From Life

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:

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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.

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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!

6 Subtle Ways Leaders Undercut Their Influence on Social Media

You probably see it every week—leaders who undercut their influence.

Sometimes they blow it completely through one or two dumb moves. And sometimes you end up thinking “I’m not really sure I want to follow them anymore” but you’re not exactly sure why.

The loss of influence is subtle, but real.

Because of constant—even daily— exposure, social media makes influence easier to gain…and that much easier to lose.

Almost every ministry leader I know is on social media today. And so is almost everyone they lead.

So the opportunity to squander your influence is that much higher.

And often we do it without even realizing it.

 

Leadership Is Influence

Before we jump into how leaders lose influence on social media, a word on why influence matters.

Properly construed, influence is not actually about ego at all.

Gaining and building influence is critical for all of us who lead because, as John Maxwell has famously said, leadership is influence.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Lose your influence and you’re not leading anyone.

Build influence and you can take people places they wouldn’t ordinarily go, which is the essence of a leader’s job.

Moreover, if you’re a follower of Christ, you believe the influence you’ve been given is a trust.

You’re not leveraging influence for your sake, but for the sake of cause much bigger than yourself.

Which is why it’s so sad when ministry leaders squander trust or undermine influence.

 

6 Ways Leaders Undercut Their Influence on Social Media

So how do leaders undercut their influence on social media? Here are 6 subtle ways I’ve seen it happen.

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8 Signs Your Vision Isn't Going to Catch On

So you have a vision for the future. Virtually every leader does.

But how do you know whether your vision is going to catch on—whether it will capture the imagination of people and actually move them forward into a different future?

I mean that’s a tall order.

And any leader who’s even spent a few minutes up front casting vision has asked themselves whether their vision will catch on or not.

Sometimes even after you unveil the vision, you live for months waiting and wondering whether it is resonating widely or whether it’s simply going to fizzle and die.

Is there a way to know whether your vision will catch on, or whether it will sputter on before it dies out?

I think there is.

 

8 Signs Your Vision Isn’t Going to Catch On

In my experience, a vision needs at least 8 ingredients for it to resonate with people. This isn’t scientific…it’s just experience.

I know when things haven’t caught on the way I had hoped in the past, I’ve gone back to these elements to ensure they were in place.

Hopefully they can help you craft a clear and compelling vision for your organization  or ministry area that resonates.

Here are 8 signs your vision isn’t going to catch on:

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The ONE Question To Ask When You Don't Know What To Do as a Leader

You’d think that at some point, you’d just know what to do.

That the questions and doubt would go away, and that you’d have a clear answer to the questions and problems that come your way as a leader.

Dream on.

Sure…you get better at calling shots as you mature and grow as a leader. But there are always questions that stump even the best leaders.

Then what do you do?

What if there was a single question that could guide you much closer to the right answer?

I think there is.

 

 

I Got A Call The Other Day…

I got a call the other day from a great friend.

He had a tough ethical dilemma. It’s not appropriate for me to go into the details, but it’s the kind of ethical/relational problem that stumps even the brightest leaders.

I could see it from both sides. So could he. And yet the stakes were high.

We talked about what scripture had to say about the issue. But again, you could apply it from several different angles.

There was no clear answer.

After about 30 minutes of conversation, I remembered the question I’ve learned to ask myself when I’m stuck and no one seems to know what to do and scripture isn’t crystal clear.

I gave him the question.

 

The Question That Can Answer Your Question

The question is this:

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7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before Starting Ministry

If you’re in ministry, at some point you probably told yourself “I had no idea it would be like this.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I thought “I wish somebody had taught me this in seminary.” (My friend, Rich Birch, has done a great job of compensating for that with his site, UnSeminary.com.)

Don’t get me wrong—I’m exceptionally grateful for the time I’ve had in ministry. 19 years into this, I wake up virtually every single day thankful I get to this and excited to get started.

But the ‘virtually’ part is true because there are days where I think “What’s going on?” and “I didn’t sign up for this”. And even on my good days, I find I’m having to learn things I never expected I’d have to learn.

So let’s speed things up for those of you still on the front side of ministry or early on in ministry.

And this might also help those of us who have been at it for a while but still ready for some inside track preparation.

 

7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Ministry

Here are 7 things I wish someone had told me before I started ministry:

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