Interview with Margaret Feinberg on her new book Fight Back with Joy

You’ve Gotta Learn to Fight Back With Joy

My friend, Margaret Feinberg, author, speaker, and ski buddy, was scheduled to speak at Catalyst last fall, but had to reschedule. She was in the fight of her life with cancer.

In her new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, she shares that at the news of the diagnosis, she chose to fight back with a rather surprising weapon—joy.

Her new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, will take leaders everywhere by surprise. Let’s be honest, we’ve all read shallow books on joy that try to teach the why’s and how’s of joyful living.

But Margaret explores the depths of joy rarely plundered. Listen to these bombshells:

More than whimsy, joy is a weapon we use to fight life’s battles.

“Joy is your heritage, your identity, your destiny.

Practicing defiant joy is the declaration that the darkness does not and will not win.

Sometimes you have to poke holes in the darkness until it bleeds light.

If you can’t tell, Margaret is a gifted writer. Rich with Scriptural insight this book will take you by surprise and challenge you to fight back with joy as lead and serve.

The Secret To Living A Defiant Joy: An interview with Margaret Feinberg

It’s been inspiring to learn how Margaret has been practicing a defiant joy, and I thought you might like to get an insider’s look and read an interview with Margaret.

Your newest book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, was born out of your fight with a life-threatening illness. What was your difficult diagnosis, and what has your journey to health entailed?

 For the last 18 months, I’ve been battling breast cancer. Breast cancer isn’t just one disease represents thousands of different diseases with their varying components and factors. Being diagnosed under the age of 40 is significant. I’ve been through a brutal year of chemotherapy, radiation, and more surgeries than I can count or want to remember.

Why did you write Fight Back With Joy?

I studied joy for a year and was putting the finishing touches on book on joy—just two weeks from turning it into the publisher, when I received the diagnosis. I had been pursuing and activating joy in my life in the relatively good times, now I had to do it in the midst of darkness, depression, and torturous pain. Through the process, I’ve discovered the breadth, depth, and power of joy—that despite hundreds of sermons and many decades in the church—no one had told me of before.

In Fight Back With Joy book and Bible study, you really push the reader to reevaluate their definition of joy. Why do you think this is so important?

Much of the teaching I’ve heard on joy over the years is oversimplified. I remember those days in Sunday school learning that JOY is spelled Jesus, Others, Yourself. While that made perfect sense at 9 years old, I’ve seen how distorted that can become as an adult.

I see friends who love Jesus but spend so much time pouring into their kids, grandkids and others that their joy looks something like this: jOy.

Technically, it still spells joy, but more than anything, these men and women who are so exhausted, so empty, so running on fumes from pouring into others need to pause and take time to focus on themselves. Laying hold of joy right now will require them to reevaluate for a season and discover the joy that comes with JYo.

I also noticed how most of the definitions of joy define it more by what it isn’t than by what it is. I constantly heard that happiness is based on circumstance but joy is not dependent on circumstance.

Biblical expressions of joy turn out to be far different than what I had been taught. I am now convinced the writers of the Bible would say that, the reason we have joy is because we have great circumstances. If you are a child of God, you are drenched in the grace and mercy of God.

No matter what you’re facing: Your circumstances are better than you think. If you’re not experiencing joy, perhaps it’s because your definition of joy is too narrow.

On a scale of 1-10, how hard was it for you to write this book and Bible study?

An eleven! This journey has been the most painful experience of my life. And, to share about it requires some vulnerability. Okay, a lot of vulnerability. And, that’s really, really hard. But I feel like I’m finally ready to share what God has stirred in my heart along the way because although cancer has been the most painful journey—it has also been the most joyful. And no one is more surprised than I am.

 

Thanks Margaret! And she goes one step further by providing additional resources at the end of the book. She helps us, as leaders, know what to say and what not to say when those in our congregations, ministries, and businesses are going through crisis.

So often we want to pastor and lead people well, but just don’t know what to do. If you know someone facing a horrendous situation, Fight Back with Joy is a must-read.

Get this in the hands of your leadership team and Bible studies—it will equip your church to be the church.

Check out the video.

Pick up a copy of Fight Back With Joy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble today.

9 Things to Consider when Hiring Someone New on Your Team

in Friends and Links,Interviews,leadership,Misc. 2 Comments

1. Hire slow and fire fast. Many organizations are just the opposite, hiring fast and firing slow.

2. Look for heart and hands, not just mind and spirit.

3. Culture is key. As the leader, do you want to hang out with them? Hire people you want to be friends with. Should they be on the bus? Not necessarily what seat yet, but just figuring out if being on the bus is a good idea.

4. Don’t just interview them. “intern” them. This has been the system at Catalyst over the years.

5. Hire a doer, not just a talker. Lots of folks can wow you with their words. The question is can they wow you with their action.

6. Benchmark the Experts. Who are the best people in the world at the position you are hiring? Figure out who that is, and contact them. For advice, suggestions, and to understand why they are so good at what they do. Learn from them and build a job description for your new hire from that.

7. Be wary of the “stepping stone” mentality. If you are another stop on the journey for someone, then run. Reality is – people are transitioning all the time. But that shouldn’t be their mindset going in when hiring them.

8. Get outside the box with your interview process. Don’t just talk to them. Put them on a project, give them an assignment for an hour, have them do a scavenger hunt, make them pitch you on another person also interviewing, etc. Step out of your comfort zone, and make them step out as well.

9. Do your homework. Have potential team members take personality tests, talk to their references, and spend as much time as you can with them.

9 Things to Consider when Hiring someone New

in Interviews,leadership,Leadership Rules. 1 Comment

1. Hire slow and fire fast. Many organizations are just the opposite, hiring fast and firing slow.

2. Look for heart and hands, not just mind and spirit.

3. Culture is key. As the leader, do you want to hang out with them? Hire people you want to be friends with.

4. Don’t just interview them. “Intern” them. This has always been the system at Catalyst.

5. Hire a doer, not just a talker.

6. Benchmark the Experts. Who are the best people in the world at the position you are hiring? Figure out who that is, and contact them. For advice, suggestions, and to understand why they are so good at what they do. Learn from them and build a job description for your new hire from that.

7. Be wary of the “stepping stone” mentality. If you are another stop on the journey for someone, then run. Reality is – people are transitioning all the time. But that shouldn’t be their mindset going in when hiring them.

8. Do your homework. Have potential team members take personality tests, and spend as much time as you can with them.

9. Talk to their former employers. Many people skip this step, but it’s crucial. Talk to their references, and make sure you get a sense of how they performed in their former roles.

9 Keys for Conducting a Great Interview

in Interviews,leadership,Misc. 1 Comment

So someone asked me recently to talk about the keys to being a great interviewer. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ll try and provide some thoughts.

Here you go:

1. Do your homework. You would be amazed how many people show up to do an interview and have no clue about who they are interviewing, and just try to wing it. It shows. Believe me.

2. Ask the question behind the question. Get under the surface. Dig deeper. Not to uncover gossip or something that is not relevant, but because someone has probably already asked the question you are thinking about asking. So ask a better one.

3. Shutup. No one wants to hear your answer to the question, otherwise the tables would be turned. Your job is to pull great content out of the interviewee, not to give your opinion.

4. Create a conversation, not just a serve and volley. When appropriate, give the sense to your listeners that you are sitting in a living room having coffee and catching up. Creating conversation is different than just giving your opinion or an answer to your question. Conversations require context, which means you have to have 20 or 30 questions ready to go for an interview that would usually be around 10 questions.

5. Don’t interrupt unless you need to, keep your hands off the table, and save your “ums” and “uh-huhs” and “oh-yeahs” for after you’re done. For audio or video purposes, your agreeing by saying something just muddies the water. It seems like the thing to do in person- giving your interviewee verbal feedback, but just stick with non-verbal. Sounds better when you don’t respond. And hitting or tapping the table is picked up by microphones- seems obvious, but everyone forgets…..

6. Listen. Seems obvious, but great interviewers actually listen to an answer being given, instead of preparing for the next question and not actually hearing what the person is saying. Listening creates great follow up questions. And creates trust with the interviewee.

7. Provide your questions beforehand. Send your questions to the person you are interviewing before the interview so they can prepare.

8. Make your interviewee the hero. Your job is to bring out the best in them. To uncover greatness. To reveal the good, true and beautiful. You also want to make them relatable, personable, and human. Which means you need to be those as well. If you’re relatable, it will give them permission to be.

9. Study the best. Watch Charlie Rose, Bob Costas, Barbara Walters, Oprah, etc. Learn from their style.

One of the Key Questions Smart Leaders Obsess Over

Succession Planning- a key area that smart leaders are thinking about and planning for.

One day your church will need a new pastor. One day your organization will need a new president. One day your charity will need a new executive director. Are you ready?

Whether you are a pastor, church staff, CEO or volunteer, you need to be thinking about the most important turning point your church or organization will have to face…who will lead when our current pastor/leader isn’t around anymore?

Many church leaders equate succession planning to retirement planning. However, smart church leaders realize that succession planning is much more than that.

I visited with my friend William Vanderbloemen who just wrote a book on the subject called Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, which is a church leader’s comprehensive guidebook to understanding what you can do now to prepare for the day your church faces a leadership transition.

Brad: Why is pastoral succession such an important issue for churches right now?

William: The big idea that drove writing this book was a single sentence I realized a few years ago: Every pastor is an interim pastor. Few pastors consider this truth, but unless they plan on leading their church after Jesus’ return, everyone in ministry will face the day when a successor takes over their church. But once you consider the inevitability of transition, and the chance a leader has to secure a legacy through a good succession, it quickly becomes the issue that smart leaders obsess over, no matter their age or stage of career.

Brad: I know many people equate succession planning with retirement planning. Is that really what succession planning is?

William: Not at all. Retirement is often only a final step in a series of pastoral successions. We found in our study that the average pastor will transition about three times in their career. Each of those transitions warrants a plan. Succession is when one senior leader intentionally transitions and hands over leadership to another. It is creating a plan for what will happen within the organization once you need a new leader, which every organization will face. Smart leaders realize that succession planning should start with pastors early in their tenure at their church. While retirement planning should be part of a healthy succession plan, a true succession plan encompasses a plan for any leadership transition reason, whether it is the pastor’s own decision, the board’s, or an unfortunate emergency situation.

Brad: What should young leaders, early on in their tenure, be thinking about now to start planning a successful succession?

William: When I was a young pastor, John Maxwell told me, “William, spend your younger years creating options for your later years.” I believe that more now than ever. The sooner you start laying out a succession plan, the more options you create for your future.

I’d particularly point young leaders to Chapter 2 of Next. It lays out “The Ten Commandments of Succession Planning,” which is a checklist of steps that young leaders need to be doing now to prepare themselves and their church for a successful leadership transition.

One of those steps is setting a healthy pace for the long run by establishing regular sabbaticals and being part of an accountability group. Too many successions happen on the heels of a moral or financial failure because the pastors were tired and didn’t have anyone to talk to about their personal fatigue.

Another step is that church leaders need to prepare an emergency envelope for what would happen if an emergency happened and the pastor couldn’t fill the pulpit on Sunday.

Check out chapter 2 of the book for all ten steps of what you should be doing now to prepare your succession plan.

Brad: Tell me more about the hundreds of interviews you and your co-author Warren Bird from Leadership Network did for research on the book. What was the most surprising trend you found?

William: Great question, Brad. It’s one that I’m asked quite a bit. There are a whole lot of surprises that we found, but two trends come to mind. First, I never realized how much of a good succession rises and falls on the outgoing pastor’s spouse. There are a number of great stories in the book that highlight this. Smart churches will pay attention to that dynamic and find ways to address it as they face transitions.

Secondly, I was shocked to see the average ages of the pastors of the largest churches in the country. There are some great infographics and tables in the book with that sort of information. Seeing it laid out in one spot convinced me that succession planning is a looming crisis for the church.

Thanks, William! This is a topic that every leader needs to start thinking, talking, even obsessing about. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

Order Next: Pastoral Succession That Works now at NextPastor.com for you, your church staff, and your church board.

Interview with Jason Locy and Tim Willard about Home Behind the Sun

 

I’m excited today to post an interview with two friends, Jason Locy and Tim Willard. Both guys have been involved in the Catalyst community for over 10 years now working on our Catalyst Leadership Groupzine project along with other initiatives.

In 2011 they wrote a book entitled Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society that I said, “every leader needs to read.”

They have a new book out this past week, Home Behind the Sun: Connect with God in the Brilliance of the Everyday, in which they weave personal narrative and experiences into a wonderful topic: beauty in the everyday.

Jason and Tim are long-time and life-long friends and I can’t wait for leaders to read this book and to share it with others.

 

Brad: How should leaders interact with this book?

Jason: We intentionally wrote the book to be an introspective read and then added a discussion guide so that growing and learning could happen first individually and then in community. That way the applications are contextualized based on your environment and past experiences.

We think leaders grow by being around other people in deep conversations. So what we wanted to do was to give you, the leader-reader, deep conversation rather than a book of “how-tos” and bullet points.

Tim: We wanted to give the leader a book that didn’t explain how to do something, like confront unforgiveness in their heart, but a resource that would actually speak to that specific felt need. Our good friend Adam pastors a church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and he is going through the book with his staff. His comment was: “This book doesn’t tell me how to grow closer to God, it actually helps me do that.”

That blew us away, but we’re finding that’s how leaders are using it.

Click here for a sample of the Discussion Guide

 

Brad: Home Behind The Sun seems like a book that would be great for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to sit down and read an entire book. They could just pick it up and read any given chapter and still receive a timely message. Was this intentional?

Tim: Absolutely. Our favorite books are the ones we return to often. And that’s what we wanted this one to be. Much of the book is broken up into personal narratives regarding the brilliance in the everyday grind of work, relationships, parenting–even in despair and tragedy. We know time is precious to folks and we thought offering a book that didn’t carry the pressure of working through the entire thing would be a welcome change for readers, especially ministry leaders who are inundated with books they’re told to read.

Jason: Yeah, Tim and I get it. I have a 9-to-5 job and Tim’s studying for his doctorate. We understand that time slips away easily. With Home Behind the Sun, you can pick it up with a morning cup of coffee or evening tea and read a bit, and think on it using the discussion guide in the back of the book.

 

Brad: In the book, you talk a lot about your roles as fathers and husbands. How will this book impact men of faith like yourselves?

Jason: Hopefully it will hit them over the head and knock them down. Ha. I guess I’m only half-kidding. But seriously, we’re passionate for men to come away a good challenge. After reading they might say, “Wow, my view of masculinity is based on sitcom realities. But these guys (Tim and I) are presenting manhood in a different way.”

Because of the way its written, because its written by two guys, because it peppers in experiences with our own sons and daughters, we think it will start to reclaim men’s imaginations on what it looks like to be a dad, a husband, a friend, and a man.

Tim: But even though it’s written by two men, and men will learn from it by our experiences, it wasn’t written specifically for men at all. In fact, we look into the beauty of innocence, the complexity and need for deep relationships and universal topics like that that aren’t specific to men. So we think there’s something for men and women to wrestle with and even enjoy.

 

Brad: What do you hope leaders will get out the book?

Tim: I really hope leaders will find this book to be an aid to their spiritual refreshment. I think so often the “leader type books” are the ones that explain how to do something. I hope the leader will see this book as one he or she can sit with in the quiet of their homes or apartments and allow the thoughts to minister to their hearts.

So often we don’t know we’ve been running a hundred miles an hour until we sit and listen. Sometimes it’s a song, other times it’s a friend speaking truth to us. I hope this book can be kind of both–a song of encouragement and encouragement from to brothers-in-Christ.

Jason: I would agree with Tim, but also add that I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and ministry leaders and so often I hear about burnout and tiredness and priorities out of whack. We’ve all been there, and for me, this book is a pause and a reminder, that we are leaders who possess the glory of Christ within us. And when we come to terms with that truth, it will affect our spiritual lives for sure, but it will also impact the way we lead others. At the end of the day I hope leaders receive refreshment as they flip the pages and plenty of great conversation with friends as they work through what they are reading.