From Leadership


The Problem With Incremental Change

So you want to bring about change but you’re afraid of the pushback that you know the change will create?

Totally understand that.

So you’re tempted to do what many leaders have done. Instead of bringing about the deep or radical change you know needs to happen, you decide to introduce change incrementally.

Rather than remove the furniture you know needs to go, you move it an inch a week, hoping nobody will notice.

Rather than fire the poor performer, you transfer him to a new position and hope one day he’ll leave.

Rather than kill the programs that need to go, you add a few new ones instead and skirt the real issue.

Rather than make all the changes you know need to be made, you create a 10 year time line, thinking that people will better accept the change the longer you delay.

Sound familiar?

What’s wrong with this picture?

More than a few things actually.


The Problem With Incremental Change

The problem with incremental change…

…is that it brings incremental results.

If you want incremental results, then embrace incremental change.

The reality is that most leaders don’t want incremental results.

You dream of significant results.  Of radically different results.

Yet for some reason too many leaders fall for the leadership lie that incremental change will usher in radically different results.

It won’t.

Radical change brings the potential for radical results.

Incremental change never does.

Why Do Leaders Fall For This?

Why do you as a leader talk yourself into believing that incremental change will produce the results you’re looking for?

There are at least three reasons:

1. You fear people’s reaction to significant change

You’ve seen other leaders get crucified for ushering in change. And you don’t want that to be you.

Fear is one of the main reasons change isn’t happening fast enough in the church or in many organizations today.

Personally, I think it would be a terrible thing to stand before God one day and explain that the main reason you didn’t do what you were called to do is because you were afraid.

Do you really want fear to be your final epitaph as a leader?

Or would you rather go down trying?

Personally, I’d rather die trying.

2. Past opposition to change

You tried change once, and it failed.

Well, awesome.

You also had a bad meal once, but you didn’t stop eating.

Why is it leaders shy away from change once they’ve had any opposition to it?

Maybe the change itself isn’t the problem.

Maybe your strategy is the problem.

This is why I outlined 5 specific strategies to lead change in the face of opposition in my book Leading Change Without Losing It.  And why I’m so passionate about helping leaders navigate change.

Just because you failed at leading changing once doesn’t mean you’ll fail forever.

Get a new strategy. What’s at stake is far too important not to.

3. Belief that progress should come without pain

Now we get closer to the heart of the matter. Many leaders secretly wish progress came without pain.

Progress almost never comes without pain.

Significant things are rarely accomplished without significant struggle.

Our heroes are always people who suffered to bring about a better end. Part of us wants to live like that, and part of us doesn’t.

The leadership question is whether you’re willing to endure pain for the sake of a better future.

Real leaders say yes to that. They honestly do.

So…if you want significantly different results, push past the fear and stop thinking incrementally.

Incremental change brings about incremental results.

Now you know what you’re dealing with.

What are you learning about change?

Scroll down and leave a comment.


CNLP 046: Why Children’s Ministry Might be the Most Important Position on Your Team–An Interview with Gina McClain

Many senior leaders dismiss family ministry as something that simply needs to be done but don’t assign it the priority deserves.

That’s why every leader needs to hear Gina McClain.

An incredible leader, Gina has spearheaded thriving family ministry at and at Faith Promise Church and shares so much…including how to hire the ideal family ministry person to help your church grow.

Welcome to Episode 46 of the Podcast.


Guest Links: Gina McClain

Faith Promise Church

Guts and Glory of Small Groups

Gina on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Craig Groeschel



Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Church Leaders Podcast

Josh Gagnon Leadership Podcast; Episode 17 

Perry Noble Leadership Podcast

Freakonomics Radio

Tim Ferriss Show (explicit language advisory)

Michael Hyatt Podcast

The School of Greatness

Pat Flynn Smart Passive Income

Ask Pat Podcast

Reggie Joiner

Results that Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top by Quint Studer

Caleb Kaltenbach; Episode 33

William Vanderbloemen


3 Things You Can Do Right Away

One of the most important positions you hire for in your church is your children’s ministry leader. Gina tells us how to hire a leader who can produce, and what makes them effective in their position.

  1. Set up volunteers to win. As a leader, if you can nurture an environment that volunteers want to be a part of, they’ll want to keep coming back. Put yourself in their position and ask, “What is it like to work in my ministry?” and “If I wouldn’t, what needs to change?” Set your team up for success. Volunteers need you to identify what you want them to do and how you want it done. If you can remove ambiguity, you’ll create a winning team that people will want to be part of.
  2. Identify leaders who click with parents. There are characteristics that are critically important to the success of kids ministry, because if you win with kids, you win over their families. A good leader must be able to lead others. They should be approachable, possess a can-do attitude and be ready with a solution. A children’s ministry leader needs to strive to grow and improve, have strong relational ability and can lean into uncomfortable conversations.
  3. Leverage family to help senior leaders see the growth potential for the church. No pastor wakes up and says, “I hope my church doesn’t grow this year.” A great kids ministry will help a church grow. Parents may drag their kids to school, but they won’t drag them to church. But if children have a church they love, they’ll influence their parents to attend because parents want their children to love church. It’s so easy for a senior leader to dismiss the needs of children’s ministry, but they need to listen to the needs of the leader.

Quotes from Gina

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Next Episode: David McDaniel

There are business leaders in almost every congregation. But often, there’s a divide—even a debate—about how to use business ideas to further the church’s mission.

David McDaniel, a Harvard MBA who has worked as an entrepreneur, a church leader (leading North Point’s multisite strategy) and as a church elder talks about where business ideas come from and how they can help the church’s mission.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 47.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

The Evangelism Conversation No One Is Having

I was listening to a podcast recently that confirmed what many of us have intuitively known for a long time.

People are having spiritual conversations every day…they just never think of turning to a preacher or the church for answers.

I’m not talking about people who have other religious backgrounds. I’m talking about your neighbours, your friends, maybe even your family members as well as cultural leaders and thought leaders in our cultural context who are unchurched.

It’s not that people aren’t interested in spirituality; it’s that they don’t think the church can help them.

It’s completely worth the 45 minutes for you to listen to this conversation between Lewis Howes and Prince Ea. (The direct iTunes link is here). Lewis is a pro-athelte turned podcaster and Prince Ea has dedicated his life to fitness, inspiration and music.

As you listen to this conversation, you’ll see how much the dialogue has completely shifted. Lewis is clearly looking for answers to spiritual questions, and Prince Ea is giving them, but the conversation is completely different than any conversation I’ve ever heard in any church.

Jesus comes up once, but they quickly move on to having dinner with Buddha instead.

Truthfully, most of the people they reference in this conversation are people I’ve never read…or even heard of.

The dialogue is moving, friends, and we preachers and church leaders are increasingly not a part of it.

A Shrinking Audience

If many preachers and church leaders were musicians, I’d say we’re increasingly cutting records nobody’s listening to, let alone buying.

Yes, that’s a bit harsh.

And I write this in a year when our church is seeing a year of encouraging growth—mostly from unchurched people.

But I’m painfully aware that we have over 250,000 people within a 30 minute drive of our locations who are completely unchurched.

Who’s talking to them?

I think that’s crickets I hear.

I say this not so much as criticism as I do out of a sense of burden.

I just think we need to get better at this. need to get better at this. We all do.

6 Steps Toward Having the Conversation No One is Having

So how do we get better at this?

Here are 6 steps that I think can lead us toward the evangelism conversation far too few of us are having.

1. Listen to voices that don’t simply affirm what you already believe

Look, it’s great to listen to people who believe what you believe…to have your faith strengthened or your skills sharpened.

But don’t stop there.

Listen to people who disagree with you, people who think differently than you, people who don’t believe what you believe.

And I’m not talking about people who watch Fox News watching CNN or MSNBC as an alternative. Or people who listen to John Piper checking out Rick Warren for radically different views.

I mean just listen to people who don’t share your faith system at all.

Podcasting makes this so easy.

I love creating my podcast for church leaders every week (you can subscribe for free here, btw) and I love listening to other preachers and Christian leaders, but I make it a discipline to listen to other, non-Christian voices.

I have to get better at this, but simply listening to people who agree with you doesn’t make you a better thinker or preacher.

2. Listen to Top 40 radio

My personal music preferences don’t tend to lean toward Top 40 anymore. I like current music, just not the stuff the people I’m trying to reach are buying.

You might find yourself in a similar position as a Christian leader.

Making yourself listen to music your unchurched friends are listening to helps you get into their world.

Yes, you’ll find the music morally objectionable. And you won’t like the beats. But I’m not asking you to like what unchurched people are listening to…just to listen to understand it.

Music contains so many clues to the value system of our culture, the struggles of our culture and the hopes of our culture. A culture that I assume you’re trying to reach with the ultimate hope of Jesus.

If you want more on music and approach to church, Rich Birch and I talk about how even contemporary church music isn’t contemporary anymore in Episode 8 of my leadership podcast.

3. Read what your unchurched neighbour is reading

So this isn’t an excuse to dive into 50 Shades of Grey, but when was the last time you checked out the Amazon Top 100 bestsellers?

Or the New York Times Best Seller List?

The spiritual dialogue has moved, and the clues to what it looks like are found all over today’s best seller lists.

4. Understand the culture’s vocabulary

Even one listen to the conversation between Lewis Howes and Prince Ea will show you how much the dialogue has shifted.

Their conversation sounds nothing like anything I’ve heard from any church platform lately, but they’re asking all the questions Christians ask.

This doesn’t mean you should start talking street if you’ve got no street in you. You’ll come off as inauthentic, awkward and even weird. Avoid that.

But people will be able to tell if you’re trying to connect with them where they’re at.

Ask yourself some tough questions:

Would any message I’ve preached be easy to understand by anyone who had never been in church?

Am I answering questions people are actually asking?

Do I even know the questions people who have never been to church are asking?

Can I convey the answers in language anyone can understand?

5. Explore all the language of scripture

Most of us get stuck using only a few of the metaphors for God and faith that the scripture uses.

We might love preaching about the blood of Jesus, but to our culture, that seems increasingly weird. I’m not saying you should never use it, but if you do, try to explain why it matters.

And look for other metaphors. The Apostle Paul was masterful at this, engaging and quoting Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in front of a group of Greeks who had never read the Hebrew Bible.

He started with their language, rather than his. And culled from scriptural metaphors that would make the most sense to them as outsiders before getting to the resurrection.

So what are you favourite metaphors? Just listen to your last 20 messages or conversations and you’ll figure it out.

Then as you read your bible, get ready to get surprised at how many different ways scripture describes God or even salvation.

The metaphors Scripture uses to describe God are far richer than most Christian leaders realize.

6. Get around some people under the age of 30

If you want to hit the deep end quickly on understanding culture, this is it.

I was talking to Perry Noble recently and he completely surprised me by telling me he meets monthly with a group of high school students just so he can stay current. And he gives them his cell number so they can stay up to date.

This is a leader who leads one of the largest, fastest growing churches in America who finds the time to meet a dozen times a year or more with students so he can stay fresh.

If Perry can do it, you and I can probably find the time.

Whether you decide to meet with junior high kids, high school students, a group of millennials outside the church or whomever you choose to meet with, the point is this: meeting with teens or young adults who understand culture, where it’s at and where it’s going keeps you from becoming irrelevant.

I usually do random meetings with young adults, but this kind of structured intentional meeting really challenged me.

The truth is churched people will ask you to meet with them all day long. So will people your age.

Students never will.

Unchurched people never will.

Millennials never will.

So make the time.

The Goal?

Want to know where the hope lies in all of this?

Let me show you.

As most iTunes users will know, if you locate a podcast or even album on iTunes, it tells you what people who listen to that podcast also listen to.

Look at what I found under Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness Podcast.

I found Michael Hyatt.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.58.14 AM

Michael is a giant in the leadership world these days, as are John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, Tim Ferriss and other others listed.

But Michael is also a Christian. And he speaks about his faith often and openly in his writings and on his podcast.

The church needs more leaders like Michael who not only respond to culture, but influence it That’s exactly what Michael is doing…largely because he’s so great at leadership.

Wouldn’t it be great to see a day when people who are listening to podcasts on spirituality see a church’s or Christian leader’s podcast come up under the “Listeners also subscribed to…” section of an iTunes page?

What if that was you?

Or your church?

The better we get at understanding and addressing our rapidly change culture, the more frequently this will happen.

Two More Resources

If you want to drill down more on this subject, here are two more resources I’ve put together.

Blog Post: 5 Important Ways Evangelism is Shifting in Our Culture

Podcast: Churchless. Why and How America Is Learning to Live Without The Church: An Interview with David Kinnaman (also below).

Let’s Get Better At This Together

Got books you’ve read that have helped you get better at connecting with the culture?

Music you listen to?

Podcasts you’ve listened to?

Scroll down and leave a comment listing what you’re reading, listening to or discovered.

We can all get better together.


The Fastest Path to Becoming an Ineffective Leader

I was talking to a leader this week who has come under fire from a group in his church who is opposed to the change he and his team are making.

I won’t go into the details, but it’s a change about 99% of you reading this post would advise he make. It’s actually not even that controversial. It’s common sense.

You know what he’s doing? He’s leading.

But he’s getting a crazy amount of pushback from a tiny group of people, less than 10% of his community (as I wrote about here, the opponents almost always a tiny group even when you think they’re not).

He was clearly rattled.

It’s hard to come under fire.

It’s painful to have people spread untrue rumours about you.

It’s tough to see your popularity (even with a small group) sink.

At the core of it, he’s dealing with one of the hardest dynamics any leader faces: opposition. And handling rejection poorly creates the fastest path to becoming an ineffective leader.


We’re All Afraid of Opposition

Here are the dynamics around rejection and opposition most of us face.

You work hard on an idea. You

Sweat over it

Pray over it

Revise it

Perfect it

And you hope—really hope—that when your idea is unveiled, people will like it.

Before you dismiss that, and announce “I don’t care what people think!” have you ever unveiled an idea or project you sincerely hoped people wouldn’t like?

Didn’t think so.

So the desire to have your proposal accepted is pretty universal, isn’t it?

Almost every leader is afraid of one thing: opposition.

And not just personal opposition, but opposition that rejects your ideas as well. Your hopes. Your strategy. Your dream.

And your dream for the mission.

Here Comes the Trap

What happens next is critical.

When you announce your idea and it’s met with opposition—any opposition—most of us freeze.

That’s the position my friend was in. He was discouraged, dejected and rattled. (That’s actually a sign of a healthy heart by the way. It’s good to be bothered by criticism. Only pathological people aren’t.)

Faced with push back, even from a splinter group, here’s the mistake most leaders make.

Afraid of rejection, you and I revise our ideas until we think they have the greatest chance of acceptance.

And in principle, that’s a good idea. Who wants to introduce something that ultimately only 5 people on Planet Earth are going to find helpful?

But often, in the process of trying to get people to buy in to our initiative, we take the edges off of it.

We dilute it. We compromise. We talk about what’s acceptable, not about what’s best.

And we all die a little inside.

So, because you’ve been rattled, you then re-introduce your slightly watered-down idea/product/change/innovation hoping that people applaud wildly.

Except they don’t. People still don’t like it.

You hear from the critics

A few people leave

More people threaten to leave

You get really scared

So you retreat.

You revise your plan. You sand more edges off. You compromise more fully. You try to offend as few people as possible.

And you die even a little more inside.

Except now, your proposal becomes, literally,  unremarkable.

Maybe You Had Something Remarkable

Perhaps you originally had a remarkable idea.

And criticism, at its heart, is a sign that what you’re proposing is remarkable. Think about it: the presence of critics indicates you might have a truly remarkable idea.

Do you see what you often do when you water down your bold changes as a result of criticism? You change a remarkable initiative into an unremarkable one.

You’ve chosen inoffensiveness over effectiveness.

And being inoffensive ultimately makes you ineffective.

And Suddenly You’re on the Fastest Path To Irrelevance

And that’s why far too many leaders end in a place where they are too afraid to be bold. Too afraid to try something new. Too afraid to even dream.

They reduce potentially great initiatives to the least offensive form they can find, hoping everyone will buy in.

Except that your ability to attract new people just went out the window.

The only people who really like your new idea are a small core of the people who already liked your old idea…and any growth potential is jettisoned.

Here’s the lesson far too many leaders never learn about trying to offend as few people as possible:

If you attempt to offend no one, you will eventually become irrelevant to everyone.

Where does this land you as a leader?

With worship services that are bland enough to inspire no one, including almost none of the 40 or 400 people who are there but who strangely want to keep it that way.

Adopting mission statements so drab they could have been lifted from an HR manual.

With a vision for the future that looks far too much like the past.

It’s not that difficult to head down the path to irrelevance.

Lead Boldly

So what do you do?

Four things can help a leader usher in bolder change and avoid irrelevance:

1. Be Bold

Don’t stop dreaming. Introduce some bolder changes. Incremental change brings incremental results. Bolder change will bring bolder results.

2. Lead with Humility

No one likes an arrogant person; even fewer people like an arrogant leader. Being bold is not a licence to offend. Leading from a place of humility can help you broker change far better than leading from a place of arrogance.

3. Take the Long View

A key difference between leaders who successfully navigate change and those who don’t is the ability to stick out the initial waves of criticism.

The fact that some people don’t like your change is natural. Take the long view and realize that this too shall pass.

And it will pass sooner than you think.

4. Focus on Who You Want To Reach, Not Who You Want to Keep

If you focus on the 10% of people who don’t like the change, you will lose the thousands of people you can reach by making the change.

Again, this is not an excuse to be stubborn, arrogant or bullying. But it is permission to be courageous. To be true to your convictions, and to lead with some conviction and even some occasional daring. I share more specific strategies on how to effectively lead change here.

If your mission is as important as you say it is, it deserves your best leadership and courage.

My Guess Is…

…that you are not trying to be ineffective.

It’s just that gravitational pull we all feel in leadership to please everybody is almost always counterproductive. Sometimes, you even end up being nothing to anyone.

So what’s keeping you back from acting on your best strategy?

What’s keeping you back from being more daring?

It’s fear, isn’t it?

Fear of being rejected.

Fear of offending people.

Well…just know what’s at stake.

Inoffensive is ineffective.

In your attempt to offend no one, you just might become irrelevant to everyone.

My friend called me at just the right time. He hasn’t retreated from his team’s initiative. And he shouldn’t. He’ll keep leading, and his church and community will be better for it. And he’s leading humbly with grace.

Maybe you’re at the cross roads where the push back is becoming so intense from a small group that you want to throw in the towel.

If you have a great idea that you and the team believe is great, hang in there. Just hang in there.

After all, inoffensive is ineffective. And neither you nor your organization want to land there.

What do you think?  What would you add to this conversation?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

vacation rules

Some New (And Better) Rules For Your Next Vacation

Ready for your next vacation?

YES, say most people…even if the last one wasn’t that long ago.

Anyone who’s ever taken a vacation knows that you can come back replenished or exhausted, excited or defeated, or restored or depleted.

It all depends on how you use the time you have.

I just came back from two weeks of vacation, but was amazed by how much vacation ‘advice’ I got.

People told me I needed to go off social media completely. That I wasn’t allowed to do any writing. That I had to completely unplug. That ministry was completely off limits while I was away.

Much of the advice, I think, is wrong…or at least wrong for me.

Well meaning—sure—but still unhelpful.

In fact, I’m becoming convinced that much of the advice you read or is given about vacation is written by people who hate their jobs and think one size fits all when it comes to relaxation.

I realize not everyone has a job they love, but there’s something wrong when work is something you endure to make it to the weekend or to those magical weeks off that happen oh so rarely.

The advice I got bothered me enough that I decided to take a stab at some new vacation rules. There are only three.

See if you agree.

And see if these rules for your next vacation don’t make you feel much better when you come back from your next stint away.

vacation rules1. Do The Things That Restore You

One of the goals of vacation is to come back restored. No matter how much you love your job, leadership is stressful and you really do need a break.

But we have all ended up on vacations that drain you so much that you need a vacation after your vacation.

So how do you do that? How do you come back restored, replenished and rejuvenated?

The reality is that everyone is different.

Some of my friends take all-inclusives and claim it’s the best thing ever.

Others travel and see every historic site in the city, snapping pictures as they go, and swear it’s the only way to vacation.

Still other friends go camping and say they come back exhilarated. (I personally believe camping was invented by the devil. If God made us smart enough to build hotels and houses, after all, isn’t it unfaithful to revert to the bush? But I digress…)

All three options above, frankly, are unattractive to me. If I followed their prescription, I’d come back bored (all inclusive), exhausted (the uber site seeing trip), angry (the camping trip) and not restored at all.

Over the years I’ve learned that certain things restore me and certain things don’t.

The same is true for you. What works for your best friend may not work for you.

So now, on holidays, I personally look for the following things, knowing that if I have them, I come back feeling great.

A place where I can be with my wife and or wife and kids (our kids are young adults now, so they’re not always with us).

A place where no one knows me or my family or (alternatively) where we’re with just a handful of our extended family or best friends.

An opportunity for a few hours every day all alone, by myself with few to no interruptions (increasingly, I’m an introvert).

A vacation with no set agenda (don’t need to be anywhere or do anything at any given time).

A place where we don’t need to cook, but can make a few things ourselves if we want to.

The flexibility to do spontaneous day trips if we feel like it, or not.

Wifi or decent internet access.

I realize this might sound like purgatory to some of you or a nightmare scenario for others.

I’m not telling you this is how you need to spend your vacation. I am telling you this is how I best spend mine if I actually want to be restored.

My wife Toni has a list that would look a little different. She’d have more adventure and socialization than I would. And she has no desire for internet access at all unless we’re researching a day trip.

So we have worked really hard over the years to make sure each of us gets the environment we both need to come back restored. Ditto with our kids.

Often I’ll start the day with the question “What do you need today to make this a great day for you?” Toni usually asks me the same thing.

With a full day ahead of us, we can usually figure out a way to make sure we both get replenished.

Please hear me. Your day will look different.

The question you need to answer is what do I need to do to come back restored? 

Then do it.

Stop living some else’s vacation and start living yours.

2. Do The Things That Energize You

Do you have any idea what energizes you and what drains you?

As I’ve matured as a leader I pay more and more attention to this every year.

The reality is certain activities and even environments restore me; others drain me.

Ditto for you.

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a leader (and human being) is to figure out what restores you and figure out what drains you. Then spend as much time as you can on what restores you, and as little time on what drains you.

This is great work advice (at least as far as you can control what you do with your time), but it is essential vacation advice.

Let’s face it. Certain people energize you. You leave feeling great and think How did two hours slip by so fast?

Other people drain you. You leave a 30 minute meeting feeling depleted and like the 30 minutes actually lasted a month.

That’s not good or bad. It’s just true.

The same is true with activities. Certain things get you really excited. Other activities make you feel like you’d rather poke out your eyes with a hot stick.

The key is for you to understand which is which.

I actually outlined how to create an energy management list in this post if you want to create one for yourself.

I make sure in every vacation that I spend time doing things that energize me.

For me these days, that everything I listed above and also includes blogging (at least a bit), writing (I started the intro to a new book) and even a Periscope session for leaders and listeners. I even thought through some fresh angles on ministry.

Why did I do these things on my vacation? Because I felt like it. And because I felt better after doing it than I did before.

These things give me energy. Your list might be completely different. That’s okay.

If you can figure out what gives you energy, you will come back replenished.

Just don’t let other people judge you for doing what you love to do.

3. Avoid What Drains You

All of us have things we have to do but leave us feeling diminished and depleted.

And similarly, we have people who drain us as I indicated above.

I would strongly urge you to avoid as many draining activities and people as you can while on vacation.

For example, I really detest email. I know it’s necessary, but I really don’t like it. I love putting my auto-responder on that says I’m going to be away for a few weeks.

I’m also blessed with a great assistant, and I have her go through my email while I’m away to answer as much as possible. That way when I get back, I’m not digging out from hundreds of emails.

I no longer feel any guilt for unplugging from email, even while I might selectively show up on social media or my blog when I’m away. Or in church (because I love our church and the local church).

And I try to surround myself with people who energize me, knowing I’ll have to be back to connect with all kinds of people in just a few short weeks.

Is This Just Selfishness?

The thing I’ve struggled with over the years—and even as I wrote this post—is this: isn’t this just really selfish?

I don’t think so.

It’s not selfish. It’s self-care.

Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s essential.

Jesus practiced it all the time (he kept disappearing to rest and to pray and connect with his Father, even when people still wanted to see him).

Leaders who don’t practice self-care burn out, as Perry Noble and I learned the hard way and talked about in this interview below. 

If you practice self-care regularly (not just on vacation), you’ll find you will stay far away from burnout and you’ll avoid the trap of self-medication which so many Christian leaders fall into.

That’s It

So those are my current new vacation rules.

1. Do the things that restore you.

2. Do the things that energize you.

3. Avoid what drains you.

Pretty simple, but for me at least, very effective.

Got any rules or insights you would add? Scroll down and leave a comment.


CNLP 045: The Key Ingredients to Great Chemistry Between Leaders and Their Assistants—An Interview with eaHELP Founder Bryan Miles

What makes for a great relationship between a leader and their assistant?

Why do so many leaders have affairs with their assistants?

What are some best practices every leader and their assistant can adopt that will move your vision forward?

Bryan Miles, CEO of eaHELP, shares his best practices.

Welcome to Episode 45 of the Podcast.



Guest Links: Bryan Miles


MAG Bookkeeping

Miles Advisory Group

E-Book:  9 Reasons to Rethink Your Approach to Staffing 

Infographic: Know Your Employee Burden Cost

Bryan on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Barnabas Piper

Craig Groeschel

Ravi Zacharias

Jud Wilhite

The Orange Tour 2015

Reggie Joiner

Jon Acuff

North Point Community Church


Casey Graham

Chris Ducker

Michael Hyatt



3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Finding an assistant who’s a good fit can be one of the most difficult roles to fill in your organization. Bryan Miles tells us how to optimize your goals through your administrative assistant:

1. When you delegate, trust. You’ve got to fill a gap with trust, and in a technological world, there are big gaps. You need to set the expectation of trust. When trust is built, you increase your productivity. So when you delegate tasks, you’re delegating results. If you set the expectation of the results you want to see, your assistant will meet you there or beat you to it. The result is achieved in that process.
2. Over-communicate. You have to break your assistant’s threshold of their communication because you need affirmation that they understand your goals. What you’re doing is informing the “why” about something. If your assistant understands “why,” they can take care of the issue and fill in the blanks. Being too thorough may be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll eventually create a rhythm that makes work more efficient.
3. Help your assistant succeed…don’t just expect your assistant to help you succeed. No doubt your productivity should increase with the help of your virtual assistant, but what are you doing to ensure they can get their job done to exceed your expectations? A good virtual assistant can meet the needs of a leader and get ahead of them. It’s one thing to have someone who gets things done, but it’s like cooking with gas when you have an assistant who gets ahead of you. Your virtual assistant is an extension of who you are, so empower them in the areas where you struggle. Anticipating your needs is a vital skill to a great assistant, and when they can be proactive, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Quotes from Bryan

Free Resources

Here are the free resources Bryan has made available for podcast listeners:

eBook – Bryan Miles – 9 Reasons to Rethink Your Approach to Staffing

Infographic: Know Your Employee Burden Cost

KRA- Problem Solver and Happiness Maker

Thanks to Bryan and eaHELP for their generosity!

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  Jon Acuff, Mark Batterson, Pete Wilson, David Kinnaman, Caleb Kalentbach, 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: Gina McClain

Many senior leaders dismiss family ministry as something that simply needs to be done but don’t assign it the priority deserves. That’s why every leader needs to hear Gina McClain. An incredible leader, Gina has spearheaded thriving family ministry at and at Faith Promise Church and share so much…including how to hire the ideal family ministry person to help your church grow.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 46.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment!



CNLP 044: The Ups and Downs (And Everything in Between) of Starting a Church: An Interview with Jeanne Stevens

The life of a church planter has so many ups and downs.

Jeanne Stevens and her husband Jarrett learned that the hard way, when after over a decade on the staff of some well known mega-churches, they found the courage to leave the comfort of what they knew to plant a church in downtown Chicago. Jeanne tells the story.

Welcome to Episode 44 of the Podcast.


Guest Links: Jeanne Stevens


Soul City Church

Jeanne Stevens on Twitter

Jeanne Stevens on Instagram

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Orange Tour

North Point

Willow Creek

Andy Stanley

Bill Hybles


3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Starting a church isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. With patience and an eagerness to hear from God, Jeanne followed her faith to plant a church in downtown Chicago. Here’s what she learned from her journey:

  1. Surrender obedience to God. For Jeanne, it really wasn’t the right time to start a church. The economy tanked, she was raising two small children, and she didn’t have a facility to hold services. But that didn’t change her faith in God. She recognized several prompts, she received confirmation and she referred to scripture. Jeanne realized the day she started a church was the day she really started following Jesus. She learned that she couldn’t solve problems with money, so she had to get creative by reaching out to others. Jeanne knew someone who had a friend with warehouse space, and she inquired about renting part of it for their church. When they were initially rejected, she continued to pray about it, and six months later, the owners of the warehouse had a change of heart. In addition to letting Jeanne use their 22,000 sq. ft. space, she would be allowed to rent the facility two years for free! Sometimes you have to trade in comfort for courage. It may fatigue you, but it’s worth the risk.
  2. Learn how to love people well, even if they leave. Logically, Jeanne could understand why people leave churches, but nothing prepared her for it emotionally. There are several reasons why people leave churches, but it all plays into the season God has for them at that time in their life. Look at the bigger picture. When people leave, it can be disguised as a gift. Know that you planted something in them at that moment in their life, and they’re able to take your influence with them. “The gift is about building the kingdom of God … You were part of the transition of the broader, more beautiful Church.”
  3. Say “yes” to the best and “no” to the rest. Leaders start things because they’re passionate. They see things that are broken, and they want to fix it. When you go at a pace that you can’t sustain, you’re going to burn people out. Recognize your limits are. Don’t start with 17 different ministries if you don’t have the staff for it. Know what you can handle. It’s the pacing and rhythm of the organization that maintains the momentum. Don’t be afraid to use your “no” muscle.

Quotes from Jeanne

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  Jon Acuff, Mark Batterson, Pete Wilson, David Kinnaman, Caleb Kalentbach, 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: Bryan Miles

What makes for a great relationship between a leader and their assistant? Why do so many leaders have affairs with their assistants? What are some best practices every leader and their assistant can adopt that will move your vision forward? Bryan Miles, CEO of EA Helps, shares his best practices.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 45.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment!


5 Stupid Things The Church Needs to Stop Doing to Make Progress

The church has more than its share of critics these days.

Sometimes the criticism is unwarranted. People project their issues onto a congregation or onto the church, which is never healthy.

And, of course, the church will inevitably run into criticism.

What we’re doing is counter-cultural and will never be met with universal applause. The Gospel, even when powerfully shared, got John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Jesus and the prophets killed, just to name a few. While it seems strange to say it, even love, when seen fully and magnificently, gets rejected.

But other times we absolutely deserve the criticism that comes our way.

Often these days, it seems, we’re not ridiculed or persecuted because we’re fighting nobly. Nope, sometimes we just shoot ourselves in the foot.

Here are 5 things that, in my view, would help the mission of the church become more authentic and more effective if we could just stop doing them.

1. Being So Weird Online

Too many Christians come across online as either

Toxic (Hello angry ranters, trolls and haters);

Cynical (Yes, we know you’re disappointed with everyone all the time and no one gets it as right as you); or

Syrupy (So sweet we can’t stand the taste and are not really sure you live in the real world)

Why do so many Christians think their social media feed is a place to show the world their weirdness?

It gives the impression that if you’re going to follow Jesus you also need to become socially awkward.

I know people might say “no, I’m just being authentic”. But being authentic does not mean being weird. (I shared my personal criteria for what I share online in the name of authenticity in this post).

I think a general rule is if you can’t imagine saying it in real life to a person, you shouldn’t say it online.

If you go to post something and you think, well, that would be braggy if I said that to someone, that’s a healthy check. It means you’d be bragging. So don’t post it.

Similarly, if you think “Well, people would just walk out of the room if I said that in real life,” then maybe don’t say it.

If you’re always angry or cynical or all you do is complain online and you think “well, I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that in real life,” then that’s a clue that maybe you shouldn’t say it, or be like that.

And if you think “well, then I’ll have nothing to post,” then you’ve likely put your finger on a deeper issue.

Christians, let’s just stop being so weird online, okay?

2. Commenting on Politics

Part of the weirdness is political.

God is not a Republican or a Democrat, or in my country, a Conservative, Liberal or New Democrat. Nor is God an independent.

God is God.

When your church becomes a mouthpiece for a political party, you cease to be the church.

Your job is to share the Gospel, not to change the government.

As I shared in more detail here, Jesus and Paul spend surprisingly little time trying to influence the government. Jesus completely rejected the idea of becoming the government when people asked him to become their political leader.

I know some will say “well, God has opinions about things happening today”.

I’m sure he does.

But when authentic Christians sincerely share different views on subjects, we should be very careful about speaking for God.

And, after all, when God happens to have all the same opinions you do, you’re probably not even worshipping God anymore.

You might be worshipping yourself.

3. Handling Conflict So Poorly

The church should be the best in the world at handling conflict. We were taught by Jesus exactly how to do it.

Yet we often side step. We gossip. We talk about other people rather than to people.

We avoid conflict. Or we run into it like a bulldozer claiming we’re all about truth.

If we just handled conflict humbly, gently, introspectively and bravely, we would be so much better.

If you really want to see how to restore someone in love, listen to this message by Andy Stanley on judgment and helping others who are sinning. It’s brilliant.

If we handled conflict more healthily, our churches would be so much healthier.

And a healthy church is a church that can help other people get healthier.

4. Ranking Sin Selectively

Christians have become fairly good at focusing on the moral failings of others while ignoring their own.

We pretend that the worst sin you can commit is sexual. And—don’t get me wrong—sexual sin has serious implications.

But so does gossip. And divisiveness. And quarrelling—sins Christians routinely ignore. Mostly because we commit them.

I would suggest that just as many congregations have been ruined by gossip, divisiveness and quarrelling as have been stained by sexual sin. But you’d never know it given the way we talk about sin.

I’m all for surrendering our sexuality to Christ. But I’m also all for submitting our propensity to gossip, our divisiveness and our quarrelling to Jesus and dealing with that seriously.

Imagine what the church might look like if that happened.

And we haven’t even touched gossip, gluttony or envy yet, all things with which Christians routinely self-medicate their pain.

Maybe if Christians humbly confessed their sins first, the world would be more likely to come to terms with their sins.

So here’s an idea. Instead of pretending someone else’s sin is worse than your sin, confess your sin.

You’ll be in such a better place if you do that. And so will they.

You might actually be able to help them.

5. Judging Outsiders

This is a pet peeve of mine.

As I outlined here, we in the modern church have largely ignored Paul’s injunction to stop judging non-Christians.  Even Jesus said he didn’t come into the world to judge it, but to save it.

I completely get the urge to judge our neighbours and even the world. Things bother me too.

But I have to refrain. Our faith in Christ demands it.

Before ministry, I was a lawyer. In first year law, I remember having a crisis because I couldn’t imagine representing a client I believed might be guilty.

I stayed after class one day to talk to my criminal law professor about it. He assured me of a few things. First, if your client tells you he’s guilty, you can’t ethically enter a non-guilty plea.

That made me feel better.

But then he told me that almost every client says they’re not guilty.

I got nervous again.

“Well what if you think he’s guilty but he says he’s not…doesn’t that put you in a horrible bind?”

I’ll never forget his answer.

“You’re confusing you’re role, Carey. You’re not the judge. You’re his lawyer. Your job is —ethically, morally and legally—to give him the best day he can possibly have in court. The judge will decide whether he’s guilty or not.”

I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.

So…Christians, the world has a judge. And it’s not you.

He’s fairer than you. More just than you. More perfect than you. And far more accurate.

In the meantime, do your best to help reconcile your brothers and sister in the world to their heavenly father through Christ. That’s your job.

Take some comfort in that. And for all these reasons and more, stop judging.

What Else?

Any other self-defeating, stupid things you wish we’d stop doing in the church?

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

gut reaction

How To Know If You Can Trust Your Gut Instinct As a Leader

You have a gut instinct about almost everything that comes across your radar.

Before you even say anything out loud, often you have an intuitive sense of whether you should move ahead or not, whether you should jump in or step back, or whether someone is trustworthy or not.

The question is, how do you know if you can trust your gut reaction as a leader?

For me personally, that’s been an interesting journey. I trusted my gut a lot in the early days of leadership, and it paid off. Our church grew. The mission moved forward. It was an incredible journey.

But sometimes I trusted my gut so much I excluded other people from the process of decision making. I would often find myself saying things like “I don’t know why…I just know. This is what we should do.”

As I matured as a leader, I learned to check my gut instinct with more prayer, discussion, discernment and input from others. So much so that I almost forgot about my gut instinct in many situations.

There’s wisdom in that, for sure. But sometimes I would look back on a situation and think “I wish we would have just gone for it/avoided that” because I knew, deep down, my gut would have taken us in a different direction.

Over the last few years I’ve tried to pay more attention to my gut instinct AND value team input around me. Not an easy feat.

But back to the original question…as a leader, how can you know when you should trust your gut reaction? Your gut isn’t always reliable, is it?

Here are 5 questions I’m learning to ask to help with that. gut reaction

1. Has my intuition been reliable in the past?

If you’ve led (or lived) for any length of time, your gut has a track record.

Have your impulsive reactions usually led you and others around you to a great place or into danger?

If your impulses lead you into a series of speeding tickets, debt or reckless decisions that hurt people…your gut instinct probably isn’t that reliable. If it leads you to slow down for safety’s sake, walk away and think about it or to care about how other people feel…well, those are better instincts.

Take a look at the track record of instinctive personal and leadership decisions you’ve made: are you and the people around you better or worse off because of them?

You might discover that your track record in certain areas (like personnel) is stellar but in other areas (say finance) your gut is too conservative or too risky.

Once you understand the patterns, you’ll be better able to know when to trust your intuition and when to check it.

Your past patterns are a great indicator of your future success (and failure). Wisdom remembers that.

2. Is my gut reaction consistent or inconsistent with scripture?

Just because you have a track record of success doesn’t mean you’re being faithful.

After all, there are successful criminals at work in your city who have a stellar track record of never being caught.

We’re all fallen, and that means sometimes our impulses lead us toward Christ and sometimes they lead us away from Christ.

As you develop a filter around your impulses you’ll begin to see which natural reactions you have are consistent with Scripture and which ones you should immediately dismiss.

For example, a friend told me years ago that I suffer fools lightly. What he meant was if I don’t like the way someone leads, I distance myself very quickly.

That can be a good thing (it helps me build a better team). But it’s also a bad thing because what it usually means in the short term is that I lack grace for that person. That’s actually sinful.

Everyone bears the image of God and I need to treat them that way.

So I have had to learn to check my impulses in this area because I’m a Christian and I’ve learned to extend grace to people I may not fully respect.

In the same way, you need to check your gut instincts through the lens of scripture to see which lead you and others closer to Christ and which lead you further away.

3. What are the implications of my actions?

Because gut instincts are, well, gut instincts, the initial temptation is to just run with them.

But even taking a few moments to think about where the dominoes will land once you put the first one in motion is a wise thing to do.

If your gut reaction is reliable, thinking through the implications will show you how things will become better. Conversely, thinking through a gut reaction that isn’t helpful will avoid danger.

If you’re an impulsive person, thinking through the implications of your action is a necessity.

I’m an impulsive person and I’ve learned this the hard way.

Conversely, if you overthink issues, you will be prone to non-action which has its own set of implications that you might miss.

Not acting is often as deadly as acting impulsively. And many churches are legendary for not acting.

So think through the consequences of your action or non-action. It can only help to do that.

4. Ask yourself, “Five years from now, what will I wish I had done?”

Okay, that’s a lot of verb tenses in one question, but I love this question.

This has become one of my favourite questions to ask when I don’t know what I should do or what our team should do.

It’s a particularly helpful question for leaders who overthink issues. It’s easy to get into a state of paralysis of analysis when you have multiple voices weighing into a conversation or when you’ve been thinking about something for a long time.

So just ask yourself…”Five years from now, what will I wish I had done?”

Often, asking that question clears away the fog and you know, you just know, what you’ll wish you would have done.

Asking that question has led me to make some life changing decisions about everything from diet and exercise, to starting new things, to staying at something longer than I wanted to.  I love that question so much I spent an entire post unpacking it here.

So, when in doubt, ask yourself “Five years from now, what will I wish I had done?”

5. What are other people’s gut instincts?

Sometimes you get so far into a meeting or series of meetings on an issue that people are drowning in confusion. You can barely remember what you were talking about.

As a leader, that’s a great opportunity.

Here’s what you can do.: Reframe the question as clearly as you can state it and then say:

“I know we’ve talked about this a lot, but what’s your gut instinct: do is or not do it? Everyone weigh in, one by one. One word answer only: yes or no.”

Then go around the room and get everyone to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Sometimes I’ll go back around and ask for a one sentence reason why they answered yes or no. Just one sentence. Not a paragraph. Not an essay.

I’ll look for something as simple as “I say yes, because if we don’t do it, who will?”

And that’s it.

This can be tremendously clarifying. And it can cut through hours/days of discussion, considerations and meetings with surprisingly efficiency.

If most people’s gut reactions line up in the same direction (and they’re consistent with scripture), that can be a great sign.

And if you’re wrong, at least you were wrong together.

How Do You Know?

What are you learning on this issue?

How do you know if you can trust your gut?

Scroll down and leave a comment.


CNLP 043: What’s Next in Multisite—How New Locations, Mergers and Aquistions Could Impact Most Churches

Should your growing church go multisite?

Should your declining church consider merger?

Leading multisite expert Jim Tomberlin talks about how the multisite movement is changing and how more and more churches are pursuing mergers and acquisitions.

Welcome to Episode 43 of the Podcast.


Jim Tomberlin

Guest Links: Jim Tomberlin

MultiSite Solutions

Multisite Solutions Blog


Jim on Twitter:  @MultiSiteGuy and @MergerGuru

125 Tips for MultiSite Churches

Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)

Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church Planting, and Giga-Church World

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Thom Rainer; Episode 36

The Orange Tour 2015

Reggie Joiner

Willow Creek  

Greg Surratt

Craig Groeschel

Rich Birch; Episode 8

Perry Noble; Episode 2

Todd Wilson at Exponential

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

You don’t have to be a meg achurch to develop a multi-site ministry. But if you have the right mindset, the right plan and the right leadership, you can successfully multiply your mission across new campuses.   Jim Tomberlin provides insight to leaders who want  to expand.

  1. Realize you don’t have to be mega to be multi. Mega churches once used multi-site campuses as a Band-Aid strategy for growth. They either became too big for their space, or they were restricted by zoning laws to expand. Currently, there are more than 5,000 multi-site churches, and it’s out-pacing the mega church movement as a revitalization strategy for healthy churches whose growth has become stagnant.
  2. Evaluate the health of your church. Healthy churches generally grow at a rate of 5% a year, but there are a few questions you can ask your leadership team to find out if your church would be a good multi-site contender.

Does your church have clarity about their mission and vision?

Is your church leadership unified, and do they support the church’s mission and vision?

Does your church have good systems and processes in place to help people through their spiritual journey?

Are you using your current space well?

Healthy churches can go multi-site to re-leverage their strengths in other communities. But keep in mind that if you’re not healthy, build a strategy to become healthy first. Going multi-site is a growth vehicle, not a growth engine.

3. Have the mindset of an Apostolic Leader The apostle Paul said, “I bear daily the burden of my churches.”(Notice that “churches” is plural.) A senior leader with an apolistic mindset is more than someone who’s just a great leader; they want to grow and reproduce. They have a desire to create a movement of churches and their congregations. They’re birthing campuses that birth campuses, and they’re involved with churches that plant churches. They’re not satisfied with 1 or 2 campuses because they want to create a movement with the church. Apolistic leaders bake in reproduction at every level across their church because they know living things are meant to reproduce!

Quotes from Jim

Multisite Facts and Trends Infographic

The following infographic has some fascinating statistics on multisite and is provided by Jim via Rich Birch of

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  Jon Acuff, Mark Batterson, Pete Wilson, David Kinnaman, Caleb Kalentbach, 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: Jeanne Stevens

The life of a church planter has so many ups and downs. Jeanne Stevens and her husband Jarrett learned that the hard way, when after over a decade on the staff of some well-known mega-churches, they found the courage to leave the comfort of what they knew to plant a church in downtown Chicago. Jeanne tells the story.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 44.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment!