way, God used our words, our presence or our smile to make someone love Jesus more, it joyfully reaffirms and reawakens our reason for doing what we do.  That makes us happy. 
  • FEAR.  Having God whisper a new or augmented vision for the church we serve, most of us try to write it off as the effects of last nights tainted shellfish that wasn’t fully cooked.  Yet, when God doesn’t let us off the hook and the new idea is confirmed by a few others in the church, fear begins his assault.
  • FRUSTRATION. Dive deep into the heart of your Pastor and most of you will find a heart that loves Jesus and wants others to know Him as well.  Sometimes we want to push our timelines and not His. Sometimes we don’t understand why you don’t see what’s in our heads.  Sometimes we expect you in the pew to change based on one sermon or letter blast that 3% of you read.  We get frustrated.  We sometimes get numb and sometimes we may do things out of this feeling that we wish we could take back.
  • INSECURITY.  We are trained in theology, church history and Law-Gospel preaching.  Some of us have specific and enduring training in counseling, care ministry or outreach.  Rarely are we trained in how lead an organization with budgets, staff and programs.  We shoot from the hip and hope we don’t blowup anything important.  Many times a week, we feel more like imposters than pastors.  God help us.
  • OVERWHELMED.  The job is never done and yes, we do work more than 2 hours on Sunday.  Because most of us love what we do, we make ourselves available sometimes to the detriment of our families, other times to the detriment of other work.  It piles up and sometimes it ‘hits the fan’ and retreat is our only perceived option.

Okay, I’ll add one more:

  • HONORED.  The role of pastor is a serving role.  It is a role that helps steward the mysteries of God’s spiritual realm called the ‘Kingdom’.  In the quiet of our souls, we know what a huge risk God took when he called us into church-work.  We know our sin and pray you don’t.  We feel immersed in the knowledge of our incapability as it applies to the perceived pastor-role.  ‘Honored’ seems to be a white-washed word when it describes being able to serve the God of the universe by serving you.

We love you, Church, and most of us do our best.  While the above list seems to be negatively weighted, the joy we find in the small moments of our day far outshines the duties of the office.  I hope I speak for all of us when I say that it is a privilege to serve along side of you to help create environments through which the Holy Spirit can change lives. 

Peace!

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[Pastors:  Here’s a free little resource that may help.  “5 Ways To Balance Your Life.”]


“For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10

Why I’m Sick Of The Church Bashing And You Should Be Too

Why I’m Sick Of The Church Bashing And You Should Be Too

I heard another rant recently.  This one on the lack of relevance that the church has in today’s society.  The ‘rager’ relentlessly blabbed on about the large percentage of young people leaving the church and the impending ‘death of Christianity’ in the United States.  

I get it.  Church attendance has been declining over the decades and fewer churches seem to care. 

I get it.  Church leaders are afraid to push lazy congregations to do more, be more and impact more because it might take change. 

I get it, but I’m sick of it and I’ll tell you why. 

First, a bit of understanding.  For those of you who don’t know, the church is both organism and organization.  The organism-church is the alive, active movement of the people of God living in Jesus on the breath of the Holy Spirit. God describes the organism-church as the ‘bride of Christ’ and likens it to a body.  Seen and unseen, it is the Christ-followers that seek piety, purpose, and impact in our families, communities and world.  

The organization-church is the organism-church, gathered in clusters — big and small — around the globe.  These are the institutions.  These are the church buildings.  These are the budgets, programs and ministries that operate as a business hopefully with the intention of supporting and furthering the work of God in the world through the organism-church.

Organism and Organization.  Woven together in a beautifully messy dance that stumbles across the stage of a fallen world.   

No, we’re not perfect.  (Duh – palm slap my forehead).  We are human and humans are fallen.  We get lazy.  We get comfortable.  We are selfish and sometimes rude.  But we are the church and — whether you know this or not — most of us in leadership are trying to move the needle.  We see the stats.  We watching the dwindle.  We encourage our staff and the organized church toward mission.  Some don’t.  Many do.  

For me, I love the ambiguity of the thing called the local church.  I love how, even in our frailty, the Holy Spirit changes lives.   

When a women comes to me after the service in tears because our organism-church gathered as the organization-church has been praying for her family and she has started to see change, that’s when I love the church.  When people who have been marginalized by society can find a place of welcome, friendship and purpose, that’s when I love the church.  When a student realizes that when they die, they know without a doubt that they’ll be in heaven, not because of their efforts or by simply being a good person, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus, that’s when I love the church.  In all her brokenness

Ranter, we hear you, but lighten up.  Yes, we have a lot of work to do — work that is getter heavier with every passing generation.  But your battle isn’t against flesh and blood.  Your flamed cries of negativity deflates instead of inspires.  Spend your energy storming the gates of heaven with us, asking for a revival.  Put your relationship with the Spirit ahead of your ratings with the readers.  

Some day, we will celebrate together the fact that God never let his church — in all of her imperfection — be wiped off the face of the planet.  

Peace!

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(Special Announcement!  I’m pleased to announce that a brand new podcast will be starting next week on my site called, “Take Back Your Life.”  For a summary, click here

What Wisdom Can Do For You

What Wisdom Can Do For You

next_level_wisdom.001“What is Wisdom and why is it such a big deal?”


The music dribbles from the small black speakers that hide in the shadows of the exposed rafters of the coffee shop.  One young gal is in the corner, chewing on her pencil as she bounces from scanning the Chemistry 101 book in front of her to squinting at the screen that illuminates her fair-skinned cheeks.

There are several like her here.  Some studying out of duty.  Others seem to possess a deep thirst for mastery.  It forces me to ask, “Am I a learner?”

John Maxwell said that “All Leaders are Learners” and since I believe that everyone leads someone — even if it is only themselves — I hold firm that I must be on a constant hunt for wisdom.

Wisdom is greater than knowledge.  Wisdom takes facts and breathes life into them by adding experience.  Wisdom hides in the dry pages of books, film and local communal observation.  Wisdom is more precious than gold and understanding more desirous than silver (Proverbs 16:16).

So take knowledge, put it into action and wisdom is quick to follow.  Take advice, tips and learnings and apply them to life and understanding will soon appear.  Be a lifelong learner.  Learn, grow and give and wisdom is sure to take your life to the next level.

Peace!

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What Might Be Happening When Your Leader Does Nothing

What Might Be Happening When Your Leader Does Nothing

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 6.54.31 AMI was sitting at a stoplight waiting to turn right – 3rd in line.  The light turned green but the lead car didn’t move.  It just sat there. My brow furrow, thinking that the large SUV driver was on the phone or daydreaming or flipping radio stations.  However, I was more patient than the young man behind him, in front of me, who laid on the horn – first in short blasts, then in long drones.

Still the SUV didn’t move, green light and all.

As I watched and began to fume, from the front of the SUV, a young mom pushing a stroller that held a sleeping 2yr-old came into view, crossing past the SUV and onto the sidewalk.  The honking stopped.  All of us drivers exhaled and we realized that waiting was the smartest thing for the leader to do.  Had the leader charged ahead, tragedy would ensue.

If you’ve been in leadership, you know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing.  You can’t make a decision because you are needing to see what the market is going to do.  You have to wait on moving forward with an initiative because you don’t have the right people in place.  You hold back on saying ‘yes’ to one department because you know that it would decimate the goals of another.

Sometimes leaders have to wait.

The problem comes for those who are following – for those who don’t or can’t see the big picture.  We become upset with our leader and think that they are indecisive, lazy or afraid.  We ‘honk our horns’ in frustration and wonder why he or she won’t approve a spending request.  We become myopic in our quest to further that which has been entrusted to us.

If you’re in that situation, here are three questions to ask yourself if your leader seems to be doing nothing:

  1. Is there something that I’m not seeing that he is?  Maybe there is better option coming into view that I can’t see yet.
  2. If my leader moved forward right now, what other departments or people may be affected?  Maybe approving your venture would slow down or stop the off-shore team that is about to launch into a new area.
  3. What else can I do to cast vision about the importance of my initiative?  Maybe my leader doesn’t know what I need.

Of course there are leaders who are lazy or procrastinate unnecessarily, but unless there’s a pattern, always give them the benefit of the doubt.  In other words, lay off your horn.  

Add to the conversation by making a comment below … 

Peace!

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By the way, here is a video of what could have happened if the SUV when forward:  CLICK HERE.

How To Get Things Done Through Your Team

How To Get Things Done Through Your Team

3003010-poster-942-how-official-getting-things-done-app-will-free-your-mind-and-empty-your-inboxesHave you ever been in a team meeting and there is a problem that someone identifies that your team agrees needs to be fixed.  Lot’s of ideas are thrown out and the conversation basically ends with a “yes, let’s work on that” and then nothing happens.  If you’re a leader, especially one that has a team with great ideas, this describes a pitfall that you want to watch for.  It is the lack of assignment to ideas that the team has decided to implement.  If other words, WHO is going to be the point person and WHEN is it going to come into reality.  This is especially true in a ministry setting with very little staff or volunteers.  (By the way, I’m still working on this one – ask my team!)

Let’s say your team thinks its a good idea to reorganize the look of the entry way of your welcome area.  The environment is outdated, cluttered and unorganized.  Everyone on your team says its a great idea and then dives into what should be done.  “I  think the couch should be on the right side wall instead of the left side,” one person says.  “I think if we take down that wall, it will feel more welcoming,” another says.  Again, everyone agrees that something needs to be done and begins to offer ideas.  They’ve jumped into the WHAT and even the HOW.

At this point, you as the leader, need to hijack the conversation and ask or assign the WHO and the WHEN before the conversation continues to spiral.  Who is going to take the lead on the remodel and when can we expect it to be accomplished (or at least a presentation of the next phase)?  You don’t assign the WHAT or HOW.  What needs to happen to the welcome area can then be a brainstorming session to expand the possibilities for the person in charge of that project.  How it happens is dependent upon the point person.  A good leader rarely, if ever, assigns the what and how unless it is critical to the functioning of the organization.

Now, the point person can take the suggestions, build his or her team and present an outline of the what, when and how.  I also suggest that the point person give a why statement that include a ‘so that’.  Using the above example, it could say something like “the purpose of this project is to update our welcome area so that our clients and employees are inspired when they encounter our company during the day.”

Comments?

Peace!

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2 Lessons Learned From the Popes Resignation

2 Lessons Learned From the Popes Resignation

There can be a fine line between a leader and a dictator.  A leader serves others.  A dictator serves themselves.  The former is how I would describe the actions of Pope Benedict XVI who made the historic move to step down from the highest office in the Catholic Church.  His reasons?  He felt his physical limitations kept him from serving in the role to which he was called.
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I’m not a Catholic but I do admire the strength of decision in this physically frail man.  Here is what I can learn as a leader from the Popes action.

  1. Good leaders give those He leads advance notice of pending changes.  To the world, it appeared sudden but to the Pope’s leadership circles, they knew that this was coming.  One of the Cardinals a few clicks away from the Pope said that the Pontiff had mentioned several times within the last 6 months that the change was on the horizon.  This “holy heads up” gave the decision makers time to start the process of finding a replacement which should be named before Easter.
  2. Good leaders get out of the way if it is for the betterment of those whom they serve.  Like I said before, dictators serve only themselves.  If the Pope was dictatorial, we wouldn’t be talking about a resignation until funeral plans were being made. Humility is a key attribute in a good leader.

I applaud the Pope.  I honor his wisdom and I’ve learned from his decision and action.

Peace!

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