From Spiritual Growth

Reinvention: The 5 Different Leaders You Need to Become To Stay Effective

You’ve heard it said here more than a few times, you are the hardest person you will ever have to lead.

How do I know that? Because I’m the hardest person I have to lead.

It was 20 years ago this year that I moved my then-young family up to just north of Toronto to begin ministry. Although the form has changed as I moved from a denominational context to planting Connexus Church, there have been a core of leaders who have been with me from the very start.

The ministry has grown from 45 people in attendance and 100 people who would have called our original churches home in 1995, to 1000 in attendance and 2200 people who call our church home today.

The one thing that’s been constant in all of it is change.

And the one thing that’s been even more consistent is that I’ve had to change as a leader.

In many ways, our church has had 5 different pastors over the last two decades. They just all happened to be me.

Why? Because I had to keep reinventing myself and my leadership again and again to remain effective as a leader and as a Christ follower.

The same is true of you.

If you’re going to lead over the long haul, you need to reinvent yourself again and again.

If you don’t, you’ll simply stagnate as a leader and drift toward ineffectiveness. And something inside you will die too—like your soul.

So how exactly do you reinvent yourself? And what do you need to reinvent?

Here are some thoughts.

Stage 1: The Instinctive Leader

Most leaders start out operating from their instincts or defaults.

Your instincts will get you places. And they’ll work for you for a season.

After all, you’re new. And sometimes the combination of a fresh face and the passion you have when you’re young will get you a long way in leadership. At least at first.

My instinctive leadership style is aggressive, clear, focused and direct (I was a lawyer before I was a pastor…so forgive me). Those are strengths, and they helped a lot in the early days.

If you think about it, you’ll be able to recognize your default leadership instincts. Just look at how you naturally behave.

Following your instincts is almost always how every leader behaves within the first few years of leadership.  It will get you started, but they certainly won’t take you all the way.

 

Reinvention 1: The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Many of you were already chafing at my instinctive leadership style (aggressive, clear, focused and direct). And, honestly, it rubs some people the wrong way.

Your first reinvention as a leader has to happen when you realize your strengths have accompanying weaknesses.

The best leaders aren’t just intelligent, they’re emotionally intelligent.

The key to emotional intelligence is self-awareness.

As a result, wise leaders develop ‘learned behaviours’. Learned behaviours are simply behaviours you adopt to compensate for the edges of your strengths. For example, I’ve had to learn to listen, to be gracious, to be compassionate and to value the input of others.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit I had to learn those things, but it’s true.

There are behaviours you have to learn too. If you’re not sure what they are, just look for characteristics that are the opposite of your gift set or, better yet, ask people around you. They’ll tell you.

Reinvention 2: The Leader of Leaders

If you’re a bit gifted, it will easy to rely on your own charisma, gifts and skills to help grow the ministry. Don’t make that mistake.

Growing things all by yourself just doesn’t scale well, and it’s not sustainable. Eventually, things will implode and you’ll end up leading only the people you can personally impact directly.

If you’re going to lead well over the long haul, you have to learn to lead others well. And more than that, you have to attract highly capable people to leadership.

In fact, you have to learn to lead people who are better than you.

That’s big task, but it’s a necessary reinvention.

I outlined 5 ways to attract leaders who are better than you in this post. And I also outlined 6 reasons many leaders lose high capacity people in this post.

Reinvention 3: The Healthy Leader

Everybody has issues. And after a few years in leadership, yours will unmistakably surface.

Your personal demons and issues will infect your leadership, your marriage and your home life. There’s just no escape.

If you’re at that stage right now, there are three stories that might really be able to speak to you:

Perry Noble, on how depression and anxiety almost took him out of leadership.

Craig Jutila, on how his drivenness almost cost him his marriage and his family.

Justin and Trisha Davis, on how their personal issues almost killed their family and cost them their ministry.

Your personal demons will either take you, or you will decide to take them. It’s up to you.

As I share in some of the interviews above, I’m so grateful God gave me the grace and insight to deal with my personal issues along the way.

Reinvention 4: The Life-Long Student

If you’re waiting for the day when you arrive as a leader, you’ll be waiting forever.

As a leader, you should never stop growing. Growing your character is more important than growing your skill set, and yet growing your skill set is also a must.

Many leaders would rather be teachers instead of students. That’s a critical mistake. The leaders who want to be teachers, not students, will never be teachers worth following.

The best teachers are the best students. So be a student.

Do whatever it takes to grow your skill set. Read books and blogs. Listen to podcasts. Go to conferences. Connect with leaders ahead of you. Learn whatever you can.

You’re never done. And if you really want to lead well, you’ll realize how amazing that realization actually is.

Reinvention 5: The Change Agent

In the first 5-10 years of your leadership, you will likely have introduced a lot of change. You moved out the old and brought in the new.

Which is where most leaders get stuck.

Many leaders have the courage to change what someone else introduced. Few have the courage to change what they introduced.

Effective leadership means changing what you introduced. It means looking the people you lead in the eye and saying “For a season, that was the best way to do things. The season’s changed, and we need a new approach.”

As I’ve shared before, leaders need to marry the mission, not the method.

In light of the massive cultural shift happening around us, leaders are going to have to get more and more comfortable with changing what they’ve already changed.

What Do You Think?

Those are 5 reinventions I see most effective leaders move through.

What are some reinventions you’ve had to go through personally? What have you seen in others?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

secrets leaders won't tell you

11 Secrets Most Church Leaders Won’t Tell You

Leadership is a journey…a journey that’s probably different than you thought it would be before you stepped into leadership.

When I was young, I always thought leaders had it all figured out. That the uncertainty would one day disappear once I had more life and leadership under my belt.

But as you eventually learn, it doesn’t really work that way.

In fact, I think most leaders struggle more than they let on. I know personally, at one point or another, I’ve struggled in each of the areas listed below. But, at the time, because I didn’t want to tell anyone how I really felt, I kept mostly quiet.

Looking back, I realize for too long I kept far too much of it to myself.

You know what keeping it to yourself does, right?

It leaves you isolated. And the silence gives fear power—power it should never have.

secrets leaders won't tell you

11 Secrets Most Church Leaders Won’t Tell You

Just to let you know you’re not alone, and to break the power of darkness by cracking some daylight, here are 10 secrets most leaders won’t tell you:

1. I’m less secure than I appear

The together exterior doesn’t always match the fragile interior.

Security is a journey for sure…a tough one. Most people don’t like insecure leaders. But insecurity is a trap…the more insecure you are, the more you resist telling anyone you’re insecure. And the more they dislike you.

If it helps, I outline 5 signs you’re an insecure leader in this post, and 5 ways to become a more secure leader here.

I think the best way to start dealing with your insecurity is to admit it, and deal with it. Counsellors’ offices and best friends are great places to start with that by the way. So is prayer.

2. Getting close to God isn’t easy

There’s a particular pressure on pastors and church leaders to have a ‘great’ relationship with God.

But the truth is, our relationship is just like anyone else’s relationship with God. It has ups and downs.

Even as a church leader, you go through dry seasons. Okay, maybe especially as a church leader, you go through dry seasons spiritually.

I think church leaders struggle with God in different ways than most people. I outline those ways here.

3. I’m lonelier than I let on

Leadership is complex and involves going through seasons of unpopularity. It also involves making tough calls that can make you the goat, or at least feel like a goat.

Add to that the fact that most of us who are driven type leaders don’t do relationships easily, and sometimes it’s lonelier than it needs to be.

4. It’s hard at home sometimes

Let’s just say it. Our Instagrams lie. It’s not always easy at home.

It’s gotten better over the years, but there have been seasons in my leadership where my family got too much of my unfiltered stress. Not fair. Not fair at all. But true.

Home is hard. Work is hard. Put the two together in an ill-thought through combination and it can be lethal.

I really believe that, in the long run, everything rides on how you lead at home.

5. The criticism hurts

We pretend the criticism doesn’t hurt, but it does, whether we admit it or not.

We put our poker faces on, but deep down it stings.

Tell God.

Tell somebody.

And don’t let your family bear the brunt of it every time.

There are ways to make criticism sting less, but acknowledging it hurts is a great first step.

6. I’m afraid to ask for what I really want

I’ve usually been pretty forward in my leadership and I’m grateful for an incredibly honest dialogue I have with my staff and elder team where I serve.

But there are seasons where I’ve been afraid to ask for what I really want. And even as I type those words I think “That sounds so selfish.”

But sometimes you just need a vacation. Or, especially when your family is young and you’re just starting out, you need a raise. Or you need more staff. Or you need someone to have your back. Or you need a friend. You’re just afraid to ask.

You know what I’ve found? Almost every time I’ve asked, someone said “Why didn’t you ask sooner? We’d love to help.”

See what secrets and silence do?

7. I’ve thought about leaving even though I’m staying

You’ve thought about leaving, even though you’re staying…true? Of course it’s true, unless you just started last Tuesday, and even then…

Everyone goes through seasons of doubt and questions about the future.

But when you sit in silence with this one for too long, you end up waffling. Not staying, but not leaving either. You end up putting in half an effort, and you’re half the leader you could be.

Brad Lomenick offers some great insight in Episode 27 of my podcast about how to know when it’s time to go, and I outlined 5 signs it’s time to move on in this post.

8. My secret job is nothing like this job

One of the reasons leadership is hard is because you deal with so many intangibles. It’s brain work. People management. Conflict management. Getting people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

On bad days, many leaders I know dream of doing something entirely different. For a season, my escape job was to stack boxes in a warehouse. Because at least if you moved a box, it stayed moved.

9. I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing

Eventually you reach a level of leadership, either because you’ve been at it long enough or because whatever you’re leading got big enough, that you realize there are no clear answers. There just aren’t.

You surrounded yourself with the smartest people you could and you realize that even the smart people don’t know what to do.

That’s where real leadership begins—when you feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you keep doing anyway.

That’s how history gets changed. You were just the last person standing, even though inside it felt like sheer confusion.

10. People seem to believe in me more than I believe in myself some days

When you’ve been through #9 enough times, you will be ready to give up believing in yourself. But you look around and realize other people keep believing in you.

That’s exactly what you need. You’re likely leading very well if enough of the good people keep believing in you.

So when you stop believing in you, keep believing in the people who believe in you.

11. I thought we would have made more progress by now

You don’t want to say it out loud, but you really do think you would have made more progress by now.

You look at all the overnight successes and think “How come that wasn’t me?” This only works, of course, until you look more closely at the overnight successes only to realize almost all of them were 5-15 years in the making.

The fact that your vision is bigger than your reality is paradoxically a sign that you’re a good leader.

So keep being mildly disappointed, because it will always spur you on to more.

And one day when it’s over you’ll look back and be amazed at how much you actually accomplished.

What Are Your Secrets?

What thoughts do you have that you have a hard time admitting to anyone else?

I’d love to hear them.

And what’s yours experience with these 10?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

weekend attendance

10 Simple Changes You Can Make to Help Boost Weekend Church Attendance

There’s no doubt the church is undergoing a massive cultural shift as people attend church less often, and even regular attenders show up less frequently than before. (I outlined that trend in detail in this five part blog series.)

As much as everything is changing and we need to respond to that, almost every church still holds weekend services and likely will for years to come.

So, in the meantime, what can you do to help reach more people? What can you do to boost weekend church attendance?

Before you think this is just a numbers game, realize it’s also a spiritual issue.

To me, declining attendance is a spiritual issue because I believe that disconnected people rarely grow spiritually.

Connect people and they grow. Disconnect people, and they don’t.

So, naturally, I’m motivated to connect people.

Can we connect people outside Sunday? Absolutely. By all means connect people through groups, other gatherings, in local mission and so much more.

And yet this truth remains: the weekend service is, functionally, a primary way most people connect with the church and connect with God.

So to ignore Sundays is to ignore a reality that impacts hundreds of millions of people every week.

weekend attendance

10 Changes You Can Make to Boost Weekend Attendance

So if you’re holding weekend services, what can you do to bump weekend attendance positively, knowing that it will help people connect better to God?

Here are 10 ideas that are relatively simple to implement:

1. Invite, don’t assume

I think many leaders still hold the assumption that if you attend church, you’ll be there weekly. As we’ve seen before, that’s just not true anymore.

So instead of just closing the serve and assuming everyone will be back, invite people to come back. Close the service by saying something like “Next week we’ll be (fill in the blank) and we’d love for you to join us.”

When you change your language this way, you raise the anticipation level.

2.  Facilitate an experience more than a show

As worship has changed over the last generation, in many ways it has become as much of a ‘show’ as it has anything else.

As both David Kinnaman and John Stickl have pointed out on recent leadership podcast episodes (episode 24 and 29 respectively), millennials are far less attracted to ‘the show’ (highly produced, highly generic services) than their boomer parents and grandparents.

If you’re in a large church, the show will be the experience killer. People don’t want to attend something that they can access just as easily via podcast.

If you’re a small church, mediocrity (poorly produced, poorly executed services) will be the experience killer. It’s hard to draw people back to something that’s consistently underwhelming or poorly done.

I think the future will belong to leaders who can facilitate compelling gatherings (large or small) that usher people into the presence of God.

John Stickl provides great insight on how to usher millennials into the presence of God in a megachurch setting. It’s worth the listen.

3. Employ more than one or two senses

I’m a verbal, logical learner, so my default it always just to talk or write.

But I realized a long time ago I need to engage visual learners and other learning styles.

Increasingly, our team is using media like this in our services to help people connect with the full message and impact of the Gospel. In my teaching, I’m using more infographics and images in addition to words to communicate points.

This goes far beyond music, images and words.

Even communion is sensory, something that can’t just be reduced to a few words or yet another bottom line.

Lighting levels, haze and even incense can add to an experience.  You can’t podcast any of those things.

4. Make the next step beyond Sunday clear

Many leaders don’t point to anything beyond the next Sunday’s message (if they do that).

I’m increasingly passionate about helping people find their next step.

Recently at Connexus Church, where I lead, we introduced a Next Steps kiosk at our locations. We staff it with some of our best volunteers who understand our mission and love connecting with people.

We train them to read where people are at and make recommendations on which next step is best for them. For some it may be baptism, for others it might be Starting Point or group, for still others it could be serving or inviting a friend.

The goal is to get people to engage by taking a step. Why? Engaged people grow faster. It’s as simple as that.

They also tend to show up more (but that’s a by-product of their growth).

5. Teach in series

Many preachers now teach in series, but there’s a surprising number who don’t. Next Sunday still consists of whatever the preacher thought up on Monday afternoon (or Saturday night). Bad idea on about a hundred levels.

Teaching in 3 to 10 week message series gives people something to look forward to. Plus, it gives you something new to feature every month or two.

Additionally, series are memorable. I am amazed at how many times people tell me about a series we did years ago that impacted them. They remember the name, the bottom line and even the artwork.

Plus, a new series gives everyone a fresh chance to invite a friend.

6. Angle your messages as connected parts (think ‘episodes’)

If you teach in series, it means you won’t be as tempted to ‘cover all the bases’ in one sermon. You have a series for that.

I try to cover ONE idea per message. No more, no less.

That means you can pick up where you left off the week before after a brief recap of where the series has gone so far.

Rather than pushing people away, that draws people in. It’s why series like Suits, Downton Abbey or House of Cards are so successful. You can’t easily jump into the middle of a season—you need to watch from the beginning.

I’m not suggesting you make your message hard to access for first time attenders. Not at all. Just let them know there’s more that addresses the questions they’re asking.

It will drive people to your podcasts or website to catch up on what they missed, and make them want to come back.

You can still make the message ‘work’ as a standalone, but building continuity with other parts of the series makes it an experience people want to come back to.

And because you’re changing series every 3-8 weeks, you have lots of opportunity to start fresh throughout the year.

7. Give people homework

One aspect of teaching so many preachers miss is application. We give too much information and not nearly enough application.

Preachers, ask yourself, what are people going to do with this message on a Tuesday? If you can’t answer that, don’t preach it.

Sometimes I work harder on the application than I do on other areas of the message. Why? Because people remember what they apply. And because application is everything.

Don’t just ask what people need to know. Ask what people need to do. Then answer that, clearly.

8. Encourage everybody to bring somebody

People who invite people to church with them tend to not miss church.

I would strongly encourage you to elevate the value of inviting and bringing friends. Forget the weekend attendance that might bring.

It’s also one of the best ways for people to grow spiritually. Sharing your faith grows your faith.

Finally, it moves your church far closer to accomplishing its mission; sharing the hope of Christ with the world. Why wouldn’t everybody bring somebody?

9. Specifically invite people to follow you on social media

If your church has a social media presence on Sundays (most do), talk about it!

As I outlined in this post, most of us don’t. What a mistake. Stop greeting people like it’s 1999.

By encouraging people to connect with you via social media, you can connect with them all week long.

10. Make volunteering a great experience

If your volunteers hate serving, they’ll be looking to escape from your church any time they don’t have to be there.

Here’s a post that explains why many churches lose high capacity volunteers.  Here’s another one that outlines 7 questions every volunteer asks but never says out loud.

You want your volunteers to love serving so much that it creates a contagious environment.  In Episode 20 of my leadership podcastFrank Bealer from Elevation Church explains how what Elevation Church does to get thousands of volunteers as passionate about their mission as staff.

Turn around your volunteer culture, and you will have a far more irresistible weekend gathering.

What About You?

Those are some things we’re thinking about and doing around our leadership table to respond to the trend of declining attendance we’re all seeing.

What are you doing? What has enticed you?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

cynicism

6 Reasons Leaders Grow Cynical (And How to Fight the Trend)

Find yourself becoming a little more cynical every year as a leader?

Few of us decide we’re going to be cynical…we just kind of end up there.

How does that happen?

How does a heart grow hard? How do you end up trusting no one? How does hope die?

Cynicism grows in the hearts of far too many leaders. Not only does it impact how you lead at work or in ministry, eventually your growing cynicism will tear at the fabric of your marriage and even at your relationship with your kids. Nobody likes a cynic.

If you find yourself gradually growing more cynical, you’re not alone.

I think leadership breeds cynicism for several reasons. The good news is you can beat it if you understand how it forms.

cynicism

6 Reasons Leaders Grow Cynical

So why do leaders grow cynical? Here are 6 reasons I’ve seen in myself and in others:

1. You know too much

The more you lead, the more you know. And the more you know, the easier it is to grow cynical.

This shouldn’t surprise us at all. Solomon said it 3000 years ago. The wisest man in his day had to battle cynicism at a very deep level (ever read Ecclesiastes?). In Ecclesiastes 1:18 Solomon make the link between knowledge and sorrow crystal clear:

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Boom. There it is.

Think of all you’ve seen as a leader. The heartbreak, the betrayals, the politics, the people you believed in who kept letting you down.

You know too much. You’ve seen too much.

And not knowing how to handle what you’ve seen and what you know creates an incubator for cynicism.

2. You haven’t grieved your losses

Leadership is a series of wins and losses. If you’re like me, you hardly notice the wins, but you feel every loss.

Years ago, a mentor pointed out to me that most pastors never grieve their losses. Every time someone leaves your church, it’s a loss. Every time you do a funeral, it’s a loss. Every time you can’t do what you hoped you could do as a leader, it’s a loss.

Most of us just stuff the losses; pretending they don’t matter.

When I first realized I’d stuffed a lot of losses over my life, I cried. A lot. I mean like almost for a month kind of crying. That seemed to clear the backlog.

Now, when I sense there’s a loss (even a small one), I grieve it before God.

There’s a reason people in Biblical times would declare 40 days of mourning. I used to read those passages and think “What’s wrong with those people? Why can’t they just go back to work?”

Actually, there’s something healthy about grieving your losses.

What do you need to grieve that you haven’t grieved?

3. You haven’t dealt with your issues

In addition to the losses you experience in life and leadership, we all bring baggage with us from the past.

I ran from dealing with my ‘stuff’ for years. After all, I was a good leader. I didn’t have any baggage. I sent people to counselling. I didn’t go to counselling.

How wrong that attitude was. Apparently, I did have baggage. And it was impacting not only my leadership, but my marriage and parenting. I’m so thankful I found some trained Christian counsellors to help me work through my issues.

If any of this is resonating with you, I want to encourage you to jump over to listen to Perry Noble and I tell our stories of burnout and depression in this post (and interview).

4. You’ve projected past failures onto new situations

When you don’t deal with your issues or grieve your losses, you end up projecting past failures onto new situations.

Here’s how cynicism operates.

Cynicism looks at a new team member and says “I’ll bet it’s just a matter of time until he screws up”.

Cynicism looks at a new class of 9th graders and says “They’re just like the kids who drove me nuts last year.”

Cynicism sees the newlyweds and says “I wonder how long until they hit the rocks?”

Cynicism sees the new church and decides “It will only be a matter of time until they implode too.”

If you want to fight cynicism, stop projecting past failures onto new situations.

5. You’ve decided to stop trusting

As soon as cynicism gets a toehold in your life, you stop trusting.

Because the next person is just like the last person, you decide those kind of people can’t be trusted. Or worse, people can’t be trusted.

Really?

Is that how you want to live? What kind of leader does that make you? What kind of person does that make you?

Or, without inducing a guilt trip, what kind of Christ-follower does that make you (isn’t the heart of our faith forgiveness and hope)?

If you want to kick cynicism in the teeth, trust again. Believe again. Hope again.

6. You’ve lost your curiosity

I think an incredibly effective long term antidote to cynicism is curiosity.

The curious are never cynical.

The curious are always interested, always open to new possibilities, always thinking, always hopeful. I wrote a post about the link between cynicism and how to become more curious here.

Because cynicism tends to creep up with age, you’ll notice there are (sadly) a lot of cynical old people. My favourite elderly people are never the cynical, but the curious. The ones who at 80 are still learning, still open, still hopeful, still passionate about the next generation, still optimistic.

When was the last time you were honestly curious about something? Pursue curiosity, and cynicism will die of a thousand pinpricks.

What Kills Cynicism in You?

If you’ve felt cynicism growing inside you, what’s making it grow? What’s helping you beat it?

I’d love to hear from you. Scroll down and add to the conversation by leaving a comment!

bias for action

Why Leaders Who Hold THIS Bias Are The Most Effective Leaders

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

Every leader has dreams, goals and hopes.

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

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

Why?

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

What is it?

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

bias for action

Three Friends — One Bias

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

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

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

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

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

What do all three leaders have in common?

A bias for action.

Maybe You’re Hallucinating

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

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

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

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

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

 Action is Stunning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Start

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

Come on…you know what it is:

That change you need to make in your church

The project you need to launch.

That book you need to write.

The blog you need to get started on.

That team member you need to deal with.

That unchurched neighbour you need to have over for dinner.

That series you need to find the courage to preach.

So what’s holding you back?

Be honest.

Maybe it’s fear.

Or a lack of confidence

Or the belief you might fail.

Well….

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

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

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

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

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

Then act.

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

performance review

9 Things I Learned From My Most Recent Performance Review

Remember report card time?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But other than that, it’s not advisable.

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

performance review

9 Things I Learned

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

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

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

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

2. The truth is a leader’s best friend

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

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

So seek it. Crave it. Long for it.

When people criticize you, see it as a gift.

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

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

Defensiveness kills great leadership and great leaders.

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

This atmosphere around you starts long before any review.

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

4. You will always have weaknesses

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

But I’m not. I’m flawed.

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

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

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

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

But it’s not a badge of honour.

6. Your strength has a shadowside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Run even harder into your strengths

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

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

But I have a shot at being brilliant at English.

So go be brilliant.

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

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

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

The Performance Assessment Tool We Use

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

Results

Emotional Intelligence

Trust

Development of Others

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

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

What About You?

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

Scroll down and leave a comment.

why YOUR church isn't THE church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But should you?

why YOUR church isn't THE church

How the Pressure Mounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You end up doing nothing well

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

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

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

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

You’re A Church…Not THE Church

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

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

We are A church. We are not THE church.

Before you declare that heresy, think about it.

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

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

Follow that?

This should be a tremendous relief to most church leaders.

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

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

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

I think local churches function the same way.

5 Liberating Reasons YOUR Church Isn’t THE Church

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

1. You are not the only church in town

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

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

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

2. You will never be the only church God uses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Ministries also happen personally, not just organizationally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let me give you an example from my context.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Can Be Very Liberating

So just imagine.

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

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

And God hasn’t left you alone.

How amazing is that?

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

How have you overcome it?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

fear; lose their nerve

5 Reasons Leaders Lose Their Nerve When They Need It Most

Every leader battles their nerves.

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

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

And-frankly—sometimes leaders lose their nerve.

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

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

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

fear; loss of nerve

1. Over-focusing on the possibility of failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. An obsession with disappointing people 

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

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

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

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

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

4. A forced comfort with the status quo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or maybe you did colossally fail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scroll down and leave a comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The church didn’t burn you out

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

But I would never say that.

You know who burned me out?

I did. 

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

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

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

3. The church didn’t make you cynical

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

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

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

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

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

4. The church didn’t cause your unforgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So if you want to believe again…believe again.

A Challenge

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

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

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

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

We need people and we need leaders who deal hope.

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

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

Scroll down and leave a comment!

cynics; trolls; leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do?

cynics; trolls; leadership

How Instant Access to Everything has Empowered Cynics and Trolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We know more but think less.

We’ve convinced ourselves that opinion beats dialogue.

Rudeness has become a substitute for disagreement.

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

The Antidote to Trolls and Cynics

So what can you and I do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t.

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

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

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

So would you speak up today?

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

What are you learning about trolls and cynics?

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