3 Sins of Refusing to Rest

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Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.   Exodus 20:8-11

Have you ever noticed that of the 10 Commandments, God gives the most description to this one?  Four verses devoted to explaining why we need to rest.  No other commandment is given this much dwelling time.

But even with the extra explanation, I still violate this one the most.

I believe the inability to honor the Sabbath is a leader’s greatest danger.

Here’s why…

Leader’s thrive on accomplishment.  We’re wired for productivity.  We’re naturally inclined to maximize time and opportunity.  A few extra hours to catch up when others are at rest makes us feel like we’re getting ahead of the game.  Some of us wake up early or stay up late to get “just a few more things done”.  We check our phones during time with family to respond to “just this one email”.  Or how about going into the office for “just a couple hours” on a holiday to catch up on a project.  Found time is a precious commodity to us because our plates are full and their spinning fast.

If you’re like me you might be tempted to see the Sabbath as a luxury you can’t afford.  Somehow we are tempted to believe we’re above the law.  And this my friends is a dangerous place for us to be.

3 Sins of Sabbath Violation

1) Pride

Our inability to recognize our limits and to acknowledge our dependence on God is sin.  It’s a violation of God’s directive to us.  When we can’t take God at his word, we are suggesting we know better.

2) Fear

Trusting God with our limitations is frightening.  We fear what it means for our identity, reputation and future if there are elements out of our control.  Out of fear we seek to control and manipulate every moment and opportunity even if it means we’re in violation of God’s command.

3) Selfishness

In Exodus 23:12 we get more explanation for why we should sabbath, “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

Observing the sabbath isn’t all about you!  This verse explains that when we rest we create space for those we lead to rest too.  Leaders, this is huge!  When you don’t rest, you don’t allow your family or those who work with you to rest.  You are leading them to sin as well.

This passage was an eye-opener for me.  I have been tempted for most of my life to see Sabbath as a gift to me, but that’s a selfish perspective.  A leader’s life is never just about oneself.  How we lead, even in rest, impacts the people we are responsible to lead.

Sabbath is about God and my recognition that it is him that enables me to do what I do.  It’s a weekly reminder of my limitations.  Sabbath is my acknowledgement of my total dependence on him.

Honestly, this is really hard for me.  It’s a weekly battle to turn off, shut down, disconnect and trust God.

How about you?  What is God teaching you about Sabbath and rest?  How are you growing in your dependence on him?

What to Do When Those You Lead Argue and Complain

I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus again.  When I look at all that Moses went through as a leader, it tends to make me feel a bit better about my own challenges.

This time as I read I paid close attention to every time the Israelites grumbled against or quarreled with Moses in the early days of their exodus from Egypt… and it was a lot! 

But here is what is curious to me… each time they grumbled or quarreled with him, Moses went to God.

He didn’t argue with them.

He didn’t try to reason with them.

He didn’t try to explain himself or his decisions.

He didn’t try to make them happy.

He went to God. 

Moses got what I often forget – He knew that he was simply an instrument for God.  Moses understood that he was leading these people for and with God.

I get this wrong all the time.  I’ve never considered myself a people-pleaser and yet if I’m honest I feel a whole lot better about my leadership if people like me and like how I’m leading them.

Moses didn’t seem to care what people thought of his leadership.  He was much more concerned about whether he was leading them as God had called him to lead them.

Moses’ motivation for leadership wasn’t centered on his personal need for achievement or approval.  He was compelled by fulfilling the calling that God had given him.

What is your first response when those you lead argue or complain?

Who do you turn to first?

May we all grow to be leaders who go to God first.

#OC15 Assessment Key & Notes

I had the great privilege this past week to speak at The Orange Conference.  What a fun, energizing and inspiring few days!

For those of you who were there, here is the key to the assessment you took:

The Extraordinary Leader Assessment

♦ = Heart

Ο = Soul

★ = Mind

✖ = Strength

 

Here are the notes from my session entitled “The Extraordinary Leader”:

Embedded in the larger story of redemption is a principle we must not miss:

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.

—Paul David Tripp

What Does Extraordinary Mean?

  • Going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary
  • Exceptional to a very marked extent
  • Rare
  • Uncommon
  • Unique

The Leader’s Greatest Commandment

Luke 12:30-31

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Extraordinary Leadership Is Found…

In a leader who has searched to discover his or her authentic self and

from that place influences others to accomplish great dreams through:

–intentional relationships (heart),

–spiritual awareness (soul),

–wise counsel (mind), and

–relentless vision (strength).

Leading With All Your Heart (Relationships)

What

‣Influence

‣EQ

‣Trust

How

  • Always encourage
  • Seek to connect
  • Show compassion

Leading With All Your Soul (Spiritual Awareness)

What

‣Faith as guiding principle

‣Desire to lead people closer to God

How

  • Model a life submitted to God
  • Be a servant
  • Pray for wisdom

Leading With All Your Mind (Wisdom)

What

‣Strategy

‣Decision-making

‣Continuous Learning

How

  • Discipline
  • Stewardship
  • Accountability

Leading With All Your Strength (Vision)

What

‣Provides Hope

‣Defines Potential

‣Protects and Propels Momentum

How

  • Inspire with confidence
  • Have courage and conviction
  • Be patient and persistent
  • Be the Chief Reminding Officer

Leadership is not the private reserve of a few charismatic men and women. It is a process ordinary people use when they are bringing forth the best from themselves and others. When the leader in everyone is liberated extraordinary things happen.

- James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 1:6 (nasb)

 

 

Teams That Thrive

I love great teams.  I love building great teams.  I love building teams of great leaders.

I echo John Maxwell… “everything rises or fall on leadership.”  The power of leadership through teams is exponential.

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Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird have recently written this great book: Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership

Here is an excerpt from the book followed by some great offers! 

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Seven Straight-Forward Actions of Great Team Leaders

by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird

The best teams define leaders more by what they do than by where they sit in the organizational chart. Sometimes great leaders sit in the chair at the head of the table, and are the team’s formal, positional leader; other times they do not. Wherever you are sitting around the table, here are seven practices of effective leaders to help you focus your efforts as a leader.

  1. Structure the team for success. You cannot force a team to become great, but you can help put the pieces together and encourage greatness. Focus on structuring and facilitating productive team communication practices, as we explain how to do in our new book, Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership.
  1. Establish with your team a 5C purpose (clear, compelling, challenging, calling oriented and consequential). Effective teams commonly aim toward a North Star. Good leaders facilitate processes to cast and clarify both vision and strategy.
  1. Get the right people on the team. Great team leaders take team membership seriously, but not too seriously. Getting the right people on the bus won’t solve all your problems, but it will help. Usually the right people possess essential skills and abilities related to the team’s purpose (in a balance with others), a strong desire to contribute to the vision and the capability to collaborate effectively. Leaders evaluate the strengths and skills of potential team members to find the right mix of skills the team needs.
  1. Facilitate goal setting in pursuit of the team’s vision. Great leaders break down lofty vision into manageable chunks by setting specific, time-bound goals. Take some time to clarify, at minimum, monthly and annual goals.
  1. Set priorities and focus on achieving team goals. Great leaders don’t play politics within the team (that’s not being trustworthy), don’t focus on relationships at the expense of task accomplishment, don’t make everything a priority and don’t drown the team in a bunch of unimportant drivel. They laser-focus on accomplishing goals.
  1. Unleash talent by allowing others to do real work. Great team leaders recognize that team members possess strengths they don’t, so they step back and allow members to exercise those strengths. This isn’t giving power away, or empowerment. It’s self-control.
  1. Do real work themselves. Great leaders don’t just supervise, coordinate or delegate tasks. They do real work for which other team members can hold them accountable. Remember, much of what people learn is “caught, not taught.” What are others “catching” from your leadership?

Certainly one person doesn’t have to do all of these things. In our visits to churches, we saw these practices often shared among several team members. These teams realize that everyone can lead, not just those at the very top of the organizational chart. We encourage you to create a team climate where every member of the team “leads” your team in various ways.

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Because I participated in the book project by writing an expert commentary, InterVarsity Press is offering my readers a 30% discount on the book. To access the discount, order online at ivpress.com or call 800-843-9487 and use coupon code 506-447.  This offer expires April 30.

For more tips on providing great team leadership, as well as a host of other tips to help your team thrive, see Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership.

Bonus Offer, But Only Until April 30! Get a free accompanying workbook entitled “Have a New Team by Friday” by ordering by April 30 and submitting your receipt. Details at www.TeamsThatThriveBook.com.

Excerpted with permission from chapter 9 of Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird, InterVarsity Press, 2015. Visit www.TeamsThatThriveBook.com for the book itself, exercises, and other tools to help your team.

But First…

I like to think I’m obedient.

But I’m most obedient when I trust an outcome.  I’m obedient when I understand and can see the big picture.

In our #LentChallenge reading for today, Jesus is teaching about the cost of following him.

Luke 9:59, 61 (emphasis added)

He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

What is your “but first” response to God when he calls you to something?

See as leaders, we expect others to follow us.  We get irritated when they don’t trust us or willingly follow.  We are annoyed by their excuses – their “but first”s – and yet we often rattle off our “but firsts”….

But first I have to save up.

But first the kids need to be in school… or out of school… or on their own.

But first I need to explore all my options.

But first I need to have a plan for my retirement.

But first I need to finish a project.

Our “but firsts” aren’t usually bad things.  They are good things.  They may even be responsible things.

I don’t think this passage is about shirking responsibility.  It’s about faith and obedience.  For me, it’s a reminder of how many times I run to excuses when God calls me to a bold move… to something uncomfortable or scary.

Where might God be calling you and what are your “but first” responses?

Propel

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Today is THE DAY!

Propel launches officially with a week of events at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

A Bit More About Who We Are

For generations women have navigated the nuances of being a woman in leadership without a roadmap, finding their way through trial and error. While there are many books, resources, and leadership networks aimed at strengthening leaders, few address the distinctive role of women in leadership, and fewer still address the calling of women in the marketplace.

While our culture is changing, and professionally women are holding positions of leadership, many women still wrestle with identifying themselves as leaders or feeling empowered to operate within their full leadership potential. Gaps in leadership training have forced women to compartmentalize their lives, separating work, church, and home. Propel exists to help create an interconnected life in Christ, who affirms and acknowledges every woman’s gifts, passions, and leadership potential for the glory of the Kingdom.

“The Lord announces the Word and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.” Psalm 68:11

This “mighty throng” of women is already within the marketplace. Our desire is to empower women to lead more effectively and to see themselves as an intricate part of God’s plan in all spheres of life.

If your heart connects with the purpose of Propel, I encourage you to join us on the journey.

Check out the website www.propelwomen.org

Get involved

Download the magazine

If you are a woman in ministry or marketplace leadership, I would love to learn more about you!  Tell us about yourself in the comments section below.

Great days are ahead for women who lead! 

 

Fight Back With Joy

GREAT-JOY

I’ve never described myself as joyful and I doubt that others would assign that attribute to me either.  I suppose I thought joy was reserved for the more light-hearted and fun.  Joy felt like a privilege I wasn’t intended to possess.

These were all self-conscious assumptions.  In fact, if probed I would agree that joy was a fruit of the spirit I should be seeking but it seemed unattainable and not fitting for who I am – one who is known to be a serious, contemplative type.

So when my friend Margaret Feinberg chose to fight back with joy while battling the toughest experience of her life, I took note.  How could she choose joy when her world was so dark and difficult?  How could she choose joy with unknown outcomes?  How could she choose joy when what she felt was despair?

 “We don’t just sense joy; we embody it by how we respond to the circumstances before us.”

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Margaret has modeled what it looks like to fight back with joy and we’re the beneficiaries of her fight.

Learn more about the book and bible study at FightBackWithJoy.com

Purchase Fight Back With Joy

Fight Back With Joy 6-Session DVD Bible Study Promo Video from Margaret Feinberg on Vimeo.

Leaders as Curators

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Have you ever had one of those experiences where you’ve offered advice to someone and for whatever reason they just didn’t listen to you?   And then someone else comes along, says the same thing and this person who you’ve been spending time with, pouring your heart and soul into, offering advice that you think is important for them to hear… heeds the advice of someone much less connected to them?  Basically the new voice gets the credit for what you’ve been telling them all along.

It happens all the time.  With our families.  With our friends.  With our staff.

For much of my leadership life I’ve been irritated by this dynamic.  I can give direction over and over but it’s often an outside voice that breaks through.

As leaders, we can either fight this dynamic or embrace it.  Embracing it doesn’t mean we give up on giving the direction we need to give.  It just means we need to look at our roles in a different way.  While we need to both speak and model the way, we can also embrace outside voices to reinforce the principles we’re trying to cultivate in our teams.

Your role as the day-to-day leader in an organization is to be the curator of content.  You must bring other voices to speak to the issues your team needs to hear.  You can’t say it all and they won’t listen to you all the time anyway.

Rather than feel the need to be the one with every brilliant idea, bring voices you trust to say what your team needs to hear.

This is an act of humility because it means acknowledging that outside voices will often be stronger than yours.  It’s a willingness to let go of the need to be the “know-it-all” and trust that your job is really to bring the information to the table in whatever form will actually get through to your team and influence change and growth.

You are the curator of content.

When you embrace this role, you can relinquish the need to be the one developing all the ideas and instead direct your energy to finding voices who can help say it for you.  Scour DVD teaching series, YouTube, training resources from subject experts, Podcasts, business leaders in your community.  Look around you for people who are saying what you need to say but perhaps in a different way.

And when you see that “ah ha” look in the eyes of your team, rather than get frustrated or jealous that someone else said it, be proud of the fact that you made the connection.

Being the leader doesn’t mean being the only voice.  It means knowing how to curate the voices that will bring the right ideas to help your team effectively carry out the mission.

Be the curator!

5 Steps for Leading Change

Steps

Whether you’re leading an entire organization through change or coaching a staff person through a transition, leading through change is one of the most important tasks you’ll do as a leader.

In leading through various seasons of change, here are 5 steps I encourage you to consider whatever change you’re facing.

1) Listen Well

When change is imminent we can be tempted to either operate in denial until we’re forced to change or rush to make changes to get it over with as soon as possible.  Either extreme robs you of the opportunity to listen well.  When you need to lead through change, take time to listen.  Listen for lessons from history.  Listen to fears and concerns.  Listen for the reason behind emotions.

2) Question Thoroughly

After you’ve listened well, begin to ask questions…. lots of them.  Particularly if you’re leading change through an issue that is new to you.  Whether it be an organization you recently joined or a project that you weren’t intimately involved with.  Asking questions will help you uncover valuable information about sensitivities, key players, historical nuances, etc.  Questions will help you better understand the landscape and make more thoughtful decisions.

3) Evaluate Rigorously

Change is challenging.  It’s tempting to make snap judgments or jump to quick fixes.  Take the time and mental energy to evaluate the situation from all angles before hurrying to a decision.  As part of your evaluating, seek wise counsel from others who have either led through something similar or who can add helpful perspective.

4) Decide Prayerfully

Once you’ve listened, questioned and evaluated it’s time to make a decision about what to change and how to lead through it.  Consider everything you’ve gleaned in the process so far and prayerfully decide how to move forward.

5) Direct Confidently

Finally, you need to provide strong, confident direction for change.  Your confidence is drawn from the intentional process you’ve followed and the prayerful decision you’ve arrived at.  Now you must direct change with strength of vision and decisive action.

Leading change is not easy, nor should it be taken lightly.  But this is exactly why you are in a position of leadership – to help set the course and lead others in the direction God is calling you.  Taking the proper time to listen, question, and evaluate before you decide and direct is critical to leading through change in a way that honors those you’re leading.  Change is emotional and stressful.  Taking time for process equips you to be aware and sensitive while earning trust with those you lead.  Additionally, the process builds courage for everyone involved.

What change are you facing?  What step do you need to take today?

 

 

Enough to Be Dangerous

I’m not old.

Neither am I young.

In this stage of life I want to be both.  I want the maturity and wisdom of age and experience but I want to cling to the energy and idealism of youth.  I want to believe my ideas are still new and innovative.  In fact perhaps the greatest danger of this season is in both believing I still have great ideas but also the wisdom of experience.

A recipe for dangerous pride.

It’s not impossible to both have great ideas and the wisdom of experience.  It’s just dangerous to assume you have both because of this stage of life.

block

This is the “I know enough to be dangerous” stage of leadership.  I’ve circled the leadership block enough times for the scenery to be familiar.  I know this block well.  I know the twists and turns of the road.  I know where the potholes are.  I’m confident to direct others who join me.

But at this stage of life and leadership, it’s time for my territory to expand.  Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention to the new construction and how it’s changing traffic patterns.  Are there new roadways that now connect to my block that I haven’t been exploring?

Before I exhaust the metaphor completely…

What I’m learning about this season of leadership is that it’s easy to get comfortable with where we grew up as leaders.  We have ideas, systems, and filters for decision-making that are common and comfortable.  If we choose to stay only with this set of experiences we will limit ourselves.  We will be inclined to reject new or different ideas.  We will pridefully rely on what we know.  It worked for us in the past so we’re convinced it will work in the future.

The danger is that the landscape is changing whether you’re exploring it or not.  You must listen to new voices.  You must challenge yourself to consider new ideas.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s stretching.  It batters your confidence.

But our ability to continue to grow as leaders is contingent on our ability to keep ourselves slightly uncomfortable.  It’s in the discomfort where we continue to learn and grow.

Are you in an uncomfortable season of leadership?  What are you learning from it?