Home » Blog » Mission

From Mission

insecurity as a leader

Some Simple Practices that Will Get You Over Your Insecurity as a Leader

So you struggle with insecurity as a leader. Join the club.

It’s not fun to struggle with insecurity, but it is great that you see it. Self-awareness helps so much in leadership.

In my last post, I outlined 5 signs of insecurity in leadership.

So, beyond recognizing your problem, how do you overcome your insecurity?

As I’ve wrestled this issue down in my life, I’ve made several key transitions that have helped significantly. They’re not easy to understand, but difficult to do. The key is to simply do them again and again.

When you do these things, your insecurities begin to dissipate. Good habits displace bad impulses.

Here are five changes that can help you deal with underlying insecurity.

insecurities

1. Be generous with your praise

This might sound trivial, but it’s not. Insecure people are often jealous people.

One of the best ways to combat jealousy is to privately and publicly commend and compliment others. Especially if you don’t feel like it.

If you’re afraid of building others up because you think it might diminish you in some way, that’s the perfect time to do it. Don’t remain silent.

Don’t give them a back-handed compliment (“It’s about time he did something good!”) and don’t qualify the praise (“It was pretty good given her track record”).

Publicly celebrating the success of others will move you much closer to what Jesus was talking about when he commanded us to love enemies and people who persecute us.

Strangely, most of the people you don’t want to compliment aren’t close to being enemies.

So in those moments when others make a difference (there are many), smile and acknowledge it, privately and publicly. Be generous with you praise.

2. Recruit and promote people who are better than you

I had to wrestle this one down a number of years ago as we added staff and key volunteers. I had to hire people who were better than me at so many things. In fact, I’m only ‘best at’ a few things in our organization.

My goal in life is to give more of those things away.

Another way I had to deal with this head on is when we started Connexus Church as a strategic partner of North Point Ministries. That means when I’m not teaching, Andy Stanley is.

If you really want to wrestle down insecurity, just put the most gifted communicator around on the screen when you aren’t teaching.

It will quickly teach you to celebrate what others are amazing at, and experience contentment with the role you also play.

3. Give thanks for who you are instead of lamenting over who you aren’t

At the root of much insecurity are two beliefs.

First, that God somehow got it wrong when he created you. And second, that you need to compensate for this.

That’s why insecure people are jealous or resentful of others and why we somehow feel we need to ‘right’ the situation by withholding praise, refusing to hire or recruit better people because it might make us look bad, and trying to control things so they work out in our favour.

Why not start each day thanking God for how he created you?

Why not say “God, you have given me everything I need to accomplish what you’ve asked me to accomplish and you’ve given others exactly what they need to accomplish their mission”?

That shift will also help you relinquish your controlling tendencies.

Realizing God has given you all you need makes you both grateful and dependent.

4. Stop comparing yourself with others. Start learning from them

Constantly comparing yourself to others is a losing game no matter how you try to play it. You end up feeling inferior (wrong) or superior (sinful) to others every time you compare. It corrodes your heart.

So how to do you interact healthily with others? Learn from them. Plain and simple. You grow by being around other people, so grow.

What do they do well? What could you do differently? What are the charts and numbers telling you? How can you develop from what you’re learning?

5. Get ridiculously honest with yourself (and God)

I had a powerful moment in my journey a number of years ago. It was one of those moments where I wasn’t reading the scripture, the scripture was reading me.

This passage in James stopped me dead in my tracks. It described to a ‘T’ what I was experiencing in that moment.

Instead of blowing it off and ignoring it, I admitted (to my shame) that it described me. I prayed about it.

The next day I went back to the same text, reading and praying through it again.

I didn’t leave those four verses until the ugly things they described relinquished their grip on my heart. It took over a week.

Every time I’ve read that text in the years that have passed, I stop and give thanks to God for what he dealt with inside me in that season.

I’m so grateful. But you don’t get to that kind of breakthrough without ridiculous honesty about what’s really going on.

So level with yourself. And with God. Everyone else knows your weakness. So does God. So why not admit it?

We are masters of self-deception. Dead-honest confession stops that.

These five strategies have helped me. What’s helped you? What are you learning?

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can create a healthier leadership culture, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

———

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the mainstream but in my view can still help leaders. — Carey

insecure leader

5 Signs You’re An Insecure Leader

Ever wonder if you’re an insecure leader?

There’s a bit of irony in that question. Insecure people by nature wonder about things like that. I know that because part of my personal leadership journey over the years has been spent battling insecurity.

It’s the same for many of us. Most leaders I know struggle with some level of insecurity. In my next post, I’ll share some strategies that can really help getting past the struggle so many of us face.

But in the meantime, how do you know whether insecurity occupies some real estate in your life?

Because self-awareness is a major step toward personal change, here are five signs you might be battling insecurity as a leader.

insecure leaer1. You are constantly comparing yourself to others

You and I have lots to learn from other people, but insecure people aren’t driven so much by a desire to learn as they are to know whether they are better or worse than others.

There is a world of difference between tracking with someone to grow and learn and tracking other people or organizations to see how you stack up.

One is healthy, the other destructive.  As Andy Stanley says, there is no win in comparison. In fact, there’s just a lot of sin in comparison.

2. Your sense of self-worth is driven by your latest results

I’m a results-driven guy. I want to see this mission expand and I want to see things grow.

Some of that is good. And some of that can warp any sense of security you have.

You know you’re an insecure leader when your opinion of yourself rises and falls with your attendance, performance, blog stats, comment thread, reviews or what others say about you.

Preachers, you aren’t nearly as good as your last message, or as bad.

I do monitor all of these things, but I’ve had to learn not to obsess over them.

God’s opinion of me doesn’t equate with people’s opinion of me.

I need to learn from trends and learn from others, but I cannot let someone else determine my worth.

3. You can’t celebrate someone else’s success

This trait is a tell-tale sign that you are insecure.

Why can’t you just give a compliment?  Why can’t you be genuinely happy when someone else succeeds?

Life is actually not a zero sum game – at least not life in God’s Kingdom.  For you to win, someone else does not have to lose.

If you can’t compliment a competitor, why not?  If you can’t celebrate a colleague, is it because you are worried others might think they are better than you?

You do not need to be the only one who is ‘great’ at something.

4. You make no room for people who are more gifted or competent than you

This is where your personal traits inflict direct harm to your organization (not that the other traits don’t, but this one has a direct and lethal impact).

Insecure people always feel a need to be the most gifted person in the room. As a result, the number of gifted people in any room they’re in drops accordingly.

One sign of a great leader is someone who can attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves.

The future will belong to people who can forge great alliances, make great partnerships and attract great people.

5. You need to be the final word on everything

Insecure people end up being controlling people.

Insecure people don’t need experts because they want to be the expert. Know-it-alls weren’t much fun in kindergarten; they are less fun in the adult world.

Leaders who need to be the final word on everything end up leading not much more than themselves.

The truth is most of us are only great at one or two things, and even then, you became good at it with the help and advice of others.

When you value the counsel and input of others–especially on the things you’re best at–you embark on a path toward greater wisdom.

Those are some signs I’ve seen that mark insecurity in myself and in others.

How about you?  What have you noticed? Scroll down and leave a comment.

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can create a healthier leadership culture, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

———

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the mainstream but in my view can still help leaders. — Carey

lead your senior leader

The 5 Best Ways to Lead Your Senior Leader

If you were in charge, everything would be different, wouldn’t it?

But you’re not. At least not yet.

So how do you effect change when you’re NOT the senior leader? How do you lead change when you’re a staff member or simply a volunteer?

Because I’ve written on change, I get that question all the time. That shouldn’t be a surprise, really. Mathematically speaking, far more people are NOT the senior leader than are the senior leader.

It’s easy to think you’re powerless and give up or just try to work around a leader you disagree with. But neither is a great strategy.

So what do you do if you want to bring about change but you’re not the key decision maker?

Here are the 5 best strategies I’ve seen. I’ve observed these both when people are leading up to me and used them when I’m leading up to others more senior than me in an organization.

If you do a little homework and learn to think differently, you can be exceptionally effective at leading change well, even when you’re not the senior leader. Even if you’re ‘just’ a staff member or ‘just’ a volunteer.

shutterstock_421546573

1. Think like a senior leader

So you’re not a senior leader, but try to imagine that you were. Imagine the pressures and issues facing your senior leader and approach the conversation accordingly.

Think through how it impacts the entire organization.

Understand that your senior leader may have budget restraints and many other interests to balance, like a board of directors or elder board. Show him or her that you understand that and you’re willing to be flexible on some points.

Showing your senior leader you understand the bigger picture is huge.

I’ve spent many years as a senior leader, and I’ll disclose a bias here.

When someone on my team comes to me with any idea and I realize they have thought it through cross-organizationally (that is, they’ve thought through how it impacts the entire organization), I am far more open to it than otherwise.

Why?

They’re thinking about more than just themselves.

They did their homework.

They helped me do my homework.

They showed me they’re leading at the next level.

I always try to stay open to new ideas, but here’s the truth. Often before the person has finished their presentation or we’ve wrapped up the discussion, I’ve already thought through 15 implications of their idea.

If they show me theyve thought through the 15 implications before they got to my office, I’m completely impressed and very open.

I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m just saying it’s a true thing.

And I think it’s true of most senior leaders.

When you think like a senior leader, you’re more likely to persuade a senior leader.

2. Express desires, not demands

No one likes a demanding person.

In fact, when someone demands something, I notice there’s something inside me that doesn’t want to give them what they asked for.

I don’t always follow that impulse, but expressing demands damages relationships. Instead, talk about what you desire.

Show respect and tell him how you feel – don’t tell him how you think he should feel. And above all, don’t be demanding.

3. Explain the why behind the what

As Simon Sinek has so rightly pointed out, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Your best argument is not the Wwhat (we need to completely transform our church) or the Hhow (here’s how you should do it).

It’s the Why (I think I’ve discovered a more effective way to reach families in our community and help parents win at home…can I talk to you about that?)

The more you explain the Why, the more people will be open to the What and the How.

Lead with why. Season your conversation with why. And close with why.

4. Stay publicly loyal

Andy Stanley has said it this way: public loyalty buys you private leverage.

It’s so true. If you start complaining about how resistant your senior leader is, he’ll probably hear about it. He’s not dumb. So not only will you compromise your personal integrity when you do that, you’ll also lose his respect.

In my mind as a senior leader, the team members who conduct themselves like a cohesive team always have the greatest private influence.

Your public loyalty will buy you private leverage.

5. Be a part of the solution

If you’re discontent (which you should be as I wrote about here), it’s not that difficult to drift into the category of a critic. Unless – that is – you decide to be part of the solution.

Offer help. Don’t end-run your leader, run with your leader on the project.

Be the most helpful you can be.

Volunteer to do the leg work.

Bring your best ideas to the table every day.

Offer to assist in any way you can.

If you won’t be part of the solution, you’ll eventually become part of the problem.

So be part of the solution.

Those are five ideas on how to lead change when you’re not the senior leader.

Do they always work? No…human dynamics are more complicated than that.

But they often work, and if they don’t, you will know you gave it everything you had and then you can weigh your options. (Click here for 5 signs it’s time to move on.)

Non-senior leaders, what would you add?

Senior leaders, what other advice would you give?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can have healthier conversations, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

If you want more specifically on change, I wrote about effectively leading change in my best-selling book Leading Change Without Losing It.

———

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. —Carey

 

worship wars

5 Ways to Battle The Never-Ending Worship Wars

So let me guess: someone recently complained about the music at your church.

It doesn’t matter what style of music your church features or how traditional or edgy your music is; complaining about music is almost a universal phenomenon in the church today.

Some of that is generated by church shoppers (I outlined 5 characteristics of church shoppers here), but the problem is more pervasive than hearing from a few church shoppers.

It’s endemic to human nature and to our consumer driven culture that basically says everything revolves around me. While I think consumer Christianity will die in the future (here’s why), we’re not there yet.

Before we get started, please know this isn’t a slam against any particular style of music in the church.

In fact, I admire all churches that are innovating to become more effective in their mission.

But here’s the challenge.

Many leaders have almost spilled blood getting their church to change in the area of music (or making sure their church doesn’t change).

And yet, despite the battles fought over music, many churches are still not much further ahead in reaching people because of it.

Why is that?

There are five problems I see church leaders struggle with when navigating the sensitive and emotional issue of worship style in church.

worship wars

1. You become so focused on pleasing the people you have that you lose sight of the people you’re trying to reach

Whatever your music style, many church leaders are overly worried about how ‘their people’ will handle the change.

This is healthy. Leaders who don’t care how their congregation thinks eventually end up leading nobody.

But it’s also a trap. When peoples’ reactions become an overriding fear, the mission shifts away from reaching new people to keeping the people you have happy.

As a result, leaders:

Abandon change to keep people happy.

Compromise vision to try to satisfy the discontent.

Stop innovating to try to placate people.

These attempts at making people happy virtually never work (I wrote about the problems people-pleasing leaders face here).

What to Do

So what do you do to combat your people pleasing focus?

Focus on who you’re trying to reach rather than on who you’re trying to keep.

And when you’re communicating a change to your congregation, focus on why you’re making the change (to reach people) and far more people will accept what you’re trying to do (changing the style of worship).

If you want more on this subject, I’ve written more on leading change here.

2. You define ‘contemporary’ relative to how you used to worship

Let me name the elephant in the room. Most of what passes for ‘contemporary’ worship isn’t that contemporary at all.

Sure, the church has changed. And there may have been some battles over the change.

But walk into many self-described ‘contemporary’ churches and it feels like 2004, or 1994, or even 1984. The church isn’t actually ‘contemporary’ (contemporary means ‘occurring in the present’).

Tony Morgan makes a great point in The New Traditional Church: If most churches truly wanted to be contemporary, Sunday would have a lot more hip-hop and R&B (have you listened to the Top 40 lately?).

But most church leaders don’t like that style of music or are afraid their church wouldn’t.

What to do

Be honest. Don’t call yourself contemporary if you’re some paler version of it. Self-awareness and honestly actually matter if you’re trying to reach unchurched people.

Sadly, well-meaning self-deception runs rampant in church leadership today.

Be truthful about what you’re doing. If you are, it might just make you frustrated enough to make you change again.

In the meantime, realize that despite all the change, you might still be miles away from being relevant to the people living around you.

3. You’ve become stuck in “No Man’s Land”

I learned about No Man’s Land in churches from James Emery White.

It’s a term that describes churches too contemporary to please the traditionalists and too traditional to reach people who connect with a contemporary approach.

I have no desire to ignite a furious debate about ‘blended worship’ (a combination of traditional and contemporary styles).

Can it work? I’m sure it can, done right.

But you don’t have to get too far into the conversation with most church leaders who are in a blended format to realize it’s not an overriding passion to reach the outsider that fuels the change, it’s fear that if they go too much further there will be an apocalypse.

What’s the bottom line? Most blended worship happens because leaders are afraid to go further, not because leaders think it’s the best option.

The attempt to make everyone happy usually makes no one happy.

In my view, the last 10 percent of change is the hardest. When we transitioned from traditional to blended to full-out ‘contemporary’ music a decade ago, the last 10 percent of the change was harder than the first 90 percent. I think that’s how leaders get stuck.

Again, I’m not saying blended services are a bad thing (we’ve chosen to not embrace that strategy at Connexus for very specific reasons). I’m just saying if you end up there, make sure that’s where you want to be because you believe it’s the most effective way to accomplish your mission.

What to do

Don’t get stuck somewhere you’re not called to be.

Finish the change or make sure where you’re at is honestly the very best way to fulfill your mission.

4. Style has become an end in itself, not a means to an end

Your style of music and service should serve the mission. It is not the mission.

Once again, this nails all of us: traditionalists, innovators and everyone in between.

Our goal is not to arrive at a particular worship style. It’s to accomplish the mission Christ has given us.

I love how our church does music.

But 40 years from now, I don’t want to be sitting around in a retirement home with my friends complaining that young people today don’t sing enough Hillsong Young and Free, play cover tunes at church or make pour-over coffee.

The church should always change, and it needs to change on your watch.

How do you address this? 

Be committed to constant change. Don’t rest.

Your style as church helps you achieve the mission. It is not the mission.

5. Older leaders make decisions that belong to younger leaders

Far too often in the church, I have seen older leaders make decisions that rightly belong to younger leaders.

There is a role for middle-aged leaders and older leaders. They bring wisdom to the table and a seasoned viewpoint almost impossible to find in someone who is starting out.

I’m not slamming others. I am almost the oldest person on our staff team.

Even though I’m fairly up to date on culture, music, and technology, I’m no longer the guy who should be calling the music, design or cultural shots at our church.

I’m not sure most leaders over 40 should be. Not if you want to impact the next generation.

Sitting around the table at our service programming meetings are leaders who are 10-30 years younger than me (we almost always have a teenager in the mix).

I trust their judgment more than mine when it comes to how our services will connect with the people we’re trying to reach.

I have just seen too many leaders in their 40s, 50s and 60s make decisions that alienate younger generations and then sit around and ask where all the young people went.

Don’t be that leader.

What to do

Ensure you have younger leaders around your leadership table and empower them to make the decisions that drive your organization.

It’s really not more complicated than that.

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can have healthier conversations, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

That’s what I see. I’d love to know what you’re seeing and experiencing.

What challenges do you see around music in the church? Scroll down and leave a comment!

_______

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. —Carey

prayer works

Why Christians Should Stop Saying “Prayer Works” (And 2 Other Things)

One reason people stay away from Christianity is not because they don’t know any Christians.

It’s often because they do.

Our actions and our words as followers of Jesus have the power to attract or repel people from Christianity.

The number of people who never go to church or follow Jesus keeps growing. And their thinking keeps changing too (I’ve outlined 15 characteristics of unchurched people here).

So what can we do about it?

Well, in addition to modeling humility, grace, truth, love and so many other things that describe the earliest Christ followers, we Christians can watch our words.

This post was originally inspired by a piece by Scott Dannemiller wrote, in which Dannemiller urged Christians to stop saying “feeling blessed” whenever something good came their way. He makes a thoughtful, insightful argument around that.

In that vein, here are three other things Christians should really stop saying.

prayer works

1. Prayer works

Should we really stop saying that prayer works?

Well, yes and no.

Most people who say prayer works these days really mean God did what I wanted him to do. As if prayer was a button to be pushed to release exactly what they wanted from the vending machine.

Prayer is not a button to be pushed; it’s a relationship to be pursued.

Prayer does ‘work,; but it works very differently than we’d like. It still ‘works:’

When we can’t trace out any direct result from our prayer.

When the opposite of what we prayed for happens.

In those moments when we feel very distant from God.

When we bang down the door of heaven for years and are not sure anything is going on up there at all.

There are scores of people inside and outside the church whose spirits are crushed because they prayed (fervently) and:

They didn’t get the job.

Their mom died of cancer.

Their child was born without a heartbeat.

They ended up in a car crash that left them permanently disabled.

Prayer doesn’t ‘work’ because I got what I wanted and they didn’t.

The parade of saints across the centuries would have been shocked to see prayer reduced to God-doing-what-I-asked-him-to-do-when-I-asked-him-to-do-it. God is not a puppy to be trained or a chef in the kitchen who prepares food to suit our every whim. He is sovereign.

As Richard Foster says:

For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked on to the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years. Prayer—nothing draws us closer to the heart of God.

Do things happen supernaturally when we pray? Well, yes they do. But often in ways we cannot understand or even trace out.

I think Christians can take consolation in the fact that when we pray, we often don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray, yet the scriptures tell us the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer into something better than we could phrase in the moment.

So pour your heart out to God. Pray about the things the scripture says are close to God’s heart. And when something ‘goes your way,’ be grateful and offer it back to the God who gave it to you.

And when things don’t go your way, understand that God is still very much in control and very much loves you. Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent.

2. God told me to …

Often, you hear people (and pastors) say things that start with, “God told me to … .”

The longer I follow Jesus, the more hesitant I am to say God told me to do anything specific. Maybe that’s an issue I need to work on, but it springs from my observation that I’ve seen this misused far more than I’ve seen it used well or authentically.

In fact, I’ve often noticed that the more outrageous the claim, the more likely someone is to say, “God told me to … .”

When I hear someone claim God told them to do something, I feel like saying:

God told you to do that? Really? God himself spoke directly to you and told you to specifically build that building for which you have zero money? Or leave that church that you were in deep conflict with without resolving things? Or buy that house that’s way out of your price range? Wow!

Are you sure it wasn’t the pizza? Or the voice in your head that often tells you to do the things you simply feel like doing?

For the record, I believe there are times when God does speak to people today. But let’s be realistic. What made me put this phrase on the list is the number of times I have heard the phrase used to describe a decision that is:

Selfishly motivated (come on, admit it … you’re justifying your impulses).

Contrary to scripture (the scriptures pretty clearly suggest that what you’re doing is sinful … or at least isn’t wise).

Designed to shut down debate (does anyone really think they can win a “God told me” debate?).

I’m not saying God never tell us anything directly, but I am suggesting it happens far less than most of us claim.

So what’s a better course?

Say something like, “Based on what I know from scripture, I believe this is the best/boldest/wisest course of action.”

That makes sense. And then you can have an intelligent discussion.

And you don’t pull the God card to justify something about which Christians and others can have a legitimate discussion.

Or, if you’re just trying to shut down debate, just be honest. I wanted to do it, so I did it. There. Now you said it and everyone will feel better.

If you’re dead honest, you might even realize you made a crazy decision.

3. I could really feel God’s presence

You’ve heard this before. We live in an emotional age and we’ve arrived at a place where many of us feel like we’ve become mini-authorities on when God is present and when God is not.

But analyze that.

The truth is, we tend to feel God’s presence more:

When the band played our favourite song.

When the band played five of our favourite songs in a row.

When the room was packed.

When the decision went our way.

When we felt happy during our quiet time.

Is God only present when we feel him?

Or better yet, is God’s presence synonymous with our ability to detect it?

Well, of course not.

So why do we insist on speaking like it is?

Nowhere did God promise that the Holy Spirit is a feeling or an emotion.

Jesus did explain to us that the Spirit is a Person and moves freely. The Holy Spirit is bigger than our emotions and not subject to our editorial commentary about whether he is present or not.

I have had moments when I believe I felt the presence of God palpably.

But God is just as present:

On our worst days as he is on our best days.

When we are uncomfortable as when we are comfortable.

When we are hurting as when we are healing.

And sometimes … the room was just full, and the band was just really good.

We need to learn to trust in God’s presence especially in those moments we suspect he’s absent.

What if?

What if Christians started having more intelligent, less consumer-oriented, deeper conversations with people?

What if our relationship with Christ was grounded more deeply in God’s character and less in the constantly shifting circumstances we see around us?

I’m thinking the dialogue inside and outside the church would be so much healthier for it.

What do you think?

Any other things Christians should stop saying now? Scroll down and leave a comment!

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can relate to a constantly changing culture, I wrote about it in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

_______

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. I actually lost this article from my site two years ago in a site redesign along with another one I just re-published. Fortunately, ChurchLeaders.com had also featured it and it’s great to be able to re-run it on this site. —Carey

moral hook

Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook

I feel like I need to get something off my chest.

It bothers me that Christians continually express shock, disapproval and judgment at the way non-Christians live.

You’ve seen it, and maybe even done it:

Doesn’t anyone believe in marriage anymore?

I can’t get over how many people today smoke weed.

Can you believe they just sleep in instead of coming to church?

Did you hear they moved in together? That’s so bad!

What’s wrong with our government? Why don’t they uphold biblical values?

Whenever I hear that, I feel like saying, “Do you seriously expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?”

Think it through.

Most people in the West no longer consider themselves Christian.

Or even if they use the term “Christian” to describe themselves, few believe in the authority of scripture or profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

So why would we expect them to behave like Christians? Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:

Wait until marriage to have sex?

Clean up their language?

Be celibate when they’re attracted to people of the same sex?

Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?

Seriously? Why?

They’re not pretending to be Christians. Why would they adopt Christian values or morals?

moral hook

Please don’t get me wrong.

I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.

When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100 percent agree.

I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.

But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?

Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?

Before you judge a non-Christian for behaving like a non-Christian, think about this:

1. They act more consistently with their value system than you do

It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite because they tend to live out what they believe.

Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are.

Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans.

But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.

2. Your disapproval is destroying the relationship (if you have even have a relationship in the first place)

Some of the most judgmental Christians have zero non-Christian friends. Is that a surprise, really?

I mean, on a human level, how many people have you made time for this week that you know disapprove of who you are and the way you live?

Exactly.

3. Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy

People don’t line up to be judged.

If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.

4. Judging outsiders is un-Christian

Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church. Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others.

Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us was saved by the good we did but by grace.

So what can you do?

1. Stop judging non-Christians. Start loving them

Very few people have been judged into life-change. Many have been loved into it.

2. Empathize with non-Christians

Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t a Christian, what would I be doing?” Chances are, you might be doing exactly what the non-Christians in your neighbourhood are doing.

Understanding that and empathizing with that completely changes how you see people. And they can tell how you see them.

3. Hang out with non-Christians

Jesus did. And caught plenty of disapproval for it. I have a friend who continually drops f-bombs in my presence.

As much as it bothers me, I never correct him (he’s not a kid, he’s my peer). But I do pray for him every day and we talk about my faith.

I pray I see the day when he’s baptized.

4. Pray for unchurched people

How many unchurched people do you pray for daily? How many people you disagree with do you pray fro daily?

It is impossible to hate someone you genuinely pray for daily.

5. Live out your faith authentically

Your actions carry weight. Humility is far more attractive than pride. When a non-Christian sees integrity, it’s compelling.

I just have a feeling if we in the church loved the world the way Jesus did, the world might come running to Christ.

And then the change we long to see might actually begin to happen.

What do you think? Scroll down and leave a comment. 🙂

Want Practical Help?

If you want more on how your church can relate to a constantly changing culture, I wrote about it in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

_______

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. I actually lost this article from my site two years ago in a site redesign. Fortunately, ChurchLeaders.com had also featured it and it’s great to be able to re-run it on this site. 

In many ways, the thinking in this post is similar to my argument in my #1 most-read post of all time, Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian.—Carey

Negative Person

7 Signs You’re Dealing With a Negative Person

While we’d all rather avoid it, negativity is a part of life. Chances are you got some negative feedback already this week, and you’re not sure how to process it.

Do you take it to heart, even though it stings? Or dismiss it, and run the risk of ignoring helpful feedback?

Even though it’s unavoidable, negative feedback can derail you – even stunt your progress – if you don’t know how to handle it.

To begin with, there’s a world of difference between receiving feedback from a generally positive person who makes meaningful contributions to the culture and people around him or her, and receiving feedback from a truly negative person.

The first strategy for dealing with negative feedback is to determine whether you are dealing with negative feedback from a positive person or negative feedback from a negative person. You can read about that here.

That distinction will help you develop a filter to figure out the difference between the two. Negative feedback from a positive person can almost always be helpful. Negative feedback from a negative person is rarely as useful.

So how do you know if you’re dealing with a negative person? Here are seven signs:

Negative Person

1. Their negativity is part of a pattern

You’ve seen their negativity before. Maybe they’re a frequent flyer in your inbox or at congregational meetings. But it’s not an isolated, out-of-character incident you’re looking at.

The criticism you’re dealing with is ‘in character’ for them.

2. They’re negative about more than just your organization

Not only are they upset about something you or your team has done, but they’re angry about work, about a whole host of retail experiences, about how bad the world has become and long list of other grievances.

3. They fail the call display test

As subjective as this sounds, the call display test is a pretty good indicator of whether a person drains you or energizes you. When you see anyone’s name come up on your caller ID, you get an immediate emotional reaction to it.

Sometimes you’re thrilled to see the name and can’t wait to take the call. Other times you’re neutral. But sometimes you wince. Whether it’s a phone call, a text or an email, you respond negatively and quietly think “oh no.”

That’s a sign that the person’s overall influence in your life has been negative, not positive.

4. They are mostly against things, but never for things 

Sadly, negative people rarely know what they stand for; they only know what they stand against.

If the person you’re dealing with isn’t “for” anything positive, they likely have a negative worldview.

5. Compliments are usually followed by the word “but”

A positive person (and even a neutral person for that matter) can give a compliment. Negative people can’t.

What starts out positively (“I really enjoyed the event today”) is inevitably followed by a “but” (“but had they turned the volume down and shortened the message it would have been better.”)

People who can’t give a compliment are rarely the kind of people you build the future on.

 

6. They aren’t accomplishing much with their life

Okay, this one sounds harsh, but it’s accurate. Truly negative people rarely accomplish anything great.

You can’t build a life on what you’re against.

Because they are against so much, few people want to work with them. Stalled out careers, a history of frequent job changes, financial trouble and other similar markers often characterize negative people.

Sometimes they get notoriety (think angry bloggers), but beyond a few ‘angry celebrities’, most negative people do nothing significant with their lives.

And I’m not sure you could call angry blogging or commenting ‘significant’.

7. They have no vision for the future

A negative person is almost never excited about the future. They have no compelling vision for what should be.

They can just tell you why your vision is wrong. When you ask them for alternatives, they rarely have original or well-thought-out ideas.

What do you see?

Those are seven signs I look for to determine whether I’m dealing with a negative person.  In the final post in this series, we’ll look at how to handle negative people in your life and in your organization.

I wrote more about creating a healthy church culture in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, what are some signs that tell you you’re dealing with a negative person.  What would you add or change in this list?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

leadership vocabulary

3 Words You Should Drop From Your Leadership Vocabulary Starting Now

Words matter when you’re a leader, and not all words are equally useful.

In fact, you should banish at least three from your leadership vocabulary.

Nobody wins when you use these words regularly, and they might be damaging your leadership without you even realizing it.

I end up using these words when I fail to take decisive actions.

I use these three words

as substitutes for action

as substitutes for specifics

as substitutes for clarity

Chances are you might as well.vocabulary

3 Words to Banish Starting Now

So which three words trip up leader after leader and team after team? Here they are:

1. Someone

You know how this comes up. Someone should do something about that. Someone should fix that. Someone should step up.

Someone really means no one.

Here are some handy substitutes:

will do something about it today.

I’m going to ask Josh to have that fixed by Friday.

Every single day, I’m going to ask five people to tackle the problem until someone steps up and says yes.

You can’t build the future on someone.

2. Something

You’ve said it. We need to do something about that.

I’m sure that’s true.

But the translation is that no one will do anything about it at all. Not until you become clear and specific.

Exactly what needs to be done? If you can’t define the solution, you haven’t even properly diagnosed the problem.

But answer those specific questions and things change. Then you have a plan.

3. Someday

Leaders can’t help but dream about someday. I dream and think about the future every single day.

But someday is also the graveyard of too many dreams and far too much vision.

You’re going to hire a dream staff member someday.

You’re going to radically change your church someday.

You’re going to break that bad habit someday.

You’re going to get organized someday.

And someday never comes. Days become months which become years and absolutely nothing happens.

Someday actually means never.

As my friend Casey Graham says, deadlines drive decisions.

Putting a date on every intention might scare the life out of you, but that’s awesome. You’ll get things done. You will.

Jeffrey E. Garten has rightly pointed out that vision without execution is a hallucination. Far too many leaders hallucinate. And they’re not actually leading anyone when they do.

If you can’t put a calendar date on it, then put a year on it and reverse engineer toward it. Sure, you’ll encounter setbacks, but only the determined eventually break through.

I’m a far better leader when I stop talking about someone doing something someday.

You are too.

Any other words you’d banish?

Leave a comment!

Note, I’m currently on sabbatical and as a result, most of my new blog posts in May are re-posts of some of my favourite but not as well known posts from the past few years. Hope they help you lead like never before. – Carey

church growth strategies

10 Church Growth Strategies That Cost Zero Dollars

So you want your church to accomplish its mission and reach people.

But so often in church leadership, it’s easy to believe growth can’t really happen unless you spend money on some new initiatives.

And that leaves a lot of church leaders stuck. Why? Because the vast majority of churches are underfunded, not over-funded.

Faced with a lack of resources, too many church leaders throw in the towel and believe growth isn’t possible.

But that’s a fallacy.

Vision always precedes resources. If you’re waiting for people and money to show up so you can get on with your mission, you’ll wait forever.

So how do you start growing now, even with zero dollars?

Here are 10 ways.

church growth strategies

1. Exude more passion

It’s amazing to me how little passion many church leaders exude.

We have the most amazing mission on planet earth. And we have a generation of young adults in front of us who want to give their lives to a cause that’s bigger than themselves.

Yet it’s easy to believe that the only way to reach the next generation is by spending money on lights, gear and sound. As I outlined in this post, that’s just not true.

You don’t need a polished church to reach the next generation nearly as much as you need a passionate church. Because when it comes to reaching the next generation, passion beats polish.

2. Cut the weird

Christians can be socially weird.

Too often, we use unnecessarily weird language—like this:

“This is good coffee, brother.”

“Amen. Hallelujah.”

Why not just talk at church the way you talk at the office or at a football game or on a Saturday by the pool? (Actually, if you talk like that normally, you probably don’t get invited out too often.)

Here’s what’s actually at stake: if someone has to learn code to join your church, you likely won’t have many people joining your church.

Our challenge is to reduce the human barriers that keep people from Jesus, not to erect new ones.

And, no, being weird does not mean you’re being faithful. It just means you’re being weird.

3. Expand your vision

Vision is a leader’s best friend, and it’s free.

After two decades of leading and communicating in the local church, I am convinced it is impossible to overstate or overestimate the vision of the church.  As Bill Hybels has said, the local church really is the hope of the world.

If you don’t dream big dreams for your church, who will?

If you don’t communicate big vision for your church, who will?

4. Encourage people to fall in love with your mission, not your methods

The reason change is so difficult in many churches is because members fall in love with methods, not with mission.

A method is a way of doing things: programs the church runs, the style of music, the architecture of a building or facility, a staffing or governance model.

Those are all simply methods that can and should change with every generation or even more frequently.

The mission is what you’re doing (like reaching people with the love and hope of Jesus), and it never changes.

The more you focus on the mission, the easier it is to change the methods.

5. Smile more

I know ‘smile more’ sounds trivial. But just look around you. Hardly anyone smiles.

If the Gospel is good news, you would never know it from looking at many Christians.

I have to remind myself when I communicate to smile more. It’s not my natural facial expression.

A smile can make a huge difference in almost any relationship.

So smile more and remind your people to smile more. Honestly, this makes a huge difference in how people perceive you.

6. Stop fighting

I have no statistics on this, but my guess is in-fighting has killed more churches than moral failure has.

Christians, it’s hard to convince the world that God loves it when we constantly fight with each other.

If your church is fighting, there should be zero mystery as to why it isn’t growing.

7. Pay much better attention to first- time guests

I’ve never heard of a church whose members claimed they were unfriendly.

In fact, most church members are stumped as to why people don’t like their church because they’re so ‘friendly.’

But being a ‘friendly’ church can often mean you’re friendly to each other, not to guests.

Change that.

Make sure guests feel genuinely appreciated, welcomed and that their questions are answered. This does NOT mean making them stand up in the service or other socially awkward things like that (see point 2 above).

It does mean treating guests the way they want to be treated.

8. Treat your volunteers better

Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that great leadership comes only when you can hire a great staff.

Nonsense.

You have a great team—they’re called your volunteers. And as I outlined in this post, you can pay your volunteers in non-financial currencies.

If you create a healthy volunteer culture, you’ll be amazed at how well your volunteers serve.

No matter how big you get as a church, you will never have enough money to hire all the staff you want. And you will always need a growing group of passionate, committed, aligned volunteers.

I write an entire chapter on creating a great volunteer culture in my book and video series, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

The bottom line? Passionate volunteers create a passionate church.

9. Invite someone

So there’s this thing out there called personally inviting a friend. Ever heard of it?

Okay, maybe that was a little sarcastic. But I am amazed by how often most of us neglect personally inviting our unchurched friends to church.

Many actually say yes when asked.

If everyone invited one person next weekend, think of what might happen.

Church leaders, encourage people to invite friends and start by inviting someone yourself.

10. Become friends with people who aren’t Christians

Last time I checked, friendship was free too. That’s a good thing.

The sad reality is the reason #9 is impossible for some people is because many Christians don’t actually know any non-Christians.

Change that.

Be a friend.

Hang out with that guy at work. Throw a party for the neighbours in your back yard. Talk to the other parents at your child’s school.

Get out of the Christian bubble and into the world Jesus died for.

If you’re at church 7 nights a week, you can’t be friends with non-Christians. So cut a few nights and go live the mission.

That’s why our church has almost no programming on weeknights other than small groups. We want our people to love the community.

The only way you can love a community is to actually be in the community.

You can’t love people you don’t know.

Want More?

Well, that’s a lot of free strategies there to use to grow your church and that’s exactly where you should start. You can accomplish so much if you just begin.

If you want to know how to raise more money for ministry (without a capital campaign), there’s also practical help. While we use all of the above strategies at Connexus Church, where I serve, we also have raised more money for ministry. The Rocket Company offers the exact process we used at Connexus to raise more money for your mission.

It’s called Thrive, and it will help your church raise money for ministry without a capital campaign. Using the approach outlined in Thrive has helped grow our giving by 90% over the last 5 years. You can get more information on Thrive or sign up here.

What Do You Think?

What have you done in your church that’s helped you reach more people?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

IMG_2567

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Rethink Leadership and Orange Conference

I am super excited, because this week (Wednesday, April 27-Friday April 29th) I’m speaking at the Rethink Leadership Conference in Atlanta and hanging out at the Orange Conference next door. And I’m not alone. Over 8,000 leaders will be gathering for these events.

One of my very favourite things to do in this life is connect with other leaders who are trying to make a difference in the local church, whether as staff or volunteers.

You don’t even have to be there to get all the benefit. (There’s live blogging for Rethink Leadership and  live streaming for Orange Conference)

So whether you are there in person or watching online, here are 7 tips.

IMG_2567

1. Don’t Do This Alone

Many senior leaders are loners by nature. To be honest, I can get in that space.

I like to talk to the people I already know. I avoid meeting new people if I can. But it’s a terrible mistake.

Getting to know other leaders, sharing a meal, sitting together at sessions and hanging out during breaks is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills as a leader, grow a network of support, ideas and encouragement and honestly just make friends. Remember friends senior leaders?

I have met so many people at conferences who have become life long friends and ministry collaborators. Don’t miss the gift of the community.

Remember: Solitude is a gift from God. Isolation is a tool of the enemy.

So make some connections. Even if you’re at home, watch and engage with a friend.

 

2. Follow the Hashtags

One of the easiest ways to track everything that’s happening is through hashtags—whether you’re at the conference or at home. Most of my personal updates at the conference will be via twitter or Instagram, but I will make occasional ventures onto Facebook (where hashtags work less well).

The hashtags are perfect for those who don’t attend, but will optimize the experience for those who do.

#RL16 #OC16 are the official conference hashtags.

#OC16Live is the official hashtag of the live stream for Orange Conference (Rethink Leadership, where I’ll be speaking all week, isn’t live streamed).

3. Live Tweeting

I’ll be live tweeting much of the conference, and my sessions will also be live tweeted (thanks to my team). That will make it easy to follow along.

Just follow me on Twitter to catch the latest.

4. Follow the Live Blog

My friend Brian Dodd will be live blogging the entire Rethink Leadership event.

Brian is a leadership blogging machine…so make sure you check his site regularly. There’s no one like Brian when it comes to leadership!

If you want to follow other bloggers blogging the Orange Conference, here’s a complete list.

5. Live Stream!

So you can’t make it? Orange Conference has a live stream. You might not get every session, but you’ll get a ton, I mean a ton, of the experience.

I’ll be doing a live interview on the stream Friday at 1:45 p.m. with Jared Herd and Elle Campbell. That is always so much fun. (We’ll periscope that interview too…just for fun.)

Follow the live stream at www.theorangeconference.com.

6. Evernote

Okay..now a bonus tip. Ever wonder how to synthesize the best learnings you’re trying to capture?

My hands-down top choice for note taking is Evernote. I know almost everyone knows about Evernote, but if you’re not using it at conferences, you’re missing out. Evernote’s free primer on how to use it will get you started if you’re new to it.

I love that I can do a search through the last few years of Orange Conference and this year’s new Rethink Leadership event notes simply by searching “Orange Conference”, “Rethink Leadership” or the name of the speaker, or a key word, or anything I might half remember. It always calls it up. And you can be far more organized for that. And it syncs seamlessly across all devices. Brilliant.

7. Let Me Help Your Team

It’s one thing to get a lot of insights. It’s another to take them home.

The challenge of leadership is that you have to persuade other people to embrace the break through you want to see.

I address seven key issues facing churches today in my book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

This week at the conferences, I’m releasing Lasting Impact Team Edition to help you have even better conversations with your board, staff, elders, volunteers and teams.

What’s the Team Edition?

It’s eight videos I shot outlining the key ideas in the book, designed for you as a leader to play for your team before you dive into the conversations in the book (conversations like “Why Are We Not Growing Faster?” and “Why Are We Not Attracting High Capacity Volunteers?” among others).

It’s like having me come to your church, frame the issue for your team and then give you the tools to have the conversations you need to break through.

All you need to do to start your meeting is press play, and after you can dive right into the conversation (the discussion guide is in the book). I even included a bonus video on how to have pivotal conversations as a team without things going sideways.

You can get it today by direct download or on a USB key if you prefer physical media.

Lasting Impact Team EditionMy team has even put together Team Edition Bundles that you the best deal possible on on the videos and volume purchases of the book in 510 and 20 book bundles.

If you get the Team Edition now, you’ll also get access to an exclusive private Facebook group.

Imagine going through the conversations not just with your team, but with advice and support from other church leaders navigating the same issues you are. Plus, I’ll be jumping in on the conversation within the Facebook group from time to time. (If you purchase the Team Edition by May 31st, you’ll receive an email inviting you to the group. We’re sending out our first batch of invitations on May 13.) But hurry, the Facebook group option is time limited.

So that’s it. Hope all of this helps you lead like never before. 

If you’re in Atlanta this week, I can’t wait to say hi. If you’re watching online, make sure you shout out on social media.

It’s going to be an incredible week!