Lead Well: Think Things Through

For three days this week I was at a Conference in Peterborough with some of the Xcel Leaders. The topic this time was mission and evangelism. In reality the topic of conversation is not important. Instead, it’s the principle of what we were doing which is more important.

If we want to lead well in life we have to be willing to give time to thinking things through And to do so the following 3 step process we were encouraged to use may help.

1. REALITY: Whatever the focus of thinking, how are things right now? What’s working, not working? Be honest. One good thing to do is give yourself a score between 1-5 (where 5 = good).

2. POSSIBILITY: Take some time to think about all the possible ideas. What could you do? This provides a great opportunity to dream, create and innovate, alongside the seemingly obvious stuff too.

3. ACTION: From all the possibilities choose no more than 3 which you could work on. Attach milestones to each one, dates for accomplishment and metrics to measure success.

This process for helping our thinking process could be used for just about any issue. In the end it creates some focus for our energies which have the potential to bring about the much needed turnaround or transformation.

What do you think? How could you make this work for you?

Walking With God: 5 Things to Help us ‘Go For The Prize’

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]

At school we are taught that it was the taking part which mattered the most. [Thoughts like these surely only come from people who never won anything]. Yet right here in scripture we see Paul encouraging us to ‘go for the prize’, to ‘go for the win.’

Everybody can participate, yet only those with a certain set of characteristics actually win the prize

Jesus has set us up for the win already. Everything that could possibly hold us back as been nailed to the cross, the only restrictions are those we place on ourselves through lingering doubts and unbelief, or those spoken over us reminding us of our past, our shortcomings or the impossibility of success.

5 things which may just help us…

Know your race. We are not running for ourselves, we are running for Jesus. We are not running because we ‘have to’, instead this is a race we have ‘chosen’ to be part of.  When I was at school I was more a sprinter than a long distance runner so there was a difference when I ran the 100 metres as opposed to the one time I was asked to fill in for the 1500. One was my race and I ran thinking I could win, the other I ran thinking when will this be over, especially as I finished at least half a lap behind everyone else.

Run as if to win. Be determined. When you know you are running the right race for you then you can run as if to win. When it comes to the Christian faith, knowing what has been done for us, and the prize that awaits us, should give us enough motivation to run with the attitude of someone who already understands they are a winner.

Develop some self-control. Train hard, keep learning. This is the stuff we don’t like so much but its often in these small areas of discipline and hard work which influence the level of our success in any race. Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Reading the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Each one build our stamina and ability to run well for the entirety of our journey with God.

Focus. Run with purpose. Always keep the bigger picture in view. We don’t run for ourselves, we are running for our Saviour. We are not competing to win a prize for our own sense of accomplishment but rather for a prize of greater value and importance. To hear the words of Jesus when we enter glory. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.

Don’t disqualify yourself. Stay in the lanes. There may not be a need for any qualification to become a runner in this race but we can easily disqualify ourselves. Don’t run over people to get to your victory. The way we run is as important as the running itself.

Lets not be so focused on the finish line that we miss out on the opportunity to win along the way.

A better way to win is taking others across the finish line with you, which means always being on lookout for ways to help others join the race with us, as well helping those who are running alongside us to keep on running their race too.

How’s your attitude to the race? Still running ‘as if to win?’ Why not take some time out today and ask God to help you run your race well.

17 Ways to Be BIGGER in 2017

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Towards the end of 2016 I wrote a two posts about how BIGGER was going to be my word for 2017. Check them out: Am I BIG Enough? and Jesus was the BIGGER Person.

I meant to follow that post with some thoughts as to where we could be BIGGER in 2017, so here goes.  Are we BIG enough in 2017 to…?

  1. Try something new
  2. Break with traditions
  3. Acknowledge you are not big enough & keep growing
  4. Be a carrier of the vision (of church, work, your life)
  5. Serve others
  6. Love the less loveable. Love your enemies
  7. Rely more on God than on my self
  8. Make new friends
  9. Ask every day for the Holy Spirit
  10. Remain humble
  11. Make room for God by letting go of other things
  12. Keep asking God to ‘change me’
  13. Forgive
  14. Repent
  15. Stop complaining about what I don’t have and be thankful for so much that I do have
  16. Be passionate
  17. Live ‘as if’ this is all true

17 things for 2017 where I know I could definitely grow, become the BIGGER person, make more room for all that God can do with all of these in my life.

What do you think? Would you add anything else?

Continue reading “17 Ways to Be BIGGER in 2017”

What Might Stop You in 2017?

Asking some questions in this period between Christmas and the New Year. Questions of reflection and questions to help us to look ahead. So far there has been one about what we were thankful for and another about what we would do if we knew it would succeed.

Today’s is a follow on question to yesterday: what could stop you in 2017?

My answers: I am a serial procrastinator, what’s your excuse. I’m working hard at not letting this get in the way of accomplishing some big dreams in 2017.

I say maybe and perhaps too often, like I doubt I believe what I am saying or I’m really trying too hard to not hurt anyones feelings, when I need to just be confident in what I’m saying.

Fear. Pride. Laziness. Lack of focus. Distractions. Good things. Whatever. All will have their shot at stopping me, I’m sure.

But if we knew what we could do would succeed – what is going to stop us?

How are you liking the questions? Any thoughts as we head into 2017?

Walking With God in 2015

Amidst all the other stuff going, this is my continued priority in 2015 – to walk with God the best I can. Last year I shared some thoughts, mostly from Genesis, that were designed to help me recognise some different aspects, encouragements and challenges of walking with God, things I had noted as I read my Bible.

Over the next few days I will share these again. This year I am reading the New Testament and making similar notes to share along the way. Let me know what you think.

Created To Walk With God

Keeping Walking Closely

How Do You Measure Up?

Have You Heard?

Everyone Else Is Doing It

Being In Proximity to God

Keep the Big Picture in View

Leading is a tricky skill.

One of the toughest things I had to accomplish was a transition in my thinking. To move from the position of ‘what I want’ to the position of ‘what does the big picture want’. To move from ‘what makes me look good, what’s a win for me’ to ‘what makes the vision look good, what’s a win for the whole’.

That seems a little crude in writing, so let me try and explain.

When I was first in leadership, looking after the youth group in Sheffield, when I thought about it, planned for it, came up with ideas for it, most of the time they were only ever based on what I wanted and what I thought would be best for the group. There’s nothing wrong with that. I had been put in that position of responsibility to do just that.

But what I have discovered in 25 years of leading is that this way of thinking is not enough. In fact I would go so far as to say it’s wrong.

I can grow an amazing youth programme, it could be the greatest on the planet, but if it doesn’t grow at a sustainable pace, if it outgrows what it is a part of, then maybe all I have done is help grow a deformed looking body. After all, the youth group I ran only existed because it was a part of the bigger ‘whole’.

I hope that makes sense. We can all be passionate for what we do. Can we passionate for what we do within the context of the bigger picture? Are we willing to yield to the overall vision or are we expecting the overall vision to yield to us? That’s the killer question which in my experience lots of people struggle with.

Perhaps it’s the difference between saying ‘my whatever’ and saying ‘our whatever’. It’s the difference between only focusing on your one thing and ignoring everything else and instead focusing your area of responsibility with an eye on the whole. If we do this here, how does it affect over there?

This is a tricky idea to articulate but I hope you catch my heart. It takes a certain amount of willingness and discipline on our behalf to keep the bigger picture in sight. To remember that we exist as a part of the whole, not as a separate entity. A body doesn’t work like that and neither does a church, a business or a family even.

1. My heart for what I do should never be bigger than my heart for the bigger cause I am a part of.

2. If I feel it is unfair that I don’t always get what I want then I have made my ‘thing’ more important than the ‘bigger cause’ it is a part of.

3. I have to remember the bigger picture is not about me. If I get everything I want then I might consider that fair but it’s not really. I’m just being selfish and that’s never good.

This has been and probably will continue be a difficult path for me to navigate. Part of my role now is to help others make this transition. It is possibly one of the harder, yet most invaluable transitions that a leader can make. It increases a leaders understanding, their value, their influence and ultimately their capacity to accomplish greater things.

I have made it my goal to never limit myself to just what is right in front of me and be all-consumed about that just for the sake of that one thing. I have made it my goal to be all-consumed about what I do with a realisation that it is part of something bigger, greater and way more significant. If I hadn’t made the transition, maybe I would still be where I was just grateful that I was still in charge  of ‘my’ youth group and I would have missed out on so much.

Day 11…Procrastination

As a leadership coach I know for a fact that I have talked about this subject to lots of people. This morning in my prayer time God nudged me. You want breakthrough…then stop procrastinating!! Ouch!!

Quite a challenge. Made me think. Have I become lazy in some things? Have I lost my focus? Am I still as determined as I was ‘back then’? Mmmm. Honestly!?

My passion is Xcel Darlington. It’s what gets me up in the morning. I think about it all the time. Pray about it constantly. But it’s not the only thing I do. I am reminded of a scripture when Paul writes a reminder to the Church in Corinth about giving but I’m sure the sentiment could be applied to anything ‘Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means’.

To see breakthrough…yes, I must keep praying, fasting, reading the Word and believing God for it but I must also work for it too. Laziness never got anyone anywhere. Not that I am saying I’m lazy but that maybe I haven’t given some stuff the attention it deserved!

How about you – do you agree?
Where are you procrastinating?
What are you going to do about it?