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.



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


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.


GLS14 – Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni

Founder and President, The Table Group

The Most Dangerous Mistakes Leaders Make

These mistakes hurt people.  They leave collateral damage.

1)    We become a leader for the wrong reason.

Money, fame, notoriety

Right reason: Want to sacrifice themselves for the good of others even when they don’t’ know that there’ll be any return on their investment.

I’m kind of tired of hearing about servant leadership because there really is no other kind.

2)    Failing to embrace vulnerability.

When we do that we destroy trust with those we lead.

We communicate to our team that they shouldn’t be vulnerable either.

I don’t think you can be too vulnerable as a leader.

There’s a difference between confident and vulnerable.

When we fail to embrace vulnerability, they will not trust us.

You’ve got to be human.

If you’re not interested in getting better, it’s time to not be a leader.

There is real cost when we don’t lead with vulnerability.

3)    Making leadership too important

Most of the time when we’re thinking about leadership, we’re thinking about work.  If we make it too important, our identity can get wrapped up in being a leader.  Our identity gets out of order.

It’s all about PRIDE.

My success as a leader is being completely docile to the will of God.

GLS14 – Jeffrey Immelt

Jeffrey Immelt

President and CEO, General Electric

Throughout my career there has never been a job in the company that was beneath me.

If you’re more a giver than a taker, your peers know that.  Horizontal strength is what keeps institutions together.

The best leaders go forward.  See the world as it is and figure out a way to go forward.

General Electric invests $1 billion a year in leadership development.

Leadership is a commitment to:

  • Integrity
  • Performance
  • Change

Leadership has a shelf life.  You regularly need a tune up.

Leadership is a strategic imperative for the company.

Culture and leadership are fundamental to the company.

Come to work because you love what you do and you want to make a difference.

Learn from mistakes and get better.  Making excuses suggests that you aren’t willing to learn.

As a leader you’re in the business of giving people confidence.

You may questions my decisions, but you won’t question my intentions.

You can’t guarantee outcomes, but you can guarantee a process.

Leadership is a intense journey into yourself.  Self-renewal, self-discovery.


GLS14 – Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina

Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Chairman of Good 360

Human potential is the one, only, limitless resource we have in this world.  It is amazing what happens when human potential is unlocked for worthy goals and purpose.

Things that crush potential:

  • fear
  • subjugation
  • bureaucracy – rules-based, process-driven; forget who they are there to serve; they crush the people inside it and the people they serve

The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.  Leadership unlocks potential.

Leadership is not:

  • management
  • position, title or power

Leaders change the order of things and it does not matter if they have a title or not.

Leaders never accomplish anything worthwhile acting on their own.

People are not poor because they lack potential.  They are poor because they lack opportunity.



Strategy/Goals/Vision – Where are we going and why are we going there? – Where/Why/How

Organization/Team/Structure/Process – How are we going to work together to get this work done?  Structure should always follow strategy.

Metrics/Results – How are we going to measure progress and reward success?  What counts as progress?  What gets measured is what gets done.  What are we measuring?  What are we rewarding?

Culture/Behavior – What’s it like to work around here.  It all boils down to behavior.  Values consistent with behavior.  The leader has to set the tone and model the behavior.

When you set the frame you set people free!  You don’t dictate every move.  You set the frame and set them frame.  The organization can not achieve it’s potential unless the people in it achieve their potential.

20/20 Rule

20% of the people in most organizations are change warriors – harness the warriors!

20% of the people in most organizations are the “hell no, I won’t go” types – they are the source of resistance

60% of the people are skeptics; they are waiting


Successful change never happens until the 60% are convinced.

How do we convince our 60%?

True leadership requires faith.  A love of God makes leadership easier.

Faith gives us the gift of humility.  It is not about us.  It is about others.  A true leader approaches their task with a servant’s heart.

Faith gives us the gift of empathy.

Faith gives us the gift of optimism. A leader must know that things can be better and that people will rise to the occasion.

Faith teaches us that every one of us is equal and gifted by God.

Leadership is a choice.  It can be learned by anyone.

Choose to lead.  Choose to change the order of things.  Choose to fulfill your own potential of leadership and choose to unlock the potential of others.

GLS14 – Session 1 Bill Hybels

Hard Fought Leadership Lessons

by Bill Hybels

**These are my raw notes from the session.  I’ll be writing more application & takeaways following the summit.

Leaders by definition are visionaries.  We get seized by visions from God.  The vision consumes us.  It becomes our identity.  It affirms our self-worth.

We can become obsessed with the thrill of achieving the vision.

Leaders with the highest level of vision and passion often have the lowest level of awareness of the spirit of the team they’ve assembled to achieve that vision.

The leader comes to the conclusion that the team doesn’t care as much about the vision.  You start to think the team is dispensable.  Staff feel like cogs in a wheel, gears in a machine.

What God treasures most is people, even more than visions.

Don’t make your people pay because you’re so fired up about the vision.

Steps to turn a culture around:

5 Key Commitments Willow made:

1)    Use outside firm to do survey and assess results

2)    Bill and exec team own the turnaround “Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be”

3)    Get serious about training everyone on staff who manages people “People join organizations, they leave managers”.

4)    Raise the level of candor in performance reviews.  Everybody wants to know, “How am I doing?”

“The kindest form of management is the truth.” – Jack Welch

Use these three words to coach staff:

Start. – What do they need to start doing?

Stop. – What do they need to stop doing?

Keep Doing. – What do they need to keep doing?

Lead with a 3 M Strategy:

Move something ahead.

Modify the plan.

Motivate people before the meeting ends.

5)    Ruthless commitment to resolving relational conflict regardless of how scary it feels.  Relational rifts are an opportunity to go to new levels.

In the average Christian organization only 54% of employees are truly engaged in their work.

In the U.S. corporate world only 30% of employees are truly engaged in their work.

Part of why God made us leaders is to prepare emerging leaders.

5 Ways to Develop Leaders

1)    Put them in High challenge roles

2)    Assign them to short-term task force

3)    Offer them real time feedback

4)    Provide coaching and mentoring

5)    Offer classroom courses and seminars

Test leaders by giving them short-term task forces:

1)    Success or failure must both be possible.

2)    The emerging leader must take full charge.

3)    Must work with a wise variety of people.

4)    Must involve real pressure and a deadline.

5)    The end product and performance must be evaluated by a senior leader.

Gauge how resourceful they are.  You have to ascertain what they’ll do when they don’t know what to do.

John 10

Hireling types (short-term ladder climber)

1)    they don’t give a rip about your sheep

2)    they have no intentions of staying long-term

3)    if a predator threatens, they will be the first to run for safety

Owner types (want to make a legacy play)

1)    care about the sheep

2)    they have a long term view

3)    they will lay down their life for the well being of the sheep

Find and develop leaders with a legacy mindset.

The average tenure for a fortune 500 CEO is 4 ½ years

Prevailing churches, effective NGO’s, thriving business can’t survive on hireling types.  They can’t be trusted to develop something of lasting value.

Legacy leaders:

  • address longterm economic viability
  • work for the grander vision
  • run on higher quality fuel source (to please the God they love or give their life to a cause beyond themselves)

You can lead small, safe or selfishly.

Or you can choose to live a grander vision.

You don’t drift into being a legacy leader.  The drift is self, safety & comfort.

What will you do with your dash?  (The dash between birth and death dates)

What will your legacy be?  What of value or beauty will you leave behind?

Leaders need to develop endurance

James 1:12

The grander the vision, the greater the price tag.

Grand visions get complicated and costly.

Legacy leaders need to develop endurance strategies to keep them engaged for the longhaul.

Hard to hear God in a rushed way.

Hear the voice of God in an unrushed way.

Create solitude breaks.

If you’re exhausted, discouraged, or on the brink of hopelessness humble yourself and call for help.  Acknowledge that this rough patch requires help.

Psalm 34:18

You might be one prayer away from a rescue.

Global Leadership Summit


For the next two days I’ll be hanging out with 130,000 leaders in 350+ cities for The Global Leadership Summit.  This year we’re celebrating 20 years of The Summit!

This leadership experience has been a key event in my life.  I’m so thankful for the leaders who have challenged, inspired and stretched me through the wisdom they have shared here.

I’ll be serving on the social media team once again so be sure to follow along on twitter, instagram and right here on the blog.  My focus will be on ways that we can apply what we learn in each session to our everyday lives as leaders.

Stay tuned!