Monthly Archives: June 2013
It has been amazing to watch the sudden free fall of the butter queen and Food Network star, Paula Deen. After admitting in a legal deposition that she said a racist word 30 years ago, she has been ceremoniously dropped by her network and shunned by most of the rest of the world. She has since apologized and said that she deeply regrets having ever said that word.
There are SEVERAL moments in my life where I have said things that I regret and wish I could have taken back. In fact, it happened yesterday. I am just thankful that I have never had to answer to any of them in a court of law. Or that my life is deemed important enough to be splashed all over the news. I do think that there are 3 things that we can learn as leaders from this situation:
1. Words have meaning and consequences. Everything that we say matters. Luke 6:45 says,
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
We may never have to testify in court about our words, but those words have the power to bring joy or pain every single time we use them. It may seem like a harmless moment, but I have no idea what kind of lasting damage that sarcastic remark has made. As leaders, we have to measure every word that we use as helpful or harmful.
2. The world wants to see you fall. It is amazing to watch how quickly a loved public figure can be torn to pieces after a mistake. The Food Network dropped Paula Deen so fast, I doubt that they had even heard the full story yet. Right or wrong, some people are looking for reasons to bring leaders down. In Philippians 2:14-15, Paul writes,
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.
We have to attempt to keep ourselves blameless so that we can be seen as shining lights in this world.
3. I am thankful for a God of 2nd, 3rd, 4th…chances. I know that I am sinner, saved by grace. The Bible says that we have
all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
Paula Deen may or may not get a 2nd chance to be on the Food Network, but we serve a God that never turns his back on us. I have to remember to always give the same grace that I am given.
One of the sayings that we use when I facilitate communities for Leadership Network is: the hardest model to change is the one that works. When a system is working, the tendency is to keep that system the same until there is an indication that something is broke. The problem with that strategy is by the time the leaders have discovered there is a problem, it has been running off of the rails for a while.
We have to be constantly tweaking and changing our processes to meet new challenges. What worked last year or even last month, probably will not work the same now.
People’s needs change. Styles change. You change.
I am not saying that you need to completely blow up your systems every year, but you should take natural down times to examine and adjust if necessary.
We just had a very successful student camp. We will sit down with the leaders in a couple of weeks and look at what needs to be adjusted or changed to make it even more amazing next year.
We had over 80% of our adults in community groups last fall for the first time. We are working hard right now to tweak our connection strategies for this year so that it is even easier for people to jump into community.
When you sit down with your leadership team to plan out your next steps, don’t always just look for the things that are broken. Take some time to examine what is currently working well, and are there opportunities for it to work even better.
In the first post, I gave 5 tips for having great meetings from the side of the person seeking out the advice. But what if you are the person that is having your brain picked? There are a few things that you can do not only help the conversation, but also make an investment in the life and ministry of that person.
1. Be available
No matter how successful a leader becomes, they should always carve out time for younger/newer leaders. I understand how incredibly busy schedules can become, but there are creative ways to invest in other leaders. Create a coaching group that meets over a 2 year time frame. Occasionally offer last minute lunches for anyone that get there. Set aside 2 days a month where that time is specifically designated for a younger leader on your staff. When you are not available, suggest a staff member that is knowledgeable in their field.
2. Be vulnerable
It’s easy to always fall back on the successes for examples, but the best lessons come from the failures. My brother, Greg, has always said that “if we can serve you by at least being an example of what not to do…” Failures make you human and relatable. That’s why we can sometimes come out of a church conference more depressed than when we went in. We have spent 3 days seeing only the raging successes. We want to to see the good and the ugly.
3. Ask questions
The point where a leader decides that they can no longer learn from anyone else, is the point when they should retire to a beach somewhere. It’s important to be open to learning as much from them as they do from you. Don’t make it a one sided conversation. Look for the opportunities to ask how they are innovating.
4. Don’t yuck their yum
We have a saying at my house that whenever someone disses someone’s else’s favorite food, they are “yucking my yum.” When you feel like you have been there done that, it’s easy to be dismissive about someone else’s enthusiasm. I once had a conversation with a more established leader, and when they found out what I was attempting to do, they brushed it off with, “I’m so glad that I am not doing that anymore!” I was crushed. Young leaders need people that believe in them and their dreams. Don’t yuck their yum. 🙂
5. Actually pray for them
The easy thing to say at the end of a meeting like this is “I will be praying for you.”, but how many times do we actually do that? I like to keep business cards of people that I meet with so when I see it, I remember to say a quick prayer for them and their ministry. Commit to keep them covered with prayer.
From time to time, I have the privilege to be asked to meet with leaders from other churches to talk about what God is doing at Cross Point. Usually it’s church planters, other ministry leaders or small group pastors. I absolutely love it! I will always find time in my schedule to help other church leaders in any way that I can. I have also sought out other leaders that have been incredibly gracious with their time for me. I will never forget Perry Noble taking time to have lunch with me 2 months after he almost died!
Through the years of meetings, I have learned a few tips that will help these times be the most productive for both sides. When a leader has set aside time in their busy schedule, try to use that time wisely.
1. Ask questions
I am amazed at how many leaders come in to “pick my brain” and then spend the entire time talking about what they are doing.The only way that you are going to learn and get better is by asking questions. If you are talking more than 20% of the time, the meeting is a waste.
2. Have prepared questions
I love when someone meets with me and the first thing that they do is pull out a list of prepared questions. That tells me that they have put some thought into this.
3. Do your research
The worst questions to ask are ones that can be answered by looking at the website. How many campuses do you have? When did the church start? Those questions tell me that you didn’t care enough to do your homework before you came in.
4. Take notes
When I am meeting with someone to gain wisdom, I always try to take as many notes as possible. It not only helps me remember the conversation, but it’s also honoring the person that I am meeting with.
5. Follow up
This is something that I am trying to get better at. When someone has given you their time, a short followup email of thanks is always appreciated. Starbucks gift cards are even appreciated more. 🙂
As a part of our Cover To Cover series at Cross Point, we are offering a daily reading plan with devotionals written by staff to go along with each day’s reading. I had the privilege of writing the devotional for Day 2, so I thought I would share it here as well.
As I read Genesis 1:26-27, I am amazed at the fact that God cared so much for me, that He gave me responsibility over all of His other creations. Matthew 6:26 says that the Father cares so much about the birds that He provides food for them, and yet we are so much more valuable to Him. Do you realize that we are God’s only plan for the world? That is a lot of responsibility placed on our shoulders, and we should take that very seriously.
It’s also difficult for me to imagine how I was created in His image. I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles, the hair loss, and wonder: what was God thinking? Does God have male pattern baldness too?? But that is me seeing as man would see. God sees way beyond the flawed, superficial image that is staring back at me over the bathroom sink.
God created me to love.
He gave me the ability to be good.
I can be merciful.
Knowing God allows me to be gracious.
To me, being created in God’s likeness means that I was created with a few of the attributes of God. When people look at my character, they should be able to see a tiny, micro-sliver of who God is. Knowing this fact should help shape every relationship that I have.
As a child of God, every time I step out of my house I should ask the question, “How do I want the world to see God today?”. We have to remember that we are always under a microscope because of our relationship with God. I should put the same effort into showing God’s love through my actions as I do making sure that my physical appearance is ready for the day.
My prayer for today is that God will give me opportunities to reflect the best of who He is to the world around me.