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emotional intelligence

5 Emotional Intelligence Hacks That Can Immediately Improve Your Leadership

How would you rate your emotional intelligence lately?

It’s a relevant question for a few reasons. First, as the research Daniel Goleman brought forward two decades ago demonstrated, EQ (emotional intelligence) is a far greater predictor of leadership effectiveness than IQ.

Second—and this is the fun part—emotional intelligence can be learned. It’s not genetic, and pretty much anyone can get better at it.

Your emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) is already affecting far more than you think at work and at home. It explains:

Why you have conflict and when you have conflict.

Why people like working with you or don’t.

Why you never seem to get the promotion you’re hoping for—or why you do.

Why there’s so much drama in your life, or why things actually go quite smoothly.

So how emotionally savvy are you?

I personally had a lot of growing to do in emotional intelligence over the years in leadership, and I’m still working on it.

Here are 5 EI hacks that can immediately improve your leadership. They’ve certainly helped improve mine.


1. Become a student of how you impact others

Ever wonder what happens when you walk into a room?

It’s a strange question in some respects because you’ve never been in a room that you’re not in.

You impact the climate of every room you’re in. In fact, as a leader, you almost always change the climate. But is it for the better or worse?

Do people tense up when you walk in? Do they clam up? Are they glad to see you? Afraid of you? Thrilled that you’re there?

Is your spouse glad to see you, or does he or she worry you’ll just have one more thing to complain about when you get home?

Many people have no idea how to honestly answer that question.

What makes it even more complicated is the fact that insecure leaders are usually too afraid to get answers to that question. And if you’re an angry or defensive leader, I promise you your team is afraid to give you an answer to that question.

If you want to grow in emotional intelligence, though, you absolutely need to know what happens when you walk into the room. You need to become a student of how you impact others.

So here’s the hack. Ask people what it’s like to be on the other side of you. Do it openly, and honestly. Don’t be defensive. Just listen. (I got that question from Jeff Henderson, who preached an incredible series on your impact on others called Climate Change.)

You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Want to know what I learned? When I started asking my team about my impact on them a decade ago, one of my direct reports said, “You’re Bamm Bamm.”

Bamm Bamm Rubble was a Flintstones cartoon character who, as a toddler, didn’t know how strong he was.

Apparently, I have a very strong personality. Again, for years I was unaware of that because I had only ever been, well, me. But as I asked about my impact on others, my team would tell me that when I walked into a room, eyes would focus on me and I would offer my opinion and basically sway the room. It shut down real discussion.

So I gave the team permission to call me out on it. And for years, in meetings (or after them) staff would come up and say “You’re being Bamm Bamm again.” Then I’d apologize and stop.

I made it a point to be a lot more intentional and a lot more frequent in understanding what I was doing. I would ask people before and after meetings what role I should be playing, and solicit feedback about whether my level of input was too high or too low. It really helped.

Even at home, I regularly ask the question “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” The dialogue that ensues always makes home life better… if you’re willing to change.

2. Protect your team from your moods

There’s you on a good day. And then there’s you on your not-so-good days.

Too many leaders make their team pay when they’re having a bad day. No one wants to work for someone like that for a long time, especially if they have a lot of bad days.

Maybe you can’t stop yourself from feeling bad, but you can stop yourself from taking it out on the people around you.

Self-awareness is a big key to emotional intelligence. And so is self-regulation.

Self-regulating leaders realize that just because they’re upset, they don’t need to take it out on the people around them—at work or at home.

I know what you’re thinking: well, how will I process my frustration? Here’s my guess. You’ll pray a lot more.

By the way, this book by Andy Stanley really helped me get to the root of my emotions. It got to the root of four things we all struggle with as people and as leaders: guilt, anger, fear and jealousy.

3. Stop blaming others

Emotionally intelligent people are not just self-regulated, they’re self-motivated. This means they’re willing to do things like take responsibility for their actions.

If you want to become more responsible, stop blaming others. Blame is the opposite of responsibility.

So what do you do when things go wrong? When someone lets you down? Or when something beyond your control halts progress?

Well, that’s when you assume responsibility. Even if it’s not your fault (which is exactly why you’re ‘assuming’ it).

When things go wrong, say this: “I’m the leader. I’m responsible.” (My team has heard me say it 1,000 times.)

Often I may not even have caused the problem. But that isn’t the point. I’m the senior leader. I’m responsible. I need to get our team together to figure out how to push past the problem. Often I say it out loud to remind myself that blame is not an option.

So take responsibility and move forward.

It’s amazing how freeing that can be. And it has the side benefit of both rallying your team and having someone who may have been responsible come forward and assume responsibility for a dropped ball.

Why? Because nobody blamed them. Good people will often own up rather than run and hide.

4. Drop the excuses

Emotionally intelligent leaders take responsibility for everything they did that didn’t work out.

Late for a meeting? Traffic didn’t make you late. You made you late. (You should have left earlier).

Didn’t get that report done? Don’t say your kid got sick or that you couldn’t sleep. All of that may be true, but how does it help? You just didn’t get it done.

Poor leaders make excuses. Good leaders make progress.  Because (as we’ve often said around here), you can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.

If you stop making excuses, it will do something more than change your standing in the eyes of your colleagues, it will make you come to terms with you. You will get so honest with yourself that you’ll be uncomfortable, which is where real progress comes from.

The added benefit? Leaders who own their mistakes eventually make fewer mistakes.

5. Don’t sink to the lowest common denominator

Another hallmark of emotionally intelligent leaders is their refusal to take shots—cheap or otherwise. When the dialogue sinks to a low level, they take the high road.

It can be hard not to refute all your critics or descend to the level to which others sometimes go.

There’s a simple quote that reminds me again and again why there’s no payoff in taking the low road:

Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig liked it.

That’s just true on about a thousand levels.

The high road isn’t the easy road, but it’s always the best road.

What Helps You?

Those are 5 emotional intelligence hacks that have helped me. What’s helped you?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

church health

4 Misleading Ways to Measure Church Health…And a Guide That Can Help

By Tony Morgan

Today’s post is a guest post by Tony Morgan, founder and Chief Strategic Officer of The UnStuck Group

Recently on Episode 108 of Carey’s leadership podcast, Carey and I discussed why churches get stuck, and how to get your church moving again.

If you listened in, you heard us talk about the importance of understanding the current health of your church. In fact, that’s always the first step in getting unstuck. You cannot move forward until you fully understand where you are today.

Unfortunately, most pastors lack a clear way to measure the health of their churches. They look at the wrong indicators, make an incorrect assessment, and later wonder where their plans went wrong. In many cases they went wrong from the very beginning; with an incorrect understanding of their starting point.


Here are four ways I’ve seen pastors measure their church’s health in the wrong ways:

1. The (Biased) Opinions of Others

Each of us wants to be told that we’re doing a great job!

Unfortunately, every individual in your church comes with their own personal preferences, biases, and traditions.

It’s hard to get true perspective from a subjective source. We ourselves are no exception.

2. Increasing Weekend Attendance

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about leading more people to Jesus.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to confuse a fuller room with more life change.

Church health involves more than just getting people to show up.

3. Money in the Bank

In some churches, survival is equated with health. Leaders feel that as long as they can sustain their ministry, they are doing well enough.

It certainly takes money to do ministry. But it’s not about how much you have. It’s about how you are using it strategically to reach more people.

4. Activity. Activity. Activity and (But Wait…There’s More) Activity

In many churches, more activity is equated with more ministry. Leaders will brag about how much they have on the calendar and that the doors of the church are always open.

Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t call us to keep people busy. He called us to lead people into a relationship with Him.

So What Does It Take to Measure Church Health?

If you want to understand the true health of your church, you’ll need an approach with these three qualities:

  1. Objective: You have to remove opinions to get at the heart of the matter.
  1. Well-Rounded: Church health doesn’t evidence itself in one area alone. It is based on a wide variety of factors.
  1. Consistent: To understand the health of your church over time, you must measure it with a replicable approach that can show improvement and decline.

My team at The Unstuck Group has a tool that can help pastors clearly understand the true health of their churches based on 14 key metrics vital to effective ministry.

It benchmarks your ministries based on our experience with 200+ churches, helping you determine where you are healthy and where you are not.

In every situation, church leaders are surprised by something they learn from an objective, well-rounded, and consistent assessment. And an assessment is better than hope. Hope is not a strategy. 

Win a Free Ministry Health Assessment!

We typically offer our online Ministry Health Assessment for $199, but I’ve given Carey 5 to give away for free to his readers.

If you’d like to discover the true health of your church, simply enter to win. I’d love to provide you with fuller perspective on the health of your church! Winners will be notified via email. 

[Enter to Win a Free Ministry Health Assessment]

In the meantime, what are some false measures of success you’ve seen? Scroll down and leave a comment.

stopped growing

5 Significant Signs You’ve Stopped Growing as a Leader

You’ve seen leaders who have stopped growing. It’s not a pretty site.

If you’ve stopped growing as a leader, you’ve stopped leading well.

But often, the leaders who have stopped growing don’t realize it’s happened. After all, the people who lack self-awareness are never aware they lack it.

So…how do you know you’ve stopped growing as a leader? How would you know that’s you?

That’s where curiosity can save us. If you’re curious enough to wonder whether you might be stagnating in your growth as a leader, there’s hope. Those who ask the question and actually want to know the answer will grow.

The stakes are high because if you continue to stagnate long enough, you’ll soon peak as a leader and head into decline. Leaders who have peaked face their own unique set of challenges. I outline 7 signs you’ve peaked as a leader here.

Sadly, too many leaders stop growing long before they stop leading.  When that happens, they become leaders in title only.

So, in the hopes of staying fresh, alive and vibrant as leaders, here are 5 significant signs ls you’ve stopped growing.  The good news is if you jump on them quickly enough, reversal can be quick and effective.

stopped growing

1. You’re more interested in answers than questions

Hey, every leader needs answers. I get that.

But I also know that in seasons where my growth as a person and leader have slowed, one sure sign is that I only want answers; questions start to annoy me or bore me. And that’s a terrible dynamic.


Because breakthroughs are always preceded by questions, not answers.

Questions that threaten that status quo. Questions that probe for things overlooked by others. Questions that imagine what no one thought possible.

The excellence of your leadership is shaped less by the answers you give and more by the questions you ask.

2. You sift through new evidence only to back up your existing opinion

Too many leaders, and even organizations, suffer from confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias involves searching through new evidence mainly to find further evidence for your already-formed opinion. For sure, we all do this from time to time. Guilty as a charged.

But for growing leaders, regularly sifting through the evidence should lead to new conclusions, insights and perspectives.

If your insights are wrong, correct them. If there are better perspectives, adopt them.

The implications for your team are deep on this one.

If your eyes aren’t truly open as a leader, you’ll never see the future or seize it.

3. You spend almost all of your time doing what you like

I’m all for finding and working in your sweet spot as a leader. Every leader should discover what they’re best at and spend a good chunk of their time in it. I couldn’t agree more.

But you should spend all of your time in your sweet spot? As in 100%?

Maybe, maybe not.

Here’s why. You can grow in your sweet spot, getting better and better at what you do best, which is great.

But being in your sweet spot every day doesn’t always stretch you. In fact, it can start to feel comfortable…too comfortable.

Take that to it’s logical conclusion and you might discover this: spending all your time in your sweet spot can turn your sweet spot into a dead spot.

To keep growing, you need to tackle difficult projects, working out new leadership muscles and pushing you to think and grow beyond your current level.

Often tackling something new (even for a few hours a week) can do that.

What’s taking you out of your comfort zone? Chances are that’s where the growth is.

4. Your expertise has started working against you

Most leaders have a quiet desire to become an expert at something. Stick with it long enough and you’ve got a good shot at it.

Expertise, after all, is more than just training. More often than not, it involves a lot of reps.

But being an expert can make you cautious. It can also make you proud. And it can make you conservative.

Having worked so hard to achieve what you’ve achieved, you’re not as open to new ideas as you once were. You simply want to conserve what you’ve built.

Conserving what you’ve built and building nothing new as a result is a short cut to irrelevance.

Great leaders who master a field over a life time are always interested in new ideas, new theories and new insights because they know it make them and their discipline better.

If you want to build an expertise that lasts into the next generation, remember this: the more open you are to fresh perspectives, the more deeply your hard-earned expertise will resonate into the next generation.

5. You’ve surrounded yourself with people just like you

Most of us in leadership work hard to build a team we love. And that’s great. Great leaders build great teams.

But if you’re not careful, over time your team might start to look and sound a lot like you. That’s a warning sign. Don’t get me wrong, having a team that’s committed to the vision and owns the vision is a good thing.

But every leader also needs a team that can challenge the process, challenge the strategy and even challenge you.

Don’t get me wrong. I think aligned teams are a key reason leaders succeed…and you absolutely need an aligned team (I outline what I’ve learned about alignment here).

But if your team looks like you, sounds like you and acts like you all the time, your vision will never get sharper, your strategy may never become more effective, and you will miss opportunities.

Bottom line: if your team looks just like you, it’s time to change up the team.

So what should you do?

Try to keep people around you who are committed to the same mission and vision but who are younger than you, a different gender than you, and who have a different background than yours.  People with different backgrounds who are committed to the same vision always accomplish it with greater fervour and effectiveness.

What do you think?

What do you think?

What’s a significant sign or two for you that a leader has stopped growing?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

opposition to change

13 Facts About Opposition To Change Too Many Leaders Miss

You’re probably trying to change something right now.

And — if you’re honest — you’ve already thought about backing off.

Change seems too difficult.

You’ve watched friends get hurt trying to lead similar change.

You’ve heard the voices of opposition get a little louder.

You really don’t want to be afraid to open your inbox every morning.

But what if this is true?

Change is harder than it needs to be only because it’s more mysterious than it needs to be.

And it doesn’t need to be quite that mysterious.

Here’s what I believe about change: Change involves common human dynamics, and the dynamics can be learned. There are facts about change that, frankly, too many leaders miss. Discover them, and change becomes much easier to navigate.

In my book about leading change while facing opposition, I outline the learned dynamics of change that I hope can help every leader.

I’m passionate about change because I’ve lived through it and can vouch for the fact that change is more than possible.

I’m also passionate because if the church (and other organizations) are going to reach their potential, change isn’t optional, it’s necessary.

So, if you’re navigating change, here’s a short cheat sheet of 13 key principles that I hope will help you maintain clear thinking amidst the sea of emotions that leading change brings.

opposition to change

1. People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of

Everybody’s in favour of their ideas, but most organizational change is driven by the ideas fostered by a leader or a leadership team. That’s simply the way leadership operates.

When you float an idea, there’s often initial resistance from people who didn’t think of the idea or who weren’t involved in the process. That resistance isn’t fatal though.

You just need to realize that most people will come on board. You just need to give them time until the idea spreads widely enough to be owned.

Great ideas eventually resonate, even if they’re initially met with resistance.

How do you know you have a good idea? Like a fine wine, good ideas get better with time. Bad ideas get worse.

2. Change is hard because people crave what they already like

You have never craved a food you haven’t tried, and change operates on a similar dynamic.

Your people want what they’ve seen because people never crave what they haven’t seen.

That’s why vision is so key – you need to paint a clear enough picture that people begin to crave a future they haven’t yet lived.

3. Leaders crave change more than most people do because they’re leaders

The reason leaders love change more than most people is because they’re leaders.

Your passion level is always going to be naturally and appropriately higher than most people when it comes to change. Just know that’s how you’re wired and don’t get discouraged too quickly if your passion for change is higher than others.

You’re the leader. That’s your job.

4. Most of the disagreement around change happens at the strategy level 

Most leaders stop at aligning people around a common mission and vision, but you also need to work hard at aligning people around a common strategy.

It’s one thing to agree that you passionately love God, it’s another to create a dynamic church that unchurched people flock to.

One depends on vision; the other is a re-engineering around a common strategy. When people are aligned around a common mission, vision and strategy, so much more becomes possible.

5. Usually no more than 10% of the people you lead are opposed to change

Most leaders are shocked when they hear that only about 10% of their church or team is opposed to change at any time. Almost all swear it’s higher.

But usually, it’s not.

When I’ve challenged leaders to write down the actual names of people who are opposed to what they’re proposing, most are hard pressed to write down more than a dozen or so. And often, that’s even less than 10%.

It may feel like 50% of the people you lead are opposed to change, but that’s almost never true.

The question, of course, then becomes this: Are you going to sacrifice the future of 90% of people you lead because of the discontent of 10%?

I hope not.

I dissect the 10% rule in detail in my book, Leading Change Without Losing It. (I promise you it’s good news for leaders.)

6. Loud does not equal large

So why do the 10% feel bigger than they are?

Because they’re loud. Conversely, the proponents of change are usually quieter, even respectful.

Just because the opponents of change are loud doesn’t mean they’re a large group. The most opposed people make the most noise.

Don’t make the mistake most leaders make when they assume large equals loud. Almost every time, it doesn’t.

7. Most people opposed to change do not have a clearly articulated vision of a prefered future

Most people opposed to change do not have a clearly articulated vision of a preferred future. They don’t know what they want. They just know what they don’t want.

In fact, most just want to go back to Egypt. And you can’t build a better future on a vision of the past.

8. Fear of opposition derails more leaders than actual opposition

Fear of opposition derails more leaders than actual opposition. Wouldn’t it be horrible to look back on your leadership and realize there was little opposition to change—you just thought there was?

So push past your fears. And push past the opposition.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the determination to lead through your fears. By the way, this also does wonders for your faith.

9. Buy-in happens most fully when people understand why, rather than what or how

What and how are inherently divisive. Someone’s always got a better, cheaper, more expensive, faster, shorter, longer way to do what you’re proposing.

Articulating why you’re changing something is different. It unites people. Why reminds everyone why we do what we do, and why we’re doing this in the first place.

So focus on why when you’re communicating. Why motivates. Always start with why, finish with why and pepper all communication with why.

10. Unimplemented change becomes regret

If you don’t muster up the courage to usher in healthy change, you’ll regret it.

You’ll look back and yearn for what might have been, not for what was.

Unimplemented change becomes regret. Remember that.

11. Incremental change brings about incremental results

People will always want to do less, which is why many leaders settle for incremental change, not radical change, even when radical change is needed.

You’ll be tempted to compromise and reduce vision to the lowest common denominator: incremental change.

Just know that incremental change brings incremental results. And incrementalism inspires no one.

Radical change brings about radical results. Incremental change brings about incremental results. You choose. Also, incremental change inspires no one.

12. Transformation happens when the change in question becomes part of the culture 

How long does change take? It takes a while, and it’s important to persevere. Because over time, change becomes transformation.

You can change some things in a year and almost everything in 5 years. But transformation happens when people own the change. That’s often 5-7 years; only then do most people not want to go back to Egypt.

So how do you know transformation has happened? Simple. Most people no longer want to go back to the way it was.

13. The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success 

As I wrote about in Leading Change Without Losing It, success has its own problems.

The biggest problem? Success makes leaders conservative. The more successful you become, the less willing you are to change.

As a result, the greatest enemy of your future success is your current success.

The best way to overcome that?

Keep changing. Keep experimenting. Keep risking.

Successful organizations create a culture of change because they realize that success tempts you to risk nothing until decline forces you to reexamine everything. Keep changing.

I hope these 13 principles can keep you focused on a few of the toughest dynamics associated with change.

What would you add to this list?

And what’s been the most difficult aspect of change for you and your team? Scroll down and leave a comment.

better communicator

5 Tips That Will Definitely Make You a Better Communicator

So you want to be a better communicator. You’re just not sure how to do that.

Sometimes the art and science of becoming better seems so complex, you’re not sure where to start.

After all, most people who hear you talk can’t give you meaningful feedback. They can tell you whether they liked it or not, but rarely can they tell you why they liked it. Even if you did a great job, you will have a hard time repeating it if you don’t understand what made it great.

That’s why it’s so critical to get feedback and coaching from other communicators. They can often explain why your talk worked or why it didn’t, just like a hitting coach in major league baseball can help a .300 hitter become a .310 hitter by offering far more helpful tips than a simple “Hey, just strike out less.”

So in this post, two things. First, below, I share some of my favourite communication tips (including a few I’ve never written about before) that can make a surprisingly big difference.

Second, this week there’s an opportunity to get 3 hours worth of FREE Preaching Coaching. It’s a $299 value but The Rocket Company is making a limited number of seats available at their online AMPLIFY Conference absolutely free.

You can join this virtual conference for free if you pre-register today (affiliate link).  Join Jeff Henderson as he interacts with Dr. Charles Stanley, Lysa TerKeurst, Matt Chandler, and Crawford Loritts.

It happens Wednesday, September 28 at 1:00 pm (EDT).

Want to know my favourite part of the event?

Jeff will select a few audience members (who have pre-registered) to evaluate their sermons LIVE on the air! Jeff has actually done that for me and the level of feedback he provides is astonishing and so helpful. So don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

So, let’s get better together.

Here are 5 simple tips that can definitely make you a better communicator before you give your next talk. They’ve definitely helped me.

better communicator1. Don’t memorize your talk, understand it

This may be my favourite speaking tip of all time. It just solves so many problems and reduces tension before you speak and while you speak.

I get asked all the time how I can speak for 45 minutes or even longer without looking at notes. I learned the secret when I was in seminary and asked Tom Long, a Princeton professor, how he did it.

He told me: Don’t memorize your talk; understand it.

He was right. Memorizing a talk is extremely difficult. Especially a longer talk. I personally find that trying to recall a memorized talk stilts your delivery because you can’t focus on the moment.

So instead of memorizing your talk, understand your talk.

Think about it. You do this intuitively when you talk to someone. For example, you don’t memorize inviting someone to dinner. (Okay, maybe you memorized a dinner invite once, when you were asking that girl you had a crush on out on a first date…And remember how awkward that was? Point made…)

No, if you’re inviting a friend to dinner, you just intuitively know that you need to see if they’re free, set up the details and maybe figure out where and when and who’s bringing what. Your conversation follows that flow.

Your talk is no different. It’s an introduction, a body, a conclusion and some transition points along the way. If you can grasp those main points, it’s amazingly easy to see how you will naturally fill the space in between with what you prepared.

You need to be familiar with your talk and you need to understand it, but you’ll never need to memorize it.

I wrote more on how to deliver a talk without using notes here.

2. Begin writing  your talk weeks in advance

It’s good to get ahead on your talk for so many reasons. But here’s one you may not have known.

Your brain actually has both long term and short term memory capacity.

If you write a talk shortly before you give it, the brain stores your talk in your short term memory. This is why, sometimes, if you’re a preacher who wrote Sunday’s message on a Thursday (or worse, on Saturday night!), it can feel so unfamiliar to you on Sunday.

Contrast that with a talk you’ve worked on weeks ago and maybe delivered recently. For some reason, you probably feel like you know that talk much better than the others you write just before delivery. The reason is simple: your brain stored that information in your long term memory because it’s been around longer.

Ideas stored in long term memory are just easier to recall.

I know it’s hard to get ahead, but try it. I’m working on a series I’m delivering two months from now. I’ve even got most of the bottom lines developed for the series and I’ll flesh out most of the messages in detail two to three weeks before I preach them. My guess is that by the time I deliver the first message, the series will already feel like an old friend.

Because I’m comfortable with it, the talk will immediately connect better with the audience. Your comfort with the subject may even appear to give you more authority on the subject, too, because your audience will assume you understand it well. They’ll realize you own it, because you do.

Speakers, this is also why conference talks you’ve repeated once or twice are so easy to recall: they’re stored in your long term memory.

By beginning every talk well in advance, you give every talk the opportunity to flourish into something better.

3. Include at least one self-deprecating story

If you want to build rapport with your audience, show them your weaknesses, not just your strengths.

I almost always try to find one mildly self-deprecating story in any talk I’m giving. (Fortunately, I seem to have an endless supply of self-deprecating moments from which to draw.)

This does two things. First, it put you on the same level as the audience, which is exactly where you want to be in a post-modern, post-Christian culture. Theologically, that’s a good thing, because you actually are on the same level as your audience. But in our post-modern, anti-authoritarian culture, the audience wants to know you’re one of them.

In a post-modern, post-Christian culture, your authority actually goes up, not down, when you display your vulnerability.

Second, the audience empathizes with you. They see themselves in you, and your honesty makes them quietly cheer for you.

Can you overshare? Yes. Can you under-share? Absolutely.

How do you know where the line is? If you’re not sure, I wrote this post on how to be an appropriately transparent leader without oversharing.

The bottom line, though, is this: people may admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses.

4. Pay attention to the logical flow of your talk

Every talk should take people on a logical journey. Even our stories are sequenced logically, with a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t believe it, try watching a movie with the scenes in random order. It will drive you crazy and the story, of course, will make no sense.

Our brains are hardwired to search for meaning, and logic brings order out of the chaos around us.

Your talk should have a beginning, middle and end, and each section should be logically and sequentially related.

For example, if you start your talk by describing a problem, then your talk should also offer the solution or at least a response to that problem. If it doesn’t, you’ll just annoy people.

Similarly, move the different sections of your talk through a logical grid. It should look something like this: If A, then B, then C and then, finally, D.

Here’s the logical flow of a recent message I gave.

A. Some of you don’t like Christians because you think most Christians are hypocrites.

B. In fact, aren’t some non-Christians actually better moral people than the Christians you know?

C. Well, you’re right. Most of us are hypocrites.  You have a moral standard. The question is: have you kept it?

D. But what if our personal morality isn’t the basis of Christian salvation? Christianity doesn’t make moral people better. It makes dead people live.

E. God is actually more critical of hypocrites than you are.

F. Fortunately he forgives, and challenges those ready to throw stones at others to drop them.

G. In light of God’s incredible mercy, it’s time to drop the stone.

Most messages typically have 3 to 7 key logical moves in them. This one had seven. Whatever it is, understanding the logical flow of your argument will help you understand your talk, which as we saw in Point 1 above, eliminates the need for memorization.

If you can’t figure out the logical flow of your talk as a communicator, your audience never will.

5. Speak with double your normal energy during delivery

One final quick tip: whenever you’re communicating, speak with double your normal energy.

It’s going to feel weird at first, but it’s vital.

Speaking in normal conversational tones when you have a microphone in your hand actually makes you sound boring. So double your energy.

Start by doubling your normal volume. I’m not talking about yelling. I’m talking about speaking more loudly and passionately.

Many speakers get freaked out by the microphone. Don’t. The sound person will turn you down when you project your voice.

A quick hack? Pretend you have no mic on and you’re speaking to the person at the back of the room. That will automatically make you a more compelling speaker.

Energetic speakers are always more compelling.

Any Tips?

What are your favourite tips on becoming a better speaker?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

And don’t forget to register for free for the Amply Event today.

desire for consensus

Why It’s Time to Give Up On Your Desire for Consensus

So you’d love to get everyone to buy into your idea, don’t you?

Church leaders (and many other organizational leaders) are famous for trying to get consensus around an idea before launching it.

I get that.

But consensus has a cost. A big cost. Here it is:

Consensus kills courage. 

Very few good, innovative ideas gain consensus before a leader acts.

In fact, most great new ideas worth anything are divisive right out of the gate.

As a result, leaders shrink back. They smell the tension, and they back off. They try to get too much buy-in on the front end, and their vision doesn’t actually become better, it just becomes diluted.

As a result, too many leaders lose hope, passion and vision.

Why is that? How can you turn it around?

drive for consensus

Think about how different history would be if great leaders always needed consensus from the people they led:

Moses would have left the Israelites in slavery.

Jesus would have listened to the disciples and talked himself out of the cross.

Peter would never have given up his kosher diet.

The apostle Paul would have gone back to Phariseeism.

Martin Luther would have waited for his bishop to approve.

Martin Luther King would have delayed until legislators were sympathetic.

Even Henry Ford, inventor of the assembly line and first mass producer of cars, famously said that if he’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said “faster horses.”

Any time you’re seeking to bring about radical change, most people will think it’s a terrible idea. And sometimes, they’re right.

But there are other times where they’re not.

You should live for the ‘once in a while’ idea. It’s the kind of idea that changes everything.

When it comes to courageous change, here are four things that are true:

1. Consensus on the front end kills courage

If you look for consensus during a season of innovation, it will almost always strip the courage out of your idea.

Trying to find consensus while mining for fresh ideas results in diluted ideas because people often don’t realize what they need before they see it.

No one needed smart phones…until the smartphone was invented. Now try to remove it from the marketplace or your life.

Even the electric light bulb was seen as a stupid idea. Scientist Henry Morton of the Stevens Institute of Technology predicted the light bulb would be ‘a conspicuous failure.’ A British parliamentary committee concluded the light bulb was ‘good enough for our transatlantic … but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.’

And if you are looking for courage, few things will kill it faster than the drive for early consensus.

The best idea only looks like the best idea after it wins.

2. Individuals are almost always more courageous than teams

I don’t know why this is true, but it’s often easier for a team of people to adapt to a bold idea and make it better than it is for a team to come up with a bold idea.

This isn’t always the case, but in many instances, I think it is. I dream in teams and I encourage people to dream alone, but often the best ideas come from one person.

Teams are one thing. Committees are another.

I’m not 100% sure what the differences are between the two, but I think teams tend to attract leaders while committees rarely do.

So, if you want to kill vision, form a committee. The committee will beat the life out of any innovation you bring to the table.

Most dying organizations have committees. Almost no growing organizations do. It’s an interesting observation.

3. You shouldn’t walk alone, but innovation may require you to start alone

Walking alone is a bad idea, but starting alone is sometimes required for true innovation.

The need to start alone or with a handful of people by your side is not that uncommon a phenomenon.

For example, when I launched my leadership podcast two years ago, almost all the advice I got was “keep it short…people have small attention spans” and “feature your ideas on the podcast.”

I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I wanted to do two things: bring a longer form podcast to the church space AND do it by featuring me interviewing other leaders. Every other podcast in the church leaders space at the time was shorter and featured the podcast subject interviewed by someone else.

Against most of the advice given to me, I launched the podcast as a 45-minute to 90-minute episode with me interviewing someone else. To be fair, I had seen this format done in other areas, but no one in the church space that I knew was doing it.

Now, 24 months later, people seem to love the format, and it’s caught on quickly. I’m not doing it alone anymore, but I had to start alone.

Sometimes that’s okay.

4. Great ideas gain consensus on the back end

So how do you know if you have a truly great idea?

Watch and see if people buy in on the other side of the launch.

What should happen is that as your idea gains steam, more and more people buy in until, on the other side of the launch, you have success.

The principle? Look for consensus on the back side of change, not the front side.

If no one buys into your idea over time, you probably have a bad idea.

Here are some ideas to get you started if you’re handling a divisive, innovative idea:

Don’t ask the team for agreement, just get permission.

Listen to people, but follow your gut.

If you’re wrong, take full responsibility.

When it emerges that you were right, be humble and invite others on the journey.

Ask yourself this

I realize these ideas are controversial. I realize acting on them might get you fired.

But would you rather look back in 30 years with regret at how many great ideas were anesthetized by a visionless committee or group?

Or… would you rather look back and be satisfied that you did everything in your power to bring about change, even if it got you in trouble?

Of course, the third option might be that you successfully ushered in the change that changed everything. But I’d even settle for trying, failing and getting in trouble.

This is not an excuse to be a jerk, but it is permission to be courageous.

So today, don’t look for consensus. Instead, be courageous.

What are your frustrations about consensus? Scroll down and leave a comment!

(P.S. If you want to read more about leading change, I wrote all about leading change without losing it in my book, and also in this blog series about change that starts here.)

recent exit

Some Thoughts About The Recent Exit of Two Megachurch Pastors

Like many of  you, I was deeply saddened to learn of Pete Wilson’s recent resignation as the Senior Pastor of Cross Point Church.

In Pete’s own words (you should read and watch them for yourself), he’s tired, broken and has led on empty for too long. So he’s stepping back.

This comes, of course, just a few months after the exit of Perry Noble from NewSpring.

If someone had told me in January of this year that both Pete and Perry would leave ministry this year under tough circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have believed them.

Their departures have a lot of people talking and a lot of people thinking. Hopefully, it’s also got a lot of people praying.

It also has pastors reflecting.

I’ve been in conversations with people in church leadership. Many of us are asking what it means, and whether it can or will continue to happen to more of us.

Some writers and social media commentators have taken cheap shots. Man, that breaks my heart. I hope this post is the opposite of taking shots at anyone.

The mission of the church and its leaders is too important to do that.

I offer these few thoughts with the sincere hope this makes all of us a little better in the church. I also offer it out of a deep love and respect for Perry, Pete and all of you in church leadership.

exit megachurch

1. Pastors aren’t fake; the struggle is real

When a megachurch pastor resigns because he’s burned out, or because he’s experiencing personal problems, critics often rush in to claim that pastors are fake.

Look, most leaders who get into ministry aren’t fake.

It’s not that pastors are fake; it’s that the struggle is real.

I know Perry and Pete personally and I have only detected sincerity in both of them.

They started churches because they love Jesus. They led out of a love for Jesus. They sincerely wanted to reach people and did reach people who will actually be in heaven because of what happened.

I think I’m on firm ground to say they still love Jesus, very much.

Pete and Perry are the real deal. They’re not the plastic hair/shiny suit type of preacher. They got in this and stayed in this for the right reasons.

I’ve also felt the push and pull of ministry and life. And it almost took me under.

The struggle is real. After a decade in ministry, I burned out too. (Actually, Perry and I talk about burn out in this interview.)

By the sheer grace of God, I came back and am now in a place where, while I have struggles like anyone, I feel healthy and extremely grateful. (While this isn’t a universal prescription, here are 12 things that helped me come back from burnout.)

Often when you see a leader exit, it has nothing to do with whether that leader is sincere. It has everything to do with the fact that the struggles he or she is facing are real.

2. It’s hard to lead anything

It’s hard to lead anything, let alone a church. Or yourself.

Leaders face pressures non-leaders don’t always understand.

And leaders of large organizations face even more complex problems.

When you lead a large ministry or organization, it comes with problems and challenges 99% of the population never wakes up to most days.

Add to that the pressures of life, marriage, family, relationships and the task of leading yourself, and you have a recipe that requires tremendous personal stamina, humility, growth and development.

Sometimes critics say large churches are bad because they seem to generate outcomes like the ones we’ve seen recently.

The reality is that small church pastors also leave their ministries, experience burnout and suffer moral failure every day.

You just never hear about it because those stories don’t make the news. (Please note, neither the exit of Pete or Perry involves moral failure.)

Large churches aren’t inherently bad. Small churches aren’t inherently good.

Churches just have people in them. And that makes it…well, complex.

3. God loves and uses broken people

Are Perry and Pete broken?


And so am I.

So are you.

Too often we hold up perfect pictures of what our life is supposed to be like.

We all remember Eden somewhere in the back of our minds. It’s like we all know what it was like, and what it will be like in heaven.

But this isn’t Eden and this isn’t heaven. The war’s been won, but we’re living in a battlefield somewhere in between what was and what will be.

As a result, our lives are a complex mixture of sin and grace. Of brokenness and redemption.

This is true of pastors too.

We don’t have a direct line to God any more than you do. Our marriages aren’t ‘easier’ just because we’re in ministry (actually, you could argue that they’re harder). Our souls aren’t inherently more virtuous.

Pastors aren’t better people; they’re just called people. Called to the same calling to which non-pastors are called but in a specialized role.

Sometimes I wish people would actually read their bibles. We think we have to be perfect for God to use us.

But then there’s scripture…

Noah got drunk and partied naked after God delivered him and his family from death.

Moses came into ministry after he murdered someone.

Jacob raised perhaps the most dysfunctional family imaginable.

Judah slept with his daughter-in-law only because he mistook her for a prostitute.

David was a fantastic king. And then he saw Bathsheba.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived in Old Testament times but really struggled with sex. And God. And cynicism.

Elijah saw one of the most powerful displays of God’s power in history, and then promptly fell into a self-pitying depression.

Jonah ran away from God again, and again, and again.

Peter denied Jesus.

Thomas doubted even when he saw Jesus with his own eyes.

Paul was a little insecure (just read 2 Corinthians).

The early church as described in Corinthians is a study of dysfunction.

Early Christians stopped believing in the resurrection (Read 1 Corinthians 15).

The amazing part is this: God used it all.

I know we preach on this stuff but it’s like we don’t expect it to apply to us.

As my friend Reggie Joiner and I wrote a few years back, God doesn’t use perfect pictures. He uses broken people.

Why does God use broken people? Because those are pretty much the only people he has.

Don’t get me wrong, none of this is an excuse to start sinning.

I want to stay faithful to my wife, be a compassionate father and be a healthier, better leader because I know it honours God to do that. Plus, life honestly goes better if you avoid those pitfalls.

But the fact that we are imperfect shouldn’t be a reason to say we can’t lead.

Clearly, there are activities and conditions that would and should take us out of ministry for a season or longer, but we have to get over this idea that leaders need to be perfect.

Christ is perfect. We get to partner with him.

If you’re thinking well, I’m just more righteous than all this, you need to know that puts you in great company. That’s exactly what the Pharisees thought.

What Now?

I hope and pray the day will come where we see Perry and Pete back in strong and vibrant leadership in the local church. The story isn’t over for either of them. As Perry often famously said, if you’re still breathing, God’s not done with you.

I also hope and pray that honest, helpful dialogue will help many more of us avoid hitting the crisis point that tips us out of leadership, if even for a season.

This is not a ‘do these 5 things and it will bullet-proof your ministry’ kind of post. Because the issues are far more complex than that.

But as for me, I want to develop the practice of getting the help I need before I need it. Yesterday, I went back to my counsellor not because I have any burning issues, but because I want to see them before they start. As a close friend has told me, sometimes you need to go to a counsellor not because you have a bad marriage, but because you want a good one.

I want to stay close to my inner circle, telling them more things more often. Walking closely with people who love me enough to call me out and tell me the truth.

And finally, I want to stay even closer to God. It can be difficult to have an intimate relationship with God when you do his work every day (I know that’s hard to understand if you’re not in full-time ministry, but trust me, it is). So I’ll keep pressing closer knowing he loves me because I’m me, not because I lead.

I’m not saying my friends didn’t do any of these things or didn’t want to do them, I’m just saying I know that when I do them, I’m healthier.

Any thoughts on this, friends? Abusive or negative comments will be deleted. This isn’t the time or the place for that. Cynics, please go somewhere else.

But for those of us who love the church and its leaders, what are your thoughts and what has helped you when you’ve run into the challenges of life and leadership?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

iPhone 7

Why I Returned My iPhone 7 An Hour After Ordering It

So I did a crazy thing recently that some of you do. I set my alarm for 2:55 a.m. EDT to make sure I was one of the first in line to pre-order the new iPhone 7 Plus (yes, I’m a Plus guy) on release day.

(And hang on…whether you’re an Apple fan, Android fan or whatever-fan, the point of this post is universal, I promise.)

It’s been 2 years since I upgraded, so I was excited to order a new phone. I did what it seems most people did: I ordered my new phone in the brand new JetBlack colour.

But literally less than an hour after I ordered it, I canceled my order.


Simple. I couldn’t get back to sleep easily so I decided to watch a user review of what I just bought (thanks, Jennifer McWilliams, for the link).

Apparently, even at the release event, the JetBlack phones were scratching and smudging. And they’re slippery. I’m a neat freak, so scratching, smudging and slipping are not my love language.

So I went back online and ordered the iPhone 7  in matte black, which apparently is much better. Plus it ships earlier (less demand). And then I promptly canceled my JetBlack order.

So what’s my point?

Here are three quick thoughts on user reviews that can make a difference for any leader.


 1. What USERS say about you trumps what YOU say about you

In today’s culture, what users say about you trumps what you say about you. Even if you’re Apple.

Think about it: when was the last time you bought anything significant without checking out user reviews first? For years now, I haven’t bought a TV, car, computer or frankly even a replacement water filter for my fridge without looking at the reviews before I buy.

Something that was absent from the market a decade ago now dominates consumer purchases and consumer thinking.

Leaders who understand this will always do better than leaders who don’t.

2. Direct access and interaction matters. A lot.

Again, as little as a decade ago, few of us had any interaction with major brands. At best you went to a clunky website and filled out a customer form and waited to hear back.

Social media changed all that.

While most of us don’t have direct access to companies as gigantic at Apple, you probably have interaction with your airline via social media. I’ve been surprised to hear back from CEOs of start-ups and executives at even mid-sized companies.

People expect it.

The point?

When you hear directly from an organization, you are far less likely to complain about the organization.

So… leaders, to what extent are you interacting on social media and other channels with your congregation or tribe?

Are you…

Asking questions?

Answering questions?

Expressing gratitude?

Encouraging people?


If you are, you’re building a much better experience for others.

Using social media for dialogue rather than monologue can really help sharpen the experience for both leaders and customers.

Plus, paying attention to user reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google or other platforms is tremendously enlightening. Even if you don’t agree with what users are saying, you’ll learn from them.

3. Leaders who think like customers are better leaders

Hey, I realize churches don’t have customers—we have congregations. But as a leader of a church or organization, you live a good chunk of your life as a customer of other companies.

Leaders who think like customers are better leaders.

For example, even Apple admits its JetBlack phones will scratch and carry “micro-abrasions” (see footnote 1 way down at the bottom of the iPhone 7 page). Maybe the fears about scratched phones are way overblown. And clearly, all the other models do not have this problem. But why would you release a model that you know is going to bother a meaningful percentage of your customer base?

Releasing an expensive product that already has a built-in problem is a bit perplexing to me, but perhaps there are factors at work I don’t see or can’t realize.

I know that as a leader, it’s way too easy to think about what I’m passionate about as the leader of an organization rather than what the end-user experience is like.

If you really want to be a better leader, flip your viewpoint from your perspective to your end user’s perspective. Ask yourself:

What will it really be like to hear the message I’m writing on Sunday?

What’s it like to be ‘new’ at our church?

What will small group feel like if I’ve never in a small group before?

How will people react when they see this email I’m writing in their inbox?

What it’s like for a first-time single mom to hand her child off to a volunteer in our pre-school ministry?

It’s just so easy for leaders to only think through things from their point of view as a leader. But leaders who think like customers are always better leaders.

No, you don’t need to do everything your customers say (that’s not leadership), but it does mean you should listen to your customers.

If you understand your customers, you’ll be the best able to serve them.

What are you learning about user reviews and listening to customers?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

control freaks

What Everybody Ought to Know About Control Freaks in Leadership

It’s amazing to me how many leaders I know tell me they struggle with control.

I come by the subject honestly because I, too, am a recovering control freak.

Most people have a love-hate relationship with control. Control freaks love it when they’re in control. But others hate working for them.

People who like control seem to have a natural ability to get into leadership positions. Or sometimes they just create one.

So can you recover from being a control freak? Is there a way out?

The answer to both questions, fortunately, is yes. And it helps to see what’s really at stake.

control freaks

The first step, predictably, admitting you have a problem.

For years, I resisted the control freak label. Maybe that’s what you’re doing.

You’re not a control freak. You’re just:


Detail oriented (of course, only very selectively about the things for which you have the most passion)

Good at what you do (okay, you don’t say that one out loud…but control freaks, you know what happens when you delegate to other people who just can’t get the job done, right?)

Control freaks get things done. In fact, maybe you use your success to justify your addiction to control.

In the early years of my leadership before I realized I had an issue, our church grew explosively. So you would think: Well, God blesses control freaks, so just leave me alone.

And yes, of course he loves them.

But apparently Jesus didn’t model control freakishness very well for those of us who want to follow in his footsteps.

He only ministered for three years, building into some questionable characters he called disciples. He poured his life into them and then left the planet and put them in charge.

A number of years ago I finally admitted I have a problem (only after about 1,282 friends had gently hinted that I might). And I began to let go.

Don’t get me wrong, the impulses are still there.

But learned behaviour has a wonderful way of compensating for impulses that no leader should act on.

When I struggle with wanting to seize control, I keep these 5 insights in front of me.

These five things help me remember that controlling everything means you will eventually end up leading nothing significant.

1. Control is often a substitute for a lack of clear strategy or alignment

Leaders use control as a substitute for clarity.

If you don’t know with absolute clarity what your organization is doing, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there (mission, vision and strategy), you can never truly align a team.

As a result, you end up defaulting to control because people ‘just don’t get it’ and as a result you can’t trust them (or so you think).

The reason you can’t ‘trust’ people of even stellar character is not because they aren’t trustworthy, it’s because you haven’t stated the mission, vision and strategy clearly enough in a way that it’s repeatable and reproducible.

People run off in the wrong direction because you never made it clear what the right direction is.

Create clarity, and you will feel the urge to control dissipate.

2. Control is often a substitute for an inability or unwillingness to delegate well 

You tell yourself the reason you control is because you gave the job to someone else and, well, they just didn’t do a good job.

Ever think you maybe just didn’t train them well?

Just get good at delegation. Again, clarity is your friend here.

The clearer you are, the better you train others, the more razor sharp your strategy is, the more your team will knock it out of the park.

When you grow your team, you grow your mission.

3. Your need for control and the size of your organization are inversely proportional

If everything needs to flow through you, you will not only bottleneck your organization, you’ll kill the potential of the mission.

If you insist on staying in control, you will shrink the size of your organization to your personal capacity. The capacity of a team of leaders is always greater than the capacity of a single leader. What you can do through many is always greater than one you can do through one.

The more you need to control, the smaller your organization will stay.

The more you can release (around a crystal clear mission, vision and strategy), the more it will grow.

It’s really this simple: A leader’s need for control and the size of an organization are inversely proportional.

4. Control repels great leaders

If you want great leaders to flee your organization, control them.

They’ll leave. If you want to attract great leaders, release them with a clear mission, vision and strategy (and give them input to shape it).

As long as you micromanage everything, you will only have do-ers in your organization, not lead-ers.

5. The more you let go, the healthier the organization gets

I absolutely love it that over the last decade, I get to go to events our church staff and volunteers have pulled together and have little to no idea about how the event came together or even what’s going on—that’s how involved I was in the planning.

And you know what? They’re the best events we’ve ever run.

The more I get out of the way, the stronger our team and organization get.

Sure, I play a role, but I clearly don’t play every role. Nor should I.

I love being a “guest” to the exceptional things our team does. And they love leading and helping people lead. It’s just healthier. And because they have a clear sense of mission, vision, strategy and even culture, amazing things happen. (Here’s a 5 step guide on how to create an amazing team culture.)

The more I let go, the healthier our organization gets.

What Do You Think?

When I feel the impulse to control, I remind myself of these five things.

What are you learning about control? How are you learning to release your grip?

time to leave

7 Signs It’s Time to Leave

So you’ve thought about leaving, haven’t you?

Thinking of leaving your current job is a fairly normal phenomenon. And yet in ministry, changing churches seems to happen faster than in many other occupations.

While statistics vary, most pastors stay 3 to 7 years in one place before moving on. In my view, that’s barely enough time to effect any change. And I doubt it’s long enough to bring about transformation.

What’s the difference between change and transformation? Simple. Transformed people never want to go back to the way it was.

My personal theory is that it takes 3-5 years to change a church. It takes at least 7 years to transform it.

For that reason alone, I have a bias toward staying in the same church for a long time. I’ve served in the same community with the same group of people for 21 years.

Should everyone stay that long?

Not necessarily. I’ve also seen leaders stay for years past their effectiveness in leadership. That’s a disaster for everyone.

So how do you know when you should stay in your current position in ministry, and when should you go?

My friends Kenny Conley and Sam Luce are also writing today on when it’s time to go.

Kenny Conley just left a major ministry in Austin, Texas. He shares some thoughts on why he left and insights into how he knew it was time to go in this post.

Sam’s been in the same place for 14 years and argues you ought to stay much longer than you might think.

Clearly, I’ve stayed for two decades in the same place. And I feel like I’m here indefinitely.

So would do you know it might be time to leave?

Here are 7 signs that would demonstrate to me it’s time to move on. If you see them in your situation, it might be time to go.

time to leave

1. You’ve lost your passion

We all lose passion some days. Your passion might even disappear for a short season. It happens to all of us. That’s actually not a reason to move on.

Loss of passion might be a sign you’re burning out, or it could be that you need some rest or another adjustment. Moving to a new church won’t solve that kind of passion-loss. In fact, it might make it worse.

But one sign your time in a place could be drawing to a close is that you’re basically healthy but your passion for that particular ministry is gone.

You’re still passionate about life. You’re passionate about other things. You may even be passionate about other ministries or other opportunities.

It’s just your passion for ministry in that place and time has vaporized.

If that’s the case, it’s a sign the end may be near. Why?

Because a passionless leader is an ineffective leader.

2. There’s no other role you could get excited about

Just because your passion is fading in one area doesn’t mean your tenure at a church is over.

Last year, I knew I didn’t want to leave my church but I found my passion for the things I was doing getting narrower.

After what was truly a few incredible months of prayer and processing with mentors and our elders, I transitioned from the Lead Pastor role at my church (being the Lead Pastor is the only role I’ve held in a church since I started) into a Founding and Teaching Pastor role.

The result? I love it. My passion is back, stronger than ever, and I’m completely excited about the future of our church.

I got to keep the parts of my job I’m most passionate about and throw my weight behind our mission for a whole new season.

If you want more on the transition (many of you have asked) I’ll share the entire story in an upcoming episode of my Leadership Podcast. (If you subscribe for free, the episode will automatically download to your phone or device when it releases.)

Your renewal may not come from leaving, but simply changing what you’re doing where you are. Just switch roles.

3. You’ve affected all the change you can

Another sign it’s time to leave is simply this: you’ve affected all the change you can.

Maintaining what you’ve built never advances your mission because it elevates what happened yesterday over what could happen today and tomorrow.

Sometimes leaders realize they’ve done as much as they can.

Perhaps a new leader will need to come in to pick up where the current leader left off because the current leader has done everything they know how to do.

Or sometimes a leader’s desire to change exceeds the congregation’s willingness to change, despite long conversations about the need to change.

How do you know your church is done changing? In this post, I outline 7 signs your church will never change.

When your church won’t change or you can no longer lead that change, it might be time to go. Otherwise, all your best days will be behind you.

And when your best days are behind you, it’s time for a new future.

4. Your vision no longer lines up with the organization’s vision

The ideal leadership environment is when the leader’s vision and the organization’s vision line up.

Naturally, a leader will always be a little ahead of the church or organization—otherwise he or she wouldn’t be a leader.

But over time, the leader’s vision and the organization’s vision can become out of sync.

Sometimes the leader has more vision than the church can handle (see Point 3 above). And sometimes the organization wants to go faster or head in a more progressive direction than the leader.

Or sometimes the visions just become different.

Great leadership requires a syncing of the leader’s vision with the organization’s direction. When that’s not true, great leadership becomes impossible.

5. You feel like a fish out of water

This is a bit of an odd one, but I’ve had it happen to me more than once—not at our church, but with different organization’s I’ve partnered with.

Sometimes you fit really well into an organization; the cultural sync is perfect. You are what they are about and they are what you’re about…or at least as close as you can get this side of heaven.

But as time goes on, you change or the organization changes. Maybe your values shift. Or as you grow as a leader, you morph into a different kind of leader than you used to be.

Maybe you’re largely the same but the organization shifts, not in terms of vision, but in terms of style, culture and feel.

The best way I can describe how that feels when it’s happened to me is that I end up feeling like a fish out of water.

What used to be so natural and easy now makes me feel like I just don’t fit—for whatever reason.

When you no longer feel like you fit, you’ll never realize your full potential as a leader. And the organization won’t realize their potential either.

6. Your excitement about what’s happening elsewhere is greater than your passion for what’s happening where you are

When you’re more excited about someone else’s future than your organization’s future, you’re in trouble.

Nobody should be more passionate about a church’s future than a leader. Why? No church’s passion for the mission will ever exceed the passion of its leader. Sure, for a week it can. Or a month. But never for long.

If your passion for what’s happening elsewhere is greater than your passion for what’s happening where you are, it’s almost impossible to stay where you are.

Naturally, you would have to make sure you’re not struggling with a ‘grass is greener’ scenario, but sometimes you genuinely are not.

7. Your inner circle agrees

All of these signs notwithstanding, how do you know you’re reading the situation correctly?

Answer? You don’t.

But other people do.

That’s why it’s so important to cultivate and consult an inner circle of people who know you well. If you’re married, your spouse will have great insight into whether you’re reading the signs accurately.

In addition, every leader should have an inner circle of at least 3 to 5 people who know them well enough and love them deeply enough to tell them the truth.

I get emails all the time from leaders who ask me whether they should stay in their job or go, and I always tell them: go ask someone who knows you and knows the situation. I hate it when they email me back and tell me they don’t have anyone like that.

I honestly can’t help them, and they’ve left themselves isolated and prone to making bad decisions. No ‘expert’ can help them in a case like that.

I have no idea whether they should stay or go other than to send them a post like this and tell them to prayerfully apply it to their situation with the counsel of people around them.

I could never have made the move – or would  have made the move –  I made last year into a Founding and Teaching Pastor role without the input of not only my inner circle, but also about a dozen other close friends and associates who weighed in on my decision.

I definitely prayed about it at length, but we prayed about it at length, too. And we talked about it—openly and honestly, weighing all the pros and cons before making a decision.

After all, if you’re the only one who thinks it’s a good idea, it’s probably not a good idea.

Want More?

I had a great conversation with former Catalyst CEO Brad Lomenick on why he left Catalyst at the height of its success in this episode of my leadership podcast. You can listen to Episode 27 direct on iTunes or Google Play or below.

And make sure you check out Sam and Kenny’s posts about staying and leaving for their perspective.

In the meantime, what do you think?

Scroll down and leave a comment.