From Leadership

Why The Way The Church Talks About Sex Does More Harm Than Good

How are you talking about sex at your church (or with your kids…or with your friends) these days?

Or are you talking about it?

Sometimes when we don’t know what to say, we say nothing. Or we say the wrong thing.

Yet our culture is talking about sex every…single…day. And increasingly, they’re talking about how the church is talking about it.

The way we talk about sex, marriage and family is coming under greater and greater scrutiny.

This is true whether Christians are addressing same-sex attraction, sex outside of marriage or marriage itself.sex

For the record, I believe that the context God designed for sex is between a man and woman, married to each other for life.

I also realize that fewer and fewer people share that conviction with each passing year. Increasingly, the view I hold is the view of a small minority. I understand that.

But the fact that some church leaders hold a minority view means the way we talk about it becomes more important every year.

Consequently, I’m convinced that how we talk about sex needs to change.

Given the tone of some of the current dialogue, the damage done by the way we talk about sex may actually rival the damage done by sex outside of marriage itself (or inside marriage…married sex isn’t always harmless sex).

I don’t say that lightly.

So what needs to change?

I’m not sure anyone’s cracked the code on this, but here are a few things I think could help us create a dialogue that helps more and hurts less in the church.

1. Don’t just talk about sexual sin, talk about church sin too.

Everyone has sins they focus on and sins they ignore.

The tendency, of course, is to focus on the sins of others and ignore your own.

The church is no different.

So here’s a proposal:

Deal with the church sin everyone in the church seems to tolerate.

Let me explain.

When you explore a passage like Galatians 5: 16-26, you notice that included in the same list that speaks of sexual sins is a long list of what I call church sins.

Church sins are sins Christians engage in all the time that frankly, no one talks about or addresses.

Right alongside sexual immorality, impurity and ‘wild parties’, Paul lists:

hostility

quarreling

jealousy

outbursts of anger

selfish ambition

dissension

division

envy

jealousy

arrogance

If you add gossip and gluttony to the list, you’ve pretty much got a complete list of church sins we too often tolerate.

This list of sins actually describes the life of too many churches and too many people who would declare themselves to be ‘mature’ Christians. (I wrote about why we need a new definition of Christian maturity here, and shared some thoughts on what’s wrong with Christian discipleship here.)

We are so blind to our own sin that we not only tolerate them, we sometimes celebrate them.

What do I mean?

Too many prayer meetings are thinly disguised gossip marathons.

Many churches could easily call their next potluck Gluttonfest. It wouldn’t be inaccurate.

More than a few Christians justify division, dissension, hostility, quarrelling and jealousy in the name of being ‘right’.

This is terrible. It really is.

And before you think I’m pointing fingers, I’m not.

I have gossipped.

I have eaten too much too often.

I have caused division and hurt.

I struggle with envy.

I can be arrogant.

Don’t get me wrong…sexual sin has some heartbreaking consequences.

But so does church sin. Seriously, just look at the state of the church today where church sin gets neglected and you will see droves of people staying away and walking away.

So…what if church leaders:

Never talked about sexual sin unless we also addressed church sin?

It would reframe the conversation.

It might even change some hearts. Including ours.

 

2. Deal with church sin…seriously.

So do you never deal with someone else’s sin?

Well, you do. But we’re not nearly there yet.

Before dealing with someone else’s sexual sin, deal with the church sin that lives inside you and your community.

If we keep reading Galatians 5 we can see that Paul had an astounding picture of the church in mind. Here’s what he said:

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:

love

joy

peace

patience

kindness

goodness

faithfulness

gentleness, and

self-control

There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” (Galatians 5: 22-24 NLT)

So think about it.

Why would someone struggling with their sexuality want to come into a place of judgment, anger, division, gossip and arrogance?

That’s right. They wouldn’t.

But they might want to find a place of love, kindness, faithfulness and maybe even a place characterized by self-control.

Ironically, the very thing most people look for when they express themselves sexually is acceptance and love. And it’s the very thing they are rarely able to find among many Christians.

Could you imagine if the church got serious about our sins?

What if we repented?

What if we became a community of truth and grace?

What if?

 

3. Put your arm around people as though you were one of them…because you are.

Paul called himself the chief of sinners.

People outside the church today have no doubt that people inside the church are sinners. They just don’t think that we think we’re sinners.

Too often when we open our mouths, we accuse.

We condemn. We confront.

What if we changed that?

What if we came alongside people and said “I know what it’s like…it’s hard isn’t it?”

I always try to start a conversation by saying something like “We all have issues. Some of mine may be different than yours, and some may be the same, but I know what’s like to mess up. Let me know if you want to have a conversation about it.”

It’s amazing what happens when you change your stance, put your arm around someone and say “Let’s figure this out together.” I don’t always get it right, but I try.

Church leaders, put your arm around people as though you were one of them. Because you are.

 

What Do You Think?

I realize this is a complex and difficult subject. I’d love to know what you’re doing that has helped advance the dialogue about sex and sin in the church.

I’ll be monitoring the comments on this post carefully (be polite, be respectful), but please scroll down and leave a comment.

I’d love for us to learn together on this.

3 Battles Every Leader Loses…Every Time

Most days you try to win battles as a leader, don’t you?

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.

But there are several battles leaders lose…every time. Even if you desperately try to convince yourself you’re winning.

Fighting any of those?

Your might be. How would you know?

leadership battle

How Did This Happen Again?

If you end up fighting these battles, you will fight them because for two reasons:

You’re young and haven’t seen that these are self-defeating characteristics yet. That’s not slamming young leaders…I’m just saying that they really do live in most of us until we weed them out.

You’re simply not self-aware. (If you want to grow in self-awareness, it’s possible. I wrote more about how to become a self-aware leader here.)

Each of these battles arise because of a leader’s insecurity.

Most of us are insecure at some level. And an insecure leader is always a less effective leader.

If you’re not sure whether you’re a secure leader, check out these 5 signs you’re an insecure leader here.

Conversely, the more secure you are as a leader, the more likely you are to win these battles by changing your approach to leadership.

3 Battles Every Leader Loses…Every Time

Here are 3 self-defeating battles every leader loses…every time:

1. Creating An Organization That Exists For Your Benefit. 

It’s very natural to be selfish, and if you lead the way many do, you can fall into the trap of believing that the organization exists for the benefit of the leader.

People work for you. You don’t work for them.

Perks flow up, not down.

You feel like the rules should apply to others, but not you.

You feel entitled to inflict your emotions on the people around you, even if they’re negative or destructive.

Sometimes pastors and church leaders behave like that. Rather than existing to serve, they exist to be served.

The leader who places himself above his team eventually has no team, or at least a team not worth joining—just a bunch of minions doing his or her bidding.

And while you can sometimes get away with that style of leadership—even in the church—it certainly doesn’t reflect the heart of Christ.  You might not even really be the church when you lead like that. I would suggest you are not.

If you’re really selfish, there’s a surprise coming at the end:

A life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone. 

All the joy you expected to find from having everything revolve around you doesn’t really satisfy nearly as much as you’d hoped.

Try to create an organization that exists for your benefit, and you lose. Worse though, is that everybody else does too.

2. Seeking Affirmation From the People You Lead

Most of us have some people pleasing tendencies in us. I know I have to fight mine. (If it helps, I outlined 5 ways people-pleasing undermines your leadership here.)

I don’t know who I originally heard this principle from, but I’ve never forgotten it. It’s a simple but profound truth:

Never seek affirmation from the people you lead. 

If you seek affirmation from the people you lead, it messes with the very dynamic that will make you effective. And they can smell your insecurity a mile away.

And yet insecure leaders seek affirmation from the people they lead all the time:

Did they like my last series/meeting/memo?

Do they appreciate me?

How come I don’t get more gratitude more often?

Here’s the gut-honest truth: the people you lead directly will always applaud you a little less than those who know you less well.

Let me say it again. The people you lead will always applaud you a little less than those who know you less well.

And that’s okay.

Why?

Two reasons:

First, they see you in a way people who know you from a distance don’t. They see you for who you really are: flaws and all.

Second, your job is to serve and lead them, not to have them nurse your fragile self-esteem.

Because I write a speak publicly, there are days where my inbox will fill up with thank you’s from people I’ve never met who read my blog or listen to my podcast or were at a talk I gave, and at the same time fill up with emails and texts from the staff and team I lead at home outlining the problems I need to help solve.

It can be tempting to think: why don’t the people I lead send me more thank you notes, (even though they do from time time)?

Easy. Because my job isn’t to get people to like or appreciate me.

My job is to lead them. To serve them. To love them. To help them succeed.

So I smile if I get notes from people…I’m actually very thankful. But then I roll up my sleeves and get to work.

So what should you do for affirmation?

The best affirmation to seek is of course, the affirmation of your heavenly father. Your spouse can’t be your perpetual confidence booster. Nor can your team.

Deal with your junk. Go see a counselor. Become more secure. Remember, you are called to serve, not to be served.

Don’t look to your team for gratitude, fish for compliments or wait for your inbox to fill up with sunshine.

Be honest about your mistakes, seek to improve. Be open to feedback. Listen. Change. Grow.

Then you’ll lead well.

3.  Keeping Smarter, Better People Away from You

You need a great deal of security to invite leaders who are better than you into your church or organization.

And the truth is, many leaders won’t.

They won’t allow a better speaker to fill in when they’re not speaking.

They won’t hire a better communicator as an associate, or allow a better communicator to speak to their team via video.

They won’t hire someone who’s more gifted or talented than they are.

The expect volunteers to do tasks, but not think, let alone contribute.

They won’t have elders or board members around a table who will challenge them.

If you lead like this, first of all, you really aren’t a leader.

And secondly, you won’t be surrounded by leaders. They’ll all leave.

The best way I know how to get over this fear that most of us naturally have is to do what Andy Stanley has suggested:

Celebrate what God has given others; leverage what God has given you.

You may not be as smart/fluent/funny/insightful as some other leaders. But that’s okay. You bring a unique contribution in some way. Celebrate what they bring. Leverage what you bring.

Everyone will be far better off.

What Do You Think?

These are three battles every leader loses every time.

Which ones are you fighting?

What battles have you seen leaders lose?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

CNLP 005: When Leadership Ruins Your Family: How to Live and Lead Differently—An Interview with Craig Jutila

Sometimes leadership makes you hard to live with.

Ever felt that in your family?

Craig Jutila, a key ministry leader at one of America’s largest churches, went home one day to find his wife had written “I hate my husband” in her journal.

Craig talks honestly and openly about how he had to learn how to lead and live differently, saving his marriage and his future as a leader.

Welcome to Episode 5 of the podcast.

Guest Links: Craig Jutila

Find and follow Craig Jutila here:

Craig on Twitter

Craig on Facebook

Empowered Living (Craig’s blog)

Links Mentioned in This Episode

The links and resources mentioned in this episode include:

From Hectic to Healthy: The Journey to a Balanced Life by Craig Jutila and Mary Jutila

Faith and the Modern Family: How to Raise a Healthy Family in a “Modern Family” World by Craig Jutila

7 Painful Truths About Burnout and Leadership

9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Leadership

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Getting Back

CNLP 002: How Perry Noble Hit Bottom While Pastoring One of America’s Largest Churches & How He Battled Back

Carey & Toni Nieuwhof’s story of their marriage: Like it Or Love It Series Part 3, “Command Performance”

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Craig’s interview was full of great advice.

While there’s so much you could do after listening to Craig’s story, here are 3 things you can begin this week:

1. Start writing regularly in a journal. Honestly express yourself. As leaders, we’re often left in lonely, isolating situations because we can’t communicate freely with our team or our friends, especially when they attend our church. Get a journal and write. Give yourself a safe, personal outlet to work through your ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

2. Find a counselor. As Craig mentions in the interview, a counselor doesn’t have always be a professional, but you need to be share the depths of your heart and struggles with someone. Most often, it will be your spouse or a close friend, but there are times when a situation requires expert support. Regardless, find someone you trust and share your experiences openly. It’s another great way to avoid the isolation that often plagues leaders.

3. Read a book with tips and tools for your situation. If you’re a leader whose family is suffering because you’re struggling to create boundaries at church, get Craig Jutila’s book From Hectic to Healthy, Overwhelmed by Perry Noble or Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud.  Whatever your situation, there’s a resource that can help you start the journey to restoration. Take a small step today, find expert support in a book, and set time aside to implement 2-3 practices you learn.

You may also find Episode 2 of my podcast with Perry Noble helpful. In it, Perry describes how he burned out leading one of America’s largest and fastest growing churches, and battled suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety to lead again. Craig and Perry’s stories have remarkable similarities—and some differences—that will help almost every leader lead better.

Finally, if you want to ask Craig a question or connect with him personally, he has graciously offered his email. Email him at craig@whowillyouempower.com.

Quotes to Share from Craig

 

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Let’s Have Lunch In Indianapolis or Texas || Orange Tour 2014

I’m going to be in Indianapolis on Thursday October 16 and Friday October 17th for the 2014 Orange Tour. Then, I’ll be visiting Texas for the Orange Tour stops in Austin (November 3-4) and Dallas (November 6-7).

I’ll be giving some keynotes and doing some breakouts on parenting, leadership and the church, and hosting a lunch for senior leaders. I’d love to hang out. Sign up below!

2014 Orange Tour

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Indianapolis Orange Tour Stop

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Austin Orange Tour Stop

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Dallas Orange Tour Stop

Next Episode: Tony Morgan

Ever wonder if your team—or how you lead your team—is keeping your church from growing? It very well might be the case.

In next week’s episode, Tony Morgan reveals how your volunteer and staff team can keep your church from growing, or how a great team can help it grow.

With a ton of practical tips for leaders of small, mid-sized and very large churches, don’t miss Episode 006 next week with Tony Morgan. It goes live Tuesday, October 21st 2014.

Subscribe to the Podcast

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Got 60 Seconds? Rate the Podcast.

Hopefully this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast in iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

We’ve had over 100 reviews so far across all platform. Leave one and I may feature yours on my podcast page. I read every one and appreciate them all! Thank you for being so awesome.

Got a question?

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Some Quick & Dirty Leadership Lessons I Learned When I Bought the Massive iPhone 6 Plus

So I’m a bit addicted to technology.

How about you?

My guess is a relatively high number of you are too.

According to my Google Analytics, half of the people who read this blog read it on their phone. Another 20% read it on their tablet. So, like me, you like your tech. (By the way, if you don’t know those number for your church website and blog, you should…and you should design your content and layout accordingly.)

So when the iPhone 6 was announced, I was super excited. Faster, bigger, sleeker. Count me in. (Yes, I’m that superficial.)

I got up extra early the morning the phones were available for pre-order online and, after two hours of finding only crashed websites, finally got through and ordered mine.

I went for it, and ordered the massive 6 Plus.

I think I learned as much (or more) about change in the ensuring weeks than I did about phones.

iPhone 6 plus, leadership, change

5 Quick and Dirty Leadership Lessons About Change

I’m a student of change, and have even written a book on it. It amazes me how much the dynamics of change surface in every day life.

And if you become a student of those dynamics, you will learn how to lead change better when it counts.

So here’s what I’ve learned from my decision to get the biggest-yet iPhone 6 Plus.

1. Nobody is as excited about the change you want to make as you are.

I LOVE technology. I love new technology even more.

When I finally got the phone I was like a kid at Christmas.

I realize that other people were excited too. Apple sold 10 million 6 and 6 Pluses in the first 72 hours after they went on sale.

But, clearly, I was not personally surrounded by all 10 million people in my immediate circle.

Lots of people I know were not so excited.

Didn’t you just get one last year? (Yes I did. But I’m dumb enough to buy again.)

It’s really not that different than other phones. (Okay, but it’s bigger, right?)

It’s just a phone. (And you’re just a person.)

Principle: Whenever you introduce change, few people will be excited about it as you are.

That’s okay. Really.

If it’s a good change, it will catch on. Just keep going.

Just be prepared for indifference and ridicule.

Speaking of ridicule, on to point 2.

2. People Make Fun of Different

Android fans pointed out that my phone has the same features theirs did two years ago.

People who still send their mail with stamps asked me whether my phone bent yet.

Others who saw it asked how I liked my new iPad.

I mostly just smiled.

To those who persisted, I pointed out that Consumer’s Reports ran independent testing to show that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are no more bendable than most phones on the market. And that if mine did, I’m sure Apple would replace it.

Principle: Every change is met with resistance, even ridicule. Just get that.

As Arthur Schopenauer said:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Almost everything new you try—if it pushes the envelope of what people are used to—will be met with opposition.

So, when it comes to critics, don’t play their game. Play yours.

3.If the change is truly different, you’ll think you made a mistake.

I got the case for my phone two weeks before my phone shipped.

It was…massive. I began to think I’d made a mistake.

Then the phone arrived. It was huge.

For the first day I thought “I can’t believe I spend all this money on something so big…should have gotten the 6 like everyone else I know.”

That line of thinking lasted about a day, as I’ll explain.

Just know if the change you’re embracing is radical, at some point even you’ll think you made a mistake.

4. Mastering new features makes the experience much better.

I always think the way you use a device within the first ten days of getting it will determine how you use it forever.

The human brain longs for the familiar and will try to get you onto a familiar course as soon as possible, often at the expense of exploring all the possibilities in front of you. I wrote about creating whole new patterns for your life based on this principle in this post.

So I try to learn all the new features and rethink how I use technology before I settle in to a new pattern.

I read tutorials, watch videos and try to master new ways of using the product.

For you iPhone 6 Plus users, the key for me was to shift the centre of gravity from the base of my palm (where I usually rested older phones) to the centre of my hand. Once I did that, I could access any part of the screen with my thumb. Voila.

Plus I’m trying to master all the tips and tricks of iOS8 that the 6 Plus was built for. Here’s a handy article on the iPhone 6 and iOS8 to help you and couple of 6 Plus hacks that can help.

5. If it’s a good change, it doesn’t take long to not want to go back.

After my one day of “why did I order such a big phone?”, I quickly became a fan of it.

I do have relatively big hands and fat thumbs. Love the keyboard! It’s big.

Probably the best thing is that the screen is big enough that I can easily read iBooks and Kindle on my phone, not just my iPad.  I always found my old phones frustrating because you could only get a couple of paragraphs of text on a screen at once.

Now, because my phone is always with me and really is my go-to device, I think that’s going to mean more quality books read and less time wasted meaninglessly meandering through apps.

Just a week into it, I don’t want to go back. In fact, when I hold a smaller phone, it now seems strange to me.

The point: spend enough time adapting to change and you will find a new and better normal.

I think you can see the parallels between something as trivial as a phone and some of the big changes you want to bring about.

And if you want to read more about mastering the dynamics of change when people oppose it, check out my book on that subject here.

What are you learning about change these days?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

What Self-Aware Leaders Know…That Others Don’t

So…how self-aware are you?

It’s a skill I’ve been trying to build every year for many years as a leader, husband and friend.

Here’s why.

I realized awhile ago that self-awareness is a characteristic I’m drawn to in people I work with and do life with.

In fact I try to get as many self-aware people on board any team I’m building as possible and personally prefer the company of self-aware people to those who aren’t.

Before that sounds too discriminatory, the good news is self-awareness is a skill and it can be learned.

If you want to grow your self-awareness, you can. If you want to develop your team’s self-awareness, you can.

You just need to know what to look for.

self-awareness

Self-Awareness is A Key To Emotional Intelligence

About 20 years ago, Daniel Goleman rocked the leadership world with a new theory: that emotional intelligence was as or more important to success than intellectual intelligence.

His theory on emotional intelligence is now commonly now called EQ (although Goleman prefers the term EI, not EQ), and many organizations are hiring for EQ as much as they are for IQ or other more traditional hard skill sets.

Goleman identified 5 main components for emotional intelligence, chief of which is self-awareness (you can read about the other four here).

If you want to dramatically improve the climate in your church or organization, hire and recruit self-aware, emotionally intelligent people.

For example, if you had a choice to invite a self-aware leader who had a B+ gift set on to your team, and a leader with an A gift set on to your team who wasn’t self-aware, whom would you choose?

For me, it’s not much of a contest. I’ll take the self-aware leader.

They tend to make a bigger impact in their leadership and they are MUCH easier to work with.

Four Simple But Surprising Things Self-Aware Leaders Know

So what do self-aware people know that other leaders don’t?

In my experience, there are four things. The four things are simple when you think about it, but it’s surprising how many people and leaders lead day to day strangely unaware of them:

1. Their impact on others

Of all the characteristics of self-aware people, this is the most endearing.

Self-aware people understand their own emotions and actions AND the impact of their emotions and actions on others.

That sounds simple, but the implications are staggering.

Think about it. How many times have you had a bad day only to not know why you’re having a bad day?

And then how many times has your mysteriously bad day had a negative impact on your spouse, your kids and your co-workers?

Far too often, right?

Me too. That’s what self-awareness and emotional intelligence starts to address in leaders. It stops that.

Self-aware leaders refuse to let a bad day on the inside spill out to others on the outside. Self-aware people just don’t have many of those days.

Sure…they might not feel great. But they realize their mood has an impact on others, and they regulate it.

Who doesn’t want to be around people like that?

If you struggle with your mood (and how doesn’t?), here are a few ways to handle it:

Be the first to recognize it.

Pray about it.

Regulate it.

Be more interested in other people that day than you are in yourself. (This really helps.)

If you want to become more emotionally intelligent, be aware of the impact of your emotions on others.

2. Their weaknesses

Nobody likes to admit they have weaknesses, but we all do.

The longer I lead, the more I realize how small my sweet spot really is (for me it’s content creation, communication, vision casting and team recruitment…it’s all downhill from those four).

Self-aware people understand their weaknesses and limit their activities in areas for which they are not gifted.

This does two things:

It creates space for others to shine.

It allows them to spend most of their time working from their strengths.

It takes real humility for a leader to admit where they are not strong, but that characteristic is often endearing.

If you want to become more self-aware, understand your weaknesses and start acting accordingly. Your team will be so much better for it.

3. Their strengths

While it may take humility to acknowledge your weaknesses, it doesn’t take arrogance to acknowledge your strengths.

Someone who understands their strengths is not inherently egotistical; they’re just self-aware; arrogant people can just as easily work out of their weaknesses as their strengths.

So…don’t be afraid of understanding and leading from your strengths.

Self-aware people know what they’re best at, but don’t brag. They just do it.

4. Their limits

Everyone has limits. As much as some of us push back on them, they’re still there.

Self-aware people know what level their tank is at and behave accordingly.

When they need a break, they take one. When they’re tired, they acknowledge it and take responsibility for getting some rest. When they are running on all cylinders, they give whatever they’ve got to whatever they do.

Again, everyone benefits: co-workers, their team and even their family.

Ironically, a leader who knows where their limits are often operates at much closer to their limit than a leader who has no idea that they’re tired, over capacity or heading for a crash.

Want to know how to refuel?

Don’t miss my leadership podcast episode on burnout with Perry Noble (Perry burnt out and came back), and here’s an article on how to bring your best to the table every day.

Worried about your limits? Here’s a post that outlines 9 signs you’re burning out.

What Do You Think?

So what have you learned in working with self-aware people…or with leaders who are not self-aware?

What’s helped you grow as a leader?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

5 Things You Can Do When Your Current Team Isn’t the Right Team

So…have you got the right team?

I hear from leaders all the time who say things like

I feel like we just don’t have the right leaders in place.

I’ve got a vision, but I just can’t get it past my team.

If only we had better people, we’d see a turnaround.

Sometimes leaders will say “Yeah…sure, I’ve got a good team”.

But deep down they’re far from sure. They know it needs to change, but how?

Whether you’re dealing with a staff or volunteer situation, there are almost always people who you know shouldn’t be on the team, so what do you do?

team

They’re Not All Bad People…Just Not the Right People

It’s hard to figure out who the right people are when you’re in leadership.

In my early days in leadership, I saw things as more black and white. And I made the mistake of personalizing misalignment or disagreement.

You were in or you were out.

You were with us or you were against us.

You were right or you were wrong.

Those views didn’t always leak out publicly, but sometimes they did. And while my views were more nuanced than that, there was more black and white in how I saw opponents than was healthy.

I’ve come to see people very differently over my tenure as a leader.

Just because you disagree with me or our vision doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just might mean you’re not right for our team in this season.

The only class of people I think every leader needs to be extremely cautious of are what I call toxic people.

You need to stay away from them and keep them off your team, whatever the cost. The stakes are just too high.

But truly toxic people might represent 1% of the population. (By the way, here are 6 early warning signs you’re dealing with a toxic person.)

Most people aren’t toxic.  But that doesn’t mean they are right for your team.

 

Why Some People Just Don’t Work Out

It’s easy to demonize people you don’t want to work with You’re not always right…and they’re not always wrong. 

Sometimes you have the wrong people with the right gifting. That’s often a chemistry or character issue.

Sometimes you have the right people with the wrong gifting. That’s often a competency issue.

Sometimes you have great people with a different vision and different calling. That’s simply a calling issue.

They could be great somewhere else. They just might not be great for your team or organization.

In fact, they would be better off and you would be better off if they moved off.

So how do you do that?

That’s the critical question.

 

5 Things You Can Do When Your Current Team Isn’t the Right Team

The following principles really work best if you’re going to be in an organization for 5 years or more. I think long term tenure is the best option by far for impact in ministry…here’s why.

Because I’m a church leader, I’ve crafted these for use in a volunteer organization. If you were merely dealing with paid staff, you could effect change faster.

That said, you can get a new team in place within 2 years and have your culture changed radically within 5 years, even in a slow moving church culture. At least that’s been my experience 19 years into leadership.

1. Get permission to find some fresh leaders

Chances are the team you have when you started is a team you inherited.

Even if you’re working in a church plant or start up, cracks in your launch team become visible within a year. You likely want to make changes.

It’s bad leadership to do end runs around people.

When I started 19 years ago leading three small churches that were (honestly) dying, we started with an honest conversation.

We talked honestly about the need for a new day, and they bought into the idea of creating a new team to run alongside them filled with the best leadership I could find in the church. The purpose of the team? To create a plan for a better future for our church that they, the elders, could approve or revise.

I realize a lot of you might think “that will never work in my context.” I get that.

But doing an end run around your current leadership behind the scenes creates a culture of mistrust you will never escape.

And if they say no after you have an honest, humble, prayerful set of conversations…well, you then know where you stand.

Maybe you’re the member of the team that doesn’t fit. And it’s time to move on.

But you’ll be surprised how often they see the issues you see, and are relieved you’re leading them to a new day.

2. Find the kind of leaders you can build the future of the church on

Sometimes you need to work outside the existing leadership to build a better future.

Do it honestly and openly.

I built a vision team when I first started in those three churches. I found the most future-thinking kind of people I could find and called them together with our most progressive existing leadership to carve out a future.

My simple criteria: are these the kind of people we can build the future of the church on?

If you start asking that question, you’ll be amazed at how clarifying it is about who you need to recruit into leadership.

3. Affirm people. Attack problems.

Your attitude is as important as the action you take when leading change.

It’s easy to attack people. That’s always a mistake.

Affirm people, attack problems.

If you do this, you will win over many friends, leave people with their dignity AND you will learn something in the process. You’re not always right.

Best yet, when you attack problems, you can often find that some people who were off-mission become on-mission because they are galvinized around a clear problem and call to action.

You’ll be surprised at how many great things happen when you attack problems, not people. I explain this concept in great detail in my book about how to lead change in the face of opposition.

4. Honour the past without living in it.

You will feel a temptation to dismiss everything that happened before you became the leader as ‘bad’ or inferior.

Don’t.

Stay in leadership long enough, and you’ll realize you’ve done some things that are actually bad or inferior too.

The people you inherited as a leader were often doing their best.

The team you have now probably cares deeply about what they’re doing.

Honour that. Affirm that.

Even if they are not the kind of people you can build the future of the church on. Let them know how much you appreciate their hard work, commitment and dedication. Here’s the truth, you would not be standing on anything right now as a leader if they had given up long ago. At least you have a foundation on which to build.

So honour them.

Honour the past without living in it.

Leverage what has been to help usher in what will be.

We ushered in massive change in the first 5 years of my leadership in a local church. We changed pretty much everything.

Some people left. But many stayed. At a conference I did one year, we brought up everyone who had been at the church when I started and celebrated them as ‘The Originals” —people who paved the way for a better future and were committed to bringing it about.  They got a standing ovation from the crowd gathered that day.

Even though most of them were no longer in the leadership role they used to be in, they felt honoured because they were honoured.

5. Find new seats for people.

Just because someone shouldn’t be on staff anymore, or isn’t an elder anymore, people of character will stay on and serve in different roles more suited to their gifting if you give them the chance.

Sure…some will leave.

A friend of mine once told me “What people become involved in becomes the mission.” And this is true. That’s why so many people leave a church when they no longer serve in it (I wrote about 9 reasons why this happens in this post).

Your job as a leader is to help them find a new seat on the bus that fits them better than their current role.

The best way to do that is to honour them and keep talking about the urgency of a mission and vision.

And if the person or group you’re working with isn’t toxic, often they are excited to still support the mission and vision in a new role.

If it turns out their service was all about them and not about the mission and vision, you’ll learn that soon enough: they won’t take another seat. But again, you’ll be surprised how many will.

Do these 5 steps guarantee everyone will stay? Not a chance.

But many will.

And they can help you build a new team when your current team isn’t the right team.

And practicing them over the years has led me to the place where I am thrilled with the team of staff and volunteer leaders we have.

What are you learning about getting the right people in place?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

5 Ways Your Emotions Help and Hurt Your Leadership

I had a blah day earlier this week.

Nothing terrible happened. There was no direct trigger.

I just didn’t feel great emotionally.

Chances are you have more than a few of those days yourself.

Sometimes they’re provoked (a nasty email, conflict on your team, a difficult meeting) and sometimes they’re not. For me, my blah day wasn’t provoked by anything I could see.

Sometimes bad days and seasons just happens. As John Mayer so poignantly puts it:

When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask.
It just walks in, where it left you last.
And you never know, when it starts
Until there’s fog inside the glass around your summer heart.

So many leaders I meet live in that space for more than a short season.

I believe misunderstood and unaddressed emotions sink more leadership potential than most of us realize.

And I also realize if I don’t jump on a bad day quickly, it can lead to a bad season.

If you don’t understand your emotions or know how to manage them, you will never reach your leadership potential.

So how do you do that?

emotions, leadership

There are at least five ways emotions can help you or hurt you in leadership.

Understanding how emotions can work for you or against you is key to becoming a healthy leader and cultivating a healthy culture on your team.

2 Ways Emotions Help You

Emotions can be great friends to any leader. Here are two ways your emotions can make you a better leader:

1. Emotion fuels passion.

Who wants to follow an emotionless leader?

There is no passion without emotion.

As John Wesley said

Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to see you burn.

That’s just true.

You are attracted to people who are passionate, or at least you can’t easily dismiss them.

When you lead with passion, teach with passion and preach with passion, your leadership becomes far more magnetic.

Plus, passion ends up fueling you. It’s what makes you get out of bed in the morning and drives you on.

When your emotions are healthy, passion comes more naturally.

2. A fully alive heart generates powerful leadership.

When your heart is engaged and alive, you become a better leader.

When you feel a full range of emotions (both positive and negative) you can empathize with people who are hurting and celebrate with people who are celebrating.

You can walk with a group or congregation through a hard time and celebrate joyfully in the great moments.

To do that, you need to keep your heart healthy and in tune.

I wrote about the top 10 habits of leaders who effectively guard their hearts here.

3 Ways Emotions Hurt You

Often, the negative impact of emotions exacts an incredible toll on leaders and the people who follow them.

Here are 3 ways emotions can hurt your leadership:

1. Emotions can distort reality.

When you’re having a bad day, you convince yourself it’s over when it’s actually just beginning.

You see negative things more negatively than they should. You take things personally when you shouldn’t.

Even positive emotions can hurt you when they are detached from reality. If you’re overly positive, you can ignore reality, miss impending dangers and gloss over problems that actually require your attention.

That’s why keeping a healthy heart is so important.

2. Negative emotions make everything about you.

Bad days or bad seasons are most often fuelled by pain. A stinging email triggers a deep hurt. A bad staff situation eats away at your joy. A season without momentum erodes your self-confidence.

You end as a leader in pain. And pain is selfish.

In the same way that stubbing your toe makes you forget about whatever else you were doing until the pain is resolved, your emotional pain (no matter its source) makes you more selfish as a leader.

People in pain

Don’t listen well to others.

Withdraw and sulk.

Blame others.

Eventually turn every conversation to a conversation about themselves and their needs.

Want others to share their misery or sadness.

Seek attention.

All of that behaviour is selfish.

And selfish leaders are never effective leaders.

The best way to get rid of your selfishness? Get rid of your pain.

Pray about it. See a counsellor. Drill down on your issues.

3. Emotions make you do things today that you’ll regret tomorrow.

When emotions drive decisions, you almost never make great decisions.

For sure, great decision making is a combination of the head and the heart.

But think about all the terrible decisions you’ve made when you were emotional:

You said terrible things.

You fired someone you wish you hadn’t.

You hired someone you wish you hadn’t.

You lost your temper in a meeting.

You broke up.

You ate too much.

You drove so fast you got a killer ticket.

You almost quit.

You did quit.

Years ago—largely because I learned not to trust my emotions—I made a decision: Don’t base tomorrow’s decision on today’s emotions.

Now when I’m having a bad day (or one that’s unrealistically good), I just don’t make decisions. I wait until I’m feeling more healthy. And, I’ve learned to always draw in other voices and decision makers into important decisions (here’s how to do that).

That’s what I remind myself when I’m having a not-so-good day, or whenever my emotions aren’t firing properly.

I’ve also realized that if that seasons continues for more than a few days, it’s probably a sign God has further work to do on my heart or even go back to a counsellor. I outlined other steps you can take to get off the emotional roller coaster of ministry in this post.

What helps you get through a season when your emotions aren’t reliable?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

CNLP 003: The Best Practices Church Leaders Can Adopt from Business Leaders & Vice-Versa — An Interview with Casey Graham

What can church leaders learn from the CEO of a company that made the Inc. 5000 list and was named Infusionsoft’s 2013 Marketer of the Year?

Lots.

And what can business leaders learn from church leaders?

Plenty.

Welcome to Episode 3 of the Podcast!

In this podcast, I talk with Casey about the differences between church leaders and business leaders, how to adopt several key best practices (including how to use email effectively with your congregation and how to use Facebook as outreach).

Casey also outlines several keys to engaging business leaders who are attending your church.

business

Guest Links: Casey Graham

Find and follow Casey Graham here:

CaseyGraham.com

The Rocket Company

Casey on Twitter

Casey on Facebook

Links Mentioned in This Episode

The links and resources mentioned in this episode include:

Giving Rocket (affiliate link to free 7 day test drive of Giving Rocket)

Giving Rocket – Thrive Program

Preaching Rocket

Volunteer Rocket

Ted Talk: Dan Palotta: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

Rocket Company Award: Infusionsoft Ultimate Marketer of the Year 2013

Rocket Company on the Inc 5000 List: Inc. Top 5000 List

Content Marketing: Copyblogger.com

Facebook Targeting: Facebook Power Editor

Facebook Marketing: AmyPorterfield.com

Facebook Targeting Resource: Perry Marshall’s Facebook Course

Email Management: MailChimp.com

Email Management: AWeber.com

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Casey’s interview was full of great advice.

While there’s so much you could do after listening to Casey, here are 3 things you can do this week:

1. Focus on results, not just relationships. Too many ministry leaders lose site of results because of the pull of so many relationships.

2. Send a vision-based e-mail to your church. Follow Casey’s advice and shoot a two minute video or 400 word email encouraging your church or organization and email it to them. You can even migrate your church email list to MailChimp.com or AWeber so you can track results and manage your email relationships better. If you do, you’ll even see how many people opened your email and what they clicked on.

3. Tap a business leader on the shoulder. Invite them to lunch or a short term leaders-only mission trip. Ask them to serve directly. High capacity leaders don’t respond to cattle calls. But they will often respond to a thoughtful direct ask.

Tweetables from Casey

Did You Catch This? The Podcast Is Now Weekly!

Great news! Many of you had asked if the podcast could become a weekly podcast.

Your wish is granted.

I’m delighted to let you know there will be a fresh episode on your device every Tuesday morning moving forward. Today’s the first weekly podcast.

That’s a great reason to subscribe now.

Hear Me Speak and Have Lunch with Me In Washington DC or Indianapolis || Orange Tour 2014

I’m going to be in Washington D.C. on Thursday, October 9 and Friday October 10th, and in Indianapolis on Thursday October 16 and Friday October 17th for the 2014 Orange Tour.

I’ll be giving some keynotes and doing some breakouts on parenting, leadership and the church, and hosting a lunch for senior leaders each Friday of the Tour Stop. I’d love to hang out. Sign up below!

2014 Orange Tour

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Washington DC Orange Tour Stop

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Indianapolis Orange Tour Stop

 

Android Fans

Good news!

The podcast is available on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well. Subscribe today. :)

 Next Episode: Kara Powell

In Episode 4, I interview Kara Powell, Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute and author of Sticky Faith on why young adults are walking away from the church and what you can do about it—as a church leader and a parent.

Kara is not only an academic and writer, she’s a mom and church leader who cares passionately about seeing faith stick in the next generation.

She is a sought after expert who speaks to church leaders around the world about her insights and research.

Episode 004 goes live Tuesday, October 7th 2014.

Subscribe to the Podcast

Never miss an episode. Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunesStitcher or TuneIn Radio.

 Got 60 Seconds? Rate the Podcast.

Hopefully this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast in iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners.

All reviews are SO appreciated.

Thank you!

Got a question? Leave a comment.

8 Idols Church Leaders Still Worship Today

Ever ask yourself as a church leader, do I worship something or someone other than God? 

It’s a great question to ask and great heart check.

I’ll stick my neck out and suggest that you do have idols you worship instead of God. At least I do.

Once you identify them and root them out, you’ll become a better leader.

idols, worship

You’re An Idol Factory

I get challenged about my personal and leadership idols every year when I read through the middle part of the book of Isaiah.

Chapter 44, for example, is all about the futility of worshipping idols, which in those days, was mostly wood or stone carvings.

So what’s an idol today? You don’t need wood or stone to create one.

An idol is anything that takes our focus and reliance off of God.

John Calvin was dead on when he said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”

Discard one, and you’ll simply create another.

 

8 Idols Church Leaders Still Worship Today

The list could be much longer than 8, because Calvin was right.

But here are 8 I struggle with or have seen other leaders struggle with.

These are in no particular order, because, well, any idol is bad enough to be #1:

1. Strategy

So I’m a strategy wonk. If you read this blog, you know that.

I think many churches fail for lack of a clear, coherent strategy. I wrote in detail about how mission, vision and strategy interrelate here.

But strategy is no substitute for trust.

As valuable as strategy is (and it is), no strategy is a substitute for trusting God.

Strategy makes an excellent servant and a terrible master.

2. Skill

By all means get better at what you do. Learn, listen, polish and perfect your skills.

Skill alone can get you far, but the church is a supernatural thing.

God changes hearts. You can’t. I can’t.

You know what’s better than a skill set? A surrendered skill set.

Having a B level set of skills that’s surrendered is better than an A level set of skills you’re trying to use without God.

3. Size

There is no merit in size.

Some leaders think only bigger is better. But idolizing big can be a thin mask for ego. (Your self-worth rises and falls with big.)

Some idolize the romanticism of small. Yet idolizing small can be a thin mask for insecurity. (You love small only because you will never be big.)

There is no magic to size. Focus on getting healthy, and size will take care of itself.

Or to switch metaphors, pull some weeds, till the soil, plant some seeds, and trust God to grow things at the pace and to the size he wants.

4. Stats

I love stats too much.

I watch attendance, baptisms, givings, group participation and volunteer rates like a hawk and then am disappointed if they don’t meet my exaggerated expectations.

I watch my blog and podcast stats too much, and—if I’m not careful—I’ll even allow them to dictate my emotions.

Before you gloat a little, ignoring stats can be another idol.

Being the slacker-who-doesn’t-care/I’m-too-hip-for-that leader can close you off to God as readily as being the leader who rises and falls with the numbers.

Stats tell you things. But they don’t measure your worth. Or God’s faithfulness.

Watch them. But don’t believe they’re a barometer on how awesome (or awful) you might be.

5. Alliances

I wish I had a better title for this, but ‘alliances’ simply refers to the group we do ministry with.

In some cases it’s your denomination, or a church planting group. Or my case, as a North Point Strategic Partner, it’s North Point Church.

Alliances are often strategic and helpful. They have been for me.

But they are not your saviour.

It’s tempting to think “If we join X group, our church would take off.”

No…it probably wouldn’t. Just so you know.

Alliances help. But they will not save. God does that.

6. More

Too many times, I’ve caught myself worshipping the idol of more.

If I had more staff….more money…more lights…more team…more square footage…more fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-your-current-obsession-is, then our church would be awesome.

Nope. God is awesome.

And again, there’s nothing wrong with having more. It’s just that more will not be your salvation.

Faithfulness is measured in what you do with what you have.

And if you steward what you have well, guess what? Often (not always, but often), you eventually end up with more.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. That’s better leadership.

7. Progress

I seem to be far more addicted to progress than God appears to be. Or at least what would define as progress (I’m quite sure God makes more progress on things than I do.)

I often think I would be the worst biblical character.

I would not be good with being in prison for years like Joseph or Paul. Or wandering the desert for 40 years like Moses while people complained. Or waiting to be king for what must have seemed like an eternity to David.

If every graph is not up and to the right, I get worried.

But God seems to use wilderness seasons in your life and in the life of your church to grow your character.

Besides, if your platform ever outgrows your character, you’re doomed anyway (I wrote about that here).

I know God has used seasons where I’m frustrated with progress to grow me.

I am still a reluctant convert to patience and trust. But I am thankful God is patient with me, even when I am not patient with God.

8. Balance

Some of you may be frustrated by now because this appears to be yet another leadership post written by yet another driven leader.

I know. I get that. Those are my demons.

But there is another idol lurking under the guise of work-life balance that’s worth identifying.

Often in the pursuit of a ‘balanced’ life, people can lose passion and commitment.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for rest, balance, margin and a life that doesn’t drain the life out of you.

But balance can become code for barely working. Balance can become a synonym for not throwing your heart or weight into anything. (I wrote more about the trap of work-life balance here.)

If that’s a temptation, just understand that’s an idol too.

We have a God who asked us to love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Most of the people I know who have accomplished significant things are not balanced people.

They are passionate people.

So be passionate in your work, in your family life, in your rest, and in all you do.

When you do, you will glorify God.

Those are 8 idols I see and often struggle with in leadership.

What do you see?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

CNLP 002: How Perry Noble Hit Bottom While Pastoring One of America’s Largest Churches & How He Battled Back

Anxiety. Depression. Simply feeling overwhelmed.

Ever been there as a leader?

Welcome to Episode 2 of the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. In this episode, I interview Perry Noble, Lead Pastor of NewSpring Church.

Perry Noble had all the markings of success—one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America and a great family—but as his inner world crumbled, he ending up feeling like he wanted to kill himself.

He tells an amazing story of how he overcame anxiety and depression to keep leading.

Perry Noble

About Perry

Perry is the Lead and Founding Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson South Carolina. Launch in 2000 with 15 people, it now reaches over 35,000 people on the weekend at 11 campuses.

Perry is a husband, father, author, frequent conference speaker and blogs at PerryNoble.com.

Guest Links: Perry Noble

Find and follow Perry Noble and NewSpring here:

PerryNoble.com

NewSpring Church

The Perry Noble Leadership Podcast

Perry on Twitter

Perry on Facebook

Perry on Instagram

People and Resources Mentioned in This Episode

The links, people and resources mentioned in this episode include:

Book: Overwhelmed by Perry Noble

Overwhelmed Sermon Series 2014 (5 week series)

Spanx, Sickness and Suicide Message.

Overwhelmed Sermon Series 2013Win the Battle with Depression Message (on suicide)

9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Leadership by Carey Nieuwhof

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Getting Back by Carey Nieuwhof

Here’s a list of Perry’s blog posts on anxiety, depression and suicide:

Should Christians Take Medication for Mental Illness?

5 Practical Things to Consider Before Taking an Anti-Depressant.

3 Things Moms Should Consider when Feeling Overwhelmed.

5 Things Every Single Person Should Consider.

4 Things To Do When You Experience a Freak-out.

Overwhelmed Because of Your Past?

I’m Fat.

Five Myths About Anxiety and Depression

Do You Want to Kill Yourself?

7 Practical Ways to Overcome Anxiety.

Am I Still a Christian If I Have Depression?

Here are my (Carey’s) posts on my personal burnout:

9 Signs you’re Burning Out

How I Recovered from Burnout: 12 keys to Getting Back

7 Painful Truths About Leadership and Burnout

Lunch With Carey in Washington or Indy || Orange Tour 2014

2014 Orange Tour

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Washington DC Orange Tour Stop

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Indianpolis Orange Tour Stop

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Perry’s  interview was full of great advice.

While there’s so much you could do after listening to Perry’s story, here are 3 things you can do this week:

1. Tell Someone. Telling someone you’re struggling with being overwhelmed, or with anxiety, depression or suicide is the first step toward breaking the power those emotions have over you. You don’t need to be ashamed. Telling someone is the first step to breaking the power of depression.

2. See a Doctor and Biblical Counsellor. Getting professional help will help you get better. Both Perry and Carey have both seen Christian counselors over the years who have helped them stay healthy in leadership over the long run.  Please know neither Perry or Carey are trained counsellors. I strongly recommend you talk to your medical doctor and a trained biblical counsellor.

3. Be Transparent.  People identify more with your struggles than your victories. If you let them know that you struggle, it will help them in their struggles.

Quotes From Perry

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Exciting News: The Podcast Is Now Weekly!

Great news! Many of you had asked if the podcast could become a weekly podcast.

Well, as of this week…we’re going weekly!

I’m delighted to let you know there will be a fresh episode on your device every Tuesday morning moving forward.

That’s a great reason to subscribe now.

Now Live on Stitcher

Good news! The podcast is available on Stitcher. If you’re an Android user, Stitcher is one of the easiest ways to listen. Here’s the link.

You’ll soon be able to get the podcast on TuneIn Radio as well. You can follow the show here, and the Episodes should be live soon.

 

Next Episode: Casey Graham

In the next episode, I interview Casey Graham, founder and CEO of the Rocket Company on what business leaders can learn from church leaders and what church leaders can learn from business leaders.

The Rocket Company was recently named to the Inc. 5000 list and was Infusion Soft’s 2013 Marketer of the year. Don’t miss Casey’s incredible insights for both church and business leaders.

Episode 003 goes live Tuesday, September 30th.

Subscribe to the Podcast

Never miss an episode. Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes by clicking here.

Did this Help You? Rate us on iTunes!

Hopefully this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast in iTunes and leave us a brief review!

Can’t thank you enough! Almost 70 ratings already on the US iTunes store and over 20 in Canada. Keep em coming. :) Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners.

Thank you!