Leadership Category

 

November 5th, 2012

Confession Time

 

Okay…confession time. I’m a bit of a political junky. Why? Well, putting aside the simple explanations like…I’m dysfunctional, have a bizarre sense of what’s entertaining, and I must not have enough to do in life…which I can promise isn’t true, I believe there are some rational reasons.

My dad was an attorney and heavily invested in politics. He actually held some elected offices. It’s a part of who I was nurtured to be.

I’m very interested in leadership…it’s not just a significant part of my ministry responsibility…I’m also a student of it. I’m fascinated by leadership…it’s role in influencing outcomes, determining direction (for good and for bad), bringing dreams to life, and how such uniquely different people with different gifts and personalities can all be equally great leaders.

The fact that God, for reasons that sometimes defies our ability to figure out, has always chosen to work through human leaders in accomplishing His purposes on this planet.

And, the list could go on…but, since I sense you’re already bored, I’ll force myself to stop now.

But, here’s my point…if I’m not careful, I can allow my interest to turn into obsession. So, for sanity and the sake of wisdom, I have to consciously force myself to not get carried away.

When it comes to political elections, like the one we’re facing on Tuesday, I believe it’s wise for me to understand the vision and values that the different candidates embrace, their apparent capacities to lead their vision and values into reality, and whether they have a proven character to actually do or attempt to do what they are promising. And, then I do what I can do. I vote.

But then, though it’s very hard for me, I have to leave it in the hands of God. After all, He’s in control. I’m not. And, He’ll be in control whether the person I pull the lever for wins or not. It’s my job then…to trust Him…and to pray for whoever wins. (Checkout 1 Timothy 2:1-1 and Proverbs 3:5-6).

Why am I sharing this? Well, first, if I’m honest, because I couldn’t sleep. But, secondly, because I think some of you have the same problem I have. Because I think some of you may be over anxious, a little or a lot stressed, and probably…obsessed. Am I right?

If not, you stopped reading this long before now. But, if so…here’s my advice. Do what you can and then…let it go. Do what you can and then…trust God. And, when it’s over, if you’re vote was cast for the winner, don’t gloat. Pray. And, if you’re vote was cast for the loser, don’t get depressed. Pray.

Remember…no matter what happens on Tuesday…if you’re a believer, your King will still be on the throne.

Okay…now it’s time for me to read this and try to follow my own advice. :)

 

September 4th, 2012

Words and Life

 

The greatest sin those with spiritual leadership or influence could ever commit is to block the way of others from entering the knowledge of truth. Sadly, it’s common. (e.g. Luke 11:52 – “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”) Of course, Jesus is the key…the way, truth, and life. But, the teachers of the law didn’t accept Him…and they used their influence to block others. Tragic.

I believe there is also another application to this. If a spiritual teacher doesn’t live out the truth that they’re teaching…doesn’t enter it themselves…they will become a natural obstacle to others experiencing it. Simply, we must lead the way in words and life. Ultimate teaching stems from demonstration. (e.g. Jesus washing the disciples feet.)

Do you have spiritual influence as a parent or with someone who doesn’t know Christ? Are you a spiritual leader in any capacity? If yes, make sure your words and life are helping not hindering others to know Jesus. There are enough spiritual obstacles in the world without us being one.

 

March 31st, 2012

“Wow!”

 
 
 

March 29th, 2012

POWER

 

I hated it. Though I know God is in control and was able to accomplish good through it, from my perspective, it ruined everything. “It”, in this circumstance, is the fact that we lost all of the power to the building at our largest campus this past weekend.  Two minutes before our first Sunday service was to begin…everything shut down. It was dark.  Nearly three thousand people were already in the building, and everything was ready. Our staff and volunteers had worked hard. The talk I was getting ready to share was an important one. But, when the power cut out, none of that mattered. There would be no service…no impact. In fact, the problem was so severe that we would have to cancel both of our services scheduled at that campus. What a waste. All that effort and nothing to show for it. No life change. No opportunity for life change.

I have to say that I’m so proud of the reaction of our staff, volunteers, and church. Everyone responded brilliantly. Many of our people actually sped off to one of our two church satellite ministries. I was one of them. Though my talk was scheduled to be on video, I was able to give it live. It was fun…for me and them. Others joined our church online service. But, all the while, the campus with no power sat empty, and, at least in that moment, totally wasted…unfulfilled potential. I hated it.

Now, here’s the lesson. The same could have been true, (and I believe often is in many churches on any given weekend), even if the electrical power hadn’t been lost. The truth is that all of our planning, working, creating, inspiring, studying, talking, singing, preaching, and gathering is a total waste…unfulfilled potential…wasted effort…results in no real life change…unless it’s done in God’s power. Without God’s power, there’s no reason for or result of gathering. Jesus said it flat out in John 15:5…”without me you can do nothing.” This is the reason that, after fully training His disciples, He told them in Acts 1:4-5 to wait in Jerusalem until the coming of the Spirit. All the preparation and readiness in the world is nothing without power. It’s a waste to do church…to do life for that matter…without God’s power. Yet, if we’re honest, we usually spend more time planning, preparing, and doing than seeking His power. Could this explain what we’re experiencing in our churches…in our lives?

As much as I hated the result of no power at our church this past weekend, we will ultimately hate MUCH MORE the result of the days, seasons, years of our lives and ministries that we live without God’s power. So, with all the planning, preparing, and doing that we need to and should do in our churches and lives, let’s not forget to “abide” in Christ…to walk in His Spirit…to make sure we seek and find God’s power. Life’s a waste without it. All that effort and nothing to show for it. You’ll hate it.

Thoughts?

 
 

Since I threw out the value of reading in a recent blog, I thought that it may be potentially beneficial to share some of the more impacting reads of my past year. As context, I think it’s important to share a couple of thoughts.

First, the better books and/or reading experiences weren’t always the most impacting. In fact, this is often true. Many of the books that I enjoy the most are far from the most impacting or memorable.  Of course, reasons abound. (e.g. I enjoyed them because they simply restated what I already felt or believed; they were simply fun or entertaining; they were well written but not necessarily thought-provoking for me; etc.)

Second, some of the more thought-provoking and memorable books are the ones that I disagreed with most profoundly. This only makes sense. My disagreement forced me to interact with them in a far more purposeful, and personal way. (I think that I some times write more notes on a page than the author.) I also tend to read and reread portions of these books. A good example of this in 2011 was Rob Bell’s “Love Wins.”

Third, I find that the reading experiences I have makes me better whether I ultimately remember or am in some way directly impacted by the specific book or not.

Fourth, I have a growing disdain for books that, like many movies, are simple repeats of the same old, (dare I use the word one of my English teachers taught me to never use?), thing. I really have grown tired of superficial drivel. After all, Christians are in relationship with the Creator. Shouldn’t we be the most creative, inspiring, thought-provoking people in the world? (If the answer isn’t obvious to you, then you’ll probably take issue with my view of so many of the popular Christian books these days.)

Fifth, this is not my exhaustive reading list from this past year.

Books of note and why…

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – This was my second go around with this book. As a person who is constantly seeking to communicate the most important truth of the universe, God’s truth, in creative and impacting ways, I found this book to be sensationally motivating. Steven Pressfield gets the struggle of constantly creating…thus the title. Warning…he is not a believer and all of his ideas are not representative of or in line with God’s truth. But, as one human committed to writing or communicating with excellence to another, he has written a valuable little book.

Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola – Though I have to confess that I’m not a real fan of the style or typical thrust of Sweet’s writings and that this book is far from the best or most consistently written, it impacted me. To be honest…one simple but profound thought in particular impacted me. “What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less.” YES! Sadly, I (we) so often make Christianity about all of the little stuff we’ve added to it or personally value about delivering it to the world rather than about Christ Himself. This challenged me, and I’m thankful that they wrote it.

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard – I had to work hard to get through this book…again. (I think I’ve read it before…either that or I’ve started reading it so many times that I just believe I have.) So many of the concepts Dr Willard addressed in this book impacted me…really made me think again about my view of, value for, and personal application of God’s Kingdom in my life. Dallas Willard makes me wish I was smarter than I am, and, even more, makes me want to live, experience, and represent the Kingdom of God more and more and better and better.

King’s Cross by Timothy Keller – a simpler, more accessible book about God’s Kingdom than Willard’s “Divine Conspiracy.” It’s actually written from talks he gave from the Gospel of Mark. But, it was an engaging and impacting read. I really appreciate Keller’s ministry and have found personal value from experiencing it through his writing.

John Adams by David McCullough – This was an enjoyable read…but it had impact as well. Three examples: First: revolution tends to be a young man’s game. The older John Adams and Thomas Jefferson would have never done what they did as young men. We need to release young people, with their energy and idealism, into ministry and leadership. Second: leaders on opposite ends of the spectrum  can make each other way better than they would be without them. Third: what we’re experiencing today between leaders, politicians, etc., though undesirable, is nothing new. Solomon was right…there’s nothing new under the sun.

Okay…this is already long enough. But, I’d love to hear about books that you’ve read and how they’ve impacted you. In fact, I’d love your “must read” recommendations as I begin to assemble my list of books for 2012.

 

 

December 8th, 2011

Less is More

 

For those of us driven for success or significance, we’ll do just about anything to achieve it. By nature, this would include sacrificing issues of integrity and morality because getting ahead is the primary value. For those of us who have opened our lives to the nature transforming power of Christ, we tend to leverage everything we can to achieve our desired greatness while trying to maintain our commitment to integrity and morality. (The original disciples are a great example of this. See Matthew 20:20-21.)

The problem is that we go about it in a way that actually robs us of the very thing we’re looking…striving for. Of course, in His answer to James and John’s Mom in Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus makes this clear. He says that greatness, (success and significance), will only be found through serving. But, the place where I see this illustrated so beautifully is in the life of Daniel. Here is a guy who didn’t seek every advantage in order to achieve success in his life. In fact, he did the opposite. He gave up all the things that we would normally see as essential for gaining the upper hand in order to remain absolutely pure before and committed to God. And, the result is, from our human standpoint, unexpected. (Checkout Daniel 1:11-20.)

Though he gave up every human advantage for success, he became ten times better than his nearest competitors. How? By realizing that God is enough. He understood what I, and so many of us, fail to remember. God is able to do beyond anything we can “ask or imagine.” (See Ephesians 3:20.) God is the only advantage we need and the only One we should commit ourselves to never failing to seek.

Simply, if we really want to achieve and experience a success and significance worthy of our lives, then we need to always remember that “less is more”…when God is in it. It may sound too simplistic or trite, but it’s the truth. The only question is: are we, like Daniel, willing to stake our lives on it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how this could apply to your present circumstances and life.

 

December 1st, 2011

Creativity & Criticism

 

We just experienced our very first snowfall. And, once again, I was reminded that God’s an artist….an unbelievably creative artist.

And yet, not surprisingly, the immediate response from many was to pan His creative expression. Amazing, isn’t it? Even the master creator gets criticized when He puts out a new piece of artwork. And, it’s not just His winter art that gets roundly rejected. People criticize the elements He uses in some of His work…they hate those blasted drips of water and few seem to like His use of wind. And, when He chooses to creatively hide His sunset behind some beautifully sculpted clouds, once again people complain.

Though maybe a bit exaggerated, I’m sure you get the point. Criticism is a very natural response to creativity. But, as God continues to reveal day after day after day, we need to keep creating anyway. Don’t waste your gifts, dreams, and life worrying about criticism. Rather, use everyday to the fullest. Keep creating. The world will be a better, more beautiful place as a result.

Is there something that you’ve not done because of the fear of criticism? What is it? What are you going to do about it now?

 

February 27th, 2011

India

 

After one more long flight from Amsterdam to Mumbai, Roxann, our NorthRidge team, and I will be with some of these wonderful people in India. We have a pretty aggressive and diverse agenda for our time in India. I’ll be privileged to partner with another leader in teaching approximately 850 spiritual leaders and pastors who represent 3500 churches and the millions of lives that they have the potential to reach. They are moving through change as they seek to plant many more churches and reach the yet unreached multitudes of their country.  I’m so thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to share some of my passion and experience for leading God’s people through change.  Our entire team will be helping to make our time with these leaders special and impacting…by leading out in serving, praying, and even worship.

We will also be visiting several sites where we are seeking God’s leadership for a further way to expand our impact in India…such as a home for children with HIV Aids; a home for the children of women forced into prostitution; some schools that we are sponsoring in very poor areas that provide the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty in young peoples lives; and we’re hoping to be able to be at the official opening of a new water well that the NorthRidge family has made possible. I’m expecting our time with these precious people to be emotional but meaningful, exhausting but exhilarating, discouraging but life expanding, and life changing for all of us…those we are going to serve and our entire team.

More than anything, it’s my prayer that this trip will give God pleasure. After all, His love and compassion is what makes ours possible. As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”

Hopefully, as I have access to internet, I’ll be able to share some of the pictures and videos that we take. Either way…thanks for following and praying for us.

 

December 2nd, 2010

Invisible Pathway

 

Wow…this passage lit me up big time this morning.

“Your path led through the sea,your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron,” Psalm 77:19-20.

This is all about the great exodus of God’s people from Egypt. In Exodus 14, we discover that God specifically led His people into an impossible circumstance. From a human standpoint, it was the worst leadership possible. He, through Moses, led them to a place of certain disaster…destruction. And, the people responded appropriately to this sorry leadership. They dogged Moses and God. Though it was a bit late, they wanted different leadership. They wanted out.

There’s only one problem with their response. It forgot to take into account that God ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING AND CAN ALWAYS BE TRUSTED. As the Psalm above notes, God led them there because He had designed a pathway that was invisible to His people…but real none-the-less. It was the perfect pathway.

And, as you can read in Exodus 14, Moses, though He couldn’t see the pathway, knew and trusted God. In verse 13, He says to the complaining crowd…don’t be afraid…watch our God, the God of the impossible and invisible, do His AMAZING WORK. And, God opened up the invisible pathway by parting the Red Sea.

What a God! Yes. But, think of Moses. Because He genuinely knew God, He trusted, even when He couldn’t see the pathway, that God knew what He was doing. And, the result? He made a profound difference. He lived a life of significance. He was a leader worthy of following.

As for me…though I’m a great distance behind Moses…I want to be like Him. I want to know God so well that I am willing to follow Him into the impossible…I am willing to step off an obvious cliff when I know He’s leading…because I know that He sees the INVISIBLE PATHWAY that I don’t see. I want to make a difference, live a life of significance, and be a leader worth following. But, to do it…I have to trust God enough to walk the invisible pathway.

Come on…let’s follow God into the impossible and then through the Red Sea together. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

September 11th, 2010

Eternity is On the Line

 

This past week, I had the privilege of sharing a “game changing” experience with thousands of leaders through a Leadership Network Video Event called “The Nines.” I thought it would be worth sharing with you here. Let me know your thoughts or how it impacts you.