Three Questions to Ask Leaders

Here’s three things I like to ask leaders I lead and leaders who lead me:

  1. What is your story?
    1. Getting someone to talk about themselves is the best way to tear down any walls. That’s pretty much everyone’s favorite subject to talk about anyway: themselves. If you know where someone comes from and what they’ve been through you have a better understanding of them as a person.
  2. Where do you see yourself in future?
    1. After you know where they’ve been, you can see where they are going. High capacity leaders have a  vision for themselves, their organization and their families.
  3. How can I help you get there?
    1. Lastly you connect yourself to people by asking how you can help them get to where they are going.

I don’t usually ask the questions in this format and definitely not all at once. I try to make it as natural and organic as I can. I certainly ask lots of other questions but this is the basic strategy behind how I approach helping leaders.


What Are Your Priorities?

I was looking through some old Evernote’s and saw one of my first notes when I came to Element Church to start my new position.That was almost two years ago now. It was a kick list of everything I needed to work on with the ministry personally. I started the list with my four “values” priorities:

  1. Love people
    1. This should never change. We are in the people business. God has called us to the people we serve.
  2. Cast vision
    1. As the Family Pastor I take the overall vision of the church and cast specific vision for each of the areas I lead.
  3. Celebrate the past
    1. When you take a new position the temptation is to come in and change everything just for the sake of change. I spent time celebrating what was done in the past rather than tearing anything down. One of the best honor moments we had was celebrating a staff person who was moving out of kids into another area. I bought flowers and had the teachers present them and pray over her in front of all the kids. This brought honor to her, my pastor and the church knew I was for them. I didn’t do everything right with this but that is maybe the one thing I did do right.
  4. Evaluate for the future
    1. Lists are a good way to think through what needs to be changed. One of the best practices is to walk around and see things through the eyes of a new person. Now I wouldn’t suggest carrying a clipboard or iPad to write those down as that can be intimidating (I made that mistake).

I thought that was a good reminder and sent those four to some of my staff. What are thoughts? How about your priorities, what are they?



Heart OVER Hands

My team loves to constantly talk through the idea of growing our leadership ability in three areas: our heart, our head, and our hands. We use that a a matrix for our coaching culture.

Our “heart” pertains to spiritual matters. If our spirit isn’t strong, we run to of gas to minister life to others. “Heart” is our passion, vision, motives, and driving force. This is the unseen behind what is seen. It’s ultimately about the why.

Our “head” pertains to our thinking. Our thinking determines the way we think and act. “Head” includes strategy, tactics, and approach. Leaders think differently than everyone else. Different thinking produces different results when it is partnered with the hands.

Our “hands” pertain to our skills. This is what we do specifically in our role. “Hands” is about the methods we use to get things done. It’s more about the “what” and the “how”.

All three are important for success in ministry. Sometimes however we concentrate on the less important things at the peril of the more important things. Jesus ran into this in Mark 3:1-5 (NLT).

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.
He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 
And again in Mark 7:1-6 (NLT).
One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.)
 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”
 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.

Jesus’ enemies were more concerned with what Jesus was doing and when He was doing it rather than the heart behind it. They elevated “hands” over “heart”.  They were so concerned with their methods and traditions that they missed a miracle. They didn’t see the people Jesus was reaching.

They missed the “heart” of the law because they were so busy enforcing the “hands” of the law. They couldn’t see the spirit because they only saw the letter of the law.

Although this are quite LITERAL uses of Jesus’s enemies exalting hands over heart we can fall into the same trap today. They really were saying “that’s not the way we do it” or “you’re wrong because you reach people a different way than we do”. Have you ever said that?

How can we avoid having that same “Pharisee Spirit”?

  1. Value the who more than the what.
  2. Make the message more important than the method
  3. Keep the people you are called to serve more important than the plan you have.
  4. Make the creator the center of your creative process.

Book Review – #tweetableleadership @jimwideman

As usual this book by Jim Wideman is packed with wisdom. “Tweetable Leadership”  is a unique book filled with over 500 quotes from Brother Jim. Also included in the book are 7 chapters of wisdom. He tackles subjects from your family to your relationship with God. Each one is filled with the folksy common sense wisdom that Jim Wideman is famous for.

Other topics include time management, being an example, growing as a leader and growing as a ministry. I found myself circling quotes and examining my life for areas of improvement. I think just about anyone could pick up this book and learn something. You don’t even have to be in kidmin. In fact you can just flip it open and get a bit sized nugget of truth from the kidmin guru.

I made sure all my staff had a copy and we will be going through it together as a team.

Disclaimer: I received copies of this book in exchange for my truthful review.


Book Review – The Matheny Manifesto


I am a baseball fan. More so than just a baseball fan I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. Some of my earliest memories are watching the Cardinals play. I remember watching them beat the Brewers in game seven to win the World Series. That being said, when Mike Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals after Tony La Russa retired, I scratched my head in confusion. I get it now.

Mike tells his story of taking over a little league team and the infamous letter he wrote and read to the parents of this team. It’s amazing to think that a man went from coaching little league-rs to coaching big league-rs in just a matter of years. Mike shares some of his personal story of succeeding in baseball as a tool to share wisdom about sports and life in general. His throwback and unconventional approach yielded the results he promised.

Mike shares some great advice for parents, coaches and kids developing in youth sports. He also gives 8 keys to success. Nothing in this book was new or mind-blowing to me. I did find the book to be down to earth and an easy read. Baseball fans should definitely enjoy the book. I found myself laughing at times and tearing up at others.

My personal favorite take away was Mike talking about how parents need to be silent and supportive in the stands while watching their children play sports.It made me think how we have it reversed in life. We are loud and vocal in the stand but silent at home when it comes to faith matters. The opposite should be true.

If you’re a parent, baseball fan, youth coach, or mentor I highly suggest this book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review.

Sheep Abuse

I remember years ago I was a part of a ministerial fellowship group. Every month a group of local pastors would get together for breakfast. We’d pray for each other, talk, laugh and even tried to find projects we could work on together.

A few months in “it” happened. One of the pastors was voted out by his board of deacons. Things changed that day. That poor defeated man began to change the course of our group that day. He showed up and berated his deacons. He berated people in his church. Our group as a whole embraced him but no one stopped his negativity.

In fact it seemed many in the group joined in the “sheep beating” as I began to call it. As a young minister I sensed this wasn’t healthy but I honored my elders as I knew the Bible commanded. Things grew worse. It seemed to be contagious as other pastors in the group also lost their churches. One pastor in the group had a small flock and all these displaced pastors joined his congregation. He allowed them to speak at his church.

The bitterness grew to the point where my fellow staff member (a youth pastor) and I left the group. We couldn’t take it anymore. The continual verbal beating of their sheep was just too much. Their bitterness multiplied as they shared their horror stories. Instead of speaking life they had all worked themselves into a fury.

I’ve been involved in kids ministry group talks where the discussion turned to sheep beating. I’ve heard kids pastors go on and on about their horrible leaders. It’s no wonder with such a leader that these volunteers were so miserable. I’ve made a personal commitment to not participate in such negativity. I won’t allow it anymore in my prescence. These aren’t our sheep, they are His.

Jesus told Peter in John 21 to “feed His sheep”. It’s hard to feed the sheep when we are beating them. Primarily we feed His sheep through our words and actions. If our words and attitudes towards them are hostile we won’t have any sheep left to feed. We do have times where we need to correct them, guide them, help them and even pick them up to carry them. Never are we to beat them down with our words.

I know people let us down.
I’ve been let down more than I can count.

I know they will hurt us.
I’ve been hurt so much.

I know they can get a little wild.
I’ve been a little wild myself.

Someone loved me and that love is what drew my back to the Good Shepherd.