No leader likes criticism. It stings. So how should you respond to it healthily? Here are 5 ways to make criticism sting less as a leader.
Very rarely does success come from jumping from one venture to another every few years.
And very rarely does long term impact happen from short term tenure.
And yet in ministry and in life, people often jump from venture to venture or church to church hoping the next fit is better than the last fit, only to be perpetually disappointed.
Many Leaders Leave Before Their Critical Breakthrough
In my view too many leaders leave too often before critical breakthroughs happen.
Most people who become ‘overnight’ successes have put in a decade or more before anything really note-worthy has happened.
I’m not saying leaders should never leave. In fact, here’s a post outlining 5 signs it’s time to move on.
It’s just if you go too early, you can miss out on so much.
5 Things Long Term Leaders Learn to Master
Here are 5 things every leader who stays long term learns to master:
So let me start here.
I struggle with pride.
Pride is at the root of all sin. It is pride—the pursuit of self, of knowing better, of being right—that caused our fall in the first place. It is a daily struggle for me.
My heart broke this weekend as I read of the latest developments at Mars Hill Church as their Pastor, Mark Driscoll, temporarily stepped down. There’s a very (from what I can tell) balanced and fair article about the events here in Christianity Today if you want some background.
I need to say I don’t know Mark Driscoll. I’ve never met him.
And this is not a post where I’m going to pass any level of judgment on Pastor Mark or Mars Hill. He needs our prayers as does his family and church (My heart really hurts for his family in a season like this. They love their husband and dad. So does Christ.)
And even as I say “he needs our prayers” I realize that often in Christian circles we say that with a sense of superiority, as though he needs our prayers or she needs our prayers in way that I don’t.
Not even close to true.
No one prays with clean hands. I don’t. You don’t.
I need your prayers as desperately as Pastor Mark. So do you. So when we pray, we need to pray as those who come alongside each other before a merciful and just God and a Saviour we all so desperately need.
We are in this together.
I’m on vacation with my family, and today’s post is a guest post from Doug Fields.
Doug is one of the leaders who has set the pace for student ministry leaders over the last number of years, and he’s weathered the tensions that inevitably arise between leaders and ministry only to come out strong in both areas. Doug recently coauthored the book Married People with Ted Lowe.
By Doug Fields
When I speak on marriage, I’m always asked if I intentionally taught my kids about marriage.
The answer is yes… and, no.
Yes, there are times when we’ve talked specifically about marriage (either ours or ones that our kids have observed). But, for the most part, Cathy and I have been wise enough to know that our kids are constantly watching and learning from us without us having to do a lot of talking.
Our actions (both good and bad) are always teaching them about marriage.
I would be thrilled if my kids had a similar type of marriage that Cathy and I share… it’s definitely not perfect, but we’re both very proud of what we’ve developed over 27+ years.
10 Actions My Kids Have Caught Over the Years
Here are 10 actions that I know my kids have observed from us over the years:
Cathy & I are very affectionate and I like having my kids see me holding their mom’s hand, hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc… as often as I can.
2. Saying “I’m sorry”
I want to be quick to use this phrase and I want my kids to hear me say it (and I have to say it a lot more than Cathy).
This is my primary love language so it’s easy for me to dish out encouraging words.
My kids get a lot of verbal affirmation, but they also hear me directing it toward my wife (which is really easy).
I think Cathy is hot… and, I make it known around our family. I’ll regularly say, “Isn’t your mom beautiful?”
Our kids know that we like to spend time together. When they see us steal time away to sit in the backyard and talk, or go in the hot tub, or go on a date night, or sneak away for the weekend…that’s a good message I want them to see.
We laugh a lot in our house and my wife’s cute sense of humor cracks me up. I like having my kids see that my wife makes me laugh.
Opening the door for Cathy, saying “thank you” and “please” and showing her simple signs of respect.
8. Faith conversations
We’re not always praying in front of our kids, but they hear and see our faith conversations and know that we’re always talking about Jesus and what it means to be a follower.
9. The value of friends
Our house is well worn from the traffic of friends in/out of our house.
We love having people over and the Fields’ house is a regular hangout for some incredible friends.
I know my kids have had a better example in Cathy than with me because she’s the ultimate servant. Always asking, “How can I help? What do you need to make life better?” Serving one another is seen in the daily, little things and there’s many opportunities to serve.
Kids are always watching their parent’s marriage and yet too many marriages underestimate the power of modeling!
Children are taking daily recordings of what a marriage looks like and those recordings are definitely influencing and shaping their view of marriage.
Question: Do you have intentional actions that you’re modeling to your kids? Do you have some actions that are different from the ones I’ve listed?
If you do…leave a comment!
Special Offer This Week
My friends over at Orange Books are offering some great deals this week.
You can get any of the deals, any day this week, but, as a leader who’s passionate about people’s marriages, I wanted to highlight today’s featured deal:
Buy one copy of the book Married People, and get all of this:
• “Why Marriage Ministry Is Doable for Every Church” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Ted Lowe, audio file)
• “Married and in Ministry” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Ted Lowe and Doug Fields, audio file)
• an annual subscription to MarriedPeople E-ZINE
Plus, when you tweet or share any of the deals on Facebook, you’ll be entered to win a prize.
Just go to to orangebooks.com, click on the Married People book and place your order.
So…what are some things your kids are picking up…for better or for worse? Leave a comment.
As you’ve heard me mention all summer, we have exciting things planned to help you lead like never before.
And one of them is this. I’ll be launching a brand new podcast next month.
Can I tell you why I’m so excited about it?
As a young leader, I always wished I could just pick the brain of leaders I admired.But I didn’t know many. And the ones I listened to from afar were always on stage and inaccessible to me. You know the drill. Been there, right?
Over the years I’ve been able to meet some of the leaders I used to watch from the back row —plus a ton of leaders whose names you might not recognize who have some amazing insights.
So many times when I’ve been talking to those leaders I think to myself “I wish ________ could be in on this conversation!” or “I wish everyone could hear this!”
Well, starting next month, you (and your team) can!
The guest list is pretty amazing (I’m so excited…I’ll reveal it in a few weeks…earlier if you subscribe).
The podcast will feature some of the top names in leadership today as well as people you may never have heard of but who offer some exceptional leadership insights (I love that part!).
My goal…to bring you some of the best conversations happening in leadership today. And all of it’s designed to help you and your team lead like never before.
So…if you want inside access and want to be the first to hear what’s coming down the pipe, subscribe to my podcast today by clicking the button below.
Anyone you’d like to see me interview on the show?
Leave a comment!
It wasn’t that long ago you actually had to work hard to access anything you missed at the church you attended.
You had to show up in person to pick up a CD (or cassette…remember those??) or ask someone to mail you a copy. Or you simply missed out.
Fast forward to now, and almost every church has their messages available online.
It’s always good to ask some questions when things are changing quickly.
What are the rapid rise of messages online and experiences online doing to the church and to people’s faith?
Are they acting as a front door to ministry and attracting people, or are they acting as a back door for people slowly leaving the church?
In other words, is the option of church online moving people closer to Christ, or further away?
It’s a great question every church leader should think through.
So What’s Happening, Exactly?
When the option of churches podcasting and launching online campuses became real 6-8 years ago, it looked like it was all upside for the local church
A chance to reach more people.
An opportunity to get the Word out.
A chance to reach people who are scared of walking through a church door.
And, in many ways, all that upside is still there and amazing.
But another trend has emerged that no one really saw coming. Or at least I didn’t.
A growing number of Christians seem to be watching the local church rather than being engaged in the local church.
It’s not usually a huge number, but talk to even the mega-church people behind the scenes and they’ll tell you that as many as several thousand who used to attend in person aren’t any more. They’re watching from the comfort of a bed or beach instead.
While this hasn’t killed attendance by any stretch, it has dented it. The churches that offer numerous online gateways are still growing, but they are also seeing a smaller exodus of Christians no one is sure what to do with.
And it’s alarming for many more reasons than it being downward pressure on a growth curve.
4 Questions About Church Online For Christians
If you’re a Christian and your primary experience of church is online, my question is “why”?
Here are 4 questions I would ask:
You probably see it every week—leaders who undercut their influence.
Sometimes they blow it completely through one or two dumb moves. And sometimes you end up thinking “I’m not really sure I want to follow them anymore” but you’re not exactly sure why.
The loss of influence is subtle, but real.
Because of constant—even daily— exposure, social media makes influence easier to gain…and that much easier to lose.
Almost every ministry leader I know is on social media today. And so is almost everyone they lead.
So the opportunity to squander your influence is that much higher.
And often we do it without even realizing it.
Leadership Is Influence
Before we jump into how leaders lose influence on social media, a word on why influence matters.
Properly construed, influence is not actually about ego at all.
Gaining and building influence is critical for all of us who lead because, as John Maxwell has famously said, leadership is influence.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Lose your influence and you’re not leading anyone.
Build influence and you can take people places they wouldn’t ordinarily go, which is the essence of a leader’s job.
Moreover, if you’re a follower of Christ, you believe the influence you’ve been given is a trust.
You’re not leveraging influence for your sake, but for the sake of cause much bigger than yourself.
Which is why it’s so sad when ministry leaders squander trust or undermine influence.
6 Ways Leaders Undercut Their Influence on Social Media
So how do leaders undercut their influence on social media? Here are 6 subtle ways I’ve seen it happen.
So you have a vision for the future. Virtually every leader does.
But how do you know whether your vision is going to catch on—whether it will capture the imagination of people and actually move them forward into a different future?
I mean that’s a tall order.
And any leader who’s even spent a few minutes up front casting vision has asked themselves whether their vision will catch on or not.
Sometimes even after you unveil the vision, you live for months waiting and wondering whether it is resonating widely or whether it’s simply going to fizzle and die.
Is there a way to know whether your vision will catch on, or whether it will sputter on before it dies out?
I think there is.
8 Signs Your Vision Isn’t Going to Catch On
In my experience, a vision needs at least 8 ingredients for it to resonate with people. This isn’t scientific…it’s just experience.
I know when things haven’t caught on the way I had hoped in the past, I’ve gone back to these elements to ensure they were in place.
Hopefully they can help you craft a clear and compelling vision for your organization or ministry area that resonates.
Here are 8 signs your vision isn’t going to catch on:
You’d think that at some point, you’d just know what to do.
That the questions and doubt would go away, and that you’d have a clear answer to the questions and problems that come your way as a leader.
Sure…you get better at calling shots as you mature and grow as a leader. But there are always questions that stump even the best leaders.
Then what do you do?
What if there was a single question that could guide you much closer to the right answer?
I think there is.
I Got A Call The Other Day…
I got a call the other day from a great friend.
He had a tough ethical dilemma. It’s not appropriate for me to go into the details, but it’s the kind of ethical/relational problem that stumps even the brightest leaders.
I could see it from both sides. So could he. And yet the stakes were high.
We talked about what scripture had to say about the issue. But again, you could apply it from several different angles.
There was no clear answer.
After about 30 minutes of conversation, I remembered the question I’ve learned to ask myself when I’m stuck and no one seems to know what to do and scripture isn’t crystal clear.
I gave him the question.
The Question That Can Answer Your Question
The question is this:
If you’re in ministry, at some point you probably told yourself “I had no idea it would be like this.”
Don’t get me wrong—I’m exceptionally grateful for the time I’ve had in ministry. 19 years into this, I wake up virtually every single day thankful I get to this and excited to get started.
But the ‘virtually’ part is true because there are days where I think “What’s going on?” and “I didn’t sign up for this”. And even on my good days, I find I’m having to learn things I never expected I’d have to learn.
So let’s speed things up for those of you still on the front side of ministry or early on in ministry.
And this might also help those of us who have been at it for a while but still ready for some inside track preparation.
7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Ministry
Here are 7 things I wish someone had told me before I started ministry: