Leadership Disciplines [3]

Last week I wrote about two priorities for me right now ~ to stop telling others what to do and to stop doing things that others could do just as well.

I stand by them but while I press on with a new found focus to empower I am mindful of some other leadership truths…

Some people prefer to be told what to do

Some people prefer to not do the things that I do

The challenge for me as a leader is to know when to push on these and when to back off. Unfortunately I don’t think there is any guidelines or 3-step plans for learning this either. It’s trial and error. I have done it well and I have done it badly. Maybe it’s more about that elusive leadership intuition, that ability to understand something or in this instance, someone, instinctively, a belief that there is more inside the person that they can see in themselves.

With this in mind here are two more aspects of my leadership which I will continue to be disciplined about…

I won’t stop seeing the ‘more’ in you than you see in yourself

I will keep telling you that you can do the ‘more’ than you think you can do

What leadership disciplines do you have?

[Read the previous posts here: Leadership Disciplines & Leadership Disciplines 2]

A One Question Survey

This question comes from a desire to help build the right kind of church. To present the Gospel and the good news of Jesus to as many as possible but to do so relevantly and appropriately to those within the local community.

It also comes from a desire to engage everyone in the process of identifying and spotting cultural trends and needs. We all have a better understanding of what is actually happening in our own lives and in the lives of those closest to us.

When we recognise them together, we are more likely to act on them together. To become better at not just pointing the finger at what isn’t right, but to actively serve as part of the solution. We might know that Jesus is the answer but how do we bring that answer to the right people, at the right time, in the right way.

To best meet needs we need to know the needs. We cannot seek God for answers if we don’t see the problems. I realise some are obvious but I think that’s why I am asking a question that requires a more thought out response…

Question: What are the basic needs of the community and those within it, that will drive us to serve in new, innovative, creative and God-given ways?

Or put more simply: what do you think are the basic needs of people of the local community, or the region maybe, that the local church should be addressing?

I hope you will not just read this but leave a comment with some thoughts too. Thanks

3 Things to Remember About the Words We Say

We say it. They hear it.

We move on from it. They get stuck in it.

We’ve forgotten what we said. They can’t forget what we said.

We need to be better at realising the power of ALL the words that we speak, the well thought out ones alongside the not so well thought out ones. ALL are powerful. ALL have influence.

We can argue that it’s not our fault that they hear it wrong and maybe there is some truth in that. However, we can play a more proactive role and possibly do more to ensure that people understand us. We have to help them know what we meant and decrease the potential for us inadvertently making someone feel worse or to cause a comment to stick at the forefront of a persons mind, lingering and festering there, leading them to think things we didn’t really mean.

It happens.

We say something to someone and (hopefully) expect them to get it. They might, they might not. It may bounce off them or it may go in. We feel better for having shared, yet they feel worse for having heard. We don’t think anything of it, they can’t stop thinking about it. At least we’ve got it off our chest, by throwing it all over their head!

Words are a challenge and we must be careful. So much presumption of understanding. So much misunderstanding. So much held on to and replayed, over and over again.

3 things to remember, to remind ourselves of…

  1. Just because it can be said, doesn’t mean it should be said. If we are honest, most opinions should never be shared. A lot of our thoughts should remain just that, a thought. This goes for posting on social media too.
  2. Never assume that those listening get the meaning of what is being said. What we say and what others hear do not always match. Presumption can be a killer. Plus no one should want to think that they have upset someone through blurting out some unfiltered thoughts.
  3. Ask yourself whether what you are saying is believing the best or the worst of the person, or the situation. If it is not believing the best, come up with a different way of saying it. Pause. Consider. Then speak.

I am not an expert at this. I get it right and I get it wrong. One thing I am determined to do is put as much effort in as possible to getting it right more often than not. Hopefully I’m improving. How about you?

Don’t forget to complete my 2015 reader survey ~ I would really appreciate your feedback and it will only take a few minutes too. Thanks

Chew The Fat

I am of the opinion that everyone needs someone in their world with whom they can chew the fat. And let’s just clarify, I don’t mean gossip or banter. That doesn’t benefit anyone. I don’t just mean agreement either. I think we need more than that.

This is purposeful conversation but without agenda. This is the exchange of thoughts and ideas but without an overly critical opinion. This is the sharing of life stories in a relaxed, honest, open and transparent way.

Yesterday was such a day for me. Coffee with a friend while chatting around ‘stuff’. It was encouraging, refreshing and enlightening. Most importantly, I felt good (lifted even) when I left. Ideas were thought of and others were supported.

A non-agenda friendship. Sounds really boring when you put it like that but that’s what it is. There were no leading statements. No ‘big’ asks. It was natural. It was good fun. It made my soul healthier.

What makes such a person? For me it’s not the years we have known each other, it’s the heart. The shared values. The shared journey. Having the best in mind for one another. Add to that, there is discretion and an encouraging voice. Honestly, even though we didn’t talk about some things I came away with a clearer view on them.

You don’t need many, just one or two may be enough. So, ask yourself if you have one? If not, if I were you, I would go and find one.

What Has My Attention?

How easy it can be to focus on the wrong things. Stuff catches our attention and then before we know, it has a hold on us.

Those recurring thoughts don’t have to be very big to feel big.

The small situations in life can easily become massive obstacles that seem insurmountable.

A little word can become large in the imagination if given room to grow.

The challenge for us all is to ensure we give focus to the good in our lives. I know and understand like the rest of us how difficult this can be when we are in tough times, have issues to work out, are feeling lonely, hurt or confused.

All I can do is encourage you that even though all these things may be happening, we should be doing our utmost in the midst of them to keep looking up, to keep looking to the Lord and to hone in on the best of all that God is doing in our life right now.

I know it can be easier said that done but here’s the reminder that sometimes we need ~ don’t give the devil any room, to tell you that things will never improve, that this is as good as it gets, that God isn’t really interested in you and your future. Remember he is the father of lies and that all he is about is wanting to deceive us.

This scripture comes to mind… ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’.  (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ ESV)

What has your attention? Let it be these things. It can take some effort, some digging on part when the other stuff is easier to see but God is always at work. The rewards of what may need to be a very deliberate choice will bring its reward. Peace. Harmony. God on your side. A place to flourish

What you have learned and received and heard and seen…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9 ESV)

Leadership Stuff I’m Always Learning

In no particular order of importance, here’s a bunch of things I am always working on and continue to learn about…

Learn to be the ultimate servant. Leaders serve people. When you stop serving or look for reasons why you don’t have to then maybe you are beginning to rely too much on your title. Where can you make your serve more effective?

Learn to listen. We love to talk but it’s the art of listening that can make all the difference. People want to know they are being heard. Who needs you to listen?

Learn to hear God. As much as we need to learn to listen to people, hearing the whisper of God is more important. What has God been saying to you recently? Have you heard His voice lately?

Learn to think. Such an under-rated skill, thinking. Sometimes we don’t know what to do and it’s often just for a lack of thinking it through. Create some space, remove distractions and mull it over. Where are you stuck? What needs some thinking time?

Learn to pray. Prayer makes a difference but is so often the last thing we do. As Christian leaders we probably all need to focus more on this one. You can never pray too much, can you? What are you believing God for at the moment? Who are you praying for?

Learn to read. Leaders are readers. Simple. Reading makes you think, helps you grow, opens your mind to different ways of approaching situations. However brilliant you may be we have to remember that ‘no-one is as smart as all of us’. What are you reading right now that is challenging you in your leadership and all aspects of life?

Learn to lead through the vision. Vision is out of which flows decisions and priorities. If you don’t know the vision then you don’t know what to say yes and no to. Leading through the vision will also help others understand why we do what we do. Are you leading through the vision or your own personal preferences?

Learn the values and the culture of where you are one of the leaders. It’s not my way that matters. I may consider it to be the greatest idea since sliced bread but if it doesn’t match the values and culture of where I am then it will only work against what is being built. All I create is a sub-culture and that is never healthy. Are you over protective of where you lead? Are you empowering of the next generation?

Learn about people. John Maxwell writes that ‘people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care’. To care does not come naturally, very often it takes quite a bit of effort. How do your people skills need to improve? How can you improve your understanding of those you lead?

Learn to honest, open and transparent. Sam Chand writes that the culture of an organisation should be like this. For that to happen it must start with those who lead. We demand it of others, we want them to admit mistakes, be accepting of new ideas and able to share experiences, so why don’t we do the same. Where are you pointing the finger at others and saying they are wrong while not placing yourself as a leader under the same scrutiny?

These are a good place to start in our leadership learning. What would add, if anything, to the list?

Focus & Energy

What has your focus at the moment?

We have been spending some time recently looking at what should have our focus at Xcel Church as we move towards the Xcel 2020 vision. Quickly before people starting commenting – loving God and loving people are central to what we do, always.

As a leadership team, praying and thinking strategically about what gets our focus is important. It’s what leaders do. I have asked this question of some leaders recently too. What do you want your ministry to focus on for the next 12 months? What we choose to focus on will determine what gets our energy. We will unpack this more as we head towards vision month.

Here’s the thought – as important as it is to know what the focus should be for Xcel Church, I need to know what the focus should be more my own life, my family, my home.

We can give time and attention to many things but are they those which we would like to be defined by, the kind that are building a legacy for future generations. Whether you are a Christian or not, this question is an important one.

If we don’t focus on the right things then the energy we expend is wasted.

What has your focus at the moment? Give your energy to those things. They don’t have to be overtly ‘spiritual’ but are worked from the knowledge of who you are in Christ Jesus and His power at work, in us and through us.

These are what will have my focus and my energy on a personal level….

The health and well-being of my family: a strong and intimate marriage, seeing my daughters flourish

Building the kingdom of God: serving in God’s House, using & developing my gifts & talents properly, reaching people for Jesus

Seek after God: in all areas of my life, spending time with Him, reading His word, in prayer and doing my utmost to have a walk worthy of all God has done for me

The removal of personal debt: increasing our ability to live generously

How about you? Where is your focus and your energy going?



6 Things About an Idea

I have recently spent time inviting some young leaders into my world and what I am often surrounded by…IDEAS. There is not a shortage of ideas when the Vision Team for Xcel Church get together. Leaders need to learn about the journey an idea may have to travel.

Here are some thoughts about ideas…

1. Ideas are not difficult to come up with

2. Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean it should be done

3. Ideas deserve to be challenged to help make them the best they can be

4. Ideas need to go through a process to answer some important questions…

  • Is it feasible? Do we have what it takes to do this?
  • Is it sustainable? Can it last?
  • If we didn’t do use resource on this idea what could we do instead?
  • Is it attached to the vision? Does it fit?

5. Don’t hold on to your idea so tightly that it will be too painful if it isn’t adopted

6. Above all – keep having them

What are your thoughts about the idea creation process?