The Made Well series were life-changing for many people at our church. (If you missed any of the messages, you can watch them right here.) Interestingly, while we learned a lot about healing, we in turn learned a lot about prayer.
Not receiving healing can be discouraging. It can challenge our faith when we ask God to show up, and it appears as though He hasn’t.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us how to pray:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
-Matthew 7:7-10 (NLT)
For many of us, this is exactly when we give up on praying. We throw in the towel with disappointment and frustration when God leaves us with seemingly no answer. Some of us have prayed for God to show up for years, and we find ourselves wondering what He’s up to. It can be so much easier to accept current circumstances as the way it has to be, rather than trust God to provide, especially when you’ve asked God in the past.
But this is precisely when persistence matters most. The place where you have reached the end of what you think God can accomplish, the edge of where you believe God can provide, is the EXACT moment Jesus tells us to keep on asking, to keep on seeking and to keep on knocking. It is the desire of our Heavenly Father to give good gifts to His children, and His promise will come to pass.
“For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
When we persist in our prayers to God, we expand our ability to trust Him. God’s promise to us is that He will never short-change us, never let us down, and never leave us empty-handed. Even if you have all the faith in the world, there are still moments when we ask, “Will God keep His promise?”
When you face that question of whether or not God will prove Himself faithful, just remember, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
I am praying that 2017 will be a year of great miracles. God has promised us that He will enable us to perform many amazing works, even greater than Jesus performed while here on earth. John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
Anticipating, as we pray, to be used in healing and revival facilitates the power of God to work through us. Anticipation and expectation is essential in allowing God to use us. Praying for miracles is not a question of whether or not it is His will or not, but a question of how and when He will use us and answer these prayers. This is faith: Hebrews 11:1,”Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith urges us to prepare for a move of God. Preparation to meet God’s movement and facilitate His calling on our lives recognizes God is at work in the background to facilitate the mechanism of the answers to our prayers. Galatians 3:22, “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
Preparing for God to move in our lives, families, teams and church requires focused prayers and reliance on God’s promises. God wants to give us the gift of faith to believe for big things to happen. Miracles happen when we join in His plan by praying His word over situations, dreams and visions. 1 Corinthians 12:9, “The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.”
Here are some great ways to prepare for a move of God:
- Explore, examine and then disengage from the past. Self-examination can position you to see where you need to grow in your faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
- Raise your faith level. Faith is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the more it strengthens. Be in the word and speaking it out to increase your faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. James 1:22-24(NKJV) offers a second way to increase your faith: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
- Position yourself to be near God. Jesus can touch you and your needs when you in proximity to Him. (Luke 13)
- Expect the miracles. Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
- Be willing to step out in the unknown. Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Join me in prayer and expectation for an amazing year of miracles with God.
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man is attacked by bandits and left for dead when two religious leaders happen to come along. The religious leaders see the man, but they pass right by him. Maybe they had pressing matters to attend to, or maybe they felt overwhelmed by the prospect of helping. Whatever their circumstances, they did not lend a helping hand. Instead, it was a despised (by the culture of the day) Samaritan who was moved with compassion and helped the man in need.
What can we learn from the Samaritan?
First, the Samaritan STOPPED…
We have no way of knowing what the Samaritan was thinking on this particular day, but his example shows that he stopped. The busyness of life often puts blinders on us so that all we see is what is directly in front of us. The Samaritan reminds us we must be intentional about giving moments to God every day and paying attention to what and who has been placed around you. Are you willing to stop when you see a need?
Second, he LOOKED…
The Samaritan saw the man beaten and injured. What he saw caused him to show kindness and meet the need. There are people with needs all around us. Some of what is seen around us can be intimidating and even heart-wrenching. Are you willing to look at the needs around you?
Finally, he LISTENED…
The story of the Samaritan begins with a man trying to test Jesus about what it means to live for God. Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” We don’t know for sure, but maybe this Samaritan knew this part of God’s law. Certainly, the religious leaders knew of it, but hearing and listening are two different things. In this story only one person demonstrated he had listened, the Samaritan. He was a neighbor by putting God’s love into practice.
In the same way, Local Service requires us to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to those whom we encounter on a regular basis. It is more than a one-time event; it must be part of our regular lives, especially for believers. Giving a meal to a person will not get them off of the streets. Cleaning a park will definitely have to be done again, but it is in showing kindness that the light of believers shines before men and allows them to glorify God.
Isaiah 58:7 reminds us that God is interested in seeing “us sharing our food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into our homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to our own families.” Being involved in local service in the community and neighborhood around you gives us an opportunity to be kind. An act of simple kindness cannot be underestimated. Scripture tells us that it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Is His kindness being displayed in you? It can by taking a moment to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.
Ever feel trapped in life? Trapped like you know that you have to change something in order for your life to become healthy and progress, but you never really end up changing the outcome. Trapped like your life is becoming stale, boring, and irrelevant. Why is this? Why is it whenever we feel the Holy Spirit begin to move us to change that it never seems to work out? We ask ourselves, Did I miss God, or worse, does God even want to use me anymore? Now before you type up that resignation, quit your job, and move to Seattle to become a barista, let’s pump the brakes a little and bring some clarity to this issue. When God starts to bring change to your heart He’s not asking you to recreate your life, He’s asking you to redefine it. Did you catch that?
DON’T RECREATE YOUR LIFE; REDEFINE YOUR LIFE.
For this to happen, there are three perspectives that I believe are absolutely vital as we lead ourselves into a place where we see our lives become healthy.
1. Recall the Truth
There have been more times than I can count where I wanted to quit because it was hard, even rationalizing that God was moving me on from what He has called me to and that I wasn’t God’s man for my context anymore. Know that if you believe that, you believe a lie. One of the most self-sabotaging things we can do is believe the lie fed to us by the Enemy that we are washed up and irrelevant. When we believe this, we take on a spirit of fear, and that spirit was never a part of God’s original design for our lives. It is here that we must refuse fear and doubt in favor of perfect love. Your calling is still sure, your gifts are empowered, and out of all the people God could have called to your context, He called you. Once you grasp this, it will change your process and infuse it with power and purpose.
2. Remember the Vision
When we come to an impasse in our lives we often throw away the vision and start over. Whether we stop growing, become mundane, or lose momentum, we automatically assume that the original plan for our lives isn’t relevant. But before we allow that kind of thinking to take root, let’s not forget that the vision for our lives came from God. It’s just as good today as it was the first day you received it. Throwing away the vision for your life in favor of something else is like throwing away the Ark of the Covenant in favor of the golden calf. Don’t let the Enemy rob you of the very thing that first ignited the fires of passion in your heart. It doesn’t take you recreating your personal vision, just redefining how it works.
3. Redefine the Process
If you have the first two perspectives nailed down, this one will be easy. The most important thing in redefining the process is to ask yourself, Does my life behave in a way that reflects the vision God gave me? If it doesn’t, don’t change the vision. Instead, redefine the systems you have in place so that they reflect the vision. As a result, the correct behavior will naturally follow suit. The key is to never stop tweaking your systems until they create the behavior in you that honors the vision.
Hear me when I say that you have come too far and have invested too much to throw in the towel at this stage. Your calling is still necessary, and what God has given you is needed in your context. Never forget that you are God’s “Plan A” for the world He has placed you in, there is no “Plan B,” and He is absolutely cool with that. As you take those necessary steps in redefining your life and bringing health to it as a result, know that you do so with all of Heaven at your back and God’s purpose at your front and that you have it in you to bring health to the spiritual life of those around you.
Roughly 80% of all college students change their major at least once during their time in school. I was one of them. About two years into a major in Youth Development, I decided it was time for a change. While I found the subject easy to learn about, and even felt like I could make it work in the long run, I just couldn’t see myself feeling happy and fulfilled working in that career for the rest of my life. All the pieces just weren’t lining up for me.
If you’re like me, you know that your life is not an accident. You believe that God has something for you to do with your time here on earth. Knowing and believing this is only half the battle. We still have to wrestle with the question of what.
What on earth has God put me here to do?
Discovering exactly what that “something” is most often easier said than done. It’s a search that most of us spend years, decades, our lifetime trying to figure out. It is really tempting to try and can the answer to that question. We love to find ways to ascribe simple answers to complex, changing, even frustrating, questions like this, don’t we?
In the midst of our searching and waiting, we run the risk of becoming inactive. We get so lost in our own search for our own purpose that we lose sight of the real purpose.
If you know exactly what you need to do for the rest of your life, great! If you don’t know where to even begin looking, that’s okay too. No matter where you find yourself on this journey, there is one thing you can ALWAYS do:
This is seen more than anywhere in Jesus’ life. If anyone had a right to dismiss the simple and mundane, it was Jesus (He WAS God, after all)! Yet time and time again, we see Him serving people, sometimes in the simplest of ways:
He encouraged those who doubted.
He brought hope to those who had given up.
He showed grace to those who failed over and over again.
He shared a meal with those who were hated by others.
It seems like Jesus was always out to give people what they needed.
God is in the business of doing much with little. Our seemingly insignificant acts can have profound impact on the lives of others. A small act done in great love can resonate deeply in the hearts of those you impact. Never discredit the smallest of acts of kindness, they can go a long way!
To put it simply, God has put us here to work with Him, reconciling all of Creation back to Him.
This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”
-Matthew 10:40 (MSG)
There’s no denying it anymore— summer is gone; fall is quickly passing, and we are headed for yet another fabled Minnesota winter. Snow piling up like mountains, temperatures plummeting into Antarctic territory, and highway ditches filling up with cars like a Black Friday parking lot: all signs that we are in Minnesota’s most arduous and trying season.
Getting stuck in the snow can be a very frustrating experience. It can feel helpless too. I would know— since I’ve been driving, I’ve found my vehicle and I lodged in some snowbank approximately 1,176 times.
It’s true in our lives too. From time to time, we all get stuck. We get stopped from getting to where we are going next.
So take a moment to stop and breathe. We all plateau. We all get stuck at some point. But just because it feels like you’re in a rut, it’s no excuse to stop trying— in fact, now more than ever is when you need to dig in your heels the most!
There’s 3 really important ingredients you need to get up and going again.
Ingredient #1: A Little Time.
Getting stuck is the result of trying again and again to progress from where you are— to no avail. That’s the thing about getting “stuck”— it doesn’t really happen overnight.
Getting unstuck doesn’t often happen overnight either. Depending on your situation, you’re probably working against a lot of habits, patterns of thought, and worldview.
Give yourself some time in this process. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re not making progress or even if it feels like you’re going backwards a bit. Sometimes the slow, worthwhile progress doesn’t get noticed. This is why the next ingredient is so important.
Ingredient #2: A Lot of Good People.
When I remember my own “transition” seasons in my life, there were a few friends that were invaluable in pulling me forward.
It’s often our own minds and inner-dialogue that get us stuck in the first place. A good friend(s) is essential to helping you see and think beyond your current situation. You need people who can wield the double-edged responsibility of calling you out, while also helping you extend some grace to yourself. You need people who can encourage you when you need it, and sit and listen when you need that.
Ingredient #3: A Gracious God.
Getting stuck happens when we get tired of trying to improve or progress on our own accord. After all, it’s our nature to try and fix ourselves— to clean up our own mess— to get ourselves unstuck.
Bad News: We’re not very good at getting ourselves unstuck. At best, we can create the appearance of it. Most often, we fall short again and again in our efforts.
But that’s all ok.
Here’s the Good News: We serve a God who’s more than willing to extend a hand and guide us along. We have the Holy Spirit, who not only guides us in the right direction but also gives us the power to change— to really change.
The first two ingredients are more flavor adds. The last one is the real pivot-point.
So it comes down to this— If you really want to get unstuck, invite God into the situation. He’s in the business of setting things right, setting us right. God’s story— the Bible— is filled with stories of God entering into our “stuck-ness” again and again, and He’s yet to let any of us down.
The ability to develop and improve your skills is what distinguishes leaders from followers. Each day the goal is to get a little bit better and little bits wiser. Just as a person cannot graduate from college in a day, it takes years of effort; you cannot become a great leader without putting in effort and time. In this school of Christ-following life, you are learning, stretching, and growing as a leader, and as a follower.
In Luke 6:40 Jesus said, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” As a leader you are taking people to places they have yet to be. You are forging a trail by building the people and teams who follow you. The ability to call people to a higher level of service and calling are within your reach when you seek God in how to change the trajectory of your team or family’s abilities and effectiveness.
Below are 3 simple ways to bring your team or family to the next level through planning. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps, Proverbs 16:9. By using vision and strategies you receive from God through prayer, you can accomplish your goals and, in turn, build your team.
Develop a vision for what your team can look like.
Perhaps your team is strong and healthy and you feel comfortable with the current team morale, size and effectiveness. That is great! Unfortunately teams never stay static, they either get better through hard work or they get worse through lack of leadership momentum. Part of leading is taking your team to places you haven’t been before. Take some time to do some dreaming. What could your team look like and accomplish if you had no time or resource boundaries? Now that you have a “pie in the sky dream” ask God to show you how you accomplish this with what you have right now with His help.
Identify, by asking God to show you, 3 things you can do to allow your vision to become reality.
Your dream can have wings when you break it down into manageable goals. Do you dream of having incredible team unity? One way to foster this is have purposeful connection times. Do you dream of having someone who can lead with you to pick up some slack and give you some needed breathers? Look for someone to train to lead alongside you.
Set benchmarks of both time and effectiveness to measure your plan’s success.
The 3 identified goals are useless unless you do something about them. Habakkuk 2:2 Then the LORD answered me and said, "Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. The best way to ensure your goals are accomplished is through prayer and accountability. Tell someone about your goals and how you plan to accomplish them. Set an expected date on your calendar to have accomplished the goal in order to keep yourself accountable. Make sure the goals are reasonable and you are able to accomplish them with a little extra prayer and effort.
Once those 3 objectives are met, don’t stop there. Go back to the dreaming phase and ask God to give you more new thoughts and ideas for you and your team.
Romans 12:8 if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness
I love my friends—a lot. They mean the world to me. I also live in the tension of wanting my community to get along. I am the kind of person that wants everybody to get along. I have the kind of faith that doesn’t want to exclude people. It bothers me when someone hurts another person. It frustrates me when someone doesn’t like a church, group or another person—or me.
When we watch our friends move in a direction that isn't healthy, we are faced with the decision to either let them "keep going" or have the hard conversations. And when we do, the response can be something along these lines:
"Who are you to judge me?”
A caring decision from a loving friend to have the conversation about this past weekend's behavior now becomes an episode of Judge Judy.
When we take a sincere moment, step out (nervously), and bring the truth in love— we fear the response, "Don't judge me."
Reality is, this isn’t judging— this is caring.
I've had to have these conversations before and when I do, it's tough. When I have had these tough conversations with my friends or those I lead, my heart is to never to offend them or hurt them—that’s the last thing on my mind!
But I do want to talk to them and help them. Because I love them and want the best for them. That friend in trouble must have forgotten how hard it was to get the courage and the strength to have the conversation and when I do— their response is to accuse me of being judge and juror.
I'm here to say to those of you who have said to your true friends to "stop judging me,” you were wrong. They weren't showing you judgement but showing you graciousness.
What is graciousness?
Graciousness is having a forgiving attitude and a compassionate posture while walking in wisdom with those whose belief’s, attitudes, and opinions differ from yours.
But of course, the Bible says it best:
“Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” - Colossians 4:5-6 NLT
Your friends were not being judgmental towards you, but they were being gracious towards you.
So how do you walk in graciousness?
Have a forgiving attitude.
A forgiving attitude means forgiving and looking past the behaviors, issues, and actions that are warranting the conversation you're having. Gracious friends see what God sees— a future marked by healing, wholeness, and thriving.
Have a compassionate posture.
A gracious person postures themselves with a humble yet confident voice to share the truth of Scripture. A compassionate posture reflects sympathy for your misunderstood thoughts. They know, as a loving follower of Jesus and as a true friend— the words of Christ will always move you towards freedom more than a good-intentioned opinion ever will.
Walk in wisdom.
A judgmental person walks around as an expert, while a gracious person desires to give you wisdom. Graciousness has the eyes to see beyond the crowds opinion and the wisdom to move you forward into your designed future that God has prepared for you. It's knowledge of what is true and right with insight and sound judgement.
I've been recently talking about this with my friend Lindsay Willis, leadership developer and entrepreneur, and she said this recently:
“As this next generation of young Christian leadership, we get the love of God right and we get the story right, but we don’t know how to speak truth.” — Lindsay Willis
That's what I hope graciousness does— to help you speak truth. Let’s help those we lead move their thinking from "stop judging me" mentality and instead to the "thanks for loving me” mentality. As you do, watch your future and friendships be stronger than ever before.
We've all been there.
We've all stood on a mountaintop in our lives at one time or another; whether it was after winning your 7th grade basketball championships, to buying your first home, to landing that job position you've been working so hard to get. It feels great! Nothing on earth can compare to the feeling that you get as you look out from the collective top-side of your talents, abilities, and passions. It's the feeling of success, accomplishment, self-worth, and satisfaction all rolled into one moment of epic victory. In my life, I find that it's usually in moments like these when two thoughts enter my mind simultaneously:
"This feels amazing!" and "I'm kind of freaking out because I have no idea where to go from here!"
Yup, nothing like feeling both adequate and inadequate all in the same moment. Awesome.
If you're like me, you immediately start praying to God for direction, for a greater capacity to do more, and for your next steps as you begin the hustle towards your next mountaintop again. Now I understand that there has been some "shade thrown" ("negative sentiment" for all you non-millennials) at the thought of "hustling" for your calling. How no amount of effort can ever make us good enough to earn God's favor blah, blah, blah. And while those sentiments are right in a cosmic sense, it doesn't merit laziness or working less either. Scripture has just as much to say about laziness and work as much as it does about God's unmerited favor. So, in my mountaintop moments, I find myself going back to the "Parable of the Talents" that Jesus spoke on in Matthew 25.14-30 and every time I do I gain new perspective concerning how God balances faithfulness and hustle.
Faithfulness and obedience got you here and nothing less will get you to the next place.
While you may have the talents and the skills to pay the bills, know that no amount of talent can ever trump obedience in your life. When you're obedient to Christ you sacrifice for the call, and when you sacrifice for the call you empty yourself and make room for the Spirit's enablement to fill you. It's in the mountaintop moments of your life where you'll tell yourself that you have to change up how you're hustling to get to the next level. You will look at yourself instead of looking at your Master and will inevitably realize that you don't have what it takes to get there. The good news? God knows, and your continued and increased faithfulness and obedience will ensure that you make room for what God has to give.
God rewards your faithfulness with responsibility.
Notice in the parable that the reward of the faithful servants weren't an all-expense paid vacation to a resort on the Red Sea or lifetime supply of spa days at the Dead Sea. Nope. Their reward was responsibility. Notice how Luke 19.11-27 says that as they were faithful with money God rewarded them with running CITIES! Now while it would feel pretty amazing to be the boss of 5-10 cities, that also comes with a greater need for stewardship, strategic thinking, and tons of humility. The stakes are higher and you are simply trusted by God at a higher level. Suddenly, the top has a lot more pressure to perform. Word of advice? Don't allow success to scare you from moving into God's best. Keep in mind that if God takes you there, He'll sustain you there, and your proper response is eager anticipation to be trusted and celebration that God thinks enough of you to trust you with greater responsibility. This is your mountaintop legacy: faithfulness, stewardship, humility.
Double is ALWAYS within your personal capacity.
I love this. I love how in Matthew 25, faithfulness leads to a return of double. The servant who was faithful with 5 talents earned 5 back, and was suddenly responsible for 10 talents. God doubled his responsibility and as a result increased his capacity. How do I know? Because God will never set you up to fail if you trust Him and show it through your obedience. Know that as you stand right now, you are capable of double, and even though you feel like you can't take on more your ability to steward what you have will increase your capacity to make it happen. How does this happen? When you steward yourself well you find excess time and energy and you repurpose it for the Kingdom's advancement. Yes you may sacrifice hobbies, your daily 1.5 hour coffee break, and 2 hour social media scroll session, but when you repurpose that time, it shows God your ability to steward and gives you a greater perspective concerning what you're capable of doing.
So enjoy that mountaintop, breathe in the fresh air that few people get to breathe at that level, and then look up at the next imposing mountain that stands in front of you and take heart, because that mountain exists for the sole purpose of being conquered by you.
It’s the start of a new season here in Minnesota. The leaves are changing. The Vikings are back (and playing great!). And the annual barrage of neighborhood garage sales is in full swing, because I’m sure it feels good to get rid of some of the things we no longer need or use.
On the flip side, we all know some people who have a very difficult time letting go of some things. We call them hoarders.
I’m going to guess most of us aren’t hoarders when it comes to possessions; but, many of us might be hoarders when it comes to our commitments
Busyness is worn like a badge of honor these days. The requests for your time and energy seem to be never-ending. It’s so easy to accumulate commitments and say “yes” to every thing. Before long, we become paralyzed by our own schedules, locked into tasks and commitments that probably are not as important as we make them to be.
Bob Goff, author, speaker, and all-around inspirational guy, has a very interesting take on saying “No” to things that aren’t as vital.
Every Thursday, he quits something.
Sometimes, that may be something small like ending his job on time so he can be home with his family. Sometimes, it’s big, like quitting his job entirely.
Whatever it may be, It can be difficult to identify what parts of your schedule need to go because everything probably looks really important in the moment. So here’s a few ways to determine what commitments you might need to let go:
- Some commitments don’t follow the rest of the path for your life. Sometimes we make commitments because they’re fun or interesting. Maybe we make commitments in a lapse of judgement. We all find ourselves locked into things that don’t match up with the direction we are headed. Commitments like this can potentially hinder you from your greater purpose in life.
- Some commitments have simply run their course. For a long time, I offered guitar lessons after I graduated college. I needed the extra cash, and it was pretty enjoyable for me. Fast forward six months, and I was working a full-time job and had accumulated many more parts of my weekly schedule. Lessons weren’t really making me that much, and it was a huge time commitment. Sometimes things we commit to are good for a season, but we need to move when new things come into play.
- Some commitments are ready to go to someone else. A mark of great leadership is passing on tasks or responsibilities to someone else. As we move forward as a leader, we run the risk of becoming bogged down with all duties we collect. Rather than be bogged down, we can empower others to do the work.
All things being said, let me be clear–don't quit just because something is hard. Quit things so that you can give your time, your energy, and your resources to what really matters.
What commitment do you need to release today? What’s in your life that doesn’t need to be? If you’re feeling overwhelmed and held down by your commitments, maybe it’s time to let a few things go with a garage sale of your own.
As a leader you have the ability to help those on your team stretch and expand their gifts and serve the Lord with excellence. That is why it is so important to invest in people well. Here are five important focuses to invest in your team members
1. The number one way we lead people well is by showing we Value them. When we value the people who are serving more than their act of service, we desire to see them developed into healthy followers of Christ above the completion of the task.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. -Philippians 2:3
2. When we value those who serve alongside us, we ensure they Encounter Grace. We know that people will make mistakes, so we choose to believe the best and utilize the mistakes as an opportunity to have teachable moments with the people who are serving.
Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:24
3. Intentionally Equipping those who serve on your team by considering the individual team member’s gifts, skills, and needs. Look to connect that individual with the needed skills and opportunities that will best fit their desire to serve.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. -I Corinthians 12:12
4. Encouraging People by ensuring you understand and support them to serve at a sustainable, healthy pace. This care for them will go a long way to creating a healthy team. When you are proactively caring for people who are serving: assessing their fit, fulfillment, and fruitfulness, you are focused on long term health, not short term fixes.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. -Acts 20:28
5. Endeavor to Entrust to People the opportunity to serve and lead. When you delegate, but do not abdicate responsibility, you embrace the risk and accept the responsibility of delegation. By promoting a culture of expansive leadership where leaders are trained, empowered, and released to lead at every level, you are building influence and breadth among the people who serve.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. -2 Timothy 2:2
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”
-2 Corinthians 12:7-8
I think that for most people, external adversity is easier to face than internal struggles. That’s not to say worldly challenges are fun, but they seem more conquerable. You can see the other side of them or you just shut them out, and keep doing your thing.
But when we get a thorn in the flesh, when that problem sneaks a little too far inside our personal bubble, that’s when the struggle becomes all too real.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that when Satan was tempting Job, he started with the material before continually working his way into the personal.
It seems Paul found himself in a similar situation. Of course, Paul never had much in the way of the material.
But hardship is to Paul’s life what dairy is to cheese: a core ingredient.
This man was chased out of town, thrown into prisons, bad-mouthed, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and more. Yet all things considered, he kept a pretty upbeat attitude about it all. He didn’t complain or lament. He asked others for prayer, sure, but mostly, he just kept moving forward.
Then we have this chapter where he points out this thorn in his flesh, and it stands in stark contrast to his previous problems. Three times he pleaded that God would take it away. Yet, it remained.
We don’t know what it actually was, but many believe it was physical sickness. One that clearly must have lingered longer than any of the beatings he took. Either way, it had a heavy effect on him.
It’s hard to follow God’s plan when you don’t feel right.
When you’re sick, you usually don’t do anything. So you sleep it off, and a day or two later, you’re back to normal, and that’s when you resume life. But a lingering sickness doesn’t get better. It stays under the skin like a sliver you can’t pull out.
And like a sliver, it doesn’t have to be that severe. It just has to be ever present. I know this because it’s something I’ve experienced for the last three years.
I was blessed with good health growing up, I only ever went to the doctor for physicals and two minor ear infections.
In my worst times in life, I always said to myself “well, at least I have my health.”
It gave me strength. The obstacles before me would pass, and my healthy body would see me through.
Then everything changed.
One morning, I woke up not feeling quite right. I shrugged it off, thinking it was something I ate. But it didn’t go away. Three years later, it still hasn’t. I’ve been to doctors, had some rather invasive examinations, taken a GNC’s worth of supplements, changed my diet, prayed for it, been prayed for, and yet, here we are.
I won’t go into detail of what’s wrong (partially because no one actually knows) but there is a near constant discomfort in my right side. Not quite a pain. Just a dull clenching. And no, it’s not my gallbladder.
Somedays its barely noticeable. Other days, I can feel it across the entire right side of my torso, and I’m left wanting to punch my fist through a wall.
As for other side effects, there are various symptoms, but nothing consistent enough to pinpoint the cause.
It’s something that digs at me. It frustrates me and leaves my head stuck in the past, thinking about days gone by where I didn’t have this stupid sensation. More than anything in my life, I want it gone.
I want to feel whole again, which is funny, because even with my properly functioning body, I never felt “whole”. People don’t feel complete. We struggle with a longing. The human condition. Even the secular point to this concept.
And this is the revelation that Paul arrives at. That this message from Satan is just a reminder that he is incomplete, that he needs God’s grace.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Even as a leader, you will never be perfect. Your life will never be perfect. We are made perfect through Christ, not through leadership. It’s those personal struggles that will remind you of that more than anything else.
And I think there’s power in sharing that you have these struggles. Not to complain or to vent. But to show that you’re human. That you have flaws and struggles, and that through it all, you still look to God because you need Him.
We don’t know if Paul was ever healed of his problem, but we do know he continued to trust in God.
For myself, I don’t know if I’ll ever be healed of this current predicament. I like to think so. I believe that I will be. But whatever happens, I’ll hold to the Truth. I’ll keep my eyes towards the path before me because His grace is sufficient.
Too often, parents forget that they are leaders who are raising up the next generation of leaders. At my house seven is the number of mouths we feed every night, I mean future leaders we are developing. Five of those future leaders are in school, and the more I observe the habits and behaviors of elementary aged children I realize that they are great followers.
Most people chuckle at the idea of a toddler conducting high level intricate business deals on a plastic phone, but guess where they learned that behavior? That’s right, they saw, they translated and they mimicked, all while unsuspecting parents near and far lead the way without even knowing what was happening.
Children are always following the example they witness.
A few months ago, my six year-old Ellie and I went to the grocery store. We were on a modern day hunt-and-gather expedition, in pursuit of fresh strawberries.
“Ellie keep up with me, when I take a step you take a step!” I said in a hurry, as we walked through the sliding doors.
“Okay Dad, let’s go!” she said back.
Within moments I had arrived at the strawberry display. I grabbed the best carton of berries I could find. I looked to my foraging partner to celebrate…but she was missing. My eyes passed back and forth— until I found Ellie looking for her expedition leader.
“Ellie, why didn’t you step every time I took a step?” I asked.
“I did Dad, but your legs are longer than mine!”
Typically, leaders will work harder, faster, more efficiently, and achieve more than their followers. This doesn’t mean their followers are not capable. It means they must acknowledge that their followers are growing. Their pace may be slower, and every once in a while the leader is going to have to consciously look back and see if their followers are keeping up.
As a parent I get to see growth in real time.
A few weeks ago, my eleven year old son Charlie rolled up with his fierce entourage of two-wheeled buddies. He said, “Hey Dad, can we ride our bikes to the gas station?”
My response was unwittingly profound.
“Yes, if you guys want me to trust you when you have a car, don’t mess this up!”
From day one to graduation day, I will get to see all seven of my kids continually grow in maturity— physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Charlie didn’t realize the child (follower) was actually training his father (leader), for that day when a three-thousand pound vehicle was the mode of transportation. I taught my son the all-important lesson of building trust, as he taught me to let him be a leader— right in the middle of our driveway.
My job today is to “parent” the next generation of leaders— literally. The ceiling of everything that I hope to accomplish as a leader will be the floor for the next generation of leaders. There will come a day in the not-so-distant future, when the 5th grader in my home— in your home, will be running the school, hospital, or organization in your neighborhood.
The next generation needs us to be the best leaders we can be— today!
Alan Pastian is the Woodbury Campus Pastor at River Valley Church. He's also a blogger, a podcaster, and a speaker! This post was originally published on his personal site. Check out more of his great thoughts right here.
In many ways, this is awesome. This generation is one of the most entrepreneurial in a long time.
But, as great as it is to strike out on your own, sometimes people skip the crucial step of learning from someone who has gone before them. If you don't have a mentor yet, consider finding one.
How do you find a mentor?
1. Find someone who has gone before you.
Millions of young men and women are confident, smart and talented. Most of them try to “make it” alone. They spend many years trying to figure out a craft, and then start excelling in their late 30s or 40s. But if you can attach yourself to a master (of any profession), you can speed up your mastery and accelerate the process by a decade.
2. Find mentors who believe in you.
Who you allow to speak into your life is a sacred choice. I see many young leaders damaged by submitting themselves to the next strong personality. The strong personality may be impressive and self-confident, but with no personal concern for you. Worse, they may simply flatter and use you to build their own platform.
The same way a good mentor imparts wisdom, character and craft, a bad mentor will impart their habits, reactions and particular worldviews, as well. A bad mentor can be like visiting a bad chiropractor: You leave worse than you start and your back be like, "why did you go there?".
When a mentor believes in you, it does not feel like a possessive or controlling thing. He does not insist you do this or that. She feels more like a patient, listening friend. These mentors often become great guides and friends. They are not just advice-dispensing machines, they are people who are genuinely interested in you.
3. Find a mentor that helps you discover your voice.
Many young voices are echoes, striving to sound like others. But echoes have a diminishing nature, they get weaker with each reverberation. They find their voice for reason.
Who is your mentor in your life?
If there’s one thing that we seem to loath more than anything, it’s waiting. If you’ve ever found yourself in evening rush hour traffic, or in line at the DMV, you know this to be true. Something deep within us tells us that waiting is time wasted. It tells us that when we are not making motion forward, something has gone wrong.
Truth is, we spend much of our lives waiting, whether we want it or not. We wait for all kinds of things. We wait for winter to be over, and for spring to come. We wait for that friend to come around after an argument. We wait for our situations to get better. We spend so much time waiting for one thing or another. Sometimes it can be infuriating, disappointing, and confusing.
All throughout the story of God, there are people waiting. Abraham waited for many years for God to fulfill the promise of a child. Joseph endured hardship after hardship until it was the right moment for his God-given dream to be fulfilled. The disciples waited for three grueling days for Jesus to defeat death.
Waiting can feel an awful lot like growing pains sometimes. It can be uncomfortable to let tests and challenges “do their work” in us. In the book of James, we are reminded this:
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Tests and challenges are not to be shooed away, for they are gifts! Through enduring these circumstances, moments and seasons, our faith in God is forced to show what it’s really made of. Enduring forces us to rely once again on God to provide for our every need. Patience in these times makes us rely on God to make a way to a better tomorrow. Patience always pays off. God can and will always do an amazing work in us when we wait and rely on Him.
When we are patient for God to work, are never waiting in vain. God is not one to go back in what He says would be done. Life begins to look radically different when we remember this:
God always keeps his promises.
Everyone is in a different spot along their faith journey. Patience and waiting will look differently for every person. No matter where you are, just remember this: It’s never hurt anyone to trust God for something. When we patiently wait for God, He will bring us good in one way or another.
Having a consistent, daily Bible study is the highest priority for a victorious walk with Christ. God’s Word is life, and it helps us to change the way we think about God, our world, and our circumstances by aligning with the truth. Knowing the word of God is essential to our faith, as well. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”, Romans 10:17.
Although we want to study our Bibles daily, it is often a struggle to make it a priority in our life. Just like exercise, we know it is good for us, but we lack the will power or drive to do it every day. Any time a person desires to establish a new routine or daily habit, it takes a lot of intentional planning and strategy.
If you desire to make daily Bible study a new or renewed habit in your life, there are many ways to start.
The most effective way to establish this habit is to figure out what will trigger you to keep that daily Bible study appointment:
- If you are visual, perhaps a post it note on your mirror, a calendar reminder in your phone, or just having your Bible out on top of the coffee maker every morning.
- If you are kinetic, determine a new routine for your bible study time. I find that coffee is the perfect accompaniment to bible study, so taking your coffee drinking time and repurposing it with planned bible study can be a great way to start.
- If you are a planner, allowing for more time in your day by waking 15 minutes earlier than normal will also help to establish a routine that is manageable in your morning schedule.
The greatest way to establish a new bible study habit is to realize what types of benefits or rewards you realize from this new discipline in your life. Some of the most recognized and significant rewards of regular bible study are:
- Defeating the flesh (And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17)
- Growing in your walk (Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you grow in respect to salvation. 1 Peter 2:2)
- Wisdom (Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105)
According to a study by Philippa Lally (a health psychology researcher at University College London), it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. It could take anywhere from 2 months to eight months to establish a new habit in your life. The challenge is to discover how
So, let’s say you do get a new rhythm and routine down for daily Bible study, what then? Effective Bible study is something that not only requires your time and commitment, but also requires the know-how. I also like a very cool journal to help me track my progress and write down the amazing things God shows me daily in His Word.
The goal of Bible study is to hear from God. This means prayer. Prayer is a two way street where you both ask of God and listen to God. Ask God to give you wisdom, and He will give it to you liberally (James 1:5). We know we have this promise, and we can count on it; “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” -James 4:8
A few weeks ago, we experienced something new at River Valley Church. We had the privilege to host the Global Leadership Summit at our Apple Valley Campus. Over 500 business and ministry leaders from all over the south metro came to be inspired by world-class leadership teaching.
Though this isn’t my first Global Leadership Summit, this is the first year my Summit started with an early morning prep to meet with our amazing River Valley Lifeteam volunteers who would welcome and host the hundreds of guests about to walk through our doors.
Something significant occurred to me: What would happen - what could happen - if these business leaders were so impacted by experiencing our team’s hospitality that it changed the way they ran their companies? What kind of impact could we make? How far-reaching can hospitality like that be?
What would happen - what could happen - if these business leaders were so impacted by experiencing our team’s hospitality that it changed the way they ran their companies? What kind of impact could we make? How far-reaching can hospitality like that be?
During the Summit, Horst Schulze, former CEO of Ritz-Carlton, spoke about customer service as a way to develop customer loyalty. Even the Disney Institute created a phrase called Guestology for market research on how to discover and serve customers…
but it was Jesus who first said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
Why would we as the Church not lead the way in hospitality? Wasn’t it something the very Person we model our lives after commanded of us and lived out himself?
The difference is in the mindset: “coming to church” as opposed to “being the church.”
Some people come to church. They enjoy the environment, the music, the friends, even the teaching. And while they will even claim it as “their church,” it’s just a stop in their weekly routine— like the gym or the grocery store.
Then on the other side of that coin are those who have decided to “be the church.” For these people, church isn’t just something to meet their own needs. It’s something bigger than just themselves; something to be a part of, to meet the needs of others. Those of us who have committed to this lifestyle also realize that by serving others, so many of our own needs are met.
Places like Disney and Ritz-Carlton want you to have the best possible experience at their establishmentsso you will come back! They want you come back and to tell your friends so they will come back— and bring their kids! Because you have a great experience, customer loyalty has been developed. Anytime you are ready to spend money for vacation, they are the first places on your mind. That’s not wrong, that’s good business!
Now, how much more focused should we be as the Church? It’s not someone’s vacation dollars we care about but their entire eternity! We cannot let people walk through the doors of our churches and get all the way to their seats and just passively hope that the music or the message gets to them. We get to step up and BE THE CHURCH from the moment they step foot in the church building!
It’s one thing to hear the gospel message and to sing about freedom. Even more powerful is the experience of a living example and relationship with other believers. We are part of the message!
Christ came to serve, not to be served. So let’s show the world what true servanthood and hospitality is really like! When people walk out of church changed, they’ll change their world!
The beginning of our universe was dark and formless. There was no time or space or color. Just the cold, infinite black.
Then, according to the Biblical account, God said “Let there be light”, and there was light and life and warmth.
He spoke creation into existence.
Whether you believe there’s a god or not, I hope you’re able to see how interesting this story is. God could have simply thought the world into motion. He could have waived his hand like a Jedi wielding the force and sent it spinning.
Instead, He spoke, and there was light. As if it had to be said before it could be realized.
And that’s kind of how it is in our own lives.
We have ideas and plans in our head, and kept there, they mean nothing. They have no shape or form. They are not known. They carry no weight.
It’s not until they’re spoken, once we put them out there for the world to hear, that they become real. Then, they have power and presence.
I think we forget that.
We undervalue the potential of the thoughts we have, and so, we keep them in the shapeless void of our minds.
A few years back, I was talking to a friend when I made an off-handed compliment. They pause, showing surprise.
“What?” I asked.
“That’s the first time you’ve ever complimented me,” they said.
I laughed nervously. “That’s not true.”
“No,” they said, “it is.”
I thought about it, all of our past interactions, and I realize they were telling the truth. I had known this person for years. I cared for them. Respected them. They were honestly one of my favorite people.
And I had never told them one encouraging thing.
It’s never been easier for us as a society to express ourselves, to give life to the thoughts and reactions inside of our heads. Yet, we seem worse than ever at telling each other how we feel.
This is going to sound melodramatic, but….
Your words could be the light that brings life to someone’s world.
You witness someone do something great, and you assume that they know how special they are, how much they mean to you and other people. You keep your thoughts to yourself. The greatest words never said.
There’s good news.
This is a problem you can solve. Just say the words. Speak the truth into those around you, whether it’s in person or through a text or a snapchat or whatever. We think our responses have to be big and fancy and planned out, scripted perfectly like the closing moments of a dramatic movie.
Positive truth doesn’t need to be glamorized. It just needs to be said.
Let’s be real, there’s only so much that one person can do. The problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day. There comes a point where you hit your capacity. You aren't able to do all the things you want to do, because you're doing them all! You can either accept these limitations, or you can expand beyond your own capacity by choosing to lead through others.
There are only so many hours in the day, so make sure your time is being utilized in things only you can do. In the book Think Differently Lead Differently, author Bob Hamp talks about using your time doing the things that only YOU can do. Why input data, when you should be following up on some important leads? There are always small things that need taking care of every day. Don't let the small things become so cumbersome that you aren’t able to be an effective you.
Being a leader means there are things that only you can do. Yet all too often, leaders are too busy doing things that someone else on the team could (and often should) be doing! If you want to rise up to the next level of leadership, delegating responsibility is crucial. I believe it’s a choice to not lead through others. It only takes a change in mindset to become an executive, manager, or pastor who leads through others.
I believe it’s a choice to not lead through others.
We often choose not to lead through others because we fear we aren’t busy enough. If we are constantly busy, we are needed to keep our job because there’s work to be done and you are the one doing it. This can lead to a void of margin, and imbalance in our work/life relationship. Not having any margin isn't a healthy way to live your life.
In order to fill your time with the things only you can do, you must embrace the art of delegation. You need to give work away and empower your team. Empowering others is also the perfect way to make a team if you don't have one yet!
There are people that have a gifting or skill set that would help you accomplish your goals. By refusing to let them help, not only are you limiting your own capacity, but you're denying them a chance to exercise their gifts. Not allowing them to grow in their talents or thrive in their passions can stunt their personal growth as a leader. Building an effective team to lead through doesn’t have to be difficult. Just determine what things need to get done that you can delegate out.
Next, find the people who match up with the necessary skill and ask them to be on your team. You have to communicate both the value and vision of the goal. If you communicate the value and vision of what they're doing, you can ignite drive in them that cannot be stopped! The task is what they're doing, but when you bring them in to be a part of something bigger than themselves, they will be on board and ready to help!
Once you have a team of people committed to helping out, you have to train them. Taking the time to train someone in can remove unneeded workload, and save you time in the long run. You're afraid that since you would no longer be the only one who knows how to do something you'd become replaceable. On the contrary, you are irreplaceable because you have proven that you can raise up and train someone else to do a task. Doing this is way more valuable to an organization than just being a doer. You’ve become a leader!
Once you begin to offload tasks, you must avoid the temptation to micromanage. Most people say they aren't micromanagers, but they are often guilty of unhealthy management practices. Be confident in their ability, you need to trust that they know what they are doing. If you are constantly checking in with them or undermining their input, these people will leave your team as fast as they got there. Some may mentally check out, or just let you get back to where you were before— doing all the work. We have to fail at times, it’s the only way we can grow. Resist the urge to have your hands too involved in these tasks. Don’t be overbearing, but if they ask for help, give it to them!
Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “A leader who produces other leaders multiplies their influence.” As someone committing to leading through others, you can train them to build teams and become leaders themselves. There’s nowhere to go but up for someone who can reproduce themselves through others. Now get out there, tackle your fears and raise up your team!
My wife and I recently moved into an apartment near downtown Minneapolis. We live in a very diverse neighborhood with people from all different backgrounds. Across the street from our place, there is a park. It’s constantly filled with the laughter and screams from our neighborhood’s children. And as kids usually are, sometimes play time can turn a little uncivil.
Someone refuses to share a toy, someone pushes someone down. It only takes a moment for all-out war to erupt between two (or more) parties. It’s easy to look at these tears and fighting and label it as childish.
But there’s an important lesson here about how we disagree with one another. There’s a way to handle disagreement and get negative emotions out of our own hearts. It’s healthy. It’s Biblical.
You may know the words of Jesus in Matthew 18 where he urged his disciples to forgive— over, and over, and over again. But Jesus didn’t just teach us how many times to forgive one another, he also taught us how to live with one another and work through disagreements before they ever get nasty— before they lead to cynicism and bitterness and resentment.
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
-Matthew 18:15-17 (The Message)
I think deep down, we know this is the right way to handle our frustrations with one another. At some point, we seem to forget the first step in this whole process: a one-on-one conversation between two people—an open, honest, healthy conversation.
When we are wronged by someone else, it is so easy to immediately talk about it to others, rather that confront the person directly. Handling conflict this way is poisonous to relationships. Not only that, it’s poisonous to your own heart as well. It sure feels good to get those things off your chest, to vent to others.
The only problem is— that never solves anything.
Rather than creating room to grow together and to heal alongside each other, talking to others before you handle your problems directly will fill your heart with resentment, bitterness and cynicism.
We have to protect our hearts from being filled with such things. The heart is where all our love and all our ministry pours out. God fills us up, and it is through our hearts that His love comes through and pours out on a world that so desperately in need of it.
God fills us up, and it is through our hearts that His love comes through and pours out on a world that so desperately in need of it.
God has a plan to use each of us to reconcile the world to Him. We can’t afford to try and do it with a heart full of bitterness and cynicism. We need healthy, pure, hearts to live and lead like God intended us to.
I think God wants us to handle conflict somewhat like little kids do. When we have a problem, we go right to the source. When someone takes our toy, we need to go to them, and tell them. When we are hurt by others, we need to bear our hearts to them. We need to be open and honest with it, in a respectable and honest way.
It takes real character and integrity to do this. Handling conflict this way not only benefits us, it benefits everyone around us. Addressing conflict directly does have the potential to create more conflict. But it also establishes a culture, where people don’t have to be afraid anymore. When we are open and honest about our hearts, it creates freedom for people to be the leaders, the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, employees, bosses, that they were made to be.
So next time someone wrongs you, disappoints you, hurts you even— go to them first. Be open, honest, and gracious in your confrontation. It might be hard, and it might be stressful, but it will be for the better— for both parties, and for your heart as well.
Recently, we had the chance to sit down with our Lead Pastor, Rob Ketterling to discuss his new book Front Row Leadership. We got to hear about Pastor Rob's personal leadership journey from the back row to the front row.
Every one of your sermons, leadership talks, books, etc. all seem to come from an “Aha!” or genesis moment, so was there a moment that launched what has now become Front Row Leadership?
Pastor Rob: I used to be a back row leader. Something in me wanted to get to the front, but I had experiences where I felt pushed to the back. When I felt like I was pushed to the back, my response was, “If you’re going to push me back, then I am coming back with a vengeance.” There were a couple scenarios that I remember where people labeled me as rebellious. I was trying to bring solutions, but I didn’t do it with gentleness and love, so it wasn’t received properly.
Instead of realizing I need to do this in a more creative way, I just hid in the back row. I was always the type of person that would work twice as hard to prove people wrong when they told me I couldn’t do something. I still want to get things done, but I want to get things done in obedience. The “aha” moment was go to the front row, bring your suggestions in humility and love, and bring the solutions. I can tell you it’s been a journey, and it’s still going on even now.
So what would you say are some values that a Front Row Leader carries with them?
Pastor Rob: Humility is a value every leader must have. You need to be able to point out problems and bring solutions, while still supporting your leaders and serving under their authority.
Another is creativity. You need to be able to think outside of the box. If you are trying to solve a problem, and people haven’t been able to solve it, everyone else has likely tried solving it from within the box. They’re only doing What’s always been done, or maybe they don’t have the courage to get outside of the box. A Front Row Leader has creative solutions, and brings them in humility.
Patience has to be a value. The distance from the back row to the front row is shorter than we realize, but the distance from the front row to change is ten times further than you think it would be. Getting there is hard, and getting the change requires patience. If you thought criticizing from the back row, away from leaders was difficult— it’s even more difficult when you get to the front row, and you have proximity to them! Not only do you see the obvious flaws, but you start to see hidden flaws as well. You can’t get bitter, and you can’t fall deeper into criticism. You have to be even more committed to the calling that brought you to the front row.
The last one would be to bring people with you. You can have solutions, be humble, be creative, and have patience, but if you can’t get people to come along with you for the journey, you will never get the change that you are hoping for.
Some people may feel like they don’t have the potential to be a Front Row Leader. Do you think that an everyday, average person can be a front-row leader?
Pastor Rob: Absolutely. I believe that everyone can be a Front Row Leader. A Front Row Leader is an attitude AND a mindset. A Front Row mindset is bringing solutions. It’s identifying problems and understanding that if you’re identifying a problem, then there must be a solution.
The story of the boy who gave his lunch to the disciples and Jesus was a leader. He brought a solution. Guess what? His little lunch was the solution of the day. So can a little boy who brings his lunch can be a Front Row Leader? Yes! A Front Row Leader brings solutions, even as simple as bringing a lunch. Everyone can bring a solution, and everyone can be a Front Row Leader.
You can lead your peers and help change the attitude of your team to have that solution mindset. You can lead the team that reports to you to bring solutions up to you so that you can bring solutions up to the people that you report to. Front Row Leadership is up, over, down. Everyone can be a Front Row Leader.
"Everyone can bring a solution, and everyone can be a Front Row Leader." -@robketterling