From Leadership

bias for action

Why Leaders Who Hold THIS Bias Are The Most Effective Leaders

You probably have something exciting that you’ve been thinking about doing for a long time.

Every leader has dreams, goals and hopes.

The challenge is you haven’t done anything about it…yet.

And as a result, so few leaders end up with a track record of accomplishment.


Because almost all of us struggle with something the most effective leaders in their field don’t struggle with.

What is it?

It’s a bias so few leaders have. But the great ones all possess.

bias for action

Three Friends — One Bias

A few years ago, I began to notice a trend among some friends that were accomplishing a lot.

One good friend was launching a business and was frustrated with the lack of traction he was seeing that week. So he decided to host a webinar…ten days later. Believe it or not, 600 people joined him for it.

I had another friend launched a weekly podcast eighteen months ago, as a side-line to his full time job. This was at a time when I was still thinking about launching a leadership podcast. At the time I was thinking a monthly podcast was a huge commitment. But he launched…weekly. Convicting.

Now to a third friend.  He’s a prolific reader (40-50 books a year) and a super smart thinker and speaker. I told him he needs to write a book. He said he had thought about.

I urged him to do it and so did another friend. Within a few weeks he had sent me draft chapters to review. Amazing.

What do all three leaders have in common?

A bias for action.

Maybe You’re Hallucinating

This challenges me because I tend to think about things a lot before acting.

For example, I thought about hosting a podcast for two years before I launched this one (and, yes, I ended up going weekly in the end).  To date, I’ve only thought about hosting a webinar.

And my next book has been three years in the making (it releases in 2015…thanks for your patience…stay tuned).

Shipping is more important than dreaming. If you don’t act, you’ve got nothing. All you’ve got is a desire.

As Thomas Edison famously said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

 Action is Stunning

Action is stunning because so few people actually do it. So few people act on their dreams.

Often the difference between you and the leaders you admire is they acted. You didn’t.

And you know what a desire becomes when it’s never acted on, don’t you? It becomes a regret.

Far too many people waste their potential, squander their vision and languish in mediocrity because they just don’t act.

So why don’t you stun someone this week? Act.

I’ll bet you even stun yourself when you do.

Press Start

Here’s my hunch. You know exactly what you need to do. 

Come on…you know what it is:

That change you need to make in your church

The project you need to launch.

That book you need to write.

The blog you need to get started on.

That team member you need to deal with.

That unchurched neighbour you need to have over for dinner.

That series you need to find the courage to preach.

So what’s holding you back?

Be honest.

Maybe it’s fear.

Or a lack of confidence

Or the belief you might fail.


The only way to get past fear is to move through it.

The brave aren’t the brave because they don’t feel fear. They’re brave because they pushed through it.

The only way to gain confidence is to do something. So go do it.

Truthfully, your dream is failing right now. You have nothing to lose by acting on your dream except the 100% guarantee of failure that comes from not acting on it.

Now…before you leave a comment (scroll down to add to the conversation), decide what you need to act on.

Then act.

A bias toward action is a bias every effective leader has. So get moving.

warren_bird (2)

CNLP 28: How To Create High Performing Teams in Any Size Organization—An Interview with Warren Bird

Whether your church or organization is large or small, it needs a team. Better than that, it needs a high performing team.

How do you get one in place? Warren Bird studied some of the best teams around today, and shares his findings.

Welcome to Episode 28 of the podcast.

warren_bird (2)


Guest Links

Warren Bird on Twitter

Leadership Network

Teams that Thrive: Five Discipline of Collaborative Church Leadership

How to Break Church Growth Barriers: Capturing Overlooked Opportunities for Church Growth

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Orange Conference 2015

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Perry Noble; Episode 2

Casey Graham; Episode 3

Kara Powell; Episode 4

Tony Morgan; Episode 6

Rich Birch; Episode 8

Jon Acuff; Episode 9

Pete Wilson;  Episode 11

Frank Bealer; Episode 20

Will Mancini; Episode 23

David Kinnaman; Episode 24

Jenni Catron; Episode 25

The Drive Conference 

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni

Cracking your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration by Samuel R. Chand

The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (North Point Resources) by Andy Stanley

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Your team is one of the biggest assets to leadership, and how you function as a group can either accelerate or kill the growth of your ministry. Warren Bird has worked with multiple churches and compiled a series of research to determine how teams can be more productive and what forwards the church’s mission.

1. Kill church conflict. Replace it with constructive debate. More than anything else, church conflict kills growth. Do whatever you need to do to stop the bickering, fighting and quarrelling that kill far too many churches and organizations.

Instead, replace it with constructive debate.  The way to have a constructive debate is to ensure your team is aligned around a common mission, vision and strategy. When that happens, real discussion is much more constructive and productive. If you’re wondering how to get the right people around the leadership table, I wrote a post on who you can trust in leadership here.

2. Break the lone leader model. Even if you have no team, create one. For example, if you do hospital visitation as a pastor, bring someone with you next time. Never lead alone. Start training, empowering and releasing your team. The first step is to stop leading alone.

3. Decide which level of delegation you’ll assign to your team. Delegation within teams happens in multiple stages:

a. Tell me what you think I ought to do, and then we’ll do it together.

b. Tell me what you’re going to do and then proceed.

cb. Take care of it, but let me know what happened.

d. Take care of it. As the leader, I don’t need to know what happened.

So often, misunderstandings happen because of a miscommunication about delegation. Understanding your level of empowerment is part of the rhythm of a healthy team and a delegated ministry.

People can’t read your mind as a leader. If you’re stalled on making a decision, you’re never going to grow.  If you have to wait every month or every week to make a decision, you can’t respond and be lean enough to make the kind of calls you need to make in the moment as a team.

Want Incredible Training from Today’s Top Leaders?

Then don’t miss the Orange Conference 2015 on April 29-May 1st in Atlanta.

Learn from leaders like Perry Noble, Jeff Henderson, Jud Wilhite, Jon Acuff, Josh Gagnon, and today’s guest, Jenni Catron (and more). I’ll be teaching at the conference as well and have put together a senior leader track designed exclusively for senior pastors, executive pastors and campus pastors.

Register here today.

Quotes from Warren

 A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from great leaders such as Derwin Gray, Ron Edmondson, Jon Acuff, William Vanderbloemen, Tony Morgan, Frank Bealer, Jeff Henderson, Kara Powell, Casey Graham, Perry Noble, and Andy Stanley.

Subscribe via



TuneIn Radio

Appreciate This? 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.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: John Stickl

At 29, John Stickl became the pastor of a church of 1500.

4 years later, the church is 4500 and is growing with millennials who are anxious to connect with God.

John talks about how his leadership team listens for the voice of God and how this journey has stretched him as a leader.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 29.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

advice to people in their 20s, 30s and 40s

25 Random Pieces of Advice for Leaders in Their 20s, 30s or 40s

I may or may not have a big birthday this week. Okay…I may.

Believe it or not, turning 50 has not been as traumatic as I thought it might be. Actually, it’s been remarkably satisfying and gratitude-inducing. I have so much for which I’m thankful.

If you’re a younger reader (which most of you are), I have some great news. At 50, I have as much or more energy than I did a decade or two ago, a much better sense of who God created me to be, and I’m surrounded by people I don’t deserve. And I’m honestly more excited by the next 20 years than I’ve ever been about the future.

But maybe the best part of turning 50? You see things you just couldn’t see at 20, 30, or 40. Okay, maybe you can see them. I couldn’t.  At least not as clearly.

In light of that, what follows are life and leadership tips I picked up in my 20s, 30s and 40s that I’m so thankful I did.

How you live your life up to age 50 likely matters more than you think.

advice to people in their 20s, 30s and 40s

How You Live Your 20s, 30s or 40s Matters

I was recently talking to a friend who had turned 50 a couple years ahead of me. He surprised me by saying that your 50s and are largely pre-determined by how well you lived your 30s and 40s.

Live your 30s and 40s well, and your 50s turn out great.

Live them poorly, and all the problems and issues you never resolved when you were younger sabotage your later years, even beyond your 50s.

When he said that, I gulped. Literally.

I’d seen that reality so many times in my life but never connected the dots.

So in an attempt to help you live your 20s, 30s and 40s well, here 25 random pieces of advice I hope can help.

1. Deal with your issues early

You have issues. Everyone does.

As tempting as it is to believe otherwise, it’s not your wife, husband, kids or job who are causing all the pain in your life. You are the common denominator in everything that’s happened to you. So deal with you.

Go see a trained Christian counsellor. Hire a coach. Read some books. Do what it takes to deal with your junk.

2. Invest in coaches and counsellors who make you better

On that note, most people who need counselling say they can’t afford it. It’s like couples who can’t afford a date night but then spend thousands of dollars on divorce later because their relationship fell apart.

If you need counselling to deal with issues, it’s an investment. Ditto with coaches who can bring out the best in you.

It’s not just an investment in you. It’s an investment in everyone you impact.

3. Get off the fence

Indecision plagues too many people.

Make the best decision you can with the information you have, then humbly pursue it with everything you’ve got.

4. Study and practice faithfulness

Faithfulness is rare. Not just in marriage, but also in life.

Culture teaches us to dispose of anything or anyone we don’t like.

So do the opposite.

Learn how to be consistent, loyal, and steadfast, holding to what you know is right even when you feel like doing the opposite.

5. Live like God loves you and everything you read in the Bible is true

Most people wish someone loved them unconditionally. Someone does.

So live like it.

And while you’re at it, live like everything you read in the Bible is true. Doubt your doubts. You won’t regret it.

6. Be generous when you have no money

Don’t fall for the lie that you will be generous one day when you have money. If you’re not generous now, you won’t be generous then.

Practice generosity with every dollar you receive and everything you have. Then if you ever have money or possessions, they won’t own you.

You will have released their grip from your life long ago. And you will look behind you and already see you’ve been able to make more of a difference than you imagined.

7. Choose a few awesome friends and stick with them

Friendships can be confusing in your 20s, 30s and 40s. Friendship circles change when you leave school, get married and even change jobs.

In the midst of all that change, find a few friends and stick with them for life.

Most people can only handle 5 really close relationships in their life. Choose those 5 well and build into those relationships deeply.

8. Cultivate a circle of people around you who make you better

In the last 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to intentionally pursue friendships and relationships with people who are smarter, more skilled and simply ‘better’ than me.

One of the best ways to become a better person and leader is to spend time with people who are better than you.

9. Get comfortable being around people who are smarter than you

Deal with your insecurities. Get comfortable being around people who are smarter than you.

It will make you better, but it’s also the key to creating an exceptional team.

If you always have to be the smartest person in the room, you’ll eventually end up in a pretty vacuous room.

10. Relentlessly pursue self-awareness

Self-aware people make the best leaders and frankly, are the easiest people to hang out with in life. Chances are your favourite people are people who are deeply self-aware.

But self-awareness doesn’t come naturally. I’m naturally blind to the impact I have on other people around me.  So are you. If you want more on this issue, here are 4 things self-aware leaders know that others don’t.

11. Make peace with your weaknesses

You’ll never be great at everything.

The sooner you get used to that, the better off you’ll be. Eventually you’ll stop trying to cover up and stop feeling so bad about yourself. That’s progress.

12. Pour increasing amounts of energy into your strengths

Once you realize you’re only great at a few things, you’re free to become even greater at them.

Pour your time, energy and resources into what you do very best. That’s the difference between being good at something and being best in the world.

13. Get comfortable with solitude

Solitude is a thoughtful leader’s best friend. It also is a key to self-awareness.

If you really want to grow as a person and as a leader, and grow in your relationship with God, get comfortable with solitude. I wrote more about solitude and how to practice it here.

14. Wrestle down your pride

Pride is ugly. It gets you into trouble again and again.

The only person to whom your pride looks appealing is you. Think about it…you don’t like pride in anyone but yourself.

So pray it out. Beat it out. Do what you need to do to wrestle it down.

15. Fight cynicism

The more you know, the harder it gets to stay hopeful (the Scripture points this out by the way).

Cynics never change the world; they just tell you why the world doesn’t change.

Don’t be one. Check the cynicism that’s growing inside you.

16. Kill selfish ambition

Ambition isn’t bad. In fact, it can change the world.

Selfish ambition is bad. It can destroy the world.

So be ambitious, but be ambitious for the sake of a cause that’s far bigger than you are.

17. Don’t give into stupid temptations that will come your way

You will be tempted to do stupid things. Don’t.

Don’t have an affair, take short cuts or cheat to get ahead.

It’s so not worth it.

18. Find the high road and live on it

The high road is the hard road. But it’s the best road.

People will try to pull you off the high road again and again. Don’t.

Take it. Every time.

19. Don’t wrestle with a pig

Conversely, the low road has virtually no reward.

Years ago someone dropped this gem on me.

Don’t wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig liked it.

So so true.

19. Work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency

Competency is not the main key to success. Character is.

Your competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you.

20. Persevere through the dry seasons

Your time with God will go flat. Sometimes you’ll think what you believe is a farce.

Even marriage, family and friends go through seasons where everything seems boring.

Hang in there. Your emotions eventually catch up with your obedience. So be obedient.

21. Discover what refuels you and do more of it

Some things give you energy in life, some things drain you.

Figure out what refuels you. Then do more of it.

Your choice, over the long run, is self-care or self-medication. Choose self-care.

22. Book appointments with yourself

Your calendar will naturally fill up with urgent things other people believe are important.

And you will watch a decade or more pass by without doing anything really significant.

Book appointments with yourself to do what really matters, whether that’s taking a day off, being with your family, writing an important talk, or taking time to think.

Then when someone asks you if you’re busy, you can truthfully say “I’d love to help, but I have a commitment.”

23. Trust again

Your heart will get mangled and you’ll be tempted to stop trusting people altogether.


Trust again. Hope again. Believe again.

You’ll be so glad you did.

24. Be bold

Be bolder than you think you should be.

Too many dreams die of timidity.

25. Don’t let fear win

Yep…you’re afraid.

Go for it anyway.

Fear gets the best of far too many leaders. Don’t let it get the best of you.

What About You?

There’s a lot more I could have written about, but 25 random piece of advice is enough for now.

You’ve probably got some great advice too. I’d love to hear it. That’s what the comments are for. Scroll down and leave one. :)

performance review

9 Things I Learned From My Most Recent Performance Review

Remember report card time?

It always freaked me out a bit. Teachers would get to evaluate my life and tell me how well I was doing (or not doing). I always had a love/hate relationship with report cards. I loved them when I liked the results…not so much when I didn’t. I especially didn’t like them when they told the truth about some areas I needed to work on.

And yet as a young leader, I began to crave feedback. When I was in law, within a month of starting at the firm I knocked on a senior partner’s door and asked for an evaluation. Why? Because I’d never worked in law before and had no idea whether I was doing a good job or not. By that time I’d figured out feedback was critical to leadership.

And yet I still think annual performance evaluations or 360˚ reviews can be intimidating for many leaders. It hurts to hear the truth sometimes.

And we’ve all heard of leaders who have carefully created a climate in which no one reviews them, formally or informally. They utilize their power to become unapproachable. Keep that up long enough and people stop bothering.

If you’ve ever done that as a leader, you might think you’re winning, but you’re not; you’re losing.

Not having your performance assessed is a terrible mistake unless you have zero interest in growing as a leader, Christian or human being. Oh…and it’s also a great strategy if you want all the good leaders around you to leave.

But other than that, it’s not advisable.

As nerve wracking as a performance review can be, you can learn so much from it. Here’s how.

performance review

9 Things I Learned

Here are 9 things I learned during my recent performance review:

1. The more open you are, the more you will grow

Performance evaluations are gifts. You need to see them that way. Yes, the fact that you are not perfect will hurt. But the more open you are, the more you will grow.

Saying a prayer as simple as “God show me what you are saying to me in this and help me to grow as a leader” can really help you get the most out of an assessment.

2. The truth is a leader’s best friend

One of the best things you can seek as a leader is the truth—as beautiful, awkward or disappointing as it may be.

The truth is a leader’s best friend, even if it hurts.

So seek it. Crave it. Long for it.

When people criticize you, see it as a gift.

If you have trouble hearing criticism and are always defensive, here are 5 ways to help criticism sting less.

3. The more defensive you are, the less people will tell you the truth

Defensiveness kills great leadership and great leaders.

Although the performance assessment tool we use (keep reading for details) gives people ‘anonymous’ or blind feedback options, if you create a culture of fear around you, people won’t want to give you ‘anonymous’ feedback in case they think you can figure out wrote what.

This atmosphere around you starts long before any review.

The less defensive you are as a leader, the more people will tell you the truth. And, remember, the truth is your friend.

4. You will always have weaknesses

As much as you might hate it, you will always have weaknesses. For some reason I want to be a perfect leader.

But I’m not. I’m flawed.

Get used to it. And ask God and others What can I learn from my weaknesses? 

5. Your weaknesses aren’t things you should brag about

Sometimes you hear leaders brag about their weaknesses (as in “I don’t like people at all.”)

While that can be funny, the fact that you can’t organize your way out of a wet paper bag or that you alienate people is probably not something to brag about. It can be great to acknowledge. Great to let people know you need their help.

But it’s not a badge of honour.

6. Your strength has a shadowside

Everyone’s personality and profile works this way…your strength generates an opposing weakness.

For example, in my case, results and performance dominate my top ten strengths.

But being an achievement-oriented person means sometimes I can leave people in the dust if I don’t work at it.

Many ‘results’ people struggle relationally. And many relational people struggle to get high performance results.

I have worked relentlessly on this weakness, but my leadership coach has helped me see that this is something I will always have to work on.

It’s a tension to be managed. I may never ‘solve’ this one. Hopefully I’ll just gradually get somewhat better each year.

7. Your greatest progress will come from the feedback you like least

Some of the comments you receive might make you wince…maybe even want to bury them.


Your greatest progress as a leader will come from the feedback you like least. Embrace them as a gift from God. Thank him for the growth opportunity.

8. Your team will benefit if you talk about the good and the bad

Sometimes you feel like deep-sixing things like performance reports. Instead, why not be open about them?

I’m going to share mine with my direct reports and elders and ask them to tell me how I can learn and grow from them.

This will do two things. First, it will give me better insight into how my leadership impacts them, both good and bad.

Second, it will give them greater insight into what I’m best at and worst at, and we can position our church to better build into my strengths and minimize the impact of my weaknesses.

You want your organization to reflect a leader’s strengths, not his or her weaknesses.

9. Run even harder into your strengths

Performance reviews are also like report cards in the sense that if you got a 92% in English and a 56% in math, you might be tempted to dump any homework on English to focus exclusively on math.

At some point you need to admit to yourself, I will probably never win the prize in math. I need to pass, but I won’t be a world class leader.

But I have a shot at being brilliant at English.

So go be brilliant.

You have a gift. Develop it. Tune it, hone it, sharpen it and master it.

As for your weakness? Be sensitive to how your weaknesses impact others.

Maybe great leadership is this: Fully develop your strengths. Work at taking the sharp edges off your weaknesses.

The Performance Assessment Tool We Use

In case you were wondering, our church uses the RightPath 360˚ for our most thorough leadership review. Essentially, you get your direct reports, managers, peers and a few outside voices of people who know you to give extensive feedback on your leadership in the areas of


Emotional Intelligence


Development of Others

One thing I love about a RightPath 360˚ is that it not assesses you numerically on a matrix, but it gives ample space for your reviewers to leave open comments.

Those are tremendous gifts if you’re interested in growing. You actually learn what other people really think of you.

What About You?

What are you learning about performance reviews, leading team and being open to criticism and correction as a leader?

Scroll down and leave a comment.


CNLP 27: How to Know When It’s Time to Move On – An Honest Interview About Leadership, Personal Growth and Leaving Before It’s Too Late with Brad Lomenick

How do you know it’s time to move on?

Brad Lomenick explains why he thinks many leaders stay on too long, and shares why he stepped back from leading a world class organization when he was just 40.

Welcome to Episode 27 of the podcast.



Guest Links

Brad Lomenick on Twitter

Brad Lomenick on Facebook

Brad Lomenick on Instagram

Catalyst Conference

Catalyst Podcast

The Catalyst Leader

10 Key Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned over the Last Year in Handing off Catalyst

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Orange Conference 2015

Pete Wilson

Donald Miller

Jon Acuff

Reggie Joiner

Doug Fields

Jeff Henderson

Jud Wilhite

Perry Noble

Josh Gagnon

Jenni Catron

John Maxwell

Louie Giglio

Steve Cockram

Craig Groeschel

Rick Warren

Love Does by Bob Goff

Tim Keller

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

How do you know when you’re done with a phase in your life? It takes courage to hear the hard truth, make a change and blaze a trail for the next generation. Brad Lomenick tells us how to make that transition a more positive and peaceful experience.

  1. Recognize that succession is part of leadership. When you see change in your organization going up and to the right, it doesn’t always mean that leadership is following the same pattern. The work you put into a ministry may promote growth, but you can’t assume you’re in a good place personally because things in your organization are going well. Brad said he recognized that his leadership was becoming stale because the people around him weren’t flourishing; there was little to no change in those he was trying to influence. Mature leaders know when it’s time to let go and don’t hang on too long. To ensure the future growth of the ministry, you have to prepare the next generation to step up.
  2. Understand your calling is just a chapter, not the entire book. When Brad’s 10-year season at Catalyst ended, it didn’t change his overall calling. He knew that he was still mean to “influence influencers.” Just because one chapter in your calling has ended, it doesn’t mean that the book is complete. The calling is on your life, not just a season.
  3. Realize that what you do isn’t all of who you are. Brad no longer had the passion to take Catalyst to the next level, so he relied on his faith to take him into the next season. Leaders hang on too long because they’re not sure they’re capable of doing anything else. They’ve built a sense of identity around what they do, and if they try something different, they may fail.  But who you are is not what you do. Brad says his identity is in Jesus. He may not be “Catalyst Brad” anymore, but he’s fulfilled in identifying himself as a follower of Jesus.

Want Incredible Training from Today’s Top Leaders?

Then don’t miss the Orange Conference 2015 on April 29-May 1st in Atlanta.

Learn from leaders like Perry Noble, Jeff Henderson, Jud Wilhite, Jon Acuff, Josh Gagnon, and today’s guest, Jenni Catron (and more). I’ll be teaching at the conference as well and have put together a senior leader track designed exclusively for senior pastors, executive pastors and campus pastors.

Register here today.

Quotes from Brad

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from great leaders such as Derwin Gray, Ron Edmondson, Jon Acuff, William Vanderbloemen, Tony Morgan, Frank Bealer, Jeff Henderson, Kara Powell, Casey Graham, Perry Noble, and Andy Stanley.

Subscribe via



TuneIn Radio

Appreciate This? 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.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Warren Bird

Whether your church or organization is large or small, it needs a team. Better than that, it needs a high performingg team. How do you get one in place? Warren Bird studied some of the best teams around today, and shares his findings.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 28.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

why YOUR church isn't THE church

Why YOUR Church Isn’t THE Church (And 5 Liberating Truths About That Fact)

When you’re a church leader, you tend to feel a lot of pressure.

A key source of that pressure is that you’re leading a church. 

Your church is on a mission. Quite literally, it’s on a mission from God.

And the terms of that mission are written within the scriptures…a document everyone who attends your church (and even those who don’t) can read any time they want. And a document you hopefully read daily.

As a result, many people have opinions on what your church should be doing or shouldn’t be doing.

And even as you read the scripture, you probably find yourself thinking we should do more of X, or I think we need to introduce Y so we can be more faithful to church’s mission.

Most local church leaders feel a deep pressure to do everything they read about in the bible in their church. After all, you lead a church.

But should you?

why YOUR church isn't THE church

How the Pressure Mounts

I lived with that tension and pressure for about a decade. Over time our church grew, I assumed we had to add more programs so we could be faithful to our calling.

You feel the pressure to do more as you read the Bible and see the need around you. And even if you didn’t or said nothing (which most leaders would never do) often the program ideas and ministries get suggested by people as you grow:

The church needs to care for the poor…we should start a food bank

There are a lot of bikers in town…who’s going to reach them?

What are we going to do for moms of pre-schoolers?

We need more services with different music/teaching approaches to reach more people.

The needs in Asia are so great…why isn’t our church doing anything about it?

As a result, most churches by default start doing everything they can to meet every need they see around them. After all…you’re the church. You should do that!

But in the process of doing everything for everyone, a few things happen:

You end up doing nothing well

Your ministry becomes a maze with no sequence, no progression and end in mind for helping someone grow in their relationship with each other

The ministries and programs end up competing with each other for time, energy and money

People are out 5-7 nights a week, and ultimately some people burn out…including you

When you try to be everything to everyone, you usually end up being nothing to anyone.

You’re A Church…Not THE Church

So how do you resolve this tension? Or do you?

The penny dropped for me a few years ago as I was reading the scriptures one morning.

We are A church. We are not THE church.

Before you declare that heresy, think about it.

Your church is not the entire, universal church of Jesus Christ. It just isn’t. It’s an expression of the capital C church. It’s a local embodiment of the Church. But it isn’t THE church. It’s A church.

Maybe Jesus doesn’t expect you do absolutely everything HIS church will do because HIS church is bigger than YOUR church.

Follow that?

This should be a tremendous relief to most church leaders.

Suddenly the weight of being all things comes off (Jesus is all things anyway…you and I never were).

And we, as local church leaders and local churches, get to do the authentic work of Jesus in the areas in which we are best equipped to do it.  No more. No less.

I’ve come to believe that local churches function much the way individual people do within the body of Christ. Together we make up the body. Individually, we are parts of the body. As Paul famously said,  a body is comprised of feet, ears, eyes and even elbows.  So it is that God weaves all of us together to be the body of Christ.

I think local churches function the same way.

5 Liberating Reasons YOUR Church Isn’t THE Church

Here are 5 reasons why every local church doesn’t have to bear the pressure of being THE church…and how those 5 reasons can liberate the way you lead the local church.

1. You are not the only church in town

Chances are you’re not the only church in town. So don’t act like it.

Understand God has raised up other leaders and other congregations with slightly different gifting. Each church can play its part.

What you might not be great at, some other church is. What you’re best at, others aren’t.

2. You will never be the only church God uses

You will never be the only church God uses. You just won’t be.

I’ll bet we’d all get along better if we adopted that approach.

God designed churches to complement each other, not compete with each other.

I’m not saying we need more joint ministries between churches (let’s all merge and become one is probably not a great idea).

There is an effectiveness in diversity that many people miss. Assuming orthodoxy within a number of local churches, each of those churches is free to do what each does best.

I’m thankful for the other effective churches God has placed in the cities in which we have locations. It’s going to take all of us to accomplish the wider mission the church has been given.

Think about it. As a church leader, your competition is not the church down the street. It’s the beach on a sunny day.

3. Thinking you’re the ENTIRE church is a sign of ignorance or arrogance

When church leaders act like they are the only church in town or the only godly leader in town, that’s either ignorance or arrogance speaking. Sadly, it’s most often arrogance.

Your church is not the ENTIRE church. And you are not the ONLY church leader God has appointed.

Rather than being threatening, this should be liberating. It really should be.

And it will be, as long as you have the humility to realize that the Kingdom of God is bigger than any of us. 

4. Ministries also happen personally, not just organizationally

So what do you do with all these great ideas that come along, building the pressure to be all things to all people?

I think you realize you’re playing a small part of a bigger story.

First, look to other organizations that could do it better. At Connexus, where I serve, we decided when we launched that we wouldn’t run a food bank. Instead, we partner with local food banks who do a far better job than we ever could.

Second, realize other churches might be better at doing certain ministries than you are.  In our community, for example, there are churches who do recovery ministries astonishingly well. We don’t have to duplicate their efforts.

Third, there’s no reason the person with the idea couldn’t start something personally.

I am amazed at how many people at our church run ministries on their own. Several run international relief and mission agencies. Others are deeply involved in personal ministries. None has to have a Connexus ‘stamp’ on it to be God-ordained.

This frees them up to do what they do best and for us to do what we collectively do best.

5.  Do what you are best equipped to do within the larger body of Christ

So what should the local church do? What that church believes it can do best given its gifting and resources.

For sure, there are core elements like the ministries of the Word and Sacrament and the gathering that have to be met to be a church. But beyond that, there’s some freedom.

So let me give you an example from my context.

What do we want to do at Connexus? It’s simple.

We want to be the best shot an unchurched person has at coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and we want to get as many Christians involved in that mission as possible.

In the process, we want to lead as many as we can into a growing relationship with Jesus.

I realize you might be thinking well isn’t that what every other church is trying to do? Not really.

Not all churches will be as explicitly outsider focused as we are.  And even if they are, they will express it differently. Their music, teaching and the way they gather will be different.

And they will reach people we’ll never reach. That’s great actually.

And we may reach a few others won’t reach. That’s equally great.

But we won’t feel the pressure to be something we’re not. Neither will they.

We’ll each be free to pursue the ministry and gifts God has given us.

This Can Be Very Liberating

So just imagine.

God has set you and your church free to contribute the best you can to a mission that’s bigger than all of us.

God has set you free to become the leader you were designed to be, equipped with your best

And God hasn’t left you alone.

How amazing is that?

Do you struggle with feeling the false pressure of being the entire church?

How have you overcome it?

Scroll down and leave a comment!


CNLP 26: Creating a Great Leadership Culture—An Interview with Tim Stevens

How do you create a great leadership culture?

Tim Stevens, author of Fairness is Overrated, talks about the essential elements every church leader needs to have in place in terms of personal integrity, finding the right team, building the right culture and learning how to lead in a crisis.

Welcome to Episode 26 of the Podcast.


Guest Links

Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles to Revolutionize Your Workplace

Vanderbloemen Search Group

Leading Smart

Tim Stevens on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Orange Conference 2015

Pete Wilson

Donald Miller

Jon Acuff

Reggie Joiner

Doug Fields

Jeff Henderson

Jud Wilhite

Perry Noble

Josh Gagnon

Kara Powell

Granger Church

Bill Hybles

Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide? 

6 Ways to Control Your Calendar So It Doesn’t Control You

William Vanderbloemen; Episode 19

Tony Morgan

Things You Can Do Right Away

As a leader, we lean into what is fair, but what are the priorities we’re trying to accomplish, and what are the outcomes we’re looking for? In his latest book, Fairness is Overrated, Tim outlines four attributes of leaders that promote a healthy culture, maintain integrity and can lead during times of crisis.

1. Become a leader worth following. There are several stories of Jesus spending time with crowds, but he invested most of his time with his disciples because it was part of the legacy he was trying to fulfill on Earth. Leaders live a life of integrity and create margin in their lives. When you don’t have margin, you can’t have meaningful relationships with those closest to you, and it compromises your character. You can only hide behind a façade for so long before the cracks start to show, and no one is immune to that. But one thing that keeps you accountable is the relationship to your calendar. If you can get control of your time, and proactively prioritize the things that are the most important, you can nurture the most intimate relationships in your life while being an effective leader. A leader worth following is someone who has a hard skill set, yet is someone of character.

2. Find the right people. Tim provided some very valuable tools for finding the right person for an open leadership position in your church or organization.

  • Don’t go solo when you’re trying to hire someone. You might be good at it, but you’re not as good by yourself as you are with a team. Pull in discerning people who have nothing to lose if that person is hired.
  • Define the parameters ahead of time, so when you get the interviewees in the room, they’re not confused about why you’re hiring them, or what they’re gonna do.
  • Tim says you look beyond the resume and review online profiles. You can find out a lot about a person online, and you get a sense of their personality. Take a look at their photos, and analyze how they communicate with others online.
  • Sell your organization. You may think your organization is awesome, and we assume others think it’s awesome. But leaders have to do a better job of laying out the vision. You think a potential job candidate wants to be there, but go the extra mile and sell them on the culture, community and demographics. If you’re looking at top tier talent, you’re looking at people with options.
  • Think twice before hiring your friends, and don’t hire too quickly. Sometimes it’s hard to be objective, and that can create unexpected conflict when big decisions need to be made. If church leaders hire from within, they may bypass the reference checks without knowing someone’s reputation in their professional life.

3. Build a healthy culture. What are some of the building blocks of building a healthy culture? It comes from how you as a leader, lead. You have the type of leader who may never say this out loud, but they’re convinced they are the smartest person in the room they walk in. Building a great culture comes from a leader who highly values the team around him or her, constantly asking questions and has a lot a learn from others around them. They realize how much is at stake and how much they’re needed and valued. A good leader believes the best in you, speaks life into you, gives you opportunities to succeed, consistently wants to give credit and stands by you when you fail. That is the leader building a tremendous culture.

4. Lead confidently through a crisis. You see someone’s character, or lack of character, in the midst of a crisis. Tim gave several examples of U.S. presidents whose leadership was put to the test during times of war and economic turmoil. The leaders who stand out the most throughout history are the ones who led during conflict because there’s a link between crisis and greatness. Confidence isn’t, “I know the future, and it’s ok.” It’s, “We’re gonna figure this out.”

Want Incredible Training from Today’s Top Leaders?

Then don’t miss the Orange Conference 2015 on April 29-May 1st in Atlanta.

Learn from leaders like Perry Noble, Jeff Henderson, Jud Wilhite, Jon Acuff, Josh Gagnon, and today’s guest, Jenni Catron (and more). I’ll be teaching at the conference as well and have put together a senior leader track designed exclusively for senior pastors, executive pastors and campus pastors.

Register here today.

Quotes from Tim

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from great leaders such as Derwin Gray, Ron Edmondson, Jon Acuff, William Vanderbloemen, Tony Morgan, Frank Bealer, Jeff Henderson, Kara Powell, Casey Graham, Perry Noble, and Andy Stanley.

Subscribe via



TuneIn Radio

Appreciate This? 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.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Brad Lomenick

How do you know it’s time to move on? Brad Lomenick explains why he thinks many leaders stay on too long, and shares why he stepped back from leading a world class organization when he was just 40.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 27.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

fear; lose their nerve

5 Reasons Leaders Lose Their Nerve When They Need It Most

Every leader battles their nerves.

By nature, leadership is going to require you to do things that push you past your comfort zone pretty much every day.

And in seasons leadership will push you further than you’ve ever gone. You’re a leader, so you have to make decisions few others ever have to make.

And-frankly—sometimes leaders lose their nerve.

You know you’ve lost your nerve as a leader when you just can’t find the courage to do what you know needs to be done. Your head tells you one thing, but your emotions disable your ability to do it.

Why does this happen to so many leaders? Why aren’t we more carefree, more risk-ready and more willing to try something? And what can we do about it?

Here are 5 reasons I’ve seen leaders lose their nerve. I also realize these are the factors at work in me when I’m tempted to pull back from doing what I know needs to be done.

fear; loss of nerve

1. Over-focusing on the possibility of failure

We all fear failure, but leaders who lose their nerve develop tunnel vision: they only see fear.

Leaders who successfully keep their nerve see the potential for failure (only fools don’t). But they go further. They pray. They strategize around it (and good strategy is immensely helpful in ensuring success).

But then they do one more thing: they muster up the courage to push through that fear. If fear’s a big thing for you, here’s a recent post that outlines 5 signs fear is getting the best of you as a leader.

Leadership – and especially ministry – attracts its share of people pleasers. The problem with leading change is that you end up disappointing people.

If you are unwilling to be unpopular – even for a season – you will lose your nerve and fail to lead change effectively.

2. A belief they don’t have what it takes

This is a hard one. Somewhere along the line you develop a belief about yourself. And fundamentally, you believe you have what it takes, or you don’t.

Believing you have what it takes is not a cocky arrogance or the naive belief that everything you touch turns to gold, but a (hopefully) quiet confidence that you can do this with God’s help.

Many leaders struggle with insecurity (I blogged about that here and again in this post.)

The truth is, if you can push past your fear, and you lead with some deep faith and some wisdom around how to lead people, you do have what it takes.

If you can get past your insecurity, you’ll be surprised at how much courage, wisdom and ability God will provide you.

I love the way Henry Ford put it: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

3. An obsession with disappointing people 

Nobody likes to disappoint people, but a surprising number of leaders, especially church leaders, struggle with wanting to be liked.

I won’t say a lot more about it here because I wrote about the problems with likability and leadership in this post, but people-pleasing leaders will rarely lead with the courage the situation requires.

If you can make one shift in this area, make this one: instead of worrying about disappointing people, worry about disappointing God.

I realize, theologically, that God is not disappointed with you. But if you struggle with disappointment, directing your disappointment somewhere healthy is a good thing.

So what’s the best way to ensure you stay faithful to your calling and avoid disappointing God? Stay on target with your mission; do what it takes to accomplish it.

4. A forced comfort with the status quo

Another way leaders lose their nerve is to convince themselves that the status quo isn’t that bad.

We’re doing better than some other churches, you tell yourself. I can live with this, you think.

Ever heard yourself say these things? Ask yourself if you really believe them. You probably don’t.

Saying I can live with this over and over again may be a sign you’re dying as a leader.

So don’t lose your nerve. Navigate the change you are called to bring about.

5. The inability to get past the pain of past failures

Once bitten, twice shy. Everyone’s got their scars from past battles. But failure once doesn’t mean failure forever.

Maybe your idea wasn’t bad at all. Maybe your strategy just needs rethinking.

Or maybe you did colossally fail.

So what? Get over it. Get on with it.

So many leaders lose their nerve because they remember how much failure cost them in the past.

Keep thinking like this and you are one step away from becoming that person who says We tried that once…doesn’t work around here.

Talk to a friend, see a counselor, pray through it. Get past the pain and on with the future.

Which of the five reasons leaders lose their nerve resonate most with you?

What other reasons do you see? I’d love to hear from you!

Scroll down and leave a comment.

5 Things People Blame The Church For…But Shouldn’t

There’s a lot of church bashing that happens these days. I get that. Some of it is deserved.

Like me, maybe you’ve noticed that a lot of people feel justified in dismissing the church as anything between a complete disappointment and otherwise useless.

Doubtless people have been hurt in the church and hurt by the church, and for that I feel terrible.

But it’s one thing to have a bad experience or a series of bad experiences. It’s another to hang on to them for far longer than you should, especially when you have a role in them that you refuse to see.

So in the hopes of clarifying a few things and helping us all move through whatever hang ups might be lingering, here are 5 things people blame their church for…but shouldn’t.

1. The church didn’t stop you from growing spiritually

Most church leaders have heard this before from someone who’s new at your church. I went to X church for 2 years but I just didn’t grow there. Now I’ve come here. Hopefully I’ll grow!

I’ve heard this so many times at one point I believed the logic. Until I realized that we were this person’s fifth church in 6 years, and they didn’t grow at any of them. Which makes you ask the question…is it really the church, or could it be them?

I came to the realization years ago that I’m responsible for my spiritual growth. Nobody can make me grow. And honestly, no one can keep me from growing because no one can actually control my thoughts, my heart and my mind. I can offer them to God in free surrender whenever I want.

Understand, the church can help, but it’s not responsible for your spiritual growth. You are.

2. The church didn’t burn you out

You meet a lot of people in ministry, both paid and volunteer, who will tell you the church burned them out. As someone who has burned out while leading a church, it would be tempting for me to say “For sure…my church burned me out. You should see the demands people made on me as a pastor and leader!”

But I would never say that.

You know who burned me out?

I did. 

I am responsible for my burnout. I pushed too hard for too long. I didn’t deal with underlying issues. I burned myself out.

Now, granted, I think ministry can be confusing, and I think it’s easier to burn out in ministry than in other vocations (for the reasons why that is, read this post).

But I’m responsible. And so, honestly, are you. For more on burnout, start with this post.

3. The church didn’t make you cynical

I’ve heard many Christians say “I’m so cynical after working at/attending several churches.”

And for sure, any student of human nature can become cynical.

But the church didn’t make you cynical. You let your heart grow hard. You chose to believe certain things about people, about God, about life, and it built a crust around something that used to be alive and vibrant.

The biggest challenge in life is to see life for what it really is but keeping your heart fully engaged. God loves to help people do that.

I fight cynicism daily. And if anyone makes me cynical, it’s me…not you, not God, not culture, not the church. I want my heart to be alive and celebrating each day. That’s a choice I make with God’s help.

4. The church didn’t cause your unforgiveness

It’s easy to hold a grudge. Get hurt (and yes, I’ve been hurt by people in the church too) and hang onto it long enough, and grudges will form.

Soon you’ll not want to hear someone’s name, let alone run into them in the supermarket.

Too many people in the church or who walked away from the church carry unforgiveness and blame the church for it.

What are you hanging onto from a bad church experience that you need to let go of?

Forgiveness is the one of most Christian things people can do. Yet it’s what far too many Christians withhold from one another.

I love how Mark Twain phrased it: “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

5. The church didn’t make you lose your faith

I hesitate to write this one. I’m a church leader. I do everything I can to help people find faith in Jesus Christ.

I also realize I’m far from perfect, that our church is not perfect, and that there never will be perfection on this side of heaven.

It breaks my heart when I hear people say “I went to church but it was so bad/so hypocritical/so shallow I lost my faith.” I realize we don’t always do a good job. In fact, sometimes churches do a terrible job. Sometimes I do a terrible job.

But as you’ve seen throughout this piece, nobody else makes you lose your faith. That was or is a choice you made. It is.

And it’s a choice I make every day. To believe when there are more than a few reasons not to. To love when people don’t love me back. To forgive when it’s easier to hang on to the hurt. To trust when there’s probably a few reasons to stop trusting.

So if you want to believe again…believe again.

A Challenge

Now let me give you a challenge. I realize many of you have been hurt by the church. I realize many of you have grown cynical. And that’s true of people who have left the church and who are in the church.

Here’s the challenge: Be part of the solution. And the solution is not to walk away or be endlessly critical.

The reason I lead a church is because I believe Jesus designed the church to be the hope of the world. Churches are imperfect organizations, but they’re also chosen organizations. We’re on a mission given by Christ. We’re his chosen instrument.

I just want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The world has enough cynics and critics.

We need people and we need leaders who deal hope.

Would you be one of them? Maybe get involved again? Or join a church and decide to work toward a better future? Or start a church of your own? That would be incredible. Really…it would! We need more optimists and more people ready to make the world a better place.

I’d love to hear what you’re taking responsibility for in your life, and how you’ve decided to make a difference.

Scroll down and leave a comment!

cynics; trolls; leadership

Take Back the Internet: How Good People Can Beat the Cynics and the Trolls

You ever read the comment section on a blog or on your favourite news site?

I’m not a ranter, but I have to tell you, sometimes I find the comments section of many sites discouraging…even depressing. It’s like the mean people took over the internet. I’d link to some that bother me, but then I’d just be taking us all down and I really don’t want to do that.

I guess I’m a little attuned to this right now because of the massive response to this post recently that spawned hundreds of comments on my site in a few days. I heard some incredible encouragement from many commenters, but the cynics and the trolls also showed up in good number.

The trolls and cynics have gotten bad enough on the internet that several well known bloggers have discontinued comments altogether on their blogs. They have various reasons, and as someone who has to wade through hundreds of comments a month on this site, I completely understand that.

If I ever cut comments here, it would be because the quality discussion is too often hijacked by the trolls and cynics.

But I don’t want to close my comments section, even though it means I have to take extra time on the comments when addressing sensitive issues like this. Why?

Because I really value dialogue from good people.  Because I learn from readers like you. Because I actually value different perspectives, not just my own. And I should say, so many of you have been SO encouraging. Thanks for being awesome like that. In fact, when I sent out a short version of this article to my email subscribers last week, the reaction was SO positive many said “please turn this into a blog post”. So I did.

So here we go: I don’t want the cynics and the trolls to win. I trust you don’t either, right?

Of course this is all bigger than just blogging. My guess is the cynics and trolls have gotten you down more than a few times in life and leadership.

What do you do?

cynics; trolls; leadership

How Instant Access to Everything has Empowered Cynics and Trolls

Remember the days where cynics and trolls had to interact in front of real people? They’d have to say something in the lunch room in the presence of their co-workers, or line up at the microphone at a meeting to be heard?

Or remember when, pre-chat rooms and social media, when they had to use email to complain, which means they pretty much had to use their real name and expect a real response by a real person?

Ah, those were the days. There was a social check in that…the idea that you were part of a community where people actually interacted with each other.

But now, emboldened by a keyboard and seemingly endless amounts of time, they seem quite dedicated to spreading hopelessness and misery.

Social media and comments threads now gives cynics instant access to anyone who will let them rant, groan and show the rest of the world how much they think they know.

Apparently they have the time, doing little productive with their lives.

As a result of all this, the collective dialogue is suffering:

We know more but think less.

We’ve convinced ourselves that opinion beats dialogue.

Rudeness has become a substitute for disagreement.

That can’t win. Personally, I am addicted to hope, as I know many of you are, awesome people.

The Antidote to Trolls and Cynics

So what can you and I do?

Naturally, you can edit and even ban the cynics and trolls. I try to ban as few people as possible, but every month I end up banning a few people from commenting on my site who honestly just want to pick fights (while I do it reluctantly, it’s my blog and I don’t apologize. It’s like life: you can be rude in my house, but do it a few times and you won’t be invited back.) And sometimes I delete comments from naysayers who have nothing constructive to add.

But you and I can do much better than that. Much better.

I believe there are far more good leaders and good people than there are cynics and trolls.

Here’s the tension: our silence is killing us and fuelling them.

The antidote to cynics and trolls is intelligent, hope-filled conversation by good people.

So, I’m asking you to be a force of good this week by doing two things:

1. Leave an intelligent, helpful, constructive comment to a blog or website this week

It doesn’t have to be on my site (although I’d welcome that, of course), but just leave one somewhere to let humanity know all hope is not lost. Okay?

None of this means you have to agree with the writer (discussion and debate help us all learn), but courteous, grace-filled thoughtful debate moves the dialogue and the mission forward. I KNOW that’s what you bring to the conversation.

Chances are you just think your voice doesn’t matter much. I promise you, it does.

2. Say something helpful and constructive in face to face conversations

Conversations go south in real life all the time. What do many good people and even good leaders do in moments like that? We simply shut down.


Say something helpful, something intelligent, something heartfelt, something constructive. Look to leave the dialogue and the world a better place.

And if you encounter a cynic or troll who says something like “X are just useless places run by selfish people”, look them straight in the eye and ask this question: Really? And just sound surprised.

Most cynics and trolls don’t know what to do with a real person who lives with hope. And if they get rude, just say “I’m sorry, you can’t talk to me that way” and then go on with your intelligent conversation with the other good people in the room.

So would you speak up today?

Your voice is exactly what this world needs right now. And there are far more of you than there are of them.

What are you learning about trolls and cynics?

Scroll down and leave an (intelligent) comment. :)