Discipleship

It’s All About His Presence

“It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in their personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into him, that they may delight in his presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God himself in the core and center of their hearts.”

Aiden Wilson Tozer
Chicago Illinois
June 16, 1948
From the Preface of: The Pursuit of God

What do you think the application is?

Post to Twitter

Gary’s Rules

Several years ago we started watching NCIS. It used to be a great show about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service before it got political. The characters are great and the story’s were great. I really liked all the characters but I loved Gibbs.

Gibbs is the leader of the team and is a seemingly heartless pragmatist. Until you get to know him. You find out quickly that he has a huge heart and lots of baggage. But is very good at his job and a great leader. Someone I would like to emulate in some ways, in others not so much. One of the mainstay of the show is Gibbs rules. He doesn’t write them down. He feels it’s his job to teach the rules and he expects everyone on the team to know them.

I started thinking. “what are my rules?” so I started a list and here they are, 30 of Gary’s rules:

  1. Always default to relationship
  2. Always assume the best in people
  3. Don’t make arbitrary rules
  4. Always give your people a “why”; or they will come up with their own and they will be wrong
  5. Always give honor and respect; not always obedience
  6. Never judge motives, only fruit
  7. What you allow you promote
  8. What you reward you get more of
  9. Unity trumps disunity
  10. Continually cast vision
  11. Email is the lowest form of communication; texts are the next lowest
  12. Vision that creates opportunity for others; will never lack the involvement of others
  13. Sometimes your’re wrong; when you’re wrong apologize, it’s a sign of strength.
  14. Direction comes before correction
  15. Always over communicate
  16. Don’t give too much attention to your biggest fans or your biggest critics
  17. If you’re going to get into trouble anyway; get into trouble doing the right thing.
  18. Be predictable; your team should always know how you will react
  19. Training too close to the decision making process looks like lobbying.
  20. Ignore the squeaky wheel
  21. Ignore your weaknesses; hire or delegate to your weakness
  22. The best time to remove a team member is before they’re on the team.
  23. Always reward faithfulness over giftedness.
  24. Never confuse familiarity with understanding
  25. Focus on building big people not big organizations
  26. Nothing grows without conflict
  27. Consensus is the end of leadership
  28. Be very careful when playing the “God” card
  29. Take responsibility not blame
  30. Always give credit, take blame

These are not all original. I’ve stolen most of them and have forgotten mostly where they came from so if you know the origin feel free to give credit in the comments.

I plan to do a series of blog posts expounding on these rules someday. Stay tuned.

What do you think?
What would you add?

Post to Twitter

The Leaders Top Priority

As leaders we need to be competent in our craft but it’s not our first priority.

What are your thoughts?

Post to Twitter

Build Big People

Big People

Several years ago I was blessed to be at a pre-conference event with Jack Hayford. The event had not been well advertised so there were only a few of us in a small room with Jack Hayford. I count it as one of the most valuable days of my life.

I have always admired Jack and what he has done. It was incredible to hear him talk about the early days of the his church plant and being all alone in the chapel asking God to send people. He said something that day that has impacted significantly.

“We never set out to build a big Church, we set out to build big people”

Acts 20:28 instructs us as elders to take heed to ourselves and to the people Jesus bought with His blood. We must not use people to meet needs and serve events. I have never met a leader who would say that is their goal however the way many leaders do things has the end result of using people to meet needs and serve events.

We must always treat people as those who Jesus bought with His own blood. We must be gift based leaders. We must value those entrusted to us as an end in themselves not a means to an end. Until we start stewarding God’s people, His most valued and cherished creation, we should not expect our organizations to be healthy and prospering.

Are you leading with a priority to those you lead or are you merely viewing people as a way to accomplish something; even Kingdom things you feel called to address?

Would love your thoughts.

Post to Twitter

Do We Need Something New?

Back to Basics

I attended a state college in Nebraska as a brand new believer where the campus ministry was all about discipleship. Their hearts cry was II Timothy 2:2:

You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 
II Timothy 2:2 NLT

Very simple but not easy. One of the leaders carried around a copy of The Master Plan of Evangelism in his back pocket and if you invited him to dinner you better set at least two other places because he was bringing “trustworthy”, or what he called “FAT” people (Faithful, Available, Teachable), with him. What he was doing was simple. He was simply sharing life with faithful men. But not easy, they were with him all the time.

If you have followed this space you know I love technology and I love systems. However my rule #1 is “always default to relationship”. People are the point of everything we do. Consider what Paul thought would be his final conversation with the elders at Ephesus.

So guard yourselves and God’s people, Feed and shepherd God’s flock-his church, purchased with his own blood-over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. 
Acts 20:28 NLT, emphasis mine

When we get a revelation of this it changes everything we do. Jesus bought His people with “His Own Blood” and then appointed us as stewards of His greatest treasure. Don’t get caught up in the word “Elder”. If you are a leader in the church, or in any organization, you have been “appointed by the Holy Spirit” (see Romans 13 if you’re not sure about that) to “shepherd” them.

We are always looking for a new idea, a new tool, a new system, a new book, a new revelation. Not saying that’s a bad thing we should use every tool at our disposal to complete the call God has put on our lives. However:

Hans Ur von Balthasar wrote in his book Prayer:

we think that God’s Word has been heard on earth for so long that by now it is almost used up, that it is about time for some new word, as if we had the right to demand one.

James Clear wrote today in “Do More of What Works Already“.

There are many examples of behaviors, big and small, that have the opportunity to drive progress in our lives if we just did them with more consistency. Flossing every day. Never missing workouts. Performing fundamental business tasks each day, not just when you have time. Apologizing more often. Writing Thank You notes each week. Of course, these answers are boring. Mastering the fundamentals isn’t sexy, but it works.

We definitely need revival in the church but in my humble opinion we will bring revival by returning to the fundamental things of the faith ourselves and bringing as many people along with us as will go.

Do something simple today. Spend 20 minutes in the gospel of John, call an old friend and thank them for what they have contributed to your life, invite your neighbor to Church this Easter Sunday. Simple kindness is a game changer.

Life naturally becomes more and more complicated and we must fight to keep things simple. Make a decision today to be a people focused leader. With the empowering of the Holy Spirit look for the gifting in those entrusted to you, call it out, equip it, and release it. That is how we will change the world.

Let me know how it goes.

Post to Twitter

Are Results All That Matter

We are a results oriented culture, but are results really the only thing that matter?

For several years I was a Pepsi route salesman back in the day when the driver did everything. Sales, delivery, merchandising, the whole thing.

My first route was a full service route which meant I serviced machines with no real time to grow my route. I was on a dead run from 5:00am to 5:00pm every day filling pop machines all over the city of Lincoln NE.

I didn’t have much opportunity to win sales contests and get the trips or the swag the other drivers got. So when Barqs root beer had a contest I saw an opportunity. Over the next two months I filled every pop machine on my route with Barqs root beer. Both the slot where it went and every nook and cranny in the machine. When you opened the doors of my machines all you could see was Barqs root beer stacked to the top.

When the contest was over I had won a trip to Kansas City where my wife and I stayed at the Adams Mark hotel, went to a baseball game, and a dinner theatre over a weekend and had a great time.

I didn’t sell a another case of Barqs root beer for a year.

Are the results really the only thing that matter?

What was the goal of the contest? To sell root beer right? which we did. My question from a leaders perspective is; was the spurt in sales over two months enough to offset the lack of sales over the next year. I know I wasn’t the only one who engaged in this activity. Maybe Barqs saw some value, I’m pretty sure our local bottler didn’t.

If we as leaders only help people who are producing are we really leading and building people or are we just helping ourselves? I would submit to you that if your only recognizing results your not building anything, or worse yet anyone. If results are our only metric what things are going on to get the recognition, or the bonus, or the office, etc.etc.etc.

We should be looking for capacity and consistency, not results alone, and coming alongside those people to help build the right skillset to get the right results.

If we work with people of character and capacity the results will come. The reason we have problems in our organizations is we focus on the wrong things. Only recognizing high capacity doers is a big problem in lots of churches and organizations. We get the end result but often at a price that is unacceptable if we will stop and consider it.

Results certainly do matter as a metric for evaluating how things are done but be careful how you interpret those results.

You will get more of what you reward.

Do you want results no matter the cost or do you want consistency that will lead to greater, longer lasting, and more ethical results.

Post to Twitter

You Are Always Communicating

Everything we do as leaders communicates something. Are you communicating what you want to communicate?

Does everyone on your team have a correct understanding of the culture of your team, ministry, or church? I recently had a marketing person look at all of my web presence. After his review he said “your a musician who wants to sell music.”

I had a lot of fun making a 6 song EP. I hope people will listen to it, buy it, and listen to it again. So making that impression is not a bad thing but it’s not what I want first time visitors to come away with.

Everything you do communicates something.

If the same person is leading worship every week with the same 4 or 5 people on the platform your communicating that there is no place for new people on the platform. Your saying “we have our slots filled. Sorry you got here too late. As soon as someone dies or moves away we’d be happy to audition you or we might just go with 3 backing vocalists not 4.”

Also it may be appropriate, for a season, to have video teaching until you can raise up a team of teachers. While the video teaches you are either telling the teachers in your congregation there’s no place for them or, if you do it right, you could be telling them we desperately need you. Don’t assume people will understand. You have to tell them.

Rule #4: if you don’t give your people a “why” they will come up with their own. And they will often be wrong.

Consider what you’re doing and what it communicates.

Are you saying what you want to say?

Post to Twitter

Worship Culture

This weekend I had the privilege of attending Peak Life Churches “Worship Culture Weekend”.

It was a weekend meant to define what the worship culture at Peak Life Church would be.

Culture is defined this way:

To till, to plow, to guard. Culture is the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguish one group of people from another; a set of traits that have been plowed into a groups way of life.

What culture are you plowing?

If you don’t define it and guard it. Your culture will become something you probably don’t want.

It is essential that you cast vision at every meeting and every practice. You must establish a foundation and then continually build and repair as you grow. Those who were there in the beginning will forget and new people will not pick it up by osmosis.

Culture must be plowed and guarded.

Let’s partner together to lay a solid foundation you can build on. Worship team retreats are a great way to get everyone on the same page.

Contact me here to talk about the possibilities for your team. You can preview some of the teaching here.

I look forward to helping you build what God has entrusted to you in your context.

Post to Twitter

Faithfulness or Giftedness

There is an old adage that says “That which you allow you promote”. It’s very true.

Church people will be 10 minutes late no matter what. If you start at 10:00 people will begin to walk in at 10:10. If you start at 10:30 people will begin to walk in at 10:40. If you wait until 10:10 to get started it won’t be long until people start to walk in at 10:20.

If we don’t talk to one person about inappropriate clothing very soon others will begin to think the inappropriate clothing is ok, its accepted.

The same is true when it comes to promoting people into positions of leadership. Whatever character qualities we promote will be the type of people we attract. We spend lots of time trying to make everyone a leader, which I think is a terrible waste of time and resources, instead of giving those entrusted to us opportunities to die and to serve. It is only in the context of serving together that we can discern the gifting in those entrusted to us and who is called to set vision, direction, and pace.

Justin Holcomb writes in The Resurgence Blog:

Scripture focuses more on character than it does on methods, more on faithfulness than it does on fruitfulness, and more on making disciples of Christ than it does on developing leaders. The Bible is not the least bit shy about pointing out the failures of even the best leaders.

When we promote giftedness over faithfulness we will get giftedness over faithfulness and all the problems that go along with that. We must always only promote faithfulness, character, and equipping over everything else. Everything we do communicates something make sure you are communicating the right things.

We so often think type A strong personality people are natural leaders. It’s not true. Jesus modeled what true servant leadership looks like. It looks like laying down your life.

What are your thoughts?

Post to Twitter

Raising Up The Next Generation?

I believe this statement comes from a completely sincere heart and is completely wrong.

We most definitely have the responsibility to pass our faith and our heritage onto the  next generation but nowhere, that I can find, in Scripture are we exhorted to “raise up” the next generation.

What Scripture does exhort us to do is raise up those entrusted to us regardless the generation. Certainly if an 18-year-old is called, gifted, and faithful they should be promoted but not just because they are 18. The same is true for a 48-year-old.

When we focus on one specific demographic whatever it may be we by definition create other very big problems. This is part of the problem of blended worship, or a multigenerational focus. These approaches create a market based, consumer driven culture and  that’s definitely not what we want.

If we will cultivate a culture of change while equipping and empowering Gods people to do what God has called and created them to do many of the problems we’re trying to fix by being “blended” or “multigenerational” will fix themselves.

I’m not naive and I’m not trying to be overly simplistic just hear my foundational premise.

The bottom line:

God has called leaders to first be equippers. Leaders are those who can recognize, call out, equip, and release gifting back into the body. Being a high-capacity doer of anything does not alone qualify a leader, and the reality is high-capacity doers are seldom the best leaders.

If we will focus our ministry on equipping the saints, as defined above, and promote calling and faithfulness over gifting and drive. We will have a very vibrant, change oriented, and multigenerational ministry by default. Because those entrusted to us are the culture and when we empower them they will represent and reflect that culture.

What are your thoughts?

Post to Twitter

Twitter links powered by Tweet This v1.8.3, a WordPress plugin for Twitter.