11 New Books I Highly Recommend

Here are a few new leadership books from friends that I highly recommend:

1. Yes or No- by Jeff Shinabarger

2. Unstoppable- by Christine Caine

3. Row for Freedom- by Julia Immonen

4. The Best Yes- by Lysa TerKeurst 

5. Overrated- by Eugene Cho

6. Be the Message- by Kerry Shook 

7. Jesus Prom- by Jon Weece

8. Addicted to Busy- by Brady Boyd

9. Life with a Capital L- by Matt Heard

10. The Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family- by Kara Powell

11. Life on Mission- by Aaron Coe 

Leaders Take the First Step in Relationships

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Reach out First. Take the first step.

Most of us aren’t “experts” at relationships. Whether dealing with family, friends, co-workers, new acquaintances, or team members, we are all guilty of coming up short. It seems like every day I goof up in the way I relate, communicate, and lead.

I’m sure this scenario applies to you right now, or will soon. A business deal gone bad. A conversation that was really tense. A mis-spoken word or hurtful phrase- either directed towards you or from you. Gossip behind your back that you know about, and so does the person who said it. Disagreements turned into frustration and now no communication. A confrontational conversation with a close friend that leaves both hesitant to talk.

Are there folks in your life right now who you are at odds with? Here are two thoughts on how to “restore” healthy and harmonious relationships with those around us.

1. Reach out first- don’t wait on someone else to move toward you. Go ahead and confess, apologize, bring it up, or start the conversation. Even if you are not at fault. You need to lean in and reach out and move across the “center aisle” and intentionally make amends.

2. Move on- Don’t hang on to something just so you can hold it over someone’s head. Let it go. Restore the relationship, and restart the relationship immediately.

3. Get better- continue to work on living and leading at peace with those around you. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Establish a healthy routine of daily reaching out and daily vulnerability. Make sure you are progressing and improving and not allowing relationships to get to points where you have to be intentional about mending them.

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.

8 Important Roles for your Board of Directors

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Many of us deal with a board of directors, especially in the non-profit arena. I serve on a couple of boards for ministries I am involved with. Being on a board can be a great experience, both for the board member and for the executive director/president. It can also be incredibly frustrating and taxing, especially to the leader in charge of the organization.

So thought I would provide a few points here on the role of a board member, and the overall role and responsibility of a Board of Directors, specifically as it relates to non-profit charities or ministries:

1. Give, get, or get off- give money, go get some money, or get off the bus. You have to help the organization thrive financially.

2. One employee, one customer- sole focus of the board is the role and responsibility of the executive director/president of the organization. Don’t mess with the rest of the team. It’s not the role of  the board.

3. Health and stability- take care of your executive director and make sure they are healthy and stable. Their sense of well being is your responsibility.

4. Be a friend, and advocate- while the board should only focus on the role of the executive director/president, that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with the rest of the staff. Friendship is important, and so is advocacy. Be a cheerleader, and a fan of the team.

5. Carry the vision-  own the vision of the organization. It can’t just be owned by the visionary or founder.

6. Stay in your strengths- make sure the board members are operating in their areas of strength. In their areas of interest and focus. Not just serving on a committee just for the committee’s sake.

7. Make connections- leverage your relationship network and folks you know for the good of the organization. Connect your friends, family and business associates.

8. Replace yourself- find other potential board members who can take your place. Succession and legacy are critical.

Tips for 1st Time in a Meeting

We’ve all been there. First time in a one on one meeting with your boss. First time in a brainstorming session. First time in a staff meeting. Whether your 1st meeting ever as a young intern, newly hired greenie, or seasoned pro who is new to the team, there are some keys to how you should approach the environment of a 1st time meeting.

1. Don’t try to be the expert. Reality is, you’re probably not. Make others in the room around you the expert.

2. Ask lots of questions. This is your entry point for any meeting, at any level. Good questions give you instant credibility. And many times are more strategic than the right answer.

3. Don’t feel like you have to give any answers. While asking good questions, don’t feel the need to provide answers in response.

4. Be curious and engaging. Look people in the eye. Engage with everyone around the table and in the room. Encourage others ideas.

5. Take a posture of learning. Take notes. Act like you’re in class. Be the most interested.

6. Get coffee. Or drinks. Or snacks. This shows you are okay with serving everyone else. Whether young or old, you’ve never too old or young to wait on others.

7. Act like you don’t belong, but work like you do. This is a good rule for any meeting, and your overall leadership in general.

12 Churches under the Radar you should Know

Here are a few churches with lots of influence in their communities, and definitely worth checking out in terms of the way they are doing ministry and reaching their cities. But may not be as well known to other leaders around the country.

Check them out, and add any other churches to the comments section that might be under the radar but we should make sure and know about.

1. Reality Church- San Francisco; Dave Lomas

2. Fresh Life ChurchKalispell, MT; Levi Lusko

3. Cornerstone Church- Orangeburg, SC; Artie Davis

4. The Crossing Church- Las Vegas, NV; Shane Philip

5. South Bay ChurchSan Jose, CA; Andy Wood

6. The Church of Eleven22- Jacksonville, FL; Joby Martin

7. The Church at ArkansasFayetteville, AR; Jonathan Beasley

8. Liquid Church- Mountainside, NJ; Tim Lucas

9. Epiphany Fellowship Church- Philadelphia, PA; Eric Mason

10. Hillside Community Church- Rancho Cucamonga, CA; Aaron McRae

11. The Triumphant Church- Hyattsville, MD; Perrin Rogers

12. Substance Church- Minneapolis, MN; Peter Haas

 

Whose Attention are You After?

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Who’s Watching you? Who are you watching? Whose attention are you after?

Really.

Whose attention do you crave?

Too many of us crave the attention of the wrong crowd.

Are you chasing the attention and approval of friends, or peers, or those who have “arrived” already? Are you seeking the attention of “celebrities” in your circle? Would it make your day to be noticed by someone? Your boss? The CEO? The Senior Pastor? Founder? That artist or musician? If a certain someone commented on your instagram pic or followed you on Twitter, would that totally make your day and immediately change your attitude?

Or are you content with the attention of your Heavenly Father?

Leaders must be cautious of chasing after the things of this world. Chasing after the attention of others, jumping in on the latest fad, saying yes because of who you are saying yes to, and seeking the approval of the crowd is not acceptable.

Romans 12: 2 warns us against this: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Our attention and focus should be on things that are Eternal, and we should crave the attention of God, not man.

Don’t get caught up in trying to be “noticed by man.” Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Seek the attention and approval of One.

6 Things Leaders should avoid that will poison your Team

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I’ve been reminded recently of the constant tension on a team. And…. the Tension is Good. We talked about this and leaned into this phrase before, and actually dealt with it as an event theme back in 2010 at Catalyst Atlanta. The right kind of tension is important for teams, as well as for individuals. It stretches and shapes and allows for growth.

But there are other things that can creep into a team and poison it quickly. Things that sneak up fast and before you know it, start to define the team and take everyone off course. In the wrong direction. Headed the wrong way.

Here are a few of the poisons to make sure and avoid:

1. Arrogance- Pride comes before the fall, and for teams, the same holds true. Jim Collins talks about this at length in his book How the Mighty Fall. Humble confidence is the ticket.

2. No communication- this one is the most common poison for all teams to have some form of. The remedy? Overcommunicate. Be intentional and make sure folks are in the know. For team leaders, this one is tough. I struggle at this.

3. Me first, vs. We first- see this alot on high profile sports teams. Or with celebrities. As they say, there’s no “I” in team. A WE first mentality starts at the top with the leader who has to set the tone in word AND deed. If you are hearing “it’s not my job,” then it’s time for a gut check.

4. Jealousy and Cynicism- many times these go hand in hand and one follows the other. The remedy? Confronting it head on. Don’t allow jealousy or cynicism or cliques to form. Stomp it out immediately. Team members have to confront it with each other, as many times the team leader won’t be aware of this until later.

5. Distrust- either not trusting the leader, or not trusting each other. A killer of morale and momentum. Trust comes with time, but also is fueled by interaction and shared experiences. So make sure you are creating opportunities for trust to be built within and among your team.

6. Lack of Vision, and Lack of reality- this usually shows up in the form of a team lacking self awareness. And starts at the top with the team leader. One of the roles of a team leader is to constantly cast vision, but also to confront reality head on and make sure everyone is aware of reality. Don’t allow your team to live in fantasy land. You should cast vision constantly, yes, but you should also deal with reality constantly.

What else would you say poisons teams in your experience?