8 Ways to Honor Your Leader

Leading is not easy. And it’s even more difficult if those on your team aren’t equipped well to follow.

We all have leaders that we work with, for and around. And every leader I know values being honored and respected. Honor is a really big thing. And incredibly important as it relates to being part of a team.

And especially relevant to young leaders, many of whom are working for leaders who are older than them.

Here are some ways to honor your leaders:

1. Pray - a huge one. Pray for wisdom, for clarity, for compassion and for a clear vision for your leader and leaders.

2. Encourage- lift your leaders up in public, and critique them in private. Tell them how you appreciate them. Consistently. Write them a note. Pour into them.

3. Confront- if you see something out of whack, tell them. Most leaders crave input and feedback, so give it to them. Push back on their ideas and convictions when appropriate. Confrontation works best though when encouragement and service and trust have been given freely for a long time. Confront in moderation.

4. Serve- be willing to carry the load. Get things done. Deliver more than you were asked to do. Be action oriented. Anticipating is a great way to honor. Figure out what needs to get done before your leader has to tell you.

5. Trust- incredibly important. Follow them. Put stock in the fact that they have your best interests in mind. Fight against sarcasm and cynicism.

6. Understand- know what drives them, what motivates them, and also what frustrates them. Lean into the things that motivate them, and avoid the things that frustrate them.

7. Protect- always have their back. Stand up for them. If you hear something negative, fight it. Sometimes we actually find misguided joy in ganging up on our leaders in order to make ourselves look and feel better. Avoid this.

8. Release- give your leader permission to lead you. Lean in. Have a posture of humility, respect, and openness to follow them. Open hearts and open minds, vs closed thoughts, arms crossed, and a made up mind.

8 Ways to Empower Your Team

Leaders: one of the key things you must ALWAYS do is empower your team. As I’ve learned over the years, most leaders at their core are control freaks, which is part of the reason they are successful. But we all must learn and recognize the need to empower those around us to succeed and do what they do well. Most leaders think they can do it all on their own, and many try, but ultimately in order to grow a successful organization that outlives you, as the leader, you have to empower those around you.

Here are a few thoughts on Empowering your Team:

1. Give them the opportunity to make decisions, and don’t second guess them. A lot of us as leaders are willing to allow our team members to make decisions, but want to step in as soon as we see something done differently than we would do. Don’t make that mistake. It is totally demoralizing to your team. Believe me, I know from experience!!

2. Assign them responsibility by them owning key projects from START to FINISH. So once we allow team members to make key decisions, now we have to allow them to own projects and feel the responsibility of completion.

3. Give them Freedom combined with Accountability. Freedom without accountability can lead to a great place to work with nothing getting done. Accountability without Flexibility can lead to a terrible place to work with things getting done but everyone hating their job. These have to work together.

4. Fight for them. Whether it’s standing up for them to your boss, or standing beside them and supporting them in a disagreement with a vendor, always take the stance of fighting for them and being willing to go to battle for them.

5. Encourage them. This is the one we so often forget. I know I do. I tend to keep pushing without stopping to say thanks. But encouragement can go the furthest in creating team chemistry, longevity, and commitment. Reward them with small gifts, extra unexpected bonuses, cards, etc. Be unexpected in your thankyous. Hand them out without bias. No one has ever been too much of a true encourager!

6. Counsel, coach and instruct. Not necessarily the same as encouragement. Great coaches do this well. They scream at you and make you better, while also putting their arm around you and giving you “ego biscuits” when needed. Two different parts of empowering, but both equally important. Instruction is key for releasing again and again, and assigning more responsibility.

7. Overwhelm them. Not on a continual basis, but ultimately your team members should constantly feel a bit overwhelmed by the projects or assignments they are working on, not underwhelmed. Many of their projects should cause them to feel like they are not prepared or ready. If they feel underwhelmed, they will probably end up looking elsewhere for greater assignments and more responsibility.

8. Give them permission. Permission to take risks, to fail, to represent your organization to others, take on responsibility and stewardship, and many other things. But ultimately give them permission to push back. Give them permission to call you out as the leader (appropriately, of course). Give them permission to argue and fight for their idea, even when it looks like it’s directly competing with your idea as the leader. Permission to push back. This does wonders.

Young Influencers List January Edition

Here you go, the January edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past monthly lists here.

 

1. Ben Peays- executive director of The Gospel Coalition and from what I hear an established hunter!

2. Hillary DeMeo- student Dean at Southeastern University in Florida

3. Ally Vesterfelt- writer, speaker, blogger, and author of Packing Light

4. Charlton Cunningham- entrepreneur, ideator, former Catalyst intern, and founder of HIVE Atlanta

5. Natalie LaBorde, assistant Executive Counsel for Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, and founder of Tigers Against Trafficking.

6. Joseph Sojourner- host, musician, creative artist for Opposite Entertainment, and former high school ministry director at Browns Bridge, a campus of North Point Community Church.

7. Taka Iguchispiritual development pastor at Rockford First outside of Chicago, and Executive Director of Focus One

Interview with Andy Stanley on How to Be Rich

I’m really excited about How to Be Rich, the latest book from my friend Andy Stanley. As you know, Andy is senior pastor of North Point Community Church and founder of North Point Ministries, which arguably is one of the most influential churches and christian ministries in the world. Andy is a leadership guru, but also drops wisdom consistently on a number of other topics, including the issue of generosity, wealth, finances, and stewardship.

This book is timely, strategic, challenging, and a wake up call to the American Church and Christian leaders everywhere, especially here in the US. I highly recommend this book, both for you as well as your entire team and staff.

Andy recently took some time to answer a few questions regarding the book.

 

1) You talk about how almost everyone who reads this book will be rich in comparison to the rest of the world, but given that many people are legitimately struggling in America these days, is there a risk in overstating how “rich” much of the country actually is, despite being the largest economy?

First, if you are able to buy, or consider buying, my book with your own money, you are much further ahead of the financial game than you might imagine. And even if you cannot, at some point in your life, you might be at that point. However, I am convinced that many of us get caught in the trap of thinking we aren’t rich by playing the comparison game. In our minds, rich is always the other person, the other family. Rich is having more than you currently have. If that is the case, you can be rich and not feel it. You can be rich and not know it. And that is a problem. That’s why I wrote this book.

We know a lot of people who are rich, but know far fewer people who are good at being rich.  So, whether you are rich now, or one day your turn out to be, I’d like you to know how to be rich. That is why I feel everyone needs this book.

 

2) In your opinion, has the evangelical church in America failed to see the strong connection between how we spend our money and our spiritual lives? If so, why?

I think the connection many of us have failed to see is where trusting in our money leads us. The apostle Paul warned his protégé Timothy about a tendency for rich people: a natural inclination for your hope to migrate to money. And if you fall into this trap, the wealthier you get, the more you will hope in riches. Rich people have the potential to reach a point where they see money as the source of their safety and security. 

The way to offset this side effect of wealth is to put our hope in God. We’ve all met people like this. There are some rich people who, no matter how much God sends their way, never seem to put their hope in their riches. An amazing thing can be observed within this group of rich people. Since their hope is in the Lord, they never seem to suffer from another side effect of wealth that Paul mentions: arrogance. Despite being rich, they’re humble and generous at heart.

So where we place our hope and trust is a pretty good indicator of our spiritual life. Where is your hope – God, or money?

 

3) Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming good news to the poor, but is your sense that Jesus’ advocacy for the poor and his suspicion of wealth (“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”) is more difficult to preach in a society like the U.S.? Are these biblical themes of helping the poor, and the danger of wealth, “hidden in plain sight” for many?

No matter where you stand on the economy, we live in the richest time of the richest nation in history. In fact, if you can read this interview, you’re automatically rich by global standards. And it’s not just because you can read and have access to books, but because you’ve been given individual freedom to do so, not to mention the time.

What we call “poverty” today would have been considered middle class just a few generations ago. In 2000, the average “poor” family had goods and services rivaling middle-class families of the 1970’s. In addition, most poor families don’t stay poor. Over the sixteen-year period tracked by one study, 95% of the families in the lowest income quintile climbed the economic ladder to higher quintiles. As Michael Cox, an economist with the Federal Reserve, noted, “The rich may have gotten a little richer, but the poor have gotten much richer.”

So my purpose in writing this book is to help rich Jesus followers get better at being rich. Even if we’re not convinced we’re rich, we all probably hope to be. And should we ever admit that we have, in fact, crossed that imaginary line, I want us to be good at it. After all, most rich people aren’t.

 

4) Can you talk about how cultivating a life of generosity helps not just society but also the giver? What spiritual principles are at work when we give generously?

No matter how rich or poor you might feel, right now is the time to be generous. As counterintuitive as it seems, generosity begins wherever you are. It is important to make generosity a priority. There’s a tendency to think that generosity is for when you have extra money, when you’re rich. And as I say in How to Be Rich, you probably don’t think you’re rich. And since you’re not rich, why would you give away what little you have?

However, when you make giving a priority, something happens inside of you. Especially when it’s financially challenging to do so. It’s like you loosen your grip on a value system whose motto says, “Money is the key to life and happiness and safety.” In that split second, you reject that way of thinking for one that says, “My hope is not in riches but in him who richly provides.” And suddenly, your eyes begin to open to a value system that can’t be measured by dollars.

In addition, generosity helps us cultivate awareness of things that really matter. Opportunities that make a real difference in the world. Things that matter to our heavenly Father. It takes no discipline or effort on our part to be made aware of what we don’t have but could have. But it takes initiative to become and remain aware of what other people don’t but should have. Generosity helps us make a concerted effort to keep the needs of others in the forefront of our thinking. Not for guilt’s sake, but for the sake of being good stewards of the resources we have been privileged to manage.

 

5) How does a church – or a person – make giving a way of life, and not just another book, sermon series, church fad or well-intentioned but short-lived spiritual diet?

When you take everything Jesus taught about being generous and distill it down, three common themes emerge. There may be more than that, but these three ideas gives us a great picture of what it looks like to be generous and to make it habitual.

Generosity won’t happen unless you make it a priority. The best way to make giving a priority is to make it the very first check you write every month. Before the mortgage. Before groceries or clothing. Before saving. Whatever the amount, do it first. The minute you deposit your paycheck. This not only ensures that you’ll guard it as a priority, but it’s a symbolic way of reminding you where your hope lies.

Not only do we need to make generosity a priority, we need to base it off percentages. If you want to guard against the side effects of wealth, you can’t evaluate your giving in terms of dollars. Percentages give you a much better reflection of whether you have control of your money or your money has control of you. So what percentage should you give? I tell people to start with 10 percent because the Bible writers have a lot to say about the tithe, which means, “tenth.” For some people, that’s extremely uncomfortable. But so is a colonoscopy, and those save countless lives. It just depends on how badly you want to protect yourself from the side effects of wealth. Remember, it’s not just a way to be “good.” It’s a preventative. The most important thing is to start somewhere. Even if it’s just 1 percent.

A third leverage point for lasting change in generosity is progressive giving. To be progressive simply means that over time you raise the percentage. As your financial situation changes throughout life, change your giving percentage along with it. When you make that initial adjustment to giving 10 percent, it soon becomes comfortable. And while financial comfort is generally a good thing, it can also make you more vulnerable to the side effects of wealth. If you’ve been giving the same percentage for most of your life, consider raising it. Life is not stagnant. It’s progressive in nature. And your giving should be progressive too.

 

6) Can you talk about how Western and American society – and possibly even the church itself – has encouraged a consumerist mentality that makes radical generosity a concept that many people will find especially difficult?

Gallup conducted a poll to see how different socioeconomic groups defined “rich.” Not surprisingly, everybody had a different definition – and nobody thought he fit it. For each and every person, “rich” was roughly double the amount possessed by the person defining it. “Rich” is a moving target. No matter how much money we have or make, we will probably never consider ourselves rich. The biggest challenge facing rich people is that they’ve lost they‘re ability to recognize that they’re rich.

We all feel we need more. Appetites have only one word in their vocabulary – MORE. Appetites are never fully and finally satisfied. Even after the most satisfying meal imaginable, we eventually find ourselves rummaging through the pantry for a snack.

Appetites aren’t bad things. I believe God created them. I also believe sin distorted them. Appetites bring zest and passion to life. But they are terrible filters for making decisions. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that your responses to your appetites will determine the direction and quality of your life.

So, while generosity may be the antidote for the dizzying effects of wealth, your appetite for more may function as an antidote against God-honoring generosity. Your appetite for more stuff, status, and security has the potential to quash your efforts to be generous. And that’s a problem.

If you feed an appetite, it grows. Satisfying an appetite does not diminish it. It expands it. To diminish an appetite, you have to starve it. So, in the early days of marriage, when none of us have a lot of extra money to do extra things, we don’t do extra things. And we were content. We were forced to starve that appetite. But once our incomes and our purchasing power began to increase, we started feeding that ugly beast. In doing so, we gave up a slice of contentment. And so it goes.

So, to answer the question, sin encourages the consumerist mentality and generosity is the antidote.

 

7) Is your teaching on this subject part of a bigger trend in American evangelicalism of increasingly preaching not just a message of personal conversion, but also a message of social renewal, one that had perhaps been, many years earlier, ceded to mainline or more theologically liberal churches but is now being reclaimed?

I’m not a philanthropist. While I care about the poor, the issue of local or global poverty doesn’t keep me up at night. I’m concerned about the plight of children. But I’m not on a mission to get all the available orphans in the world adopted into Christian homes. Though, like you, I sure wish they could be. My passion, and a major reason I want to get this message into people’s hands, is my concern for the reputation and cultural positioning of the local church. I want people to help me reanchor the church to undeniable, mind-boggling, culture-shifting demonstration of compassion and generosity. Because, generosity was the hallmark of the early church. They did for those who could not do or would not do anything in return. That was new. That got people’s attention. Eventually, it shifted and shaped the moral conscience of the West.

 

8.) What sparked your interest in initially teaching on this topic?

While this is a new publication for me, this is a not a new message for me. Every fall for the past seven years, I’ve stood in front of our Atlanta-area churches and told them they are a bunch of haves who act like have-nots and that God and I aren’t happy about it! Okay, that’s not exactly how I phrased it. But when it comes to this particular topic, I’ve been known to be uncomfortably bold.

Our churches’ journey began with a message series I preached in 2007 entitled How to Be Rich. Two things prompted the series. First, our culture’s incessant messages about how to get rich when, in fact, most of us got rich a long time ago and nobody told us. Second, Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding how rich Christians are to behave. After studying the passage, I was left with the realization that a lot of Christians are not very good at being rich. Then it dawned on me: Well of course they’re not! Nobody has taught them how! So for four weekends I navigated our congregation through the terms and conditions of Paul’s instructions to rich people.

 

9) Describe what happened with your congregations in Atlanta when you preached a sermon series on this very topic. How did a $1.5 million goal turn into more than $5 million raised? What kind of transformation did this have on the beneficiaries of the money, and also on the donors themselves – the members of your church?

In the fall of 2012, I challenged our churches to give $1.5 million toward our Be Rich giving initiative. They gave $5.2 million. In a week. And we in turn gave 100% of it away. No shipping and handling costs. No overhead or operating expenses. No expensive vacations for the pastor and his family. We gave it all away. In addition, our congregants provided 34,000 volunteer hours to local charities that are volunteer dependent. And if that weren’t enough, we collected 20,332 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse – the largest collection they’ve ever received from a local church.

I visited our international partner in San Salvador, La Casa de Mi Padre, a group home for children who can’t live with their families for a variety of heartbreaking reasons. The executive director picked us up from the airport and asked if we liked his truck. Before I could answer, he smiled and said, “It’s a Be Rich truck. Thank you.” While visiting the children’s home, I was introduced to their newest employee, a licensed marriage and family counselor, a position they desperately needed as they seek to reconnect children with their families. As we left her office, we were reminded by the executive director that she was only there because of Be Rich.

 

10) What would you like Christianity to be known for in the U.S., and what do you think it’s currently known for in America? How might this book play into that?

Generosity changed the world once. What would happen if the church became known for inexplicable generosity once again? The generosity poured out by the members of our churches continues to overflow our community and extend around the world. They embody the brand of generosity we’re called to extend to others.

Generosity continues to capture the attention of people from all over the world. To this day, it’s a reflection of the love Jesus demonstrated. It send a message to the world that God so loved that he gave – and there were no strings attached. The best ministry we can offer on God’s behalf isn’t to explain our theology. It’s to extend our generosity. Because that’s what our heavenly Father did for us. And that’s what he’s asked us to do as well.

 

Thanks Andy!

Again, I highly recommend this book! To purchase the book, go here.

Young Influencers List, December edition

Here you go, the December edition (and final edition of 2013) of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.

1. Ugo Monye- athlete, philanthropist, and professional rugby player for Quins Rugby Union in London.

2. Levi Lusko- speaker and pastor of Fresh Life Church, a multi site church in Kalispell, Montana.

3. Kristen Howerton- mom, psych professor, speaker, author of the blog Rage Against the Minivan, and parenting thought leader for Huffington Post.

4. Caleb Meakins- London based social innovator and entrepreneur, founder and leader of Shift UK, and founder of My Forty Days.

5. Ben Sand- CEO of Portland Leadership Foundation, and strategic director/VP of Degrees of Change.

6. Niran Vinod- creative, freelance photographer, part of AKQA agency working on the Nike account, and co founder of Yin and Yang.

7. Jenny Yang- VP of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief, and c0-author of Welcoming the Stranger.

 

Will be releasing the January 2014 edition soon. If you have suggestions for future Young Influencers, please leave in the comments. Thanks!

Young Influencers List, November edition

Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.

1. Jessica Kim – CEO/founder of BabbaCo, a start up specializing in content, activities, and innovative products for kids and busy mothers.

2. Katelyn Beaty- Managing editor of Christianity Today magazine, and also oversees the This is our City Project and co-founded Her.Meneutics.

3. Elijah Kirby- founding pastor of Fellowship Church London, a brand new church plant in Central London.

4. Hannah Joiner- creative director, Orange team member, and amazing artist/painter who has painted for us at Catalyst several times.

5. Darren Lau- graphic designer, videographer, web designer, and overall creative specialist. Currently working on JohnnySwim video and freelance graphic designer for Jesus Culture.

6. Jarrid Wilson- speaker, pastor, social media strategist at Logos, and author of 30 Words.

7. Andre “ZoOm” Anderson- London based artist, Olympics brand ambassador for Adidas, past intern with design agency Sid Lee, and author of  Kingdom: The Rise of the Creative Church.

 

Young Influencers List, October edition

Here you go, the October edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s editions here.

1. David Kim- Executive Director of Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC.

2. Elizabeth Dias- journalist, reporter, and religion and politics writer at TIME.

3. KB- rapper, songwriter, hip hop artist, pastor and boxer. (real name is Kevin Burgess)

4. Brooke Wright- director of marketing at Giant Impact, and founder of Mwana, creating and selling blankets to help friends in Malawi.

5. Morgan Blake- Atlanta based photographer, storyteller and designer; one of our photogs at Catalyst events.

6. Justin Zoradi- social entrepreneur, author, and founder and CEO of These Numbers Have Faces.

7. Laura Lasky- founder and executive director of Solace San Francisco, providing care to men/women in the sex industry, and victims of sex trafficking.

An update on me, and why this Catalyst theme of KNOWN is so personal

I am pumped about this theme of “KNOWN” we just concluded at Catalyst in Atlanta last week. And we’ll be carrying this theme of KNOWN through the spring of 2014 with Catalyst West and Catalyst Dallas. If you weren’t at the event, you can still plug in to post event stuff here.

What do we mean by Known? Well, the simple idea is that to lead well, you have to wrestle with 3 key areas of your leadership- Identity, Calling, and Legacy. 

Identity is focusing on who you are, Calling is focusing on what you do, and Legacy is focusing on what you will be known for. 

Your identity starts with the understanding that you are radically loved by Jesus. That the God who KNOWS all truly KNOWS me. Being truly KNOWN means being truly loved by Jesus. Period. Such an unbelievable but radically incredible concept.

And getting to the heart of being known means you understand as a leader that Being comes before Doing. What we do is always determined by who we are. Your significance and security is founded solely on the idea that your identity is found in Jesus. And ultimately, I can truly Know myself, because I am truly Known by God. Remember: Who you are determines what you Do. We need Leaders who are leading from who they are.

Over the last 14 years, every Catalyst theme we’ve ever had has been personal. Mainly because these themes always flow out of felt needs for our team. They are personal to us. Every time. And this year is no exception. It’s personal to me.

This theme of KNOWN is rocking my world. So much that I’m intentionally stopping. Taking a timeout.

Stopping at this point in my life to intentionally answer these questions:

1. Who am I? Really? Truly?

2. What has God called me to do for this season of vocational life, and even into the next season?

3. What do I want to be KNOWN for?

For the last 12 years, my own personal identity and calling has been wrapped up in being “the Catalyst guy,” which is amazing and has always been a huge honor. But again, I think it’s imperative for leaders, and I mean every leader, to stop. Take a pause. Evaluate. Rest. Recover. Refresh your mind, heart and soul. And reimagine.

So what does that mean for me? Well, I’m taking a 3 month sabbatical starting this week. In my 12 years of being a part of Catalyst, I’ve never really taken an extended vacation. I will basically be non available through the end of the year. On sabbatical.

The sabbatical will be a time for me to rest, recharge, connect with some of the key people in my life, spend some time doing a major leadership intensive and 360 feedback evaluation, and creating space in my life to think, dream and pray about what’s next for me. This is something I’m incredibly grateful for. Everyone I’ve talked to says that taking a sabbatical gives fresh vision and perspective, and you return better than when you left. Leaders- we all have to step away at some point to get fresh perspective and vision. I’ve noticed in my own leadership the need to pause. Even this summer, I had several conversations and moments where I just realized that my own personal leadership was getting stale, I was in a rut, and needed to step away for an extended time just to refresh.

After the sabbatical my plans are to return to Catalyst, but not be in the same role that I’ve been in the last 12 years. Not sure what a new role will/should look like, but part of the strategy of this sabbatical is for me to step out of the day to day running of Catalyst, and let someone else step up. The plan is for Tyler Reagin to step up and be the Catalyst team leader, and really run the day to day of Catalyst, and we’ll figure out how I fit in going forward. Again, part of the goal of the 3 month sabbatical will be to gain clarity on what the next season looks like for me, through study, prayer, reflection, conversations, and rest.

So why do I even share this with you?

Well, I want you to be in the know, but I also think there is a powerful leadership lesson here that I am getting the chance to live out. WhatI I’ve realized is that in many ways I am a case study for this theme of KNOWN. And I want my journey and current season to be of value and hopefully pass on lessons to other leaders.

Handing something off that you love is not easy. Stepping into a different role even though you feel like you are just starting to settle into something is not easy. Allowing those around you to take on more leadership and stewardship and make decisions differently than you, and go potentially in a different direction is not easy.

But it’s time for me to pass the baton and move into a different role. This is a requirement of leadership. If we are going to do our job well as leaders, part of our responsibility is to pass the torch. To create a proper trail of succession. To realize that you are not the reason for the success, and the organization doesn’t revolve around you, and life will go on once you’ve stepped into a different role, and that younger leaders on your team will step up and replace you.

I am passionate about raising up the next generation of leaders, and I want to make sure I am passing on the torch of Catalyst to the “next generation” way before I need to. I think this is a demonstration of proper stewardship and generational transfer. I’ve watched way too many organizations, and type A “founder” type leaders, hold on for way too long and continue to lead even when everyone around them and on their team were hoping they would step to the side. That is unacceptable.

There is no story behind the story in this case for me. No performance questions, no moral or personal failure, no personality conflicts, nothing besides just the continual pursuit of what is best for Catalyst, and what I feel like my role should be and what God is truly calling me to do. All of this started with me talking with a good friend Steve Cockram (some of you know him) and us having a conversation about Catalyst and my role and what the next 5-10 years look like. And I just realized that I want to make sure I hand off the running of things before I really need to, and also make sure I’m in a role that continues to challenge me and fits my skills and gifting. And positions me best to live out my calling for this next season, and ultimately leave a legacy.

I’ll still continue to blog during my sabbatical over the next 3 months. And I’m also working on a 2nd book, so will be spending significant time writing, and will share some of those learnings and discoveries on the blog over the next couple of months.
Thanks for being part of the journey with me!