The ONE THING Every Leader Needs

In the winter of 1347 the Catholic Church faced a crisis unlike any other as the Black Plague arrived in Italy. The plague brought with it an unparalleled outpouring of death and destruction and ushered in the “dark ages” for all of Europe.

It was a time of great human suffering when the Church should have been at her best, providing hope for the sick and dying. But instead the opposite was true, and this time is remembered now not as one where the Church was at her best, but her worst.

Five Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned From Jason Garrett

I’ve been a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan for as long as I’ve been following the N.F.L. I love the Cowboys so much I spent a Sunday night in December last season at Soldier Field at one of the coldest games in league history just so I could cheer them on (they got shellacked!). Those sixteen weeks of the season from September to January are always my favorites of the year, and win or lose “America’s Team” has provided some of the best entertainment in football, as well as some of the league’s most memorable moments these past few decades.

While I watch the Cowboys mostly for entertainment, I’ve also learned some things from following them. Specifically, Head Coach Jason Garrett has taught me a few things about leadership as I’ve followed his much maligned career. Coach Garrett is not a perfect leader, but he is an excellent one, and the Cowboys management just honored that leadership with a rich contract extension. So without further ado here are the five things I’ve learned about leadership from Coach Garrett.

Three Ways To Become a Better Speaker

As a Pastor speaking effectively and winsomely is one of the most important parts of my job. Pastors fill all sorts of roles and wear any number of hats, but the opportunity to weekly stand before the people whom God has entrusted me to lead and present them with God’s Word for their lives is the greatest privilege I can imagine.

One of the most important leadership principles I’ve embraced over the last few years as it relates to preaching is to be continuously developing your greatest gifts. Marcus Buckingham and his team have done some great work that I’ve taken to heart demonstrating how we’re better off focusing on our strengths than our weaknesses. So for me that’s meant continuing to lean into developing as a preacher, an area of my ministry where it would be all too easy to rest on my laurels.

Here I should admit that I’m still just a J.V. preacher who’s only been preaching weekly for the last two years, though I’ve been speaking publicly long before then. But through the time I’ve spent in focused development on this gift over the last few years I’ve uncovered a few simple principles that anyone can embrace to make them a better communicator. So without further ado, here they are.

How Discouragement Almost Cost Teddy Roosvelt the Presidency

One of the greatest challenges every leader faces is the temptation of discouragement. Obviously the experience of discouragement is not limited to those in leadership, however leadership with its myriad of responsibilities and life under the microscope of others does have a way of magnifying and multiplying its influence.

If it’s true that leadership multiplies discouragement then I can think of few people who have to deal with it more than the President. Don’t worry, I’m not going political on you. Rather I want to share an amazing story with you about President Theodore Roosevelt’s personal struggle with discouragement, and how it almost kept him from becoming President at all.

The Power of Patience

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.

My Top Five Books of 2014

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?

reading

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.

Three Ways Gratitude Makes You Better

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?

Learning Leadership From a Scam Artist

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!

Just Do It

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.

Three Benefits of Leading in an Established Church

Thom Rainer recently published an article giving five reasons Millennial’s are increasingly disinterested in leading in established churches. Given my personal context as a Millennial who is leading in an established church, I was intrigued. While my time leading at Faith Baptist Mill Creek has been challenging, it’s also been full of great joy, and leading at Faith has presented me with opportunities that never would have been possible in a less-established situation.

When it comes to the topic of church revitalization there are lots of voices sharing the difficulties of embarking on such a journey. And rightfully so because revitalization is tough! Tough though it may be, I believe with all my heart that there are unique opportunities available to advance the Kingdom of God through revitalization that simply aren’t available elsewhere. As someone in the midst of the process with all its ups and downs I continue to believe that revitalization is worth it. So here are five reasons this Millennial is grateful to be able to lead in an established church.