From Life

Sleep: The Secret Leadership Weapon No One Wants to Talk About

If there was a secret weapon in leadership, would you use it?

Most of us would say ‘absolutely’—as long as it’s ethical.

So here’s a leadership weapon almost no leader will talk about. In fact, in some circles, it’s embarrassing to talk about.

Sleep.

More specifically, getting enough of it.

In more than a few high octane leadership circles, barely sleeping is seen as a badge of honour (I can run on 4 hours a night!)

But what if your lack of sleep wasn’t a badge of honour at all?

What if your lack of sleep is undermining your leadership? Making you worse, not better?

And what if it’s not just taking a toll on you at work, but also at home…making you a worse parent, spouse and even friend?

sleep, leadership

So…What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

The Centre for Disease Control recently called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic, arguing it causes industrial accidents, motor vehicle accidents and even medical errors.

1. Lack of sleep can literally kill you.

And the implications are a little more serious than nodding off in a meeting after lunch. According to medical research, chronic lack of sleep can cause weight gain, age your skin, harm your sex drive, impair memory and can contribute to illnesses as serious as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and even premature death.

It’s a little shocking, but it’s not actually an exaggeration to say that a chronic lack of sleep can kill you.

2. Lack of sleep often leads to burnout.

I know for me, chronic lack of sleep was one of the key factors that led to my burnout a number of years back.

Like many leaders, in the name of caring for others, I had stopped caring for myself and my family. I thought I was super human, and I only needed 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

I’m not the only leader who burned out. Perry Noble and I chronicle our stories of burnout in quite a bit of detail here, and the post also contains a lot of resources that Perry and I have put together to help leaders who are burning out.

3. At a minimum, it will make you hard to live with.

Even if you’re not dead, sick or burning out, lack of sleep can turn you into you a bit of a jerk.

Unrested, you’ll snap at the kids more, fight with your spouse more, and even at work, you won’t be fun to hang around.

Or at least all of the above is true for me.

Here’s what I find.

I am at my most kind when I’m the most rested. When I’m tired, I’m just not nearly as nice to be around.

If you can’t identify with that statement, it’s probably because you haven’t been well rested in, well, years.

You’ll be amazed what happens if you ever get enough sleep to finally not be tired any more. Seriously.

 

Sleep Is Like Money. You Can End Up In Debt

So what happens if you’re chronically overtired?

The same thing that happens when you’re in debt…that’s what.

One of the key lessons I learned in my burnout back in 2006 is that sleep is like money.

You can run a surplus…or you can run a deficit.

And just like with finances, when you run a deficit over time, you end up with debt that you carry from month to month and year to year. A debt that needs to be paid off. 

This lesson became inescapable for me personally in August 2006. 3 months into my burnout, I was having a hard time functioning.

In fact, my fatigue was inescapable. So I decided to sleep every time my body told me I was tired.

I slept a lot that August.  8-11 hours a night. I added to that multiple naps a day whenever I could grab them.

By the end of the month, I felt much better.

I could work again. I could breathe again.

While my burnout wasn’t fully over, I felt flickers of hope again.

Soon, I was on the gradual road to recovery.

 

So What Can You Do? 5 Keys to Staying Rested

So how do you stay rested?

Better yet, how do you get rested if you’re reading this article and are quietly saying “oh crap?”

1. Lose the stigma

I love that a few years ago Michael Hyatt went public by admitting that he takes naps. Thank you Michael!

Not only does Michael take naps, but so, as he pointed out, have many great leaders in history.

I have always been a napper. I even nap at work occasionally. But I feel like if someone caught me, I’d be in trouble.

That’s a bad thing.

For me a ten minute nap can be the difference between heading into the afternoon raring to go, and dragging my knuckles wishing it was 5:00. It can be the difference between being sharp and being in a fog or being disinterested.

It’s not just the stigma around naps leaders need to lose, it’s the stigma around a good night’s sleep.

I unapologetically go to bed on time when I’m on the road hanging out with other leaders, and when I’m at home.

A rested me is a better me. Just ask my wife. Just ask my kids. Just ask my team.

2. Catch up

You might be in your equivalent of August 2006 for me. You might need to take a week or two off to sleep.

Do it.

Or maybe you’re just running hard for a season. Catch up.

I realize you might have young kids or be in launch mode for a new project.

But here’s the truth.

You will always have a reason to cheat your sleep.

You will never have a reasons to catch up, unless you decide it’s time.

So decide it’s time.

If you have young kids, trade nights for being on call with your spouse until you are both as caught up as you can be.

If you’re a single parent, ask someone to take the kids for a night or two and then sleep.

If you don’t have young kids, you really don’t have a good excuse. Just get disciplined.

3. Develop better sleep routines

Here are few things that can help you sleep better.

1. Go to bed at the same time every night. Researchers say you will sleep better if you do.

2. Go to bed earlier.  This was huge for me. Instead of staying up late to get stuff done, get up earlier to get things done. Sleep in on the front side. I try to be asleep every night by 10:30. Sometimes it’s as earlier as 9:30. And I’m up between 4:30 – 5:30 every morning. That’s my sweet spot.

3. Sleep in a dark room and turn off electronics. I love my phone, but it’s off (as in powered down) every night.  If it’s an emergency, someone will knock at my door and wake me up. If the world ends, well, there’s not much I can do about it anyway when I’m asleep.

4. Get as good a mattress as you can afford.  Get as picky about a good mattress as you can with your budget. You’ll spend 1/3 of your life on it.  So invest well.

5. Don’t eat much before bed. It helps you sleep better…it really does.

4. Watch for the signs

Since I burned out, I have paid super close attention to the signals my body tells me about my fatigue level. As soon as I sense I’m running a sleep deficit, I try to pay it off.

Here are some signs that tell me I’m tired:

1. A bad or sullen mood. Someone once said that 70% of discipleship is a good night’s sleep. Well yes it is. I am more of a Christian when I’m well rested. So I watch my mood like a hawk. Being short with people, angry, sad or lacking mercy are all signs I’m tired.

2. I watch my passion level. When I’m rested, I’m excited about work, about life, and about seeing people. If everything seems like a chore or an obligation, I’m out of balance. For sure, some things will always seem like a chore, but everything shouldn’t.

3. I watch my creativity. If I have trouble coming up with great ideas or great content, it’s a sign my mind is tired. I probably need more sleep.

4. I find myself nodding off. When I’m tired in meetings, driving or watching TV, it’s a sign I need more sleep. I know that’s obvious, but it’s so easy for this to become ‘normal’ I just thought I’d mention it.

5. React quickly

I still run hard. We all have busy seasons and busy weeks, and I get tired regularly. Part of my personality is I love to push myself and push limits. I get that.

But now I react quickly when I’m getting tired.

Why don’t you try that this week?

Take a nap.

Cancel your plans for tonight and go to bed early.

Don’t wait.

You’ll be fresher more often, and you’ll have far more energy for your family, for life and for work.

That’s what I’ve been learning about sleep as a leader and as a follower of Christ.

It should be no surprise that God wants us to spend 1/7 of our life resting (Sabbath) and created us to sleep 1/3 of our life away.

Your calling, your family and your life are too important for you not to sleep.

Now you can use your new secret weapon.

What are you learning about sleep?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

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

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

Or are you talking about it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t say that lightly.

So what needs to change?

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

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

Everyone has sins they focus on and sins they ignore.

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

The church is no different.

So here’s a proposal:

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

hostility

quarreling

jealousy

outbursts of anger

selfish ambition

dissension

division

envy

jealousy

arrogance

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

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

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

What do I mean?

Too many prayer meetings are thinly disguised gossip marathons.

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

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

This is terrible. It really is.

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

I have gossipped.

I have eaten too much too often.

I have caused division and hurt.

I struggle with envy.

I can be arrogant.

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

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

So…what if church leaders:

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

It would reframe the conversation.

It might even change some hearts. Including ours.

 

2. Deal with church sin…seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

love

joy

peace

patience

kindness

goodness

faithfulness

gentleness, and

self-control

There is no law against these things!

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

So think about it.

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

That’s right. They wouldn’t.

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

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

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

What if we repented?

What if we became a community of truth and grace?

What if?

 

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

Paul called himself the chief of sinners.

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

Too often when we open our mouths, we accuse.

We condemn. We confront.

What if we changed that?

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

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

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

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

 

What Do You Think?

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

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

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

3 Battles Every Leader Loses…Every Time

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

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.

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

Fighting any of those?

Your might be. How would you know?

leadership battle

How Did This Happen Again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Battles Every Leader Loses…Every Time

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

1. Creating An Organization That Exists For Your Benefit. 

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

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

Perks flow up, not down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone. 

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

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

2. Seeking Affirmation From the People You Lead

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

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

Never seek affirmation from the people you lead. 

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

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

Did they like my last series/meeting/memo?

Do they appreciate me?

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

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

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

And that’s okay.

Why?

Two reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what should you do for affirmation?

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

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

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

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

Then you’ll lead well.

3.  Keeping Smarter, Better People Away from You

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

And the truth is, many leaders won’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone will be far better off.

What Do You Think?

These are three battles every leader loses every time.

Which ones are you fighting?

What battles have you seen leaders lose?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

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

Sometimes leadership makes you hard to live with.

Ever felt that in your family?

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

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

Welcome to Episode 5 of the podcast.

Guest Links: Craig Jutila

Find and follow Craig Jutila here:

Craig on Twitter

Craig on Facebook

Empowered Living (Craig’s blog)

Links Mentioned in This Episode

The links and resources mentioned in this episode include:

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

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

7 Painful Truths About Burnout and Leadership

9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Leadership

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Getting Back

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

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

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Craig’s interview was full of great advice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes to Share from Craig

 

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

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

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

2014 Orange Tour

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

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

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

Next Episode: Tony Morgan

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

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

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

Subscribe to the Podcast

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Got 60 Seconds? Rate the Podcast.

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

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

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

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

Got a question?

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6 Ways To Make A Bigger Impact With Your Life

So you want to make a difference—a bigger impact with your life.

I echo that. Most leaders want that. I do.

Here’s the question I wrestle with regularly these days: How will God use my life to accomplish something bigger than my pleasure, my comfort or my goals?

find meaning in life

After all, without a higher calling claiming my time—a bigger sense of mission—that’s what I chase: my wants, my desire, my satisfaction.

Beyond Your Day Job And Your Family

Sometimes we think our significance is going to come from our work…and to some extent it does.

I’m one of the fortunate people who love what I get to do all day—lead a local church.

I know many people don’t love their work…which is tough.

Just know this about your job, as passionate or dispassionate as you may be about it: Your kids will never read your resume at your funeral.

As driven as we might be our jobs (and I’m driven by mine)…there is something higher: our calling.

Any idea what it is?

At the deepest level, it’s to love God and enjoy him forever. And for sure, it has something to do with serving others.

For me it also means being an excellent husband, father and friend. But eventually your kids leave home…and then what—spend the rest of your life on date nights (although you should have MANY because they’re so awesome), lowering your handicap, soaking up the sun or winning your age category in a triathlon?

I mean, what’s your life about? 

To a large extent you answer that question by how you spend your spare time. And yes, you have extra time. You’ve filled it up with something. 

Jon Acuff (an awesome follow btw) has chased his calling. Even while raising a very young family, he pursued his dream hard enough to be able to leave his day job for his dream job: he’s become a New York Times Best Selling author. Best yet, I know so many people who’s lives have been personally impacted by Jon’s writings.

It all started with how he used his spare time.

For me, I want to lead an incredible local church (my day job) and help leaders lead like never before (my spare time).

How are you spending yours

6 Ways to Make A Bigger Impact With Your Life

Here are 6 ways you can make a bigger impact with your life:

Read more

5 Things Every Church Leader Can Learn from the Mark Driscoll Situation

So let me start here.

I struggle with pride.

Do you?

Doesn’t everyone?

Pride is at the root of all sin. It is pride—the pursuit of self, of knowing better, of being right—that caused our fall in the first place. It is a daily struggle for me.

My heart broke this weekend as I read of the latest developments at Mars Hill Church as their Pastor, Mark Driscoll, temporarily stepped down. There’s a very (from what I can tell) balanced and fair article about the events here in Christianity Today if you want some background.

I need to say I don’t know Mark Driscoll. I’ve never met him.

And this is not a post where I’m going to pass any level of judgment on Pastor Mark or Mars Hill. He needs our prayers as does his family and church (My heart really hurts for his family in a season like this. They love their husband and dad. So does Christ.)

And even as I say “he needs our prayers” I realize that often in Christian circles we say that with a sense of superiority, as though he needs our prayers or she needs our prayers in way that I don’t.

Not even close to true.

No one prays with clean hands. I don’t. You don’t.

I need your prayers as desperately as Pastor Mark. So do you. So when we pray, we need to pray as those who come alongside each other before a merciful and just God and a Saviour we all so desperately need.

We are in this together.

Read more

10 Things Your Kids Will Learn from Your Marriage

I’m on vacation with my family, and today’s post is a guest post from Doug Fields.

Doug is one of the leaders who has set the pace for student ministry leaders over the last number of years, and he’s weathered the tensions that inevitably arise between leaders and ministry only to come out strong in both areas. Doug recently coauthored the book Married People with Ted Lowe.

By Doug Fields

When I speak on marriage, I’m always asked if I intentionally taught my kids about marriage.

The answer is yes… and, no.

Yes, there are times when we’ve talked specifically about marriage (either ours or ones that our kids have observed). But, for the most part, Cathy and I have been wise enough to know that our kids are constantly watching and learning from us without us having to do a lot of talking.

Our actions (both good and bad) are always teaching them about marriage.

I would be thrilled if my kids had a similar type of marriage that Cathy and I share… it’s definitely not perfect, but we’re both very proud of what we’ve developed over 27+ years.

 

10 Actions My Kids Have Caught Over the Years

Here are 10 actions that I know my kids have observed from us over the years:

 

1. Affection

Cathy & I are very affectionate and I like having my kids see me holding their mom’s hand, hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc… as often as I can.

 

2. Saying “I’m sorry”

 I want to be quick to use this phrase and I want my kids to hear me say it (and I have to say it a lot more than Cathy).

 

3. Affirmation

This is my primary love language so it’s easy for me to dish out encouraging words.

My kids get a lot of verbal affirmation, but they also hear me directing it toward my wife (which is really easy).

 

4. Attraction

I think Cathy is hot… and, I make it known around our family. I’ll regularly say, “Isn’t your mom beautiful?”

 

5. Time

Our kids know that we like to spend time together. When they see us steal time away to sit in the backyard and talk, or go in the hot tub, or go on a date night, or sneak away for the weekend…that’s a good message I want them to see.

 

6. Laughter

We laugh a lot in our house and my wife’s cute sense of humor cracks me up. I like having my kids see that my wife makes me laugh.

 

7. Respect

Opening the door for Cathy, saying “thank you” and “please” and showing her simple signs of respect.

 

8. Faith conversations

We’re not always praying in front of our kids, but they hear and see our faith conversations and know that we’re always talking about Jesus and what it means to be a follower.

 

9. The value of friends

Our house is well worn from the traffic of friends in/out of our house.

We love having people over and the Fields’ house is a regular hangout for some incredible friends.

 

10. Servanthood

I know my kids have had a better example in Cathy than with me because she’s the ultimate servant. Always asking, “How can I help? What do you need to make life better?” Serving one another is seen in the daily, little things and there’s many opportunities to serve.

 

Kids are always watching their parent’s marriage and yet too many marriages underestimate the power of modeling!

Children are taking daily recordings of what a marriage looks like and those recordings are definitely influencing and shaping their view of marriage.
Question: Do you have intentional actions that you’re modeling to your kids? Do you have some actions that are different from the ones I’ve listed?

If you do…leave a comment!

Special Offer This Week

My friends over at Orange Books are offering some great deals this week.

You can get any of the deals, any day this week, but, as a leader who’s passionate about people’s marriages, I wanted to highlight today’s featured deal:

 

9780989021333.ePUB

Buy one copy of the book Married People, and get all of this:

• “Why Marriage Ministry Is Doable for Every Church” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Ted Lowe, audio file)

• “Married and in Ministry” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Ted Lowe and Doug Fields, audio file)

• an annual subscription to MarriedPeople E-ZINE

Plus, when you tweet or share any of the deals on Facebook, you’ll be entered to win a prize.

Just go to to orangebooks.com, click on the Married People book and place your order.

So…what are some things your kids are picking up…for better or for worse? Leave a comment.

Ever Wish You Could Pick the Brain of Your Favourite Leaders? (I've Got a Brand New Podcast Coming!)

As you’ve heard me mention all summer, we have exciting things planned to help you lead like never before.

And one of them is this. I’ll be launching a brand new podcast next month.

You can subscribe right now to get access to exclusive content and new episodes.

Can I tell you why I’m so excited about it?

As a young leader, I always wished I could just pick the brain of leaders I admired.But I didn’t know many. And the ones I listened to from afar were always on stage and inaccessible to me. You know the drill. Been there, right?

Over the years I’ve been able to meet some of the leaders I used to watch from the back row —plus a ton of leaders whose names you might not recognize who have some amazing insights.

So many times when I’ve been talking to those leaders I think to myself “I wish ________ could be in on this conversation!” or “I wish everyone could hear this!”

Well, starting next month, you (and your team) can!

The guest list is pretty amazing (I’m so excited…I’ll reveal it in a few weeks…earlier if you subscribe).

The podcast will feature some of the top names in leadership today as well as people you may never have heard of but who offer some exceptional leadership insights (I love that part!).

My goal…to bring you some of the best conversations happening in leadership today. And all of it’s designed to help you and your team lead like never before.

So…if you want inside access and want to be the first to hear what’s coming down the pipe, subscribe to my podcast today by clicking the button below.

Can’t wait!

Anyone you’d like to see me interview on the show?

Leave a comment!

By subscribing , you’ll receive updates, exclusive content, and new episodes from The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

Why Shrinking Attention Spans Are a Myth (And 5 Ways to Fight Them)

As a leader, you fight for people’s attention.

If you don’t have their attention, you don’t have influence. And if you have no influence, you’re not leading.

So having people’s attention is critical.

How do you get it?

That’s a great question.

And the emerging consensus today is that you need to be shorter because people’s attention spans are shrinking. As this article (among many) shows, people’s attention spans are dropping.

But notice the claim is only that the span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. 12 seconds was hardly a marathon.

Idea? Be brief, and you’ll have people’s attention.

I’d like to challenge that. I’m not convinced it’s solid logic and I’m not convinced that’s actually what’s happening.

I tend to agree with Derek Halpern and want to buck the accepted wisdom that attention spans are shorter.

Let me explain why, and then I’ll show you 5 ways to hold people’s attention far beyond what they’ll give most people.

 

The Real Issue: 10 Minutes of Boring is 10 Minutes Too Long

So what’s the real issue when it comes to attention span?

People don’t have time for boring.

Clearly we’re inundated with more messages than at any time in human history. And it’s forced us to be better stewards of what we consume.

Come on, you know this: faced with countless options, 10 minutes of boring is 10 minutes too long.

But an hour of fascinating is hardly enough.

If people’s attention span was truly 8 seconds, you couldn’t explain the rising phenomena of binge watching.

Why would teens and twenty somethings with zero attention span lock themselves in a room all day and all night to binge watch a brand new series?

 

Why This Blog Shouldn’t Work

When I started blogging seriously just under two years ago, people told me ‘nobody will read anything over 400 words.”

I heard it again and again.

But I realized much of what I had to say didn’t fit within 400 words, or often even 700.

So I just decided to be a long form blogger. I try not to waste words or go on too long. I always try to be helpful. But some ideas take longer to explain than others.

My average post is about 1200 words. Some have gone as long as 1600 words.

Just ask Ramit Sethi. He will often write very long emails, and hyper-lengthy copy and is one of the most successful online marketers around.

If you’re wondering, I personally don’t study him to become rich (that’s what his business is about), but because his approach to marketing is fascinating and completely counter-cultural these days. (If you want to see a study of his writing approach, you can click this link. Warning: there is off colour language).

So, I just decided to be me and wrote longer posts.

As some of you know, I set a goal in 2013 (my first full year of blogging) of 100,000 page views. To my utter astonishment, I saw over 800,000 page views.

Just a few days ago (early August 2014 if you’re reading this in the future), this blog passed 1,000,000 page views for 2014. I still can’t believe it.

Maybe long form copy isn’t dead.

And THANK YOU to everyone who has read and keeps reading this blog. I am so grateful to have met so many of you and we’re learning so much together.

It’s been an AMAZING journey. :)

 

And Now A Leadership Podcast

Next month I launch a podcast. Again, I’ve consulted with many podcasters about the ideal length.

Many told me 17-22 minutes is the sweet spot.

I’m doing an interview format in the podcast, and I want the podcast to be the best leadership conversations out there. My best personal leadership conversations never take 17-22 minutes to get through.

When I’m talking to a high capacity leader, the conversations often last an hour or longer.

Tim Ferriss and Pat Flynn have two of the top rated podcasts out there and theirs often run over an hour.

So I’m setting the format at 40-50 minutes per episode. I hope you’ll find the conversations with leaders as fascinating and helpful as I do.

We’ll see what happens. But I’m excited.

(P.S. If you want to get in on the launch of my podcast, sign up on my email list today. We’ll be keeping you in the loop and giving you further options for even being part of the launch itself. Just subscribe under my profile pic at the top right.)

 

5 Ways To Hold People’s Attention Spans In a Crowded World

So how do you hold people’s attention spans in a crowded world?

Here are 5 ideas that have helped me wade through it:

 

1. Write killer content

Quite simply, write the best content you can. When you’re writing (even an email), when you’re blogging, when you’re designing your website, when you’re speaking or preaching.

Spend the time you need to think through your ideas.

Don’t try to be someone else.

And if you’re not a writer, become an incredible curator of other people’s content.

If you cant’ write, research, collect and distribute the best content you can to your community.

Always ask permission, but use other people’s articles to populate your emails to people who attend your church or are part of your organization.

Killer content wins. It just does. People will read it. People will thank you.

Because everyone is looking for help. Be the person who helps them.

 

2. Pay attention to your headlines and series titles

I have learned over time that the headline makes all the difference.

If you want how to learn how to write great headlines, click on over here where I explain it in detail (and include some helpful links).

I’m now trying to apply that to sermon and series titles at our church.

For example, I was going to call our summer series this year “Entitled”, because it was all about entitlement.

Then I realized I created a yawner.

So we renamed it “Starve the Monster”. I talked about the monster of entitlement that lives in us and our kids, and our team developed a really great graphics package.

People talked about it, remembered it more, and it became one of our most shared series online this year. All that in the middle of summer.

Bet you you’ll remember Starve the Monster.  And you already forgot ‘Entitled”.

 

3. Consider a 2 minute YouTube style summary of your message alongside the full version

Here’s an idea we haven’t implemented yet but will shortly.

Most churches upload their 30-50 minute message Sunday and leave it at that.

I think that’s a mistake. People are used to 2 minute YouTube clips. So why not create a 2 minute excerpt of one of the best moments of your message or a 2 minute highlight reel to place beside the full version on your site.

It would allow people to sample something before they dive in.

My guess is if your content is great it will increase the number of views you get on full length messages, not decrease them.

It’s just an easier access ramp.

 

4. Create headers, white space and key points.

Even though most of my posts are over 1000 words, you can read the key points in under 10 seconds.

Headers and subheaders, lists, points and lots of white space make the text so much easier to read and scan.

I think it also makes it more memorable.

You remember what you see.

 

5. Get up close and personal.

You know what people still like? Face time. And not the online version.

People love to meet you. They really do.

So as much as you can, get out from behind the keyboard and meet the people you serve.

Doing that one on one is tough when you have a church or organization over 100-200 in size.

But if you can’t meet one on one, meet in groups.

In the future when I’m on the road, I’ll try to meet blog readers and (soon) podcast listeners in groups by hosting meet ups.

At home, from time to time I throw parties for leaders and people who attend our church at my house. I can’t invite everyone (we have 2000 people who call our church home), but that doesn’t mean I should invite no one.

Throughout the year, we’ll host other events and ministries in which we try to build personal relationships, cast vision and thank people for their involvement.

We just recently held a few during peak vacation season and were shocked to get a 70% yes rate from people we invited. Clearly people want to connect.

Guess what happens every time you connect in person with someone?

People feel connected to you and you feel connected to them.

And that means the next time you speak, you have their attention, because they have yours.

Don’t ignore the personal touches that make life the amazing adventure it is.

So that’s why I think people will give you more time and attention than you think when you connect with them.

What do you think?

Leave a comment!