We celebrated Christmas at Faith Baptist this past Sunday and it was a major win for us. It was our biggest Worship Service of the year and three adults made a decision to follow Jesus. It doesn’t get any better than that!
But the coolest part about the day for me is that we didn’t stumble into this success. Rather our success on Sunday was the product of a series of decisions made over the last two years Faith. As I thought about those decisions and the push-back they generated in light of Sunday’s success I was struck by a simple leadership principle I won’t soon forget- as leaders we have to let our stories tell themselves. Let me explain.
Leaders are readers. It’s a simple truth that can’t be repeated enough. Reading opens one up to worlds that would otherwise go unexplored, uncovers and repairs blind spots, and grows your brain. What’s not to like?
I read a lot of books last year across all sorts of genres. Leadership books, theology books, biographies, and even the occasional fantasy novel (guilty pleasure). Included below are my five favorites with a few short thoughts and links to purchase if you’re so inclined, plus five more I haven’t gotten to yet but plan on reading over Christmas.
A few weeks ago I was preparing a sermon on gratefulness for our Thanksgiving service at Faith Baptist Mill Creek and stumbled across some information I knew I just had to share. During that week of preparation I spent some time researching the scientific side of gratitude. I wanted to see if there was any science to back up what both Scripture, and my general life experience has taught me to be true- that consistently practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to unlock a better life.
As I continued in my study I was amazed at what I discovered. I found any number of psychological studies that had been conducted to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that an attitude of gratitude really did have a measurable impact on the lives of those who embraced it. One study I read found that people who wrote down what they were grateful for each week exercised more often, had fewer health complaints, and generally felt better about their lives. Another study found that college students who wrote down what they were grateful for before bed slept better that night. Psychology is cool isn’t it?
As embarrassing as this is to admit I have to be honest- I got scammed today. If you’d asked me the odds of this happening to me before today I would have told you next to none. I’m a well-educated young guy with a nose for those kind of things. I’ve turned down countless email offers to receive a Nigerian Prince’s inheritance. I’m not supposed to fall for this stuff.
But fall for it I did- and hard. I’ll spare you all the gory details but this particular scam involved a company calling themselves “Corporate Warehouse Supply” who kindly offered to send me some extra toner for our office copier before the price of the toner went up. Which sounds all right until you receive said toner carrying the modest price tag of $492.90!
If there’s one thing I’m continually frustrated by in my own leadership it’s how easily I allow fear to paralyze me from making decisions or taking action. I’m consistently amazed by just how many crazy things I’ll tell myself in the lead-up to having to do something that I’m expecting to be difficult.
Whether it be a conversation that needs to be had, a change in organizational direction that needs to be communicated, or anything in between, I’ve found that the longer I wait to take action the more I’m paralyzed by fear. And you know what the worst part is? 90 percent of the time after I do the hard thing I discover the fear to have been totally unfounded. Fortunately though there’s one simple practice I’m slowly learning to embrace that’s helping me avoid those crazy fears and lead more effectively.
If you compromise your character, you compromise your leadership.