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Leading Culture On It’s Own Terms

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“Trails are managed as part of

the natural environment.

Visitors must be prepared to

meet and accept nature on it’s

own terms.” 

I passed this sign countless times along an all too familiar trail, but never really read it. For some reason it stopped me in my tracks this time and its message was as clear as it was challenging.

Here are four simple takeaways for us as leaders of any organization, especially churches.

1 – “Trails are managed…”

Things aren’t just going to get better because you’ve showed up. You and your team will have to pray, process, plan, and get it done with perseverance for there to be lasting change and preferred outcomes along the way. Own it. It’s your trail… for the moment.

2 – “…as part of the natural

environment.”

How you find the environment of the organization you are leading is only natural. No one said it was optimal, just a natural part of life and leadership in a broken world. Don’t take it personal and simply take personal responsibility for what your organization is and will become.

3 –  “Visitors must be prepared…”

We must be aware and prepared for the fact that we are stewards, not owners. We are the “visitors.” Even if you planted the church or started the business, someone else will replace you. Let this humble you and challenge you to be prepared day in and day out. The very trail this sign is on was once Native American tribal land, then a regional center of colonial life, then a thriving resort, now a national landmark known as Fort Boonesborough.

4 – “…to meet and accept nature

on it’s own terms.”

It’s time to do this in your organization and to keep doing this daily as it evolves and grows through the natural cycles of all organizations. You will vision, work, grow, plateau, decline and eventually die unless you continually and creatively (stubbornly) face new realities, embrace change, and reinvent all while holding fast to the bedrock principles that guide you. For most of us… this means the timeless Gospel of Jesus communicated in ever changing ways.

How is your church or business really doing?

Don’t just pass the signs that

are right in front of you.

Stop. Read them. Realize that how you apply their guidance and where this trail leads you and your organization is yours to steward for a season. Start by accepting the realities of the culture you serve in on its own terms.

31 Tips for 2016 – #9

Unknown-1Here is Tip #9 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Stop comparing yourself to others. 

Observe others. Listen to others. Learn from others and even admire other leaders. However, stop short of leader envy, leaving yourself depressed and depleted of a sense of gratitude and vision for what is right in front of you… the people around you.

“If comparison is the thief of joy, then our culture is being robbed blind.” (Jon Foreman – Founder and Lead Vocalist, Switchfoot)

How can we keep from the trap of comparison? Here are 2 suggestions…

  1. Spend less time on social media. For the most part, social media is everyone’s “highlight real.” It’s a constant stream of everyone’s best moments and one-liners. We know this deep down. Yet, no matter our level of influence, we are prone to want to see what others are up to, comparing their level of “success” to our own. Stop it… or at least cut way down on it.
  2. Spend more time investing in real people in real time. Invest in the people around you, your spouse, kids, and lead team. In our globally connected world we can unwittingly spend too much time connecting on-line, tweeting, facebooking, periscoping, instagramming, you tubing, snap chatting, even that archaic medium of emailing.

You are more than your number of followers on any given platform. You are who God has said you are, where He has placed you, to make an investment in His kingdom through people here and now. Embrace this thought… You are an original and there is no comparison to others in God’s eyes.

PS – Don’t compare yourself to you (especially that “younger” you). We all go through seasons of more or less influence. However, we can’t live in a perpetual state of harvest. Embrace the weeding, watering and waiting seasons along the way. Besides, someone has rightly said, “The older we get, the better we were.”

 

5 Ways to Write More Now

images-11“I don’t have time to write, blog or post interesting stuff!” If this is you, then here at 5 Ways to Write More Now.

1) Determine to write more! It all starts with a commitment to the discipline that is writing. Find a friend who will hold you accountable to writing on a consistent basis. Set a specific and doable goal (3 blog posts a week, etc.) and stick to it.

Bonus tip: Write it down… now! Whether you use an iPad, iPhone or MacBook (I’m a Mac guy!), or you go old-school with post-its and the classic yellow notepad, write your brain-storm down when it is blowing a fresh wind of ideas. I recommend Evernote to help you organize (https://evernote.com/). Think its a bad idea? Write it down anyway!

2) Know your rhythms. When is your brain most active? In other words, are you a morning person or night owl? For me, it’s definitely morning. Seize the times when your creative juices flow best for your most important writing. Then, discipline yourself to write some when you aren’t exactly in your sweet spot.

3) Read more and better writers. Find those in your area of interest who have strong followings and have solid reputations and read their stuff. Study what they write about, how they write and post it. Need some help with this? I would recommend http://michaelhyatt.com/ for all your platform building needs. For pastors and ministry leaders, check out http://careynieuwhof.com/ for awesome content and presentation!

4) Do less useless stuff. Binge less on Netflix or watching sports. Spend less time on social media browsing the evening away. Instead… write! You might even take some of that time and take a course in writing either online or at your local community college. Great writers are eager learners!

5) Write more. It’s as simple as that. Discover what you are passionate about and write about it daily. Keep it in rough draft and unpublished form until you are ready to put it out there… but keep writing! Your content will increase in volume and in quality. Have others read and critique your writing along the way. Be sure some of them are in your target audience. From professional bloggers to friends and family, ask them to be honest and incorporate their advice.

Whether it’s blogging, journaling, online articles or that novel you’ve been dreaming about, follow these tips. What are you waiting for? Go… write!

3 Reasons You Should Say It Anyway

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Do you feel like God has given you something to say, but everyone is already saying it? Are relevant and urgent issues already being addressed by the experts in your field? Or, do you feel like your message simply get’s lost in the white noise of the web? Consider 3 reasons why you should say it anyway…

1 – You have a God-given circle. Your followers may not number in the thousands, let alone millions. You may get less than record-breaking “likes” to your posts and you have never been “re-tweeted.” Still, you have a group of people who have come to know and trust your voice. You have done life with many of these people and you have an influence on them that the greatest names in the business simply cannot have. Especially for the small/medium sized ministry leaders, never underestimate the impact your encouragement or instruction has on the unique circle God has given to you. Besides, most of those with trusted voices and larger audiences started with a very small following. Jesus comes to mind, here. Needless to say I strongly recommend you both “Like” and follow Him closely.

2 – You have a God-given perspective. While there are always some common points of interest, each person brings their own voice from their own experience to any conversation. Your voice may just add a missing ingredient to the mix. No, you may not have a Phd in the given subject, but your input is no more or less valid than any casual blogger or learned professional. Say it clearly, creatively and concisely.

3 – You need the practice. That is, you need the discipline in your life that researching and communicating on relevant subjects on a consistent basis brings. Doing so is a healthy life habit that is far more beneficial to you and your circle of influence than spending another hour on Netflix or Facebook. Communicate about things you are passionate about and you will never run out of material!

Finally, humbly take the gift and grow! One of the greatest benefits of today’s many internet platforms is the ability to bring amazing leaders right to your doorstep. From instruction to inspiration, research to reviews, video conferences, webinars and so much more, some of the most gifted voices in just about any field are putting there message out to the masses. Even more, many of these resources are given away free, simply for signing up to receive their e-news or daily tweets. Check out my Follow the Leaders page and click on any of the images for instant access to some great leaders and resources. Determine to learn from not only what these experts are saying, but how they are saying it. Then, add your own voice. Perhaps you might even respond to a discussion thread when the opportunity is given? Regardless, do some homework and then engage in the important issues. Your voice adds great value!

Go ahead, say it anyway.