Here you go, the January edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past monthly lists here.
Here you go, the January edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past monthly lists here.
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.
Again, I highly recommend this book! To purchase the book, go here.
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.
Will be releasing the January 2014 edition soon. If you have suggestions for future Young Influencers, please leave in the comments. Thanks!
Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.
Here you go, the October edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s editions here.
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.
A few tips for those of you attending Catalyst for the first time this year, or maybe it’s your 2nd or 3rd time, or maybe 14th in a row!!. Hopefully these are helpful and allow your Catalyst experience to be the best ever!
1. Arrive early. Especially on Thursday morning Oct 3. The pre-show starts up around 6:55 am, so we’ll try our best to entertain you while you wait for the doors to open around 7:50 am.
2. Attend LABS. LAB sessions occur on Wednesday, October 2nd, and are a great way to dive deeper into practical topics. We still have a few tickets left for LABS (and pre-lab with Reggie Joiner on Wednesday morning), so you can register online or walk up. Labs officially start at 11:30 am on Wednesday with the opening session featuring Henry Cloud. Can’t wait!
All of the LAB sessions will be great, and I recommend every session that we’ve created. But just want to give you a few names of some of the LAB speakers you may not know but will definitely want to hear:
** Bryan Loritts, Shelley Giglio, Jenni Catron and Sherry Surratt, Rebekah Lyons and Bianca Olthoff, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson/Bethany Hoang/Peter Greer, Leonce Crump, Dr. Raj Shah, Eugene Cho.
3. Listen to the Catalyst Podcast Roadtrip Edition on your way to the event. The episode includes clips with Andy Stanley, Judah Smith and Priscilla Shirer, as well as helpful tips, entertainment, and even recommendations on how to get to KNOW your team on your drive in. Download here.
4. Bring food with you. Because parking is free, and there is now plenty of it because of a new parking deck, you’ll be able to get to your vehicle no problem at lunch and dinner. So with that in mind, plan to tailgate! Bring the grill, or just an ice chest and some extra food. It’s really a pain to drive somewhere for lunch or dinner, so just hang out and soak up the sun! We will also have food for sale onsite outside, so that is also an option.
5. Attend the evening session on Thursday night. Do not miss Thursday night! Judah Smith, plus the Passion band. It will be a great time. You’ll be tempted to go back to the hotel room and turn on the baseball game or Thursday night college football, but stick around!
6. No reserved seating. Because there is no reserved seating, you’ll want to arrive early. And if you are attending Catalyst with a big group, make sure you bring some 5 x 7 cards or paper (and tape) to be able to tape on the seat so that you’ll remember where you are sitting!
7. Sing loud. 12,000 voices together worshipping our God is epic. Don’t stand (or sit) idly by with arms crossed and lips closed. Join in. Stand up, Hands held high and voices raised.
8. Catalyst Backstage- if you can’t attend, no worries. Join us on CatalystBackstage starting on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 pm EST, and then on Thursday and Friday mornings at 8:30 am EST, all day long on both days. We’ll have interviews with speakers, behind the scenes footage, and several LIVE look-ins for some of the sessions.
9. Purchase t-shirts and jackets early at the resource centers. If you plan on buying a t-shirt or jacket, purchase them at the first break. They sell out fast, so don’t wait. And it will be a bit chilly in the mornings this week, so you’ll need a new tee or jacket anyway!
10. Bring items to give back and help others. In partnership with ATLANTA MISSION and CONVOY OF HOPE, we are asking EVERY Catalyst attendee to bring PAPER PRODUCTS, including TOILET PAPER, PAPER PLATES and NAPKINS, and PAPER TOWELS, along with GIFT CARDS, to give back to those in need in the city of Atlanta. Please stop on your way into Atlanta and the Gwinnett Arena and pick up these items. We want the collection bins to OVERFLOW! There is a Kroger right across the street from Gwinnett Arena if you forget!
11. Bring an extra bag for all the Catalyst swag. There are lots of great partners at Catalyst all around the lobby and concourse. Bring an extra bag to collect all the goodies.
12. Hang out in the Reflective Prayer Tent- allow yourself some time to hang out in the reflective worship tent. And, we’ll have a prayer team available the entire conference that will pray with you, for you, and over you. Some of us just need a fresh dose of God’s provision and goodness, so take advantage of this area.
13. Hang out in the upper concourse Lounge area. Thanks to our partners at NIV Bible Live!, we have an upstairs Lounge area (upstairs on concourse level opposite of front doors) where you can chill out, have conversations, charge your phone or computer, and just relax on some comfortable furniture!
14. If u tweet, use the hashtag #CATALYST. And follow Catalyst on Twitter @CatalystLeader.
15. Purchase the Catalyst Experience Kit. Every year we try and put together the best of the best so you can take the Catalyst experience home with you. This year is no exception.You can purchase it before you get to the event and then pick it up onsite without having to mess with the lines. I highly recommend this! Includes all kinds of great stuff, including the talks from this event, plus brand new resources, and my book The Catalyst Leader and the accompanying DVD curriculum.
16. Engage. Meet other leaders. There is an incredible amount of wisdom and influence gathered in one place at one time, so take advantage of the other leaders who are present. Many of us go to leadership gatherings and conferences and never really connect. We get distracted by things going on around us. This year we want you to truly Laugh. Listen. Sing. Pray. Engage. Connect.
Can’t wait to see you there!
Here you go, the September edition of the Young Influencers List. You can find all the past month’s names here.