We Were Made to Work


Labor Day.

The day we celebrate work by not working.

For most of us Labor Day marks:

  • the end of summer
  • the beginning of fall
  • back to school season
  • last chance to wear white jeans
  • the beginning of football season
  • a reason to throw a party and hang out with friends
  • an extra day off of work

Labor Day was actually created as a way to pay tribute to working men and women.  Pretty straightforward.

Forgive me as my neurotic inability to do nothing takes over but I have to wonder if celebrating labor day by trying to escape all things work is the best way to celebrate the day.

I asked the great Oz Google why we celebrate labor day and all I really got was the above list of things we do and a short historical debate over who started the holiday.  The best thing I could find to answer the ‘why’ question was “to pay tribute to working men and women.”  So again I have to ask “why?”  Since I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer, I came up with my own.

Our modern view equates work with punishment.  It’s a necessary evil – we work to survive.  It’s the place we go more than forty hours a week to pay the bills and provide for our indulgences.  Work is rarely considered a privilege.  It’s a means to an end – safety, security, provision, and rewards.

I’ve often mistaken work as a consequence of our sin.  The serpent, the apple, the question, the consequence.  After the tragedy in the garden, the ground was cursed, and work entered the world.  But when you look more closely at the first chapter of Genesis we’re told that God gave us work to do: have babies, subdue the earth, and rule over the fish, the birds, and every living creature.  Before the fall.  Before sin messed things up, work was still a part of our lives.  God attributed significance to work even before it was a result of our sin.  We were made to work.

The work we were given from the beginning of our existence was to “fill the earth and subdue it.”  Think about the significance of this.  God spent six days creating this unbelievable creation, and he immediately handed its stewardship over to us.

Imagine the care and intentionality that God must have devoted to his creation.  Then imagine how significant it was for him to entrust it all into our care.  The work we’ve been given is an extraordinary gift that God has entrusted to us.

Today as we celebrate Labor Day, let’s celebrate more than just not having to “work”. 

Let’s celebrate the gift we have in being a part of God’s work!


* Portions of this post were taken from my upcoming book Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence

Catching Up

It’s been awhile since I’ve just caught up with you all via the blog.  I mean just talking… sharing life.

I’m sorry if I’ve seemed a little distant.  I certainly know the posts have been short and infrequent.  Sorry about that.

The majority of this year I’ve been consumed with pouring out.. being stretched… facing my limits.

I spent months pouring my heart and soul into my new book Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence which releases January 2014.  I’ll tell you more about it as the release date gets closer, but S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D is not a significant enough word for the process.  Wonderful but so humbling.

I also spent the better part of this year helping lead Cross Point through the relocation of our broadcast campus.  Sheer exhilaration and madness at the same time!  I look back and don’t know exactly how we did it.  Simply God at his finest, working through broken, ignorant humans like me and miraculously accomplishing his plans.

For the last two months I have tried to enjoy summer.  I’ve been reading like crazy, working on marketing for Clout, helping our teams find our footing at Cross Point and trying to not feel pressured to write.  Frankly I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to say.  I’m in a season of learning that I’m sure is preparing me for what’s next.

In a few days I pick back up the pen (or Macbook Air) and begin to write the next manuscript.  Are you kidding me?! Freakin’ eager beaver that I am I commit myself to obnoxious goals!

I’ve learned that I love to write.  I love to share what I’m learning but frankly I’m a little nervous about whether there’s actually anything in here.  I feel like I can’t drum up a blog post these days let alone 60,000 words.

God is stretching me right now.  I know he’s growing me.  The journey of faith and obedience continues.

I feel humbled, honored and broken by the things that God is doing in my life.

I would love to ask for your prayers for clarity, wisdom, peace and inspiration.

So catch up with me too… what’s God been doing in you this season?  How can I be praying for you too?

50th Anniversary

You can’t truly understand freedom until you’ve lived without it.

You can’t fully comprehend segregation until you’ve been the marginalized.


May we as leaders never be lulled by our personal comfort. 

May we always be willing to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.


Photo HT

Selected by God?

In his book entitled Leadership, Rudy Giuliani cautions,

“Leaders of all kinds – CEOs, coaches, even the occasional mayor – run the risk of thinking they are where they are because of divine intervention.  When selected for a position of leadership, do not believe you were selected by God.”

The point he is getting at is that too often people in leadership begin to believe they are special.  He goes on to speak of the humility and self-awareness that leaders need to be effective and to make sure that pride doesn’t begin to drive their actions.

At first I dismissed this comment as not applying to ministry leaders.  Of course we are selected by God, right?

But honestly I wonder if there is something in that statement we need to consider?

In our belief that God has called us to our ministry role, do we begin to develop an attitude of arrogance?  Instead of our calling humbling us, do we believe it makes us untouchable?

I do believe that God calls us.  I do believe he has equipped us with certain gifts, talents and abilities that equip us to do a specific work.

But I also think that sometimes we can become prideful about that calling.

God could call or select anyone to do what he has positioned you to do.  Don’t take for granted that your calling is a gift.



Chasing Symptoms vs Addressing Problems

Symptoms get our attention.

Watery eyes and compulsive sneezing alert us to allergy season.

An upset stomach and high fever may be indicative of the flu.

We know symptoms indicate that there is something bigger going on inside of us.  If we’re smart we proactively treat the real problem.

But unfortunately every day in our organizations, we can be guilty of chasing symptoms rather than addressing the real problems behind them.

  • We are frustrated with volunteer turnover but aren’t aware that our training for them is defunct.
  • We don’t understand people’s lack of engagement but fail to recognize how complex and confusing our communication is.
  • We grow irritated with the consistent under-performance of our staff but don’t provide regular feedback and accountability.

It’s easy to get distracted by symptoms.  They are the obvious.  The urgent.  But when we ignore the real problems underlying them, we keep ourselves and our teams trapped in the same frustrating cycles.

As a leader you must address the problems lurking in your organization.

What symptoms are you currently chasing?  Challenge yourself to look deeper to identify the real problems.


The Preaching Conference

One of the things that I wasn’t prepared for when I entered ministry was the need to become a more effective communicator.  As an XP, I thought my communication arena would stay limited to conference rooms and one-on-one conversations, but for many of us there are opportunities and situations where we need to learn to communicate to the congregation and on occasion to preach or teach.

If you preach on a regular basis, you don’t want to miss The Preaching Conference put on by The Rocket Company on September 19-20th in Marietta, GA.  Crawford Loritts, Jeff Henderson, and Michael Lukaszewski are going to take two days to teach you a 7-step system that will make you a better preacher who is better prepared and has less stress.  Click for more information and to get signed up.

The Rocket Company guys are personal friends of mine.  I have huge respect for them and have personally been influenced by their teaching.  I know you’ll benefit from this event so be sure to check it out!

Summit Takeaways for Organizational Leaders

This year’s Leadership Summit was another exceptional one.  Once again my brain was mush as I drove away Friday evening.  So many challenges and opportunities to process.

The theme I walked away with this year was the importance of organizational health and more specifically, the wisdom and behavior of the leader in charge of that organization.

Here are the key points from the speakers that spoke to this issue:

Bill Hybels talked about the 4 types of courage that leaders need:

  1. Courage to embrace the vision.
  2. Courage to define reality.
  3. Courage to build a fantastic culture.
  4. Courage to establish and reinforce values.

Colin Powell shared a few important reminders:

  • Leadership is always about followers.  It’s about investing in the people who get it done.
  • Show perpetual optimism.  People look to the leader for confidence.
  • Challenge people or they’ll just sit there and watch.

Patrick Lencioni definied the 3 things that cause job misery:

  1. Anonymity.  To be known.  Good people don’t leave jobs where they are known.
  2. Irrelevance.  If you don’t think your job matters to others, you can’t love your work.
  3. Immeasurement.  We must give people a way to measure their performance.

Liz Wiseman explained the difference between diminishers and multipliers. As a leader you can be a multiplier by using your intelligence to amplify and multiply the capability of people around you.  As a result, the people around you do their best work.


  • Create stress.
  • Rarely ask people to solve problems they don’t know how to do.
  • Delegate small decisions.
  • Are empire builders.


  • Believe people are smart and will figure it out.
  • Invite people into the space of difficulty and challenge.
  • Create owners, not hirelings.
  • Are talent managers.

Joseph Grenny explained that leadership is intentional influence. He defined the six sources of influence explaining that when we understand these sources of influence, we can change behavior and in turn change the world.

Brene Brown (who happens to be one of my favorite authors right now) talked about the two irreducable needs of men, women and children:

  • Love
  • Belonging

Things we need to consider as leaders to allow those we lead to feel loved and belong:

  • A leader models the courage to ask the questions, not have all the answers.
  • We can’t give what we don’t have (courage, belonging, grace, help).
  • The space between professing and practicing is where we lose people.
  • What kills love (shame, blame, betrayal, disrespect, withholding), kills organizations.
  • Feedback is a function of respect.  People feel unseen when we don’t give vulnerable, honest feedback.

Dr. Henry Cloud shared from his book Boundaries for Leaders:

  • Leaders don’t blame.  They take stewardship for what they’ve been given and lead people.  They take ownership of it.
  • Leaders do hard things.
  • Leaders must be ridiculously in charge of yourself first.

There was a such a strong and consistent thread in this year’s summit about the health of our teams and our responsibility as leaders to create a healthy culture.  I would encourage you to check out some of the resources from these speakers and order the DVDs from the Summit to share with your team. (Click here to find all the resources from the Summit.)  Our responsibility to lead others well is a heavy weight that we must recognize for the value it carries.  I encourage you to seize the opportunity to learn and grow!

Mastering the Skill of Influence – Joseph Grenny




Co-Founder, VitalSmarts; Best-selling Business Author


  • Business strategy expert who has developed a proven method for driving sustainable and measurable change in human behavior
  • Founded corporate training company, VitalSmarts—one of the fastest growing companies in America that has taught 300 of the Fortune 500 Companies
  • Utilizing a research-based approach to organizational effectiveness, he is author of four best-selling books including Crucial Conversations and Influencer: The Power to Change Anything


I really enjoyed Joseph’s perspective and research on the power of influence.  I had a little trouble keeping great notes, but here are a few things that I captured:

Leadership is intentional influence.

There are 6 Sources of Influence:

Personal motivation – the influence  of the pain or pleasure of the behavior

Social motivation – the influence of other people – through modeling, praise, helping and enabling.

Structural motivation – the influence of costs, incentives, and accountability.

Personal ability – the influence of skill

Social ability – the influence of other people – through modeling, praise, helping and enabling.

Structural ability – the influence of space, data, cues, tools, processes and other environmental factors.


Don’t just teach principles.  Connect to values.

Help people frame specific daily decisions in Godly ways.

We are so naïve sometimes to the things that shape our choices.

The 6 sources of influence either work for you or against you.


You want to change the world?  Learn how to change behavior.

Diminisher or Multiplier? – Liz Wiseman



President, The Wiseman Group
Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Leadership and Strategy Consultant

Session 3: The Multiplier Effect

  • Former executive at Oracle Corporation, a Fortune 100 company, she held positions as Vice President of Oracle University and as the global leader for Human Resource Development for 17 years
  • President of the Wiseman Group, a Silicon Valley leadership development firm
  • Contributor to Harvard Business Review and author of the best-selling leadership strategy book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
  • Liz coined the term “Multipliers” to describe leaders who amplify the intelligence of others utilizing specific practices to deliver twice the performance for their organizations


Are you a diminisher or a multiplier?

Liz Wiseman presented the definition and the case for being a multiplying leader.  So challenging but so good!

Here are my notes:

There is more intelligence in our teams than we can see and are putting to use.

As a leader you can be a multiplier by using your intelligence to amplify and multiply the capability of people around you.  As a result, the people around you do their best work.


  • Create stress.
  • Rarely ask people to solve problems they don’t know how to do.
  • Delegate small decisions.
  • Are empire builders.
  • Tyrants
  • Know-it-alls
  • Decision Makers
  • Micro-managers


  • Believe people are smart and will figure it out.
  • Invite people into the space of difficulty and challenge.
  • Create owners, not hirelings.
  • Are talent managers
  • Liberators
  • Challengers
  • Debate Makers
  • Investors

Some of us are accidental diminishers – have a diminishing effect in spite of good intentions

Types of accidental diminishers:

  • The idea guy
  • Always-on
  • Rescuer
  • Pacesetter
  • Rapid Responder
  • Optimist

Liz’s book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, is on the top of my reading list.  This conversation is important to our health and influence as leaders.  I encourage you to read it too!

The Courage That Leadership Requires – Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels


Founder and Senior Pastor,
Willow Creek Community Church

  • Founded The Global Leadership Summit, now in 530+ cities and 90 countries
  • Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, a pioneer in contemporary church strategy and one of America’s largest churches with more than 24,000 weekly attendees
  • Committed to developing and mentoring leaders worldwide, including those in some of the most difficult, overlooked and under-resourced countries
  • Best-selling author of more than 20 books including Courageous Leadership and Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs


Once again Bill didn’t disappoint in opening the Summit.  His message of courage was an inspiring and challenging reminder of the responsibility of leadership.  I appreciate his honesty in expressing the difficulties that he has faced as a leader.

Here are my notes from the session:

Leadership requires a non-stop flow of fortitude

Courage “a cause for which I am fully prepared to die” – Nelson Mandela

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid.  For I am with you and will never forsake you.”

1) Courage to embrace the vision.

Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.

God made you a leader to move people from here to there.

Every significant vision God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.

When fear grips us, we abort the vision secretly.

We lack bravery.

It’s why God made us leaders – to step out in faith and to move something or someone from here to there.

Don’t die a coward.

Visions are holy commodities.  Treat them with the utmost respect.

2) Courage to define current reality.

All leaders are always leading.  Every organization is going one of three directions: down, plateauing or up.

Down – Respond to the fire; code red emergency

Plateau – Start a fire

Up – Pour fuel on the fire

Your whole team knows what reality your organization is in.  They are waiting for you to work up the courage to face it yourself and step up to lead them out of it.

3) Courage to build a fantastic culture.

Best Christian Workplace – tool for assessing staff culture (http://www.bcwinstitute.com/)

People join organizations.  They leave managers.

Be as concerned about building staff culture as you are about building the church.

Staff cultures will only ever be as healthy as the CEO or Senior Pastor wants them to be.

Enormous courage is required to make significant gains in your culture’s health beginning with brave apologies for what contributed to low morale.

We are no longer gonna pay people to bruise and bust our culture.

A flourishing staff is so much more effective than a toxic staff.

4) Courage to establish and reinforce values.

Move from casting vision to establishing an enviable value.

There comes a time when a leader has to throw down the gauntlet and declare that an enviable value is established and the whole organization must embrace it.

Leading over the long haul and finishing strong require enormous courage.