5 Things Leaders Think About

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A leaders view is usually different to everyone else. They have already seen where they want to take people. The vision is very clear. Just like standing on the mountain top on a clear day, seeing for miles in full colour, all around, a great panoramic view. The challenges lay more in how to take everyone on the journey, to help them to see the future and to want to make progress towards it.

Leaders maybe look out from the summit and wonder how shall we do this? They think about the difficult questions, the balance different aspects and facets of leadership and decision making like others on the journey with them may not.

From my limited experience here are 5 possible areas of thought (potential areas of disagreement)

Big picture  vs  Small details

Making decisions individually  vs  Making decisions collaboratively

Listening to the right opinion  vs  Ignoring the wrong opinion

Staying inside the lines  vs  Thinking outside the box

Honouring the past  vs  Living for today  vs  Building for the future

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4 Reasons to Make Time & Be Still

“”Be still, and know that I am God. ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Life is such a rush these days, we are always on the move, time is passing so quickly, it’s all ‘now, now, now’. 

Due to the way of the world this idea of ‘being still’ takes on even greater significance. 

To pause. To reflect. To think. To spend deliberate, uninterrupted time with our God. 

Why? 

To counter the speed of all that’s going on around us in our life. 

To remember, like I mentioned yesterday, that He is God and we are not.

To thank God for all the good things He has done for us, is doing and will do. 

To pray and to ask God for the help we need. 

Psalm 46 is full of reasons to ‘be still’…

  • He is our refuge
  • He is our strength
  • He is our help
  • He takes away our fear
  • He is with us
  • He is on His throne 
  • His works in the world and in our individual lives are amazing

From personal experience, it is a good thing at the beginning of each day for me to take a few minutes and think about God. To be still. To read His word. To reflect. To pray. 

How do you make time for God, to reflect on His greatness and to be still in His presence?

So, You Want to be a Leader?

Over the next few Monday’s I’ll share some thoughts around leadership which I consider important for me in my role. In fact they would be considered important for any leadership role. 

I take no credit for them as they are not new but they are all a good reminder to those of us who are leaders and those who want to be.

1. Leaders Develop

You want to be a leader – then you better get learning. 

For me this means 4 things – praying, seeking God, listening to other leaders and reading. 

They don’t happen by chance, I have to make time for them and that can involve sacrifice, inconvenience and a whole heap of challenge. 

I wasnt always good at them. I have had to be disciplined about them so I am not disqualifying myself from what God has for me, now and in the future. All are essential for wisdom, knowledge and understanding. 

Plus I think they help make me credible, after all, who wants to follow someone who is more of a ‘lone ranger’ and about do as I say, rather than do as I do?

What’s your thoughts around these development questions…

  • Where does your growth come from?
  • What are you reading?
  • Who have you given permission to speak directly into your world?
  • What has God been saying to you lately?
  • Why would someone want to follow you?

Here’s what I do when I notice I’m not learning…I challenge myself to set aside time to learn. I grab a book about leading well in life and read a chapter, take 15 minutes to pray, get a devotional on the go, ask another leader some questions about how they do life and glean some wisdom. 

How do you develop and grow?

How to Get Unstuck?

Puzzled__Main

 

Ever felt like you are stuck in a certain cycle? It could be a behaviour, a way of thinking, a problem or just a bad habit. It may not be anything too serious, or it may be threatening to your life, maybe influencing your marriage or other key relationships in a negative way, it could even be impacting your work life too.

Whatever ‘it’ is, one thing is true ~ something needs to change! The challenge is you just don’t know what that change needs to be or how to make the change a reality.

This Sunday at the United @ Five service we will include a panel. If you have a question that relates to this topic then please drop us a line and if its appropriate, we will do our very best to answer it.

Leave your question as a comment or email info@xcelchurch.com and then be with us this Sunday for ‘UNITED @ FIVE’

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?

Guardrails

Ever been glad for that rail on the pathway when you are walking along the cliff edge that is preventing you from falling? 

Ever been ten-pin bowling with the kids and wished you could get away with having the rails up along the sides to stop the bowling ball disappear into the gutter, and stop you scoring that zero?

Ever been asleep on the top bunk and found yourself awake in the middle of the night against the rail rather than having face-planted the floor from 4ft up in the air?

Ever driven up the motorway and been thankful for that barrier in the middle of the carriageway that protects you from vehicles coming across and causing an accident?

Guardrails are beneficial in so many areas of life. They prevent derailment – from a cliff, from scoring zero, from falling out of a bed, from crashing. They are often a lifesaver.

What about in other areas of your life? 

What guardrails have you put up in life? For your marriage? For your finances? For your home?

Without some guards up we are in danger of not protecting ourselves properly from any potential downfalls. 

For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly [Proverbs 5:21]

Guardrails may seem boring and unnecessary but they will keep us. The right disciplines keep us from becoming ill-disciplined and being led astray. 

What guardrails do you have in place?

The Art of Coming Under

I want to do what I want to do. Sounds fair. Don’t you know who I am, I’m the leader.

[Pause]

My journey as a leader has taught me many things and one of the tougher lessons was this, ‘It’s not about me.’ As always with any lesson that needs to be learned, very easy to say but harder sometimes to believe.

If we cannot learn to come under authority we probably struggle to be someone in authority. ‘I’m in charge’ is having authority but doesn’t necessarily make you a leader that people will listen to and follow.

From my own personal experience of thinking I can do what I like and still be a great a leader, this lesson is one I definitely learned the hard way. I possibly thought I was untouchable, invincible maybe. God’s grace is amazing that you can have a stinking attitude, make some dubious lifestyle decisions yet He still makes incredible things happen and young peoples lives are changed. However, those ‘things’ are still wrong.

I have spoken before about being called to account for actions, challenged on my attitude and how I was living. Tough, uncomfortable conversations but all a part of the process of learning to come under the authority of others.

Learning to respect those in positions of spiritual authority is difficult. Look for the fruit they produce. Check their heart. They are human after all and will most certainly get it wrong at times but so do we. Yet submission to those in spiritual authority over our lives brings more benefits than concerns. At least it always has for me.

I have benefited from coming under authority more than I have ever felt constrained by it. Coming under has brought me freedom to become who God wanted me to become, with boundaries that afforded me protection I needed when I didn’t even realise I needed it [hope that makes sense].

I have regretted making my own decisions without consultation of others who could have offered wisdom, insight, clarity and better ideas to undoubtedly bring about an end game that would have included less upset with people.

I have discovered that although the vision I have for what I am leading may be amazing, it remains irrelevant if I haven’t considered the bigger vision it is a part of.

Coming under has kept me safe in my leadership. Yes, it brings accountability, but it also brings so much more. Spiritual authority over my life is about leaders praying for me, speaking into my life, encouraging me and being along side me.

Now I have the privilege and responsibility of being one of those who is in a position of spiritual authority. To stand up for them. To pray for them. To assist them. To cover them. To help them see beyond what is just in front and have an eye for the bigger picture they are part of. To help them hear what God is saying for them and their future.

It’s never been about me and it never will be. My heart is to always be positioned right as a Christian leader so that I don’t make any stupid mistakes and disqualify myself from what God has for me to do.

Thank you to those who watched out for me in the past. Without that cover I may not be where I am today, doing what I am doing, with my beautiful family and the incredible people I get to do life with every day.

Why We Don’t See It?

You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place [Galatians 5:7-8 MSG]

I get sad when I see a persons life take a turn for what I would consider the worse. A turn that is not accidental or unfortunate, instead it is one of their own choosing. They were running the race. They were going for God. Now, it’s not so clear.

They haven’t really done anything wrong. Not much is illegal these days anyway. Yet when you look you find yourself grieving as you read that status update or see those recent pictures. If you’re like me, you just wonder, what went wrong? Why didn’t they see it coming? Why don’t they see it now? Come on, make the right move and get back in the race.

Here’s my observation: it was their blind spot. In fact, we all have them, we might even have a few. You know, those areas in our life that we just don’t see.

Others may be shouting at us, doing their very best to gain our attention, warning us of possible dangers, yet for some reason we just continue. We find ourselves on a detour and we never even realised we had got on to another path.

Blind spots are what they are, areas in life that we are blind too. Despite great intelligence we just don’t see what’s there. We can see them in others but not in our own life.

My hope is that it’s happened this way. The alternative is more worrying because then we are guilty of the following:

We pretend it’s not there. It may catch our eye but we carry on anyway.
We ignore it. We convince ourselves that it’s not a big deal.
We see right through it. It’s almost like it has become invisible to us.
We justify it. We explain it away. There is always a reason.
We don’t care. What happens, happens. Bit naive but it is a philosophy some people live by.

I can only encourage you to stay on the right path. Or get back on it.
To do your best to avoid your blind spots. 
Have a good 360° look at life. 
Shine some light on all the dodgy, hard to reach spots. 
Be honest about some decisions you are making that are shaping your life and your future. 
Listen to the wise words of those around you and respond accordingly. 

I really don’t want to see your life take a ‘scenic route’ that could have so easily been avoided. I don’t want to read those updates and get torn up on the inside, trying to work out how I can help you get back on track when possibly you haven’t even realised yet that you are off track.

Come back home! There’s always a way back. You may think you’ve drifted too far but you never have. God’s grace is far-reaching and never-ending. There’ll be no mention made of the detour, just one almighty cheer from me as you get back in the race and fulfil the purposes of God in your life.