Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

The two most common, but deadly mistakes that leaders make

February 28, 2008

Early this morning my friend Jamal Jivanjee shared a poignant word on the two most common, but deadly mistakes that leaders make.

It can become so natural to lead by the Voice when necessary. I am surely guilty of this. But it doesn’t make sense – either you lead full-on spiritually or we’re settling in our own abilities.

I believe God is calling out a generation to lead by the Spirit with every fiber of their being, who are not afraid to penetrate any culture for the name of Jesus, who are fiercely bold and courageous yet with childlike innocence and endeavoring love. My brother Jamal and I are heartstruck by this piercing promise. It seems daunting, but we are called to keep listening.


Becoming a Leader of No Reputation

August 30, 2006

Every now and then, I come across a resource that “smacks you” right between the eyes. I promise, if you read this, it will stretch you and remind you how we are meant to lead. Click here to read.

Spiritual Environments

October 23, 2005

This morning I was interviewed in a leadership breakfast led by Travis Vaughn, who is a good friend and pastor of a church plant in Cumming called Lake Ridge Church. This discussion stemmed from Travis’ desire to see his leadership team create more spiritual environments where people could ask questions about life and God.

I’m not going to go into detail with where the dialogue went but I’d like to share a couple things that I seem to keep bringing up lately when people ask me about the conversations I’m having…

• They don’t like the church or even Christianity but they do like Jesus.
• We have this “thing” with assumptions. We assume people think like we do. No one – I mean no one likes it when someone assumes something about them.
• Why is our evangelism efforts focused on recievers, rather than real people?
• Why do we assume that when a person becomes a Christian they are automatically a disciple?
• From my experience the number one way to have lots of amazing spiritual conversations is humility. If you’re humble anyone will talk to you. How can we be an image-bearer without it?
• The message we must present today needs to focus on heaven and the honing device our hearts are already after rather than hell and the decietful heart. Jesus’ message is and was attractive!
• We must put our ideas into a language people experience on a daily basis.
• Is our goal to become better Christians or more Christ-like? The most important thing is to do what Jesus told us to do. We have got to get our heads out of cultural Christianity, if we are going to create powerful spiritual environments.
• People do want to have spiritual conversations! It all depends on how you go about it.
• The two hot bed topics in my conversations with 20 something’s: spirituality and sexuality.

The Gatekeepers

August 23, 2005

There’s something to be said about the gatekeepers. You know, the ones who have the ability to open doors. They’re the influencers. We all know gatekeepers in our communities, churches, and businesses. They have extraordinary opportunities. They have the chance to control a situation. They may be directors, CEO’s, or community leaders. They have untapped vision. They need to find people who share their vision. They don’t have to have the same vision, just the same heart. We have to learn how to train the gatekeepers how to unleash the gospel into their arenas of influence. You see there are people who can control their art – like the Mel Gibson’s, Switchfoot, and U2.

So, how do we help these people walk the tightrope with finesse and delicacy?

Honesty Sincerity—There’s something to be said of people who can say things with complete honesty no matter where there at or what circumstance they are going through. It’s hard to just be honest, but it’s even hard to stay sincere. We want to say things to caress and impress. For example, even in Hollywood, you might be a lot of things, but if you’re honest with sincerity, they’ll love you in every angle.
I was at one of my best friends father’s funeral today. My buddy Ty led his dad’s funeral with as much honest sincerity that I’ve ever seen in my life. It was fifteen minutes that reminded me of the complete power of sincerity – it connects to the human heart every single time. With the spirit and love Ty spoke with, he could have given a sermon in any church across this country and extremely succeed.
I love people who are honest and sincere about life. You might be scared to death, shaking, cringing, but if you’re just honest and sincere you can connect with people. I think Jesus was the most amazing honest yet sincere example there ever was.

Authenticity—I know it’s the most overused and misunderstood word out there, but it’s still a great word that hits exactly what everyone loves and appreciates the most, especially today. All in all, you might speak a faraway language from culture, you might be a loss long hipster, you might miss a lot of beats from reality, but if you are real, genuine and authentic people will love you because you are a rarity.
People respect big hearts. As much as Mel Gibson’s movie stirred controversy, people still respected his big heart and vision.

Delicacy—There’s a frailty in people of delicacy. Delicacy is when we make known that we are weak too. Everyone has weaknesses and people don’t want to get around people who act like they don’t. It’s important to admit when we’re wrong or when we mess up. The church is desperately in need of people who exhibit delicacy in how they handle delicate people.
I’ve never known my brother when he wasn’t delicate with people. He’s one of the most compassionate people I have ever known and it comes through so natural. When I go to him about a problem or a situation where I need some counsel (and I do that often), he handles –me– with an extreme care and consideration. I’ve learned that people dig that and it’s not a coincidence that people dig my brother, without question. I asked him the other day about what he thinks I should do about with this thing that came up and it’s like he has this ability of putting himself in my seat as he helped me think through my decision. Yet the quality that I most admire about my brother is his loyalty to those closest to him like family and friends. He’s a valiant friend—who wouldn’t think twice about dropping his important daily tasks for a friend in need. People go through a lot in their lives: death, divorce and betrayal. They need a little delicacy every once in a while. They need people who they know will hurt with them. I hope they’ll find that in us. That’s what we find in Jesus—a Father who treats us with a delicate tenderness and understanding—a Father who weeps with us when we weep, who hurts with us when we hurt.

Finesse—grace, elegance, poise, refinement, assurance. I’m convinced some of us might be lacking in this area without much choice, but there are people who just have it. God knows that. God knows the ones he created. He knows some have gifts; he chose to give them. Thank God for finesse – the actors who make an epic come alive or evoke a memory we experienced. Thank God for a Billy Graham who preaches with deep-hearted finesse or a pastor Joe whose elegance helps draw people to an environment that leads people to Christ. People have finesse and we can help nurture them and unleash them to help stroke souls to God.
Finesse is not found in just charisma; finesse is found in the way we talk and walk. Finesse is being able to look someone in the eye with unwavering confidence. God gives us finesse. Finesse becomes choked up when we don’t know who we are because I think finesse has a lot to do with just being natural. While some may have more than others, we all have a life to tap into, a journey to reflect on, an experience to share. One of the ways I think finesse can be discovered is through our stories. Stories unleash assurance and gracefulness. We are assured from what we’ve experienced or what we believe; how we live is our assurance.

Ray Charles once said, “All we have to do is take the time to play the right notes for the occasion.” We’ve got the note – the gospel – now all we have to do is find, make, seek, and prepare for all those occasions where we can play our note with finesse, honest sincerity, authenticity and delicacy.

Emerging Leaders

August 13, 2005

One of the misunderstandings among emerging leaders is the expectation they have to do rather than be. J. Robert Clinton says that during most of our lives God is primarily working in the leader, not through the leader. “Most emerging leaders don’t recognize this,” Clinton writes. “They evaluate productivity, activities, fruitfulness, etc. But God is quietly, often in unusual ways, trying to get a leader to see that one ministers out of what one is. God is concerned about what we are.”

We rationalize evangelism, those simple acts of telling because we see a great Christian leader as the preacher in the pulpit or the leaders whose ministries have the greatest productivity. This is far from what God is doing. Clinton emphasizes that rather than trying to mimic another person’s substance and style, “we should be what God intends us to be.” Share Christ the way He wants you do share. Ask God what he has in mind and go do it. Get around people who aren’t afraid to live like this – who are more than willing to step out and act.

I had (am) to learn this the hard way, but I’m grateful that I’m learning this lesson now, early in my life. God willing – I’ll be able to get to know God in an amazing way for the rest of my life.

Young leaders must hear the plea: never hurry God. Don’t think you have to accomplish so much so early. Rather, simply keep the fire burning for your Heavenly Father who loves you dearly and ask Him how you can serve Him, then obey. In time, we’ll know this very clearly. We’ll have the understanding we desire to have. But for now, let’s choose God over understanding, okay?

Many Dream to Live

August 12, 2005

I like to look back long enough to draw some understanding. Here’s a bit of that…

MANY DREAM TO LIVE, BUT FEW LIVE TO DREAM. Every story is filled with people who are of the dreamer sort. It is in building the dream that we discover the value and the reality that the one carrying the dream has to be shaped before he is able to fulfill it. The present state of wherever we are on our journey captures the essence of God’s wisdom and sovereignty. There are a lot of dreamers and visionaries but few who actually do something for God – Why? They aren’t willing to be shaped so they can be walked through so the dream can occur. Too many of us desire too badly to be the CEO while we are supposed to be apprentices.

I think we have to choose to embrace the price in fact, enjoy the price we have to pay. The reality that the person carrying the vision has to be ready before the vision comes about. I think both of us are a prime example that vision carries a tremendous weight. It is so much more than, “I’ve got a vision, its time to achieve it.” Vision resides in a much deeper place and we have to learn how that can be such a beautiful thing to appreciate rather than dispute.

Vision has become some sort of a truism but oh, our life hopefully can teach that it CAN be understood much more clearly. I am learning that visions often lead leaders into deep pain and confusion. I think I’m learning to embrace the struggle a visioneer has to go through instead of falling hard again into the pit of confusion.

When we go through the experiences the dream requires wisdom will drip from our mouths because we’ve been through it. The best teacher is not all the books I read or the amazing leaders I know; it’s experience. Knowledge will get you so far, but wisdom takes you places.

Someone might be tempted to say, “Experience! You’re just getting started.” I am not going to argue with that but I will say that when you’re online with God, age is unimportant, but grasping who God is, that’s what matters most. And you won’t grasp who God is until you’re willing to buck the safe zone and step out in the faith zone. I think too few young (and old) leaders are willing the pay that kind of price. And that’s a tragedy because they’re missing out on so much. My philosophy, “Listen to God, then jump in!” That’s exactly where wisdom leads us.

A Studdly Life

June 14, 2005

I’ve been thinking about how great it is that youngsters are embracing vintage Christianity. Three years ago I couldn’t have imagined it. They actually like to hear what the old and gone, retro leaders had to say. Thank God! There’s powerful material in there. I’m learning firsthand that nothing’s new. Every time I hear an amazing metaphor I hear something similar from a retro leader. I guess that’s good – so we can modernize our language to a culture. That’s talked about in the bible in very clear terms. Thank God, for now, my pursuit in modernizing can take a pit stop and soak in the spiritual hero’s. Their words reveal so much – particularly to me how much they TRUSTED our Heavenly Father – the same kind of bond we’re all after.

Today, I’m a jottin some C.T. Studd quotes. Ooh! I feel like to not share some of these magnetic, beguiling, power-packed lines would be selfish. Allow me to take you on a journey through a bucket of spiritual aphorisms!

Yes, these are provoking thoughts for all you studdly folks. I was thinking of writing a update but Amber and I both agree that we get so many information sources that we don’t enjoy a long and compelling letter. So in reality, this is more of a upend than a update.

C.T. Studd was a famous Cricketer in England who chose to forsake his fame and family fortune and follow Hudson Taylor to China. After 21 years in China and India, he unexpectedly received a call to the epicenter of Africa. He left everything and had to trust God for everything. His answer to those who thought he was mad to go was simply: If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him

Here’s my favorite for all ye fund-raisers: “Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands.” In fund-raising if we begin with nothing then our potential is huge. You can only go up. It was James who said the poor are honored and the rich are humbled. Either or, we have the God of the universe as our CEO.

I hear a lot of opinions all the time about seminary training. Personally, on some days I’d like to blow up cemetaries, uh…I mean seminaries but I guess they can be useful too. Seminaries teach a bunch of knowledge, definition-frenzies and even some bad practicality. Of course, God does call some to go to seminary and that’s what’s important. In any case, my man C.T. had a few perspective-lined thoughts too: “The best training for a soldier of Christ is not merely a theological college. They always seem to turn out sausages of varying lengths, tied at each end, without the glorious freedom a Christian ought to abound and rejoice in. You see, when in hand-to-hand conflict with the world and the devil, neat little biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter: one needs a man who will let himself go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, trusting in the Holy Ghost. It’s experience, not preaching that hurts the devil and confounds the world. The training is not that of the schools but of the market: it’s the hot, free heart and not the balanced head that knocks the devil out. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count. A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ’s service. It is not so much the degree of arts that is needed, but that of hearts, loyal and true, that love not their lives to the death: large and loving hearts which seek to save the lost multitudes, rather than guard the ninety-nine well-fed sheep in the British pen.”

Okay, living in a prozac culture can be discouraging at times. Can I hear paradox? I think part of the problem is…besides sitting in front of a computer and TV over four hours a day (US average) we should be out and about serving the Lord, trusting Him and laying our life on the cutting edge fine lines a little more. Ole C.T. said, “The best cure for discouragement or qualms is another daring plunge of faith.” If only I lived like that…when it’s soo easy to enjoy all my movies.

Comfort and Convenience. The killers of a Christian walk. This is right where I’m trying to war against because God gives us so much freedom. But Christianity is earmarked with suffering…can I hear the cross? Paying a price is a good thing. I think we should get real good at EMBRACING the price b/c the dream can’t be fulfilled without the dreamers being molded into the person God needs him to “be”. Emphasis on “be”, rather than “do”. Like we said earlier: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”

One of the reasons we don’t like to pay the price is because when we do we get gutted in more ways than one by the slickest, slyest of them all: the devil. Mr. Studd nails it here. I’ve had to read the fourth one at least five times. Whoa.

“Here’s my final advice to my followers:
1. If you don’t desire to meet the Devil during the day, meet Jesus before dawn.
2. If you don’t want the Devil to hit you, hit him first, and hit him with all your might, so that he may be too crippled to hit back. ‘Preach the Word’ is the rod the Devil fears and hates.
3. If you don’t want to fall – walk, and walk straight and walk fast!
4. Three of the Devil’s dogs with which he hunts us are:
Swelled head.

I remember traveling overseas a couple years ago. “I know so much and have so much to offer,” I thought. Yeah right! I knew stuff, not the God-given Word like these men who have nothing, except the Word. It’s the whole preach what you live thing. I’m still a-learnin. I don’t know much at all and that’s okay because it’s right there in the Word. The Word truly does take you hostage when you pursue it and challenge it. C.T. gave me some perception on this. I need to read this every day!
“Our recruits come out from home vastly raw and are largely parrots. They have been crammed with religion as though for an examination, and seem to come out to carry on their education rather than finish it. So many are just taught doctrines without ever having thought them out or searched the Scriptures for themselves. They come out like infants with pop guns. They need to be trained into soldiers with real devil-defying weapons. Some arrive thinking they are the last thing in high-class Christianity and have to find out they know little. That is why I keep the newcomers here at base for a time till I can make them really think out things and settle questions, not from hearsay but from Bible-say.”

Preach it C.T.! “How could I spend the best years of my life in living for the honours of this world, when thousands of souls are perishing every day?”
“Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.” Will the church mourn your loss and will the devil throw a party when you die?

Allow me to pose a question: Is the Christian walk that easy? “Very many are half asleep or deluded, and make up fancy doctrines of their own, which practically mean that an unholy man can get to heaven without being holy. But remember, Christ did not die to whitewash us, He died to re-create us, and none but His re-creations enter heaven.”

God wants action and I’m happy about that because I stink at this patience thing. Patience is required most right now as He tries to mold me in character. I’m truly all about living as a warrior. What challenges me is living as a warrior in holiness and loving-kindness. That’s where the miracle of God comes into play. I like to fight more than I like to love, but as I get to know Him a merge is taking place. All of sudden I’m taken hostage by love.
“Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time of waiting is past! The hour of God has struck! War is declared! In God’s Holy Name let us arise and build! ‘The God of Heaven, He will fight for us’, as we for Him. We will not build on the sand, but on the bedrock of the sayings of Christ, and the gates and minions of hell shall not prevail against us. Should such men as we fear? Before the world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby-pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our all for Him, we will live and we will die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only our God, than live trusting in man. And when we come to this position the battle is already won, and the end of the glorious campaign in sight. We will have the real Holiness of God, not the sickly stuff of talk and dainty words and pretty thoughts; we will have a Masculine Holiness, one of daring faith and works for Jesus Christ.”
Difficulties, dangers, disease, death, or divisions don’t deter any but Chocolate Soldiers from executing God’s Will. When someone says there is a lion in the way, the real Christian promptly replies, “That’s hardly enough inducement for me; I want a bear or two besides to make it worth my while to go.”

I hear you…that’s enough. But I leave you with one more Studd line. It’s truly studly:

“Some wish to live within the sound
Of Church or Chapel Bell.
I want to run a rescue shop
within a yard of Hell.”

Go get em this week! Live hard and faithful for God’s glory.


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