March 26, 2013

Leaders Have Weaknesses Too

If you are a leader & you don’t allow your weaknesses to 'show' it doesn’t mean they don’t exist & it doesn’t mean those you are leading don’t know they are there.

I recently heard a story where John Maxwell was sharing at a conference about being vulnerable & growing as a leader. He was teaching that it is important as a leader to keep open communication with your team, allow them to speak into your life, & be willing to allow them to share with you weaknesses they see in your life in order to help you grow. Some in the crowd loved it, others cringed.

After the conference, one who cringed came up to him and begrudgingly shared that as a leader you are only supposed to show your strengths. If not, people are going to know that you are weak, won’t follow you, & may take advantage of you. Maxwell loving looked at him and replied, “They already know your weaknesses, they see them everyday.”  

As a leader, you have weaknesses, no matter how much you try to cover them up. The question is not whether or not they exist, but are you intentional about being transparent with those you are leading & are you intentional about growing? Yes, you want to be strong as a leader. Yes, you need courage in the midst of fire. And, yes you need to be able to make decisions & move when nobody is willing. But, that does not mean you don’t have weakness.

Jeanne Mayo once said, “You lead in your strengths, but you connect in your weaknesses.” Too many are trying to only lead in their strengths & are alienating those who are following them because they are not willing to be vulnerable with those they are leading. If you want to grow as a leader you need to be willing to be vulnerable, be real about your weaknesses, & allow God to use those He has placed around you to speak into your life to help you grow.

Let’s Do This Together
As a leader have you established a safe, healthy, & open line a communication in which your team can speak freely, lovingly, & honestly with you? What weaknesses have you been trying to hide, but are probably visible to all who work with you?

March 19, 2013

It Starts With The Heart

Have you ever seen a leader who was extremely good at what he or she did, but you knew his or her motives were wrong? Do you realize that it is possible to have the skills of leadership, but lack the heart of it? No matter how skilled you are as a leader if you lack the heart of leadership you are not a leader, you are only a very skilled person.

When God called David to leadership he was young & completely inexperienced in leading people. Matter of fact, after he was anointed by Samuel the only things that followed him were sheep! However, what distinguished David from the thousands in Israel at the time was his heart. It was not his appearance, experience, or skills that qualified him for leadership in God’s eyes, it was his heart, “People look at the outer appearance, but God looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7).

As a leader it is absolutely necessary for you to grow in your skills & abilities to lead, but without developing the heart of leadership you are a time bomb waiting to explode. The heart of leadership is derived in our beliefs, character, thoughts, passions, motives, & desires, but it is eventually revealed in our actions. Too many have substituted the heart of leading for the skills of leading & have ended up as skillful, heartless movers & shakers. Skillful leaders can move people or projects, but it usually isn’t for the good of the people, it is for the benefit of self. If moving those people is of no benefit to them then they won’t commit an ounce of energy.

I always wondered why God did not reject David when he messed up horribly, it was because his heart. Yes, you need to develop your skills as a leader or else you remain someone with a great leadership heart who is completely incapable of carrying out the responsibility of leadership. But, when you have the heart of leadership & you’re growing in the skills of leadership your fails can turn into building blocks. However, if you do not develop the heart of leadership: servanthood, selflessness, adding value to the lives of others, & love, your leadership will eventually be revealed for what it truly is, making your name great. Leadership takes skill, but it starts with the heart.

Let’s Do This Together
What experiences have you had with leaders who are all heart & no skill or all skill & no heart? Are you a leader who is intentional on developing both the heart of leadership & the skill of leadership?

March 9, 2013

The Fanatic vs. The Faithful: Ways of Change

When you get excited about making change in your life do you 
tend to become a fanatic or faithful? 

Fanatics are those people who hear something new and immediately begin to implement it in their lives regardless of how it impacts other things. Those who are faithful hear something new, chew on it for a little while, & develop a plan to incrementally implement it in their lives.

Both the fanatic & the faithful have great strengths. When you’re a fanatic you’re willing to jump without looking, trail blaze, take great risks, & endure scorn for the sake of drastic change. When you’re faithful you are consistent, calculated, intentional, & see things through to the end.

However, along with the strengths, both have great weaknesses. Fanatics tend to: start well, but finish poorly, don’t always calculate how the risk of drastic change effects others, & get extremely excited about implementing something, but quickly lose interest when no progress immediately occurs. The faithful tend to: not be willing to move unless they have everything figured out, see risk as liability so they don’t venture out, & don’t like changing directions when something is started.

If you want to see powerful change 
in your life you need to be willing to be both 

Some changes need to happen drastically & immediately, others need to happen slowly & incrementally. In some areas of your life you need to become fanatical. You need to be willing to do things you have never done fast in order to see results you have never seen. However, in order to apply certain changes you need to take the time to think through their effects on your life, your spouse, your kids, your family, your team, etc. & patiently implement them.

You can’t be afraid of change. If you are not changing you are not growing. However, if you try to change too fast it can lead to sabotage & if you try to change too slowly it may be too late! Don’t let fear paralyze you any longer. It’s time to learn how to make necessary, fanatical determinations in your heart & faithfully walk them out, step by step. You’re going to do it, today is the day!

Let’s Do This Together
When it comes to change, are you more of a fanatic or faithful? How do you need to grow in both areas in order to see impactful & lasting change?

March 8, 2013

When the Cash Ain't Flowing

Have you ever taken the time to really think about how & where your cash is flowing? You may say, “Yea, I see it flow in my account & then out.” But, is it flowing the way you really want it too?

Cash flow is a technical business term used to describe financial profits after taxes. In everyday language, cash flow is money you have available in your pocket. However, if you were to be honest would you be able to say that your cash is flowing? Or do your cash pipes seem to be continually clogged with bills, credit card debt, & crazy spending?

A clogged toilet is not normal & neither is a clogged bank account.

After you pay the bills, put a little away for savings, & give a little, if you don’t have any “cash flow” you have to actually take the time & ask the question of “why?” If your toilet is continually clogged every time you use it you would either call a plumber, take the pipes apart yourself, or get a new toilet right? Then why, when it comes to finances & you are experiencing constant clogging, do you just write it off as normal?

In order to deal with your financial clog you have to first diagnose the problem. Is it the flow of water or pipes, your income? Or is it too much toilet paper or waste that you are trying to put down the pipes, excess spending? In either case, you are at the center of the solution.

When the cash ain’t flowing you have to be real with the “why?” If it is the flow, maybe it is time to get a new job or a second job. If it is excess waste being shoved down the pipe then you need to watch how you spend, when you spend, & why you spend. Start with taking the time to actually think why the cash ain’t flow & begin moving towards a solution; don’t just accept the clog as normal.

Let’s Do This Together
Do you take the time to actually see where your money is go & do you know why it is going to those places? What do you need to do to unclog your financial pipe or create more cash flow?

March 7, 2013

What Happened To My Spouse?

Have you ever woke up one morning & while laying next to your spouse you asked yourself, “Who is this person?” The person you were laying next too didn’t seem to match the person you exchanged vows with, she or he was so different? This is not always a bad thing. With every experience, job promotion, job loss, baby, life transition, book read, new friendship, & new year change occurs.

Every new day brings about some type of change in you & your spouse, either for the better or worse. The question are not, “What happened to my spouse?” or “Why did my spouse change?” The question is, “How did my spouse change?” 

More often than not, you & your spouse go through changes in your personal lives without you even recognizing it, reflecting on it, or talking about it. Then after a long period of time when the changes have become undeniable & it seems as if you have drifted apart in certain areas you ask, “Who is this person?”

You & your spouse will change, it is undeniable. But, will you change for the better? And, will you change together? To grow together in your marriage you must be intentional to walk together through the individual changes you both experience. What one spouse goes through will directly & indirectly impact the other; you are one.

Your marriage is meant to be like a living organism; living organisms grow, develop, & mature. As you move forward in your marriage be intentional to grow, develop, & mature together. Be willing to take time to reflect on your days, weeks, months, & years together. And after you reflect, share how you both have grown from them. Don’t wait until the changes are so visible that they disrupt your lives, begin the daily walk of change together today.

Let’s Do This Together
Have you ever felt alienated from your spouse because of changes he, she, or you have experienced? How can you be intentional about recognizing, reflecting, & talking with your spouse about changes you both experience?

March 6, 2013

W.R.A.P. #5 - Encouragement: Setting Hearts on Fire

Encouragement is one of your most powerful allies in the world. Encouragement can turn a fearful wanderer into a courageous visionary. It can cause a shambled marriage to be infused with life. It can turn an insecure dreamer into a confident accomplisher. And, it can take an apathetic heart & set it on fire with relentless passion!

Recently, I was overwhelmed to hear one of my friends share with me how the encouragement from a message I preached, The Risk of Faith, inspired the courage she needed to move forward & begin her own dessert business. Now her business, P31 Cakes, is picking up. She has shipped orders across the country & has even been invited to sell her desserts in a restaurant! All because of encouragement.

You often don’t realize how powerful encouraging words are to you or people around you. Encouragement literally means, “to inspire courage.” Through your words you have the power to infuse courage into the heart & mind of another. Your encouragement can help someone take a step that they desire to take by giving them an inspirational nudge; it can help someone go from “I know I can” to “I’m doing it!”

Today’s Challenge
Today’s W.R.A.P. (Wednesdays Random Act on Purpose) is for you to intentionally encourage 2 people around you in what they are doing or dream of doing. Perhaps it is a coworker you see working hard who needs some inspiration. Maybe it is your spouse who has been working hard on an area in his or her life, or maybe it is your leader or child. Whoever it may be, find 2 people that you can give specific & intentional encouragement to in order to inspire courage in their life. You never know, you may be inspiring a future New York Time Best Seller, Teacher of the Year, Pastor, World Traveler, or Business Owner.

Let’s Do It Together
How has the encouragement from another inspired you to move forward in an area of your life? When you gave encouragement to your 2 people, how did they respond?

March 5, 2013

Is Your Life Worth Imitating?

There is a big difference from knowing how to live with great excellence & actually living with great excellence. Knowing how to do & doing are two different things. Great leaders don’t just know how to do things, they actually do them.

A good leader is one whose life influences others to live as he or she does. If we were to be honest most leaders are not real leaders, they are educators, teachers, & information givers. If all you do is give people good ideas of how to live, share great resources of effective ways to live, or present powerful information about how to improve their life then you are a great informationalist, not necessarily a great leader.

Great leaders know that the hardest & most influential people to lead are themselves; they know if they can lead themselves well others will follow. Therefore, great leaders are intentional, not just about communicating good principles, but living in such a way that people desire to imitate their lives.

People watch your life far more than you think. The question is, “When people watch your life is it compelling them to do what you do & how you do it?” Don’t just give great information, lead.

Let’s Do This Together
As a leader, is your life worth imitating? Do people see what you do & want to do it? Or, do you just expect people to hear your words & follow them?

March 3, 2013

Beyond The 4 Walls

Gathering together with around a 100 urban youth workers, leaders, & pastors at the Urban Youth Workers Institute's "Reload Bay Area" yesterday was a humbling reminder that what God is doing goes way beyond the 4 walls of my church. Listening to the stories of young & seasoned ministers from the urban trenches was so refreshing, encouraging, empowering, & humbling. It was a reminder that God often works far more in my region than I see on the surface!

It is said that the Bay Area region has 9 million+ people living in it with only 4% believers in Jesus Christ. Out of 9,000,0000 people only about 360,000 live for Jesus. The average church in the Bay Area is only about 50 – 100 people. The largest church may be anywhere from 7,000 – 10,000 (that is probably stretching it). What does this mean? There is lots of work to be done! We have to continually allow the Holy Spirit to remind us that the work God desires to do in our region goes far beyond our own church, far beyond the 4 walls of our building.

If you ask me, there are way more people out there starving for hope, longing for life, & desiring truth than our Bay Area church buildings can hold. Our vision has to grow, our heart for our region needs to expand, & our solidarity must become stronger than it’s ever been. To see the magnitude of the movement of God that is necessary to transform this region is going to take way more than the way we have been ‘doing’ church.

It’s time to arise, believe, & move from ‘doing’ church to ‘being’ the church; a living, thriving, Spirit-empowered organism that transforms all who come into contact with it. Jesus’ promise was that His Spirit would empower His disciples to witness in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, & the ends of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). Where are your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, & ends of the earth? It’s time to believe God to do far more than what we are seeing in our 4 walls & allow His Spirit to move us beyond anything we have ever seen or known in our time.

Let’s Do This Together
Do you have vision for your city & region? How can you begin to pray towards & allow God to mobilize your church to go beyond the 4 walls?

March 1, 2013

But I Want It NOW!

Can you deny yourself something NOW 
in order to better yourself in the long run?

Sacrificing temporal pleasure for long term satisfaction is not an easy thing to do. Actually, denying instant gratification for future betterment is a very mature thing to do. Have you ever told a 2 year old that he or she was going to have to wait for dessert until after dinner? Talk about water works & sirens. Most children don’t know how to deny themselves the sugary dessert in order to eat the healthy stuff first, everything in them screams, “But I want it NOW!”
If we were to be honest, most adults act like 2 year olds when it comes to money, buying, & saving. Financially speaking, most Americans want their dessert before their dinner. Matter of fact, most debt begins to accumulate when you are not willing to deny yourself something that you want NOW!

America is notorious for its fast paced living, microwave culture, & drive-thru life-style. If you were to tell the average American he couldn’t afford something right now the answer would be the almighty ‘credit card.’ Do you realize that the average American carries 4 credit cards, the average household has a debt of at least $6,500, 1 in 50 households have over $20,000 in credit card debt, & the number 2 reason for bankruptcy in America is credit card debt! Rather than working extra hours, waiting a couple more months, & saving up the money for the thing you want, you are willing to take out a loan, borrow money from someone, & jeopardize your financial freedom in order to get that thing NOW.

We have perpetuated a culture of debt 
by perpetuating a culture of NOW.

Solomon, in his great wisdom counseled, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest,” (Proverbs 6:6-8). Isn’t it crazy that ants know how to deny instant gratification & save in order for them to have food during the winter? Yet, humans who are extremely more intelligent don’t seem to think or care enough about what is going to happen when they hit the winter seasons of their lives to save & deny instant gratification.

If something is truly worth having now it will be worth having in 2 months, 6 months, or a year. If you were to be real, most things you want now you don’t really need. Consider the ant, begin to store up your provisions, gather your food in the harvest, & stop perpetuating a culture of debt. Temporary pleasure comes with far too high a price tag; it’s time to have term vision for your finances & your future.

Let’s Do This Together
How much credit have you used in order to get something you wanted NOW? Where have you allowed our culture to persuade you to give into instant gratification?

Finance Fridays #4