From Books

Do You Know What's Holding Your Leadership Back?

Almost any problem can be overcome if leaders become aware of what the problem is. Then at least you have a shot at handling it.

But what if you can’t see the problem?

What if the thing that’s holding you back is inside you and barely visible to you?

There are 7 things that consistently hold leaders back, not only in leadership, but in life.

Any idea which ones are affecting you?

7 clout killers

How Leaders Unknowingly Limit Their Influence

In her new book CloutJenni Catron identifies 7 struggles leaders have that undermine their God-given influence and clout.

Clout is the unique influence God has given you and no one else—the unique set of gifts, talents and experiences that he’s given to no one else. Not for the sake of a power trip, but to help accomplish what God wants to do in you and through you.

Think about it…everyone who has ever helped you or helped advance the Kingdom used their influence or power to advance a cause bigger than they were.

But each of us experiences a set of internal struggles that keep us from realizing the clout God has in mind for us.

Jenni identifies 7:

Read more

An Effective Way To Renew Passion Many Leaders Miss

An Effective Way to Renew Passion Many Leaders Miss

Most of us would love passion to fuel our life and work every day.

That’s always how it starts, right?

When you begin something, it’s pretty much all passion.

Whether you’ve felt a call into ministry, you’re starting a new job, you’re toying with a new idea, or you’re even beginning a new relationship, passion gets us out of the gate almost every time.

New almost always fuels passion.

And that passion can stay around for a season or two.

The problem is for all of us, passion fades.  

Even when we know something is right-that we really shouldn’t be doing anything else-passion wanes.  Give it a season, a year, or (for the ultra passionate), a decade, eventually it just doesn’t feel like it used to. Or like we think it’s supposed to.

That’s when we do one of two things:

We look for ways to renew our passion.  A new project.  Better numbers.  More growth.  A promotion.  A new pattern.  A side hobby.

We look for a new position.  We leave what we used to think was our dream calling and hope to find a new one somewhere else.

Can’t get passionate about this job anymore?  Find a new one.

Don’t like your current spouse? Trade her in.

Which is a shame.

Because passion has a surprising counterpart: perseverance.

So many people quit what could be a life calling not because the calling dried up but because their passion did.  

Keep reading this post…

Gaining Ground While Standing Strong: Change Amidst Opposition

Leading Change Without Losing It

Here is the outline for my talk called Gaining Ground While Standing Strong: Five Strategies for Leading Change Amidst Opposition that I delivered at Orange Conference 2013 in Atlanta.

Change is one of my favourite subjects. In fact, this talk is a very short summary of a few of the key ideas in my latest book, Leading Change Without Losing It (you can get more info or buy a copy here.)

Why Do People Change?

People change when the pain associated with the status quo is greater than the pain associated with change.

Strategy One: Do the Math

People typically divide into four groups:

Early Adopters

Early Majority

Silent Majority


Most leaders make two mistakes:

They assume loud=large

They assume volume=velocity

Although the opponents are loud and claim to represent ‘everyone’, they don’t. They represent about 10% of the population.

Although they claim to be going somewhere, opponents typically have a vision for the past, not for the future.

Focusing on the early adopters and early majority will help you navigate change.

Strategy Two: Choose Your Focus

You can focus on who you want to reach, or who you wan to keep.

Shifting your focus engages your fear.

is it more frightening to lose a handful of people or never accomplish your mission?

Would you rather lose the opponents, or the early adopters.?

Strategy Three: Find a Filter

Without a filter, everything sounds compelling.

As a leader you need to develop the questions that will shape your future.

The two question I ask are:

Is there a biblical argument in what the opponent is saying?

Is this the kind of person we can build the future of the church on?

If the answer is no to either question, listen graciously and move on.

Strategy Four: Attack Problems, Not People

Separate the people from the problem.

Turn to God. Because if you don’t turn to God you’ll turn on them.

Empathize with your opponents.

Wait a day before responding to any kind of correspondence that upsets you.

Strategy Five: Don’t Quit

Most leaders who change the world don’t move every five years.

Find good friends you can talk to.

Create an encouragement file (save anything positive that comes your way).

Develop a devotional life that has little to do with work.

Those are my notes. What are your questions about change?

5 Signs It's Time to Move On

5 Signs It's Time to Move On

So you’re frustrated in your job, ministry or organization.

In my last post, I argued that many people leave their jobs for the wrong reasons. In fact, I think many people leave before their critical breakthrough.

And I strongly believe that people who don’t persevere never break through the wall that most limits their personal growth: themselves. Staying somewhere for five years or longer forces you to change the only thing left to change after a while: you.

So I believe there’s tremendous benefit both personally and organizationally in long term tenure.

And please know I write this from a place of bias. I’ve been working with the same core group in the same community for almost 18 years. I think long term tenure has real benefits.

In response to my last post, Rob asked a great question. does that mean you should never leave? Is this an argument for staying 40 years in one place to get the gold watch at the end?

Not necessarily.

Before I get to my list of five signs it’s time to move on, I know you’ll notice “God told me to move on” is not on the list. Here’s why.  I’ve heard that term misused more than I’ve heard it well used. Often I think people use God language to hide their own emotional issues.

I do believe we occasionally hear from God on these things (I believe I have). But God would never say anything that contradicts scripture. And usually God’s voice is echoed in the wisdom of at least a few people around you. I realize sometimes this isn’t true, but most often it is.

If you’re the only one who ever hears from God, maybe it isn’t God you’re hearing from.

So here’s my list of 5 signs it’s time to move on:

1. Your spouse is telling you it’s time to go. For those of us who are married, there will be seasons in which you and your spouse might disagree about whether it’s time to start a new assignment. But long term, a house divided against itself cannot stand, especially in ministry. Plus, when it comes to my life, I trust my wife’s voice even a little more than I trust my own. So, if after a season or two, if your spouse is telling you it’s time to go, it becomes unwise to ignore that.

2. Your circle of wise counsel is telling you to move on. Every person should have a circle of wise counsel around them. For every leader, it’s more than advisable, it’s essential. I have a circle of friends, mentors and colleagues I trust to speak the truth to me. They often see things I’m blind to. If they’re telling you to go, listen.

3. You have lost the confidence of the leadership. If your staff team, elder board or other leaders around you have lost confidence in you for more than a season, it’s time to go. It means your influence as a leader is gone, and without the ability to influence, you can’t lead.

4.  Your passion is gone. You can lead without passion for a season (I have had to on several occasions), but long term you can’t.  Please note: the lack of passion may have little to do with your job. More than a few people have switched jobs only to discover the lack of passion is a personal issue, not a case of being in the wrong job. You might need to stick where you are and work through the tough issues.  Or you might need to go see a counselor (I’ve done that). It helps. But if you’ve carefully examined your personal growth and issues and still don’t have passion at work, it could be a sign it’s time to move on.

5. Your vision has vaporized. The most inspiring leaders are visionaries. If you no longer have a clear and compelling vision – or your vision is greater in another area you’re currently not serving in – it’s a sign it might be time to move on. Like a lack of passion, a lack of vision might actually be a sign you need to work through some significant personal growth; a job change might make the situation worse if it’s a personal malaise you’re in. But if you’re in a generally healthy space, it might be a sign it’s time to move on.

There are other signs as well. My friend Ron Edmondson has written several excellent articles on signs that it’s time to quit.

If you’re interested, I also devoted a whole chapter of my new book, Leading Change Without Losing It, to not quitting (and supplied some strategies on how to do that). You can get a copy here.

So what do you think? How do you know when it’s time to move on?

And –I’m curious–how often do you think people leave a position when what they really need to do is stay and work through their own personal growth?

Why The World Won't End Today


Will the world end today?

So were the Mayans right? Is today really the last day of the world?

Well, no. I’ll explain why in a moment.

But first, the Mayans created quite a buzz, didn’t they?

In fact, any time there’s semi-serious talk of the world ending, people talk about it.

Having released a book recently, I’ve spent some time looking through the best seller list. I was surprised to discover that some of the very best selling books in any category are books about the afterlife. I guess if you’re going to spend forever somewhere, people want to know whether heaven is for real. (We’ll do a series on what happens after you die at Connexus next year).

After we survive the Mayan apocalypse, it would be good to have a filter for any and all future predictions of doomsday. And we have one.

So why isn’t the world ending today?

You can look at it from at least two perspectives:

1. Scientific. NASA is so sure the world will be spinning with people on it December 22nd that they released this video to be watched the day after world ended. (It’s a decent explanation of how we misunderstood the whole Mayan calendar in the first place; pop culture is not know for it’s depth of analysis.)

But we don’t need NASA to tell us the world isn’t ending. We have an even better perspective.

2. Biblical. The fact that someone predicted the end of the world on a specific day is virtually ironclad proof it won’t be that day.

Jesus simply said that no one will know the hour when Christ comes back. While Jesus was on earth, he didn’t even know the day or time. So how could we?

As soon as you hear someone predict the world will end on X date, you can be pretty much count on the fact it won’t happen. My personal guess is the world will end the day people finally stop predicting it will end, kind of like the couple who got pregnant when they stopped trying.

As fun and amusing as today’s prediction is, it leaves me uneasy. Here’s why.

One day Christ will come back.

And that will be an awesome day and a terrible day. When we finally realize it’s actually happening, we won’t be able to change anything. It might in fact be too late for many people you and I know and love.

Today is not that day. At least not yet. Which makes what you and I do today so important. Particularly in terms of letting people know that a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is not just possible but desirable and ultimately necessary.

And one day – when we least expect – it will really happen.

And in all likelihood, it will surprise us all.

Thank You For A Great Launch Week (And Four Announcements)

Sometimes you just need to say thank you. Today is one of those days. Last week was launch week for my new book, Leading Change Without Losing It. A heartfelt thanks to every one of you who helped make the launch a success.

Thank you to everyone who


Tweeted about the book

Shared the news on Facebook

Blogged about the book

Bought a copy

Prayed for me and for those who will be reading the book

Leading Change Without Losing It Carey Nieuwhof

To say that the launch exceeded my expectations is quite an understatement. I never dreamed it would become a bestseller out of the gate. To see it be the #1 bestselling Kindle new release in ministry for a over a week now has been incredible. But then to see it in the top 5 bestselling ministry books, and even spend time at #1 — well, the thought didn’t actually cross my mind.

So thank you! While I’m excited that the book did well, I’m far more excited by what that means for you, the church and anyone trying to lead change effectively.

There’s a growing tribe of us now who are going to try to navigate change prayerfully, skillfully and strategically. We need each other. And I hope and pray this blog and the dialogue the book prompts will create a conversation among leaders that helps each of us navigate change more effectively. So thank you. Please know I’m cheering for you and I’m praying for you.

In the upcoming months, the dialogue will grow richer, fuller and I hope become very helpful to all of us trying to lead change.

On that note, I have a few announcements for all of us passionate about change:

1. I’ll be happy to answer questions about the book on twitter. Just use the hashtag #leadingchange on twitter. You can follow me on Twitter here.

2. In January, I’ll be launching a free monthly podcast all about change. Watch for details and how to subscribe to the podcast in the next few weeks.

3. This blog will continue to be my homebase on all things change. As I write the next two books in the change trilogy, a lot of the ideas will be beta tested here.

4. To make sure you don’t miss out on anything, subscribe to the blog using the fields to the right of this post.

And finally, thanks to everyone who used the #changebook hashtag during launch week. You got the word out, and here are the contest winners:

@GToddPounds and @jeremypauldavis won free signed copies of the book.

@danbrubacher won a free signed copy of the book and a free one hour change consultation I can’t wait to dig into with him.


A change is underway in how we lead change in the church and in other organizations. And for that, I’m incredible excited.

Thanks for being part of this tribe early on! Thanks for helping us get off to a great great start. I appreciate you so much, and I’m excited for what’s ahead! My goal is to help you become more effective than ever as you lead change.

So, how else can I serve you? I’d love to know.

Choosing Who To Lose When You Navigate Change

This is Part 5 of a 5 part blog series designed to answer your questions on leading change. It’s part of Change Week – from December 10-17th.

We’re marking the release of my new book Leading Change Without Losing It with a special, limited time 50% discount for Kindle and iBooks (or here for iBooks Canada). Later today I’ll draw the winners of our launch week contest (see below). Today is the final day to get the Kindle and iBook versions of the book at 50% off.

Who to leave behind when you navigate change?

Many leaders are great with the idea of change until it involves losing people. At that point, for many leaders, a paralysis sets in.

The #1 question I got asked about change when we were changing everything in my first season of ministry is this: ‘how many people did you lose?”  It’s like people desperately wanted to hear that we were able to change everything and lose no one.

The truth is, you can’t navigate real change and keep everybody you have. The people you have today are the people who like things the way they are. Change that and some will leave.

Chuck frames the tension well:

Some are set in their ways and refuse a new perspective, no matter how awesome it is. At what point, and how, should the proverbial bus leave the station? When do you and those with you press on with the change and leave the stubborn ones behind? This task requires compassion, but at some point, the bus has gotta depart.

What leaders forget is you’re always losing someone. You just need to decide who to lose.

Think about who you would rather lose.

You can lose a few opponents to change, or you can lose:

the people who dreamed of a better tomorrow

the progressive leaders in your church who are waiting for someone to lead. (Trust me, they will leave. They’ll find someone to lead them, and they’ll go quietly.)

the people you are trying to reach (who will never come as long as your organization is the way it is)

Which group would you rather lose?

Ask yourself, five years from now, who are the people I want around me –the opponents, or these groups: the people who dreamed of a better tomorrow, the progressive leaders and the people you’re trying to reach?

By the way, you can still love the opponents, you just don’t need to allow them to control the agenda of your organization.

Once you’ve decided who you are ready to lose, you can put the organization in gear and get moving.

If you want more detail on who to lose and who to keep, the first, second and third strategies in Leading Change Without Losing It offer specific strategies on who lose and who to keep (and how to do that) when navigating change.

What are you learning about who to lose and who to keep? What questions remain for you in this area?


For your chance to win a free copy of the book during launch week, tweet about the book, this post or change using the hashtag #changebook. Tonight, I’ll select three winners who used the #changebook hashtag on twitter:

  1. Two will win a free copy of the book.
  2. One winner will win
    1. Copies of the book for their entire team (up to twelve copies);  and
    2. A one hour video consultation with me to work through your specific change scenario with you.

Thanks for helping us spread the word.

A Conversation About Change With Reggie Joiner

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A few weeks ago, I sat down with a great friend who’s also one of my very favourite leaders, Reggie Joiner.  Reggie is a brilliant thinker and the CEO of Orange.

Reggie started North Point Community Church with Andy Stanley, and left a few years ago to devote all of his time to helping church leaders figure out how churches and parents can partner together for the sake of the next generation.

Listen in on our conversation about the challenges of navigating change in the church.

Leading Change Without Losing It is available now for Kindle on Amazon, on iBooks (for iPad and iPhone) and in paperback at the Orange Store.  The Kindle and iBooks version are on sale at 50% off for a limited time. Sale ends tomorrow.

4 Secrets to Leading Change Without Crushing People

This is Part 4 of a 5 part blog series designed to answer your questions on leading change. It’s part of Change Week – from December 10-17th.

We’re marking the release of my new book Leading Change Without Losing It with a special, limited time 50% discount for Kindle and iBooks (or here for iBooks Canada). Plus we have some giveways and more (see below). Thank you for helping the book become a bestseller in its first week.

One of the reasons leaders decide to settle for the status quo rather than leading change is because they’ve heard the horror stories of how people get crushed in the process of change.

Change can run like a steam roller over people. We’ve seen it happen in the corporate world and we’ve seen it happen in ministry.

Jon, a young church leader from the UK, frames the issue well in his question on leading change:

How do you bring about change without crushing people along the way? In other words, when people have been doing ‘their’ ministry for many many years, who are very much more senior in years, and have seen fruitfulness in the past but for today it’s not fit for service, but they can’t see that, how do you help them to see that without saying to them, along the lines of, “what you’re doing is rubbish” and therein crippling them.

I don’t know of a single leader who hasn’t been in the jaws of the dilemma Jon is describing. How do you lead change without crushing people?

Believe it or not, you can do it. It begins with a simple premise. Don’t crush people. Crush the problem.

And you do that this way: Attack problems, not people.

When you decide to attack a problem, you make progress. When you decide to attack a person, well…you know how distrastrously that usually ends.

Here are four little know ways to lead change without crushing people by attacking the problem, not the person:

1. Turn to God so you won’t turn on them. Your frustration has to go somewhere. And if you’re not intentional, the person who will bear the brunt of your frustration is the person you’re frustrated with. You know this. You’ve done it with your spouse, your kids and others, and you’ve probably done it within your organization.

Christians have a distinct advantage here. We can turn to God. But to do it, you need to make your prayer life more authentic. King David figured this out. I always admired his reluctance to strike back at his enemies like King Saul. How did he show so much restraint?

Answer: he showed public restraint because he let his frustration out privately, in prayer. Read Psalm 109. Seriously – read it. Hear what it says. It will curl your hair. Get that authentic in your prayer life and your frustration will run its course long before you get to the meeting or the phone call with the person you’re angry with.

2. Separate the person from the problem. It’s tempting in leadership to think that the person is the problem. Don’t. Separate the two. If you make the problem the focus of your attention, you even have a shot at recruiting your ‘opponents’ to help you attack it.  Sometimes, enemies become allies. And even if they don’t, you’ve unleashed your leadership on a problem and allowed people to disagree with dignity.

3. Wait. When it comes to conflict, almost everything gets better overnight. Don’t respond in the moment. Don’t answer that email yet. When someone attacks you publicly, don’t respond. Go home. Pray about it. Sleep on it. Talk to God (and a friend) about it. Wake up the next morning, and handle it then. You’ll respond with far more grace, wisdom and humility. I promise.

4. Take the high road. The high road isn’t the easy road, but it is the best road. It is so difficult but so worth it. The emotions that make you want to respond in kind will leave you feeling good for ten minutes. And they’ll also leave you regretting what you did for ten years. So don’t.  When I’ve been in my most difficult moments leading change, there are days where I just silently repeated “Take the high road, take the high road, take the high road” to myself until I decided to do it. In those moments, I’ve been so glad I did.

Leading change without crushing people is as much about your personal conduct as it is about anything else. The other strategies in Leading Change Without Losing It can lead you throw the how of organizational change. But when it comes to not crushing people, it’s all about the how of you.

Those are some things I’ve learned. What has helped you? What questions remain? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!


For your chance to win a free copy of the book during launch week, tweet about the book, this post or change using the hashtag #changebook. Then, on Monday, December 17th I’ll select three winners who used the #changebook hashtag on twitter:

  1. Two will win a free copy of the book.
  2. One winner will win
    1. Copies of the book for their entire team (up to twelve copies);  and
    2. A one hour video consultation with me to work through your specific change scenario with you.

Thanks for helping us spread the word.

3 Options When the Leadership Decision Isn't Easy

This is Part 3 of a 5 part blog series designed to answer your questions on leading change. It’s part of Change Week – from December 10-17th.

We’re celebrating the release of my new book Leading Change Without Losing It with a special, limited time 50% discount for Kindle and iBooks (or here for iBooks Canada). Plus we have some giveways and more (see below). Thank you for helping the book to become an Amazon bestseller in week one. It’s truly incredible!

Leading Change blog

You don’t get into leadership to make the easy decisions.

I mean sure, at some level it would be nice to have the implications of each decision spelled out so clearly that it takes seconds to make the decision. But, as we say, if that was the case, you wouldn’t need leaders. Anyone could make that call.

Your world isn’t black and white. It’s not right and wrong. Often the choice is far from simple.

And – let’s be honest – half the time you don’t really know what to do. Because the decision isn’t easy.

Snarling things even further, you have numerous voices coming at you claiming to know the way forward. And if you’re like me, sometimes you don’t know who to listen to.

Complicate that with this: when it’s change you’re talking about, the stakes are quite high. Listen to the wrong voice, you could end up taking hundreds or thousands of people down the wrong path.


This tension is framed well by Billy from Michigan. He asks about what to do when the choices you have to make when leading change are difficult:

How do you handle leading change when the opposition is wanting to do really good, Biblical things that are still pulling people and resources away from the strategy you’re trying to implement that’s also really good and Biblical? Especially when it’s not a choice of ‘good versus great’, but simply, this is where we’ve decided to go and the method we’re choosing to get there and unfortunately, even though what you’re trying to do is not ‘bad’, it’s increasingly divisive.

I actually spend an entire chapter of Leading Change Without Losing It on this exact issue (Strategy 3: Find a Filter). But let me answer it from a slightly different, and shorter angle now.

To make it simple, you have three options.

Option 1.  Make no decision. Sadly, this is what many leaders do. Faced with competing voices and competing visions, they refuse to choose one over another because it would mean wading into the inevitable conflict that would follow if they made a choice. They just retreat.

When you fail to make a decision, organizational drift and paralysis follow. The whole group gets stuck, and leaders (who are waiting for you to lead) drift away in search of someone who will lead them. Everyone loses.

Option 2. Try to please everyone. This is only a slight variation of option 1. Leaders who try to please everyone will bend their vision until it isn’t a vision anymore, only a compromise. Of course you realize what you end up doing: pleasing no one. But that doesn’t matter. Because people pleasers always choose the short term gain that results in long term pain.

Option 3. Separate the competing visions, and choose one. Essentially, when you have several ‘good visions’ the problem you face is not choosing between the ‘good’ one and the ‘bad’ one. The bad visions were eliminated or disappeared long ago. The reason choosing between good visions is so difficult is that most leaders don’t have the courage to simply pick one and run with it. So you resort to options 1 and 2.

The best thing you can do is prayerfully consult with wise counsel and pick a vision.

Just decide. And then move on.

Release those who want to pursue another vision and strategy (they’ll probably join another organization or church or form one of their own), and then move into the future with an aligned team.  Rally the troops. Cast vision. Give thanks. And march forward into a better future, unified.

By the way, you don’t need to:

Claim you heard from God and you are right and everyone else is wrong. You aren’t more godly than they are. And they might also have heard from God.

Assume you have a ‘better’ strategy than everyone else. Others don’t have to be wrong for you to be right. It doesn’t have to be the ‘right’ way. It’s just your way – the way you feel called to do it.

Pretend that you position possesses an iron-clad logic that no one can dismantle. Tried this. Doesn’t work. Actually your decision is probably faithful but arbitrary. Just be honest. You just decided.

So...just decide. And then move on.

Ironically, with strong leadership like that, some of the others might return one day…grateful that someone is going somewhere. And for the others, wish them well. They’re not worse than you or your new tribe, just different.

Will this work? Well, maybe. The ultimate test of leadership comes down the road when you look over your shoulder and see if anyone is following.

If not, you made the wrong call or made the right call the wrong way.

And if you made the right call the right way, the future is bright.

Either way, you broke the stalemate.



For your chance to win a free copy of the book during launch week, tweet about the book, this post or change using the hashtag #changebook. Then, on Monday, December 17th I’ll select three winners who used the #changebook hashtag on twitter:

  1. Two will win a free copy of the book.
  2. One winner will win
    1. Copies of the book for their entire team (up to twelve copies);  and
    2. A one hour video consultation with me to work through your specific change scenario with you.

Thanks for helping us spread the word. I pray it makes a difference in many, many lives.