Don’t Ignore the Ops

Why did you get into ministry leadership?

Was it to process 501 (c) (3) paperwork?  Maybe create budgets?  Build organizational charts?  Fix broken computers?

Yeah, probably not.

In fact, when you considered getting into ministry leadership, these things probably didn’t enter your mind.  You didn’t study accounting, HR or IT.  But while operational issues aren’t the most compelling reason to be a leader, paying attention to operations is essential for any great leader.

Operations are like the oil to the ministry engine.  Without effective operations, the ministry engine is not going to run well and eventually poor operations will burn a ministry engine up.

Low_Oil_Lamp_Red

That’s why it’s critical for us as leaders to value the operational needs of our organization.

Operational issues don’t get me up in the morning but they will keep me up at night.

While you’ll probably never be an expert on operations, here are some things that you can do to make sure operations are properly supported.

  1. Invest in qualified staff.  It’s tempting to put off hiring operational roles when there are pressing ministry needs, however good operations staff will save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run.
  2. Reinforce operational systems.  Most of your staff are not going to be excited about filling out the proper paperwork for a check request or creating their annual budget, but as the leader you must reinforce the value of these processes.  The easiest way to reinforce it, is to model it.  Meet deadlines and turn in the proper paperwork.  Don’t expect to be given exceptions because you’re the leader.  What you value, others will value too.
  3. Keep your nose in it.  Even though you hire qualified people who understand it better than you, don’t allow yourself to become too disconnected.  I personally sign every check that our accounting team processes.  This takes a couple of hours of my week but it helps me see in real time how we’re spending our ministry dollars.
  4. Meet regularly with your operations staff.  Create a regular meeting time to check in with this team to hear their needs, frustrations or concerns.  By creating time for them, you convey the value of operations to the overall ministry needs.  It will also create an opportunity for you to hear of concerns before they become crisis.
  5. Don’t underestimate the value of your Board.  Enlist a Board of Directors with proven competency in operational issues and fiduciary responsibility.  Be accountable to this team and heed their advice.

Ministry leadership is a great honor and privilege.  While operational issues will rarely be the motivator to get you up in the morning, poor operations will be the thing that keep you up at night.  Too many ministries have floundered because a leader took their eye off of this important element of leadership.

 

Balancing Conflict & Confidence – Guest Post by Chris Rivers

Today, Chris Rivers is sharing his thoughts on balancing conflict and confidence.  I connected with Chris recently to learn more about CultureBus, the new organization that he has launched “to help ministry leaders create a culture development model that helps increase their leadership pipeline and accomplish their vision”.  If you need help getting your team to embrace the vision and DNA of your organization, you should check out what Chris is doing with CultureBus.

_____________________________________

ChrisRivers1

Conflict is everywhere. We all face it. Some call it opposition, others call it tension, but you can guarantee that if God’s calling you into greatness, you’re going to meet conflict. I’ve found that conflict is like a close neighbor- you are bound to run into it at some point. Conflict can trip you up, cause you to lose focus, and also forget about another neighbor that you may not have seen lately- confidence. Confidence is a very different neighbor from conflict. It is always ready to encourage and lend a hand whenever you are in need. You never want to avoid confidence, as a matter of fact, you love when it’s around.

When I think about people in the Bible who had confidence in the midst of conflict- Joseph always comes to mind. From Genesis 37-41 we watch Joseph ride a conflict rollercoaster. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of raping his boss’s wife, thrown into prison, and forgotten by someone who could have helped him. When the time comes for him to be brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to prove himself or a moment to escape his circumstances, he stands in confidence. When asked by Pharoah if he could interpret dreams, his response is: “I can’t, but God can.” Joseph found confidence in God’s abilities, not his own. He realized that God was orchestrating all his circumstances, which included conflict.

In the face of conflict a confident leader:

  • responds in faith
  • accuses no one
  • accepts his/her circumstances
  • is patient with others
  • doesn’t complain
  • is not afraid of the outcome
  • has focus
  • embraces seasons of unknown because he/she knows who makes the seasons in the first place

When we are faced with circumstances full of conflict, we have an opportunity to find confidence in God’s ability to see us through it. By embracing conflict as part of our process, and facing it head-on, we have the chance to grow our confidence in who God says He is. When you know that God stands with you, you are able to face conflict with a different mentality and strategy.

ChrisRivers2

It’s not what I know, but who I know that helps me move from conflict to confidence. Focusing on my identity in Christ will lead to confidence. For those of us that call ourselves Christ followers, we should expect that while conflict is inevitable, it is an opportunity to become more confident in our identity. Conflict should always accompany confidence, because we have the help of the one who knows the end of the story.

Propel Women

“Yes! Yes! Yes! YESSSSS!

Was my exclamation when Chris Caine began sharing her heart for Propel Women.

Propel believes in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman every where. Propel exists to honor the calling of every woman, empower her to lead, equip her for success and develop a sense of God given purpose.

Whether you are leading one or one thousand, we hear you. Whether you stumbled into leading or were called into leading, we see you. Whether you want to lead or are trying to find your way in leadership, we are here for you. Propel wants to launch you forward.

Check out this video from Chris to learn a bit more…

Propel Women Trailer from Propel on Vimeo.

If this sounds like you, if it’s something your heart resonates with jump over to PropelWomen.org to download our free digital magazine.  Propel will launch in full force in 2015 and I can’t wait to see what God has in store!

Great days are ahead for women who lead!

 

The Dark Side of Change

The thing about major life transitions is that they expose all the junk in your life that you’ve found a way to cover up.  Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ve covered up… it could be insecurities, fears, weaknesses, habitual sins.  We find a way to cope with our inadequacies and in seasons where we’re comfortably living and leading we don’t even realize there are areas of our lives that could use some refining.

It was just about a year ago that a major season of transition began for me.  New job opportunity… cross country move… leaving longtime friends and community… embracing the unknown… joining a new team… selling our beloved home… settling into a new one…

Transitions stretch us.  Transitions change us.  Transitions expose us.

It seems that God keeps prompting me to dig deeper into the inadequacies that surface from the discomfort of change.  It’s been good.  It’s been healthy.  It’s been hard… and I’m certain it’s not over.

One of the resources that I’ve devoured in this season of change is Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima’s book Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures

dark-side-of-leadership-cover-picture

The unsettling feeling of all the unknown over the last year has prompted me to recognize there are areas of my leadership that need a deeper dive.  My emotional and spiritual health need evaluation if I want to lead with greater strength and more conviction in this next season.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

“Because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language (the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church), the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late.”

“There comes a point in all leaders’ lives – if they remain in leadership long enough – when they will begin to experience the relational friction, organizational blow-ups, and personal pain that result from unidentified and unresolved inner-life issues.”

“The aspects of life that push us in a positive way toward success can also exert a negative pull, destroying our effectiveness.”

“Leaders that we perceive to be exceptionally confident and in command are often compensating for a deeply rooted sense of inferiority and insecurity.”

“Leaders who face their dark side and redeem it accomplish the most over the long run.”

Whatever season of leadership you’re in, I encourage you to read this one.  While it can feel a bit foreboding, the truth in this book is critical to your long term health as a leader.

Our great legacy as leaders will come from stewarding our personal and spiritual health.

 

 

 

The Sacred Work of Hiring

HR

Many of us consider our Human Resource departments necessary evils.  Those “rule makers” who hold us back with all their bureaucratic red tape.

Don’t they know we have more important things to do?!

Actually, yes they do.  They know exactly how important what you do is and therefore they are unwilling to let you get swallowed up by your own chaos.

I’m sure there are some ghastly HR terrors out there who have made your life as a leader a living hell.  Let’s pretend they are the exception and consider for a minute what great HR Directors might be trying to protect us from.

Human resources are sacred.

Humans – living flesh and blood, children of God – are sacred.

Resources – the gifts, talents, abilities and experiences of these humans – are sacred.

And you as a leader have the incredibly divine opportunity to marry human resources with the vision and purpose that God has called your organization to fulfill.

This is sacred work.

It’s holy.

It’s significant.

And therefore it should not be taken lightly.  It should not be hurried paper pushing.

It should be thoughtful, reflective, prayerful toiling.

Every human resource that you employ needs your great care, concern and shepherding.

They need your thoughtful consideration of the marriage of their gifts with your needs.  They need you to understand the significance of how their employment impacts every area of their lives – their sense of value, their family safety and health, their circle of community.

These human resources – these human beings – are not human widgets to be mashed into your frantic assembly line of progress.  They are more than simply moving parts of whatever great machine you’ve created.

So as you consider your human resources…

Slow down.

Consider carefully.

Pray discerningly.

And recognize the sacredness of the decision you face.

Because it matters.

HR is sacred because it is the stewardship of God’s holy work in fragile humans.

The Question Every Church Leader Should Ask Now

“What will happen when I’m no longer serving in my position at my church?”

This is a question that I had to think through recently as I transitioned from Cross Point to Menlo Park. It’s a hard question to ask, especially when you’ve been a part of growing something from the ground up. However, I now know more than ever how important this question is, no matter which position you serve on staff.

Every church leader is an interim leader. Why? Because unless you plan on pastoring our church after Jesus returns, every church will have to face the reality of a leadership transition. Are you ready?

Smart leaders realize that succession planning should start with leaders early in their tenure. From the moment you fill a position, you should start thinking about how you can prepare for the next person who fills your role, whether it’s 2, 10, or 25 years from now. A true succession plan encompasses a plan for any leadership transition reason, whether it is the pastor’s own decision, the board’s, or an unfortunate emergency situation.

My friend William Vanderbloemen, former pastor and President of Vanderbloemen Search Group, has spent the last year researching hundreds of pastoral succession plans along with his co-author Warren Bird, Research Director at Leadership Network, to help pastors answer the question, “What’s next?”

VanderbloemenBird_Next-3Dalt copy

Next: Pastoral Succession That Works is a culmination of hundreds of case studies, interviews, and insider stories of succession failures and successes to help you ask the right questions to prepare for the future. It is intended for pastors, board members, and any church staff member who desires their church to have a lasting legacy.

I’ll be doing a full interview with William soon, but a few highlights from the book are:

  • Every pastor is an interim pastor.
  • There is no cookie cutter approach to succession planning.
  • The lack of emergency succession plans is staggering.
  • Pastors and boards have done a poor job of creating options for a pastor’s future identity.
  • Churches should revisit their succession plan each year.
  • A successful succession plan is the best legacy you can leave your church.

Next: Pastoral Succession That Works releases today!  Go check it out!

When A Leader Holds The Team Up

Great teams are usually made up of a group of great leaders.  A great team of leaders, when working effectively, can do remarkable things.

But I’ve also experienced a group of great leaders be a colossal disaster together.   Slow, redundant, ineffective, bureaucratic, argumentative, territorial – if there is a negative adjective you would use to describe a team, it probably fits.

The danger for all great leaders is not learning how to follow.  Not every leader leads all the time.  You have to follow too.

That’s a distinctive of a great team – their team members have learned the art of following.  While they are all exceptional leaders, they know when it’s their turn to lead and when it’s their place to follow.

Why is this so hard for us?

Following implies submission and oftentimes leaders allow our pride to keep us from submitting to others.

In team situations, there will be times when you need to submit to the direction of another leader even if you would handle the problem differently.  I see this all the time in teams.  One team member who is responsible for a division develops a plan and begins leading his team through it when another leader chimes in and suggests a different way to approach the situation.  While voicing concerns is appropriate and helpful, once you’ve shared your thoughts you must allow the person tasked with the responsibility of leading through that decision to make his or her decision and move forward.  Too often I see teams become paralyzed because too many leaders are chiming in with their opinions on issues.  Again, there is a time for feedback and input and then there is a time to get out of the way and allow the one tasked with that leadership decision to lead.

On your team, when are you the leader and when are you a follower?

Watch for the temptation to always have the last word or to hold onto a conversation until the decision feels more in line with how you would do it.

If you are always the hold out, you may be the one holding things up.

 

 

Rushing Past My Best Yes

Sorry… this giveaway has ended.

————————————————————–

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.

slowtherush

R U S H E D

Seems like there is not a day that word doesn’t describe me.  Can you relate?

Society demands rush.  Every minute is maximized.  There are more things to do and opportunities to pursue than our 24 hours a day allow.

I know that rushing doesn’t produce my best.  Rushing through life causes me to miss moments, significant moments.  In my rushing I miss sweet moments with family or friends.  In my rushing I avoid an important conversation with a staff member.  In my rushing I overlook the person who needs a listening ear.  In my rushing I lose touch with my soul and what God may be trying to speak to me.

In her new book, The Best Yes, Lysa challenges us to slow down our hurried souls to find God’s best yes in our lives.

“If we want to hear from the Lord, we must confess that sometimes we walk right past the Lord’s instruction and set ourselves up to miss His direction.  If we want His direction for our decisions, the great cravings of our souls must not only be the big moments of assignment.  They must also be the seemingly small instructions in the most ordinary of moments when God points His Spirit finger saying, go there.  And in doing that, we are companions of God with eyes and ears more open, more able, more in tune with Him.”

Where do you need to slow down today to be more in tune with God?

New York Times Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst has written a new book about finding your Best Yes.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

the-best-yes-cover

I have a copy to give away!  Leave a comment sharing one way you could slow the rush of life this week.  I’ll pick a winner Friday 8/22.

GLS14 – Ivan Satyavrata

Ivan Satyavrata

Senior Pastor, Assembly of God Church, Kolkata, India

Power in itself is neutral. Power is the ability to move reality – to make something happen.  Leaders manage power.

There is no such thing as leadership without power.

The Power Paradox

A leader must be able to wield power, real power, in order to lead effectively.  She must, however, at the same time be genuinely vulnerable and yet powerless.

Knowledge Power

If knowledge is power than the knowledge of power through Jesus Christ is ultimate power.

Am I holding the towel and basin as tightly as my knowledge power?

How am I stewarding my knowledge power as a leader?

People Power

Use it to add value and empower, not control or intimidate.

Kingdom Power

The true secret of any great leader is that when you feel your weakest is really when you are your greatest because his spirit is made perfect in weakness.

Is the world becoming a better place because of your power?

Be vulnerable bravehearts.

GLS14 – Joseph Grenny

Joseph Grenny

Co-Founder, VitalSmarts

The power of a group is a function of the purity of its motives.

Leaders need to engage “Crucial Moments”

Crucial moments are moments of disproportionate influence; moments where how someone behaves has an enormous effect

Crucial moments are defined by three dimensions:

  • High Stakes
  • Opposing Opinions
  • Strong Emotions

The Principle of Crucial Conversations

Anytime you find yourself stuck, stop and ask: “What crucial conversation are we not holding or not holding well?”

When it matters most we tend to do our worst.

Two options when we come to a crucial conversation:

1)    Talk it out.

2)    Act it out.  If you don’t talk it out you will act it out.

You can measure the health of a team by counting the number of undiscussables.

Your job as a leader is to model, teach and coach the crucial conversations that effect your mission.

The Three Crucial Moments In Churches:

1)    Performance problems with volunteer or staff.

2)    Members who are struggling in sin or disconnecting from the church.

3)    Concerns with pastors.

Crucial conversations are either a pit or a path.

Crucial conversations held well are pathways to intimacy.

Crucial conversations are the core of a healthy culture.

Your job as a leader is to define the couple of conversations that most effect the health of your culture.

The vital behavior that enables most any positive organizational outcome is CANDOR at moments of acute emotional and political risk.

Seven Crucial Skills

1)    Start with Heart

2)    Learn to Look

3)    Make it Safe

4)    Master My Stories

5)    State My Path

6)    Explore Others’ Path

7)    Move to Action

You have two tasks in the hazardous half minute of a crucial conversation:

  • Create Mutual Purpose: Help them know that you care about their interests, problems and concerns almost as much as they do.
  • Create Mutual Respect: They know that you care about them and fundamentally respect them.

People never become defensive about WHAT you’re saying.  People become defensive because of WHY they think you’re saying it.

Myth: I can not tell the truth and keep a friend.