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20 Life and Leadership Lessons I Learned From Reggie Joiner

Reggie Joiner

I’ve been at the Rethink Leadership and Orange Conferences this week in Atlanta. If you’ve never been you’re missing out.

I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Reggie Joiner over a number of years. We have written together, traveled together and spoken together and even started the Rethink Leadership conference together.

But more than that, he’s become one of my best friends and he’s been an incredibly positive influence on my leadership. He also officiated at my son’s wedding a few years ago. I have cherished his friendship and leadership now for over a decade.

While Reggie Joiner is passionate about families, he’s also one of the very best leaders I’ve ever met – anywhere. He’s creatively brilliant and strategically laser focused. And he’s an incredible friend to many. I think anyone who knows Reggie would agree.

But I thought you might like to learn from Reggie the way I’ve learned from him. So I thought I’d highlight 20 leadership lessons I’ve learned from Reggie over the years.

No one has a heart for families and leaders who want to help families like Reggie.

1. God doesn’t use perfect pictures. He uses broken people.

The ideal family doesn’t exist. Just read your bibles and breathe a sigh of relief. Most biblical families were just as dysfunctional as yours.

2. God wants to tell the story of redemption and restoration in every family.

God meets us where we are, not where we think we should have been.

3. God’s story of redemption in a parent’s life gives a child a front row seat to the grace of God.

When God begins to work in a parent’s life, the kids get a front row seat to grace. So beautiful. And true.

4. The environment you want to create is one where no matter how far people might stray they want to come back

When people ask me what Reggie’s like, I tell them “He’s a creative genius…one of the smartest people I’ve ever met…he’s deeply relational.” All of that is true. But he also just loves people and knows how to value them in their worst moments.

If I was ever ended up in the moral ditch, I would ask for Reggie to come help me get out. He creates the kind of environment where no matter how far people stray, they would want to come back.

Always let those who have strayed know they’re welcome home.

5. People will never believe you love them if they feel you don’t like them

The problem with many Christians is we say we love people, but we act like we don’t like them.

Nobody will believe you love them if they feel like you don’t like them.

6. Your legacy matters most with the people closest to you

Invest in the people closest to you. I have seen this modeled in Reggie’s life. His investment in time and care in the people who know him is second to none. Although he leads thousands of people, he leads the few around him with completely commitment and humility.

7. Nobody has more influence in the life of a child than a parent

Fact. This is even true into the adult years.

You can ignore that influence, or you can leverage it for good.

8. A parent is not the only influence a child needs

God never designed parents to handle their kids all alone. We need each other and we need the church.

9. Two combined influences have a greater impact than just two influences

When you combine the influences of church and family, you get something more powerful, like when red and yellow combine to produce Orange.

10. 100 years from now, the only thing that will matter in the life of a child is their relationship with God

Bam. If that isn’t perspective, what is? I have a coaster in my home I use every day for my morning tea. That’s what it says on the coaster.

11. Every child needs another voice saying the same thing a loving parent would say.

This may have saved my sanity as my kids move through their teenager years. Even though they might not want to tell me anything, they had other adults in their life they could talk to. Powerful.

12. People will not believe they are significant until you give them something significant to do

That’s why in Orange ministry, we give teens and even pre-teens significant opportunities to serve.


13. Fight for people not with them

Reggie taught me what it was like to fight for people, not with people. My life will never be the same as a result.

14. Push others into the spotlight

I don’t think anyone I know does this better than Reggie. He loves raising up leaders, handing over the mic, standing to the side and helping other leaders succed.

15. Change isn’t an option

Change isn’t an option. How you respond to it is. I love talking/writing about change. Reggie nails it in this quote.

16. Strategic steps beat random programs

Reggie taught me to think steps, not programs. Our church is so much healthier as a result.

17. The problem with needs based ministry is there’s no end to human need

Every time someone says “I see a need we should respond to”, I think about this quote from Reggie.

You could go there as a church, but just know you are never going to solve every need you see. So we just pick one or two and go deep.

18. Your strategy ultimately determines the success of your ministry.

Effective ministry is not just about great content, mission or vision it’s about having a great strategy. A poor strategy will frustrate the execution of a great mission.

A poor strategy will frustrate the execution of a great mission.

19. Teach Less For More

To cut through the communication noise our culture suffers from, teach fewer things for greater impact. All information is not equally helpful, relevant or engaging.

20. Focus on who you want to reach, not who you want to keep

I always wanted to be about unchurched people, but this principle changed my focus more anything else.

Those are 20 leadership and life lessons I learned from Reggie Joiner.

What have you learned from Reggie?


  1. […] 20 Life And Leadership Lessons I Learned From Reggie Joiner by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  2. Angel Whittall Royal on April 28, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I love all of these and have heard each of them over the years, but seeing them here together in one place is impactful! Your #s1, 2, 3 have always been my faves.

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from Reggie is t what he has said–it’s his actions. It’s the way he doesn’t assume his way is the only right way. He’s always open to new ideas and doesn’t judge or condemn those who don’t agree with him 100%. He is open to discussion and is a true picture of how the church can love and respect each other–while still going hard after the things God has called each individual to.

    And that’s just from watching/listening to him from the sidelines and talking to people who know him. I can’t imagine how amazing it must be to call him a personal friend and see this up close.

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