4 Ways Leaders Can Release Control, and Ultimately Thrive :: Guest Post

(from Cole NeSmith)
I love control. We love control. Control and leadership are actually very fine lines. I started writing my new book, Spiritual Innovation, in 2013 and very quickly I discovered that control is at the root of so much of what I do on a daily basis in my life and leadership. I suspect the same is true for you.
At the heart of Spiritual Innovation is the reality that God is infinite, and throughout history, He has revealed more of Himself and His activity to and through His people. God (being the same today, yesterday and forever) is still up to revealing Himself in the most unexpected ways. But the greatest enemy to joining God in what He’s doing is our own desire for control : controlling ourselves, our circumstances, those around us, and – ultimately – controlling God.
In chapter two of Spiritual Innovation, I tell this story about how the desire to control manifested in my life as a leader.
As a kid, I did chores—cleaned the toilet, mowed the yard, dusted my bedroom. The payment for chores was allowance. Each time I did a chore, I ran up to my parent’s bedroom, opened the bedside table and pulled out a white pad of paper with a long running ledger of plus and minuses, earnings and payouts. Most Sundays, I would run up to that ledger, pull it out, move the decimal point one place to the left and determine the 10% tithe I was to put in the pink envelope with my church’s logo printed on it.
So, 15 years later in life, as I was preparing to give a message about “generosity” at my church, naturally I started researching the tithe. The tithe was mentioned in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It was an agricultural offering of one tenth of one’s grain, wine, and oil harvests. But continuing on in my preparation, it became obvious: tithe was only one example of sacrificial giving in the Bible.
In Luke 19, Zacceaus, as a result of his encounter with Jesus, gave away half of his possessions and returned four times the amount he had stolen from individuals. When Jesus encounters the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19, Jesus instructs him to give away everything he has and come follow him. In Acts, we see members of the Church giving away all they had and giving to others as they had need. Even Ananias and Sapphira—after selling their field—were told the money they had received was at their disposal.
So why the ten percent? I think it’s because we like control and formulas give us the illusion of control. Encouraging people into a place of freedom takes control away. As individuals, we feel at ease when we know the expectation and can, without thought, meet that expectation. We ask, “what will make God happy with me?” and work to meet the minimum requirement so we can feel at ease. Then, as leaders, if we reinforce ten percent, that gives us a common, consistent message and a sense of peace that we will receive at least that much. But no one needs to be in relationship with God to understand this ten percent rule. The tither need not listen to God for instruction on giving, and the leader need not listen for how to lead his or her people or trust in God for provision.
So here are 4 ways I explore in the book that we as leaders can release control, and become the leaders we are created to be.

1. Platform People
In our desire to control, we often leverage people to achieve our own agenda. But the true role of a leader is not to use others but to platform them into their created purpose. This means that the initiatives of our churches may change over time as the people of our churches grow, mature, come, and go. So often, we create positions and push people into the holes to fill the void. But perhaps we should be creating positions not based on our own agenda but on God’s agenda as He blesses the people of our churches with specific gifts and talents.
2. Celebrate Uniqueness 
In order to platform people into their gifts, we must first begin to value people for their uniqueness. So much of modern, American Evangelicalism is built on the concept of sameness, and often “different” scares us. But as we step into relationship with God, he doesn’t neutralize the personalities and personas of each individual. God makes us each with unique gifts and talents to contribute to the unfolding of His plan of heaven on earth. It’s the role of the leader to help uncover the uniqueness of the people around us and to encourage, challenge, and equip them to step into the fullness of who they are created to be.
3. Embrace Exploration
Too many leaders settle to recreate. Too many of us are okay with trying to replicate what we’ve seen someone else do at some other place or at some other time. But God wants to accomplish something unique to where you are. Here and now. That means we have to become people of risk. We have to be people who are willing to explore the unknown depths of God and ministry, placing our complete trust in Him. It means we have to be willing to try things that may fail. But it’s in the exploration that we discover God in more intimate ways than ever before.
4. Practice Creativity 
If you’ve ever made something, you’ve practiced creativity. If you’ve ever asked, “how could this be different” or “how could we do this better,” you’ve practiced creativity. You see, creativity is central to the Christian life. Everything we are called to involves not only seeing things as they are but as they could be. God calls us to be people of hope who see the world as He sees it. And as we release our need for control, we begin participating in making the world, not what we think it should be, but what God has always intended it to be.
Life seems so much easier when we’re in control. But when things are up to you and me, they are limited to the confines of our human capacity. And God’s dreams for the world are so much bigger than anything we could ever accomplish on our own. So today, release control, step into an expectation of innovation, and see God do things far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined!
Cole NeSmith is the Creative Director and co-pastor of City Beautiful Church in Orlando, FL. His new book, Spiritual Innovation, helps us move from the need for control to a new level of exploration, expectation, discovery, and creativity in our faith and lives. Get it here.

He also creates interactive and reflective art and worship experiences through his company, Uncover The Color.

He blogs at colenesmith.com and is on Twitter @ColeNeSmith.

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 

The Catalyst Leader is $2.99 Today ONLY: Thursday, July 3

Hey friends!

Today only- The Catalyst Leader book Kindle version is available for $2.99 on Amazon.

Go Get it NOW!

Again, today only- THURSDAY, JULY 3. The Catalyst Leader Kindle version is $2.99 on Amazon.

Buy one for yourself and one for a friend to pass on.

And if you’ve already read the book, then please buy 2 copies of the Kindle version for your friends/family.

This is such a great deal!

Thanks for the support! And thanks to our friends at Amazon for making this possible.

 

12 New Books You Should Read

in Favorite New Things,Friends and Links,leadership,publishing. 2 Comments

Here are 12 new books I recommend, in no particular order:

1. The Locus Effect- by Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission

2. The Truest Thing About You- by Dave Lomas, pastor of Reality San Franciso

3. Leaders Eat Lastby Simon Sinek, author, speaker, and thought leader (speaking at Catalyst West in April)

4. The God of Yes- by Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas

5. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook- by Gary Vaynerchuk, speaker, entrepreneur, and founder of Wine Library TV

6. Crash the Chatterbox- by Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte

7. Clout- by Jenni Catron, blogger, author and pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, CA

8. Fight- by Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City, OK

9. Beating Burnout- by Anne Marie Miller, author, speaker and blogger.

10. Flesh- by Hugh Halter, author, pastor, speaker, and missional church specialist

11. Passion- by Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church and founder of Passion Conferences

12. Restless- by Jennie Allen, speaker, author and founder of IF Gathering

Just Lead!, a new book for Women Leaders

in Interviews,leadership,publishing. No Comments

A Brand New Resource for Women Leaders!

I am frequently asked questions about the development of women leaders.  While the opportunities for leadership are increasing for women, the resources for development still many times seems inadequate.  That’s why I am really excited for the release of Just Lead! A No Whining, No Complaining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church written by my friends Jenni Catron and Sherry Surratt.

Jenni is the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where she leads the staff and oversees the ministry of five campuses, and Sherry is the president and CEO of MOPS International.

As two experienced leaders who have served in a number of capacities in churches and organizations, Sherry and Jenni not only explore barriers – internal and external – that keep women from assuming a leadership role but also provide practical reality checks on what women can do to become effective leaders.  The book shows how to handle criticism, face indecision, and grapple with the loneliness that often comes with being in charge.  It also offers sage advice on respecting gender differences, overcoming communication barriers, leading other women, and developing a balanced team.

If you are a woman who wants to successfully navigate the transitions necessary to lead well in church and ministry settings, Just Lead! is the handbook you need.

Here are 5 Questions with Jenni & Sherry:

1. What is one leadership lesson you wish you had learned earlier in life?

We wish we had learned the significance of seizing your present sphere of influence and pouring your best into it.  We often say, “Wherever you lead, lead well.”  For those of us with the gift of leadership, we’re naturally inclined to aspire to bigger spheres of influence.  But in doing so, we often miss the leadership lessons we need to be learning in our present circumstances.  Leadership is a journey that doesn’t have a final destination.  You have to make the most of every stop along the way.

2. What three issues do you most commonly see hinder leaders from leading well?

Most of us deal with varying degrees of fear and insecurity, but a few additional issues we see leaders commonly wrestle with are indecision, criticism and communication.

  • Leaders have to be decision makers but oftentimes we become paralyzed by the complexities we face and are indecisive.
  • Criticism is constant.  It’s a natural part of leadership.  Learning to discern what to grow from and what to discard is essential.
  • Leadership rises or falls on communication.  It’s one of the greatest tools we need to develop to lead well.

3. What do men and women need to understand about leading better together?

Trust and respect each other.  Make it less about gender and more about how our gifts and abilities complement each other to do the work we’re called to do.  Seek to understand and give lots of grace!

4. What advice do you have for young leaders?

Wherever God puts you, ask Him for wisdom and a humble spirit to approach your leadership opportunities.  Bring your best game to the table with faithfulness and a willing attitude.  Be the best leader you can be, even if your leadership opportunity is small.  Seize every opportunity to grow and lead with excellence and courage.

5. What inspired you to write a book for women leaders?

Since the day we met, we have shared a deep love for encouraging other women leaders.  We both are frequently sought out for conversations about how to lead well as women.  What we discovered was that there were very few resources available for us to recommend to help women navigate some of the unique challenges they face.  This book was a way to put our stories on paper.  It’s what we would share if we could sit down one-on-one with each of them.

 

I need your help! Be Part of the Launch Team for The Catalyst Leader book

in Catalyst,publishing,The Catalyst Leader. No Comments

Hey friends! It’s that time. And I need your help…..

Here we go! Just over one month until my new book The Catalyst Leader hits the shelves on Tuesday, April 16. The official release is at Catalyst West that week.
This is my first book, and I’m truly humbled to bring lessons from the Catalyst leadership movement over the last 14 years to leaders everywhere. I am so excited for leaders all over the US and around the world to really dig into the heart of what it means to truly be a Catalyst leader, and ultimately lead now, and lead well in today’s culture.
This is where you come in, and where I need your help in spreading the word.We need a launch team, an incredible group of people willing to lead the charge in changing the way the world views leadership. We need change makers, leaders, innovators, students, dreamers, and believers. If that sounds like you…

Go HERE to join the Book Launch Team.

Book Launch Team Member Benefits

  • A free, electronic copy of the book in advance of the publication date (Kindle, Nook, iPad, or PDF).
  • Exclusive access to me and the Catalyst team members in a Private Facebook Group.
  • A special group phone call teaching session with me prior to the launch of the book.
  • A special THANK YOU mention with link to your blog or website on my blog
  • Audio download of my recent talk on “10 Things I’ve learned from Leading Catalyst”
  • A free, electronic copy of the Catalyst Leader book accompanying participants guide in advance of the publication date.
  • A 25% off discount on anything in the Catalyst store

Team Member Requirements

  • Write a book review on Amazon.com as well as one other e-tailer site (2 reviews total)
  • Help spread the word about the book through your blog, to your existing network and beyond, starting on April 15th and throughout the week of the book release.
  • Spread the word about the book through Twitter and Facebook with at least 3 mentions the week of the book release, using the hashtag #catalystleader
  • Instagram the cover of the book (we’ll send you a pic to use)

That’s it!

Again, go here to be part of the Book Launch team and fill out the form. Appreciate your help!

10 New Books worth buying

in Favorite New Things,leadership,publishing. 1 Comment

1. Deep and Wide- by Andy Stanley

2. Unleash!- Perry Noble

3. Undaunted- Christine Caine

4. Glorious Ruin- Tullian Tchividjian

5. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth- John Maxwell

6. Unglued- Lysa TerKeurst

7. Multiply- Francis Chan (not available until November 1)

8. Greater- Steven Furtick

9. Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church- Matt Chandler

10. Soul Detox- Craig Groeschel

Bonus: The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley

40 Great Leadership Books to Read

I love leadership. And I read a lot. So I wanted to provide you with a list of some of the books I recommend.

These are not the only leadership books you should read. There are hundreds of others that are great. But these are just simply 40 of my favorites.

So here you go. And please share this list with your friends, team, and other leaders who might benefit.

40 leadership books to read:

1. Good to Great- Jim Collins

2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership- John Maxwell

3. Courageous Leadership- Bill Hybels

4. The Next Generation Leader- Andy Stanley

5. Now, Discover Your Strengths- Marcus Buckingham

6. Love is the Killer App- Tim Sanders

7. The Tipping Point- Malcolm Gladwell

8. Tribes- Seth Godin

9. It: How Churches and Leaders can Get it and Keep it- Craig Groeschel

10. Integrity- Henry Cloud

11. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership- Henri Nouwen

12. Axiom- Bill Hybels

13. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day- Mark Batterson

14. Five Dysfunctions of a Team- Patrick Lencioni

15. Visioneering- Andy Stanley

16. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us- Daniel Pink

17. Silos, Politics and Turf Wars- Patrick Lencioni

18. Linchpin- Seth Godin

19. How to Win Friends and Influence People- Dale Carnegie

20. Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization- John Wooden

21. Leadership is an Art- Max Depree

22. The Leadership Challenge- Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes

23. Leading with the Heart- Coach Mike Krzyzewski

24. unChristian- Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman

25. True North- Bill George

26. Built to Last- Jim Collins

27. Execution- Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy

28. In Search of Excellence- Tom Peters

29. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People- Stephen Covey

30. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork- John Maxwell

31. What the CEO Wants You to Know- Ram Charan

32. Rework- Jason Fried and David Hansson

33. The Experience Economy- Joseph Pine and James Gilmore

34. Made to Stick- Chip and Dan Heath

35. Blink- Malcolm Gladwell

36. Making Ideas Happen- Scott Belsky

37. The Effective Executive- Peter Drucker

38. Emotional Intelligence- Daniel Goleman

39. On Becoming a Leader- Warren Bennis

40. Leading Change- John Kotter

 

***and I’ll add my book The Catalyst Leader as a bonus.

 

What would you add?