Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Pastor's Job

In a sermon around A.D. 400, North African bishop Augustine described a pastor's job: "Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How to Tell Who You Can Truly Trust in Leadership

by Carey Nieuwhof

So who can you trust…I mean truly trust in leadership?
You’ve trusted people you thought you could trust, only to be disappointed or get burned (sometimes badly).
You’ve decided not to trust someone, only to realize you were wrong and he or she was completely trustworthy, and you missed a great opportunity to grow your team.
Trusting people in leadership can be a disheartening and confusing proposition in leadership.
But the stakes are high.
Put an untrustworthy person in a position of influence, and they can do a lot of damage fast.
Misjudge trust, and you will never have the team you need to lead you into a better future.
So…is it possible to tell in advance who you can trust?
Can you ever build a team that you can stop worrying about, and just, well, trust? 
I believe you can.
Here’s how.

Putting an untrustworthy person into leadership can do a lot of damage fast.
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trust in leadership

A Better Definition of Trust in Leadership

First, let’s define trust.
I realize it may seem trite to define trust, but I think trust functions differently in leadership than in life.
Trust isn’t about whether you like someone, have a good feeling about them, or think they have potential.
At its heart, trust is confidence. It’s belief in someone’s reliability.
Trust in marriage is believing that even when you are apart you are faithful to one another.
Financial trust is believing that someone will use your money to your benefit, not theirs.
Trusting someone with your favourite keepsake is believing they will care for it as well as you would.

At its heart, trust is confidence. It’s belief in someone’s reliability.
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But leadership is more complex.
Just because you would personally trust someone with your wallet doesn’t mean you should trust them in leadership.
And that’s where many of us go wrong.
Many of us think if a person is trustworthy in life they’ll be trustworthy in leadership.
Not necessarily.
Having great character is a prerequisite to leadership; it’s a devastating mistake to invite people into leadership who lie, cheat, steal and do other untrustworthy things. That’s a given.
But you need a different standard, a more nuanced understanding of trust if your team and organization are going to become all they can be.

Just because you would trust someone personally doesn’t mean you should trust them in leadership.
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3 Ways to Tell Who You Can Truly Trust In Leadership

So what exactly do you assess trustworthiness in leadership, then?
Well, if you’re going to have a team that functions amazingly well that you can fully trust (whether that’s a staff team or a volunteer team), you need to address these three issues.
It’s taken me two decades in leadership to figure out a pattern of trust that’s accurate most of the time.
But once you learn the pattern, it’s easy to utilize.
Is it absolutely foolproof? No, but it’s proven to be a very reliable guide.
So with that said, here are 3 ways to tell who you can truly trust in leadership. I’ve framed it in the form of 3 questions.

1. Are they aligned?

This is the first question because it’s the question most leaders overlook. Ignore it, and it will ultimately sink your ship.
Alignment is critical in leadership. I’m going to assume your organization or church has a specific mission, vision and strategy. Almost every organization worth leading does.
Alignment ensures that your team is all pulling in the same direction.
A person may have outstanding character and a great heart, but if they are not aligned with your mission, vision and strategy, they not be an asset to your team.
In fact, they’ll create conflict.
When you try to steer the ship right, they will try to steer it left. When you want to move forward, they will want to move backward. And eventually, your ship might sink.
Alignment is NOT about putting ‘yes’ people in places of leadership.
Quite the opposite, an aligned team will have vigorous debate about how to accomplish the mission, but you won’t have to go through the frustrating, daily debate of which mission to accomplish.
If you want more on alignment, I wrote about 5 things North Point Church has taught me about alignment here.

Unaligned leaders want to move backward when you want to move forward. Eventually, the ship sinks.
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2. What are their friends like?

Don’t know who said it, but they were right: Show me your friends and I’ll show you your life. 
One of the best things you can do when thinking about inviting a leader onto your team is to see who they hang out with; like attracts like.
A person’s friendship circle will tell you a lot about the kind of person they are…positively and negatively.
If you admire a potential leader’s friends, chances are you will love working with that potential leader. If you don’t, chances are you won’t.
If you see a circle of high capacity people who are very trustworthy around a potential leader, chances are that leader is trustworthy.
If you see a circle of backbiting, gossip, failed relationships or other struggles, chances are that’s what you’re recruiting.
The character of a potential leader’s friends will tell you a lot about their character.
You don’t need to judge here…you just need to discern.
The health of your organization and team matters too much for you to ignore this.

If you admire a potential leader’s friends, you’ll probably appreciate them. Like attracts like.
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3. What’s their trajectory?

I love the idea of trajectory in leadership.
Trajectory is simply the path followed by an object in motion. You can predict an object’s future course by looking at its past.
The same is true of people.
Every potential leaders you’re considering has a track record…a past that will indicate how they might perform in the future. This is true even of kids and teens (what kind of student/friend are they?).
Often as a leader, you’ll be tempted to ignore a person’s track record. You’ve fallen in love with them (as a leader). And you’ve convinced yourself that ‘this time will be different….I know he/she just needs a better environment’.
Well, maybe. Kind of sounds like a bad marriage ready to happen, doesn’t it?
Wouldn’t you be wiser to look at their past and ask this question?
What have they done with what they’ve been given?
If they couldn’t make it work before, why would they be able to make it work with your team?
Conversely, if they took a small team and made it healthy and grow, maybe you could trust them with a larger team.
If they’ve been responsible with a little, maybe it’s reasonable to trust them with more. (This sounds almost biblical doesn’t it?)
That’s trajectory: a leader’s past is a preview of their future.

A leader’s past is a preview of a leader’s future.
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Does that mean you shouldn’t give a person a break? After all, maybe this time won’t be like the last time.
Sure, once in a while you might want to do this. But don’t give that person major responsibility when they’ve been irresponsible in the past. Give them a little bit. And pray for them. And help. And watch. And be honest with how they’re doing.

Don’t give a leader major responsibility when they’ve been irresponsible in the past.
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But never hire out of charity–at least if you want an organization that makes an impact. Charity is charity. Hiring is not. Churches mess this up all the time.
So by all means be charitable and radically generous. Give…and expect nothing in return.
For sure, you should always be helping and ministering to people and learning from people. They just don’t have to be the team you’re counting on to push your mission forward.
If you want to advance your mission, recruit people with the skill set you need for the job. Be charitable. But building a great team is not an act of charity.

Be charitable. But building a great team is not an act of charity.
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Find leaders with a track record you want repeated in your organization.

Want More?

By the way, these three questions work personally too. If you’re wondering whether to invest more time with people, these three questions can clarify a lot.
If you want more on developing high capacity teams, this interview with Chris Lema is worth your time. He drops so many gems on how to develop high capacity talent—from scratch. You can listen below or subscribe to my Leadership Podcast for free on iTunes and jump onto Episode 39 with Chris.
I also write more about creating a healthy leadership culture and building high capacity volunteer teams in my new book, Lasting Impact. Learn more, and even download a free chapter, here.
What do you think?
Any other questions you’d add to this list?
Scroll down and leave a comment!
The post How to Tell Who You Can Truly Trust in Leadership appeared first on Carey Nieuwhof.

Monday, March 23, 2015

John Wesley and the Supernatural

Love this post from Andrew Williams. He digs into Wesley's call for more experiential faith... the gifts of the spirit. I grew up in the Methodist church and these were not things we ever discussed though we looked to Wesley as the father of our faith. 

The whole article is here 

450px-Wesley_at_asburyIt is important to note first and foremost that cessationism (the belief that the gifts had ceased after the twelves Apostles died), was widespread during Wesley’s time, despite the lack of scriptural evidence for the position. Therefore, Wesley was one of the forerunners by declaring the need for the supernatural gifts of God to be experienced today. Wesley believed that it was not only possible for people in his day to speak in tongues and experience the other miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, but that it was necessary!

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, Wesley notes and comments on the Apostle Paul’s assertion for people to earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit:

“In the preceding verses, St. Paul has been speaking of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; such as healing the sick; prophesying, in the proper sense of the word, that is, foretelling things to come; speaking with strange tongues, such as the speaker had never learned; and the miraculous interpretation of tongues. And these gifts the Apostle allows to be desirable; yea, he exhorts the Corinthians… to covet them earnestly.”

A few sentences later, Wesley comments on the commonly held view (at that time), that the gifts of the Spirit had ceased:

“From this time they almost totally ceased; very few instances of the kind were found. The cause of this was not, ‘because there was no more occasion for them’…the real cause was, ‘the love of many’, almost of all Christians, so called, was ‘waxed cold’. The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other heathens the Son of Man, when he came to examine his Church, could hardly ‘find faith upon earth’. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church; because Christians were turned Heathens again, and had only a dead form left.”[1]

In other words, Wesley not only rejected cessationism, but saw the gifts of the Spirit as necessary to attest to the Church’s liveliness!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stop Digging Ditches

Eugene Peterson ~ “I had just assumed the energy would keep coming.”  It’s a harsh look in the mirror for every pastor who stays on the job longer than 5 years… one day you enter what Peterson calls “The Badlands.” We cannot live from goal to goal forever. At some point we have to stop digging ditches and start to dig a well.

Eugene Peterson on Pastoring

Jonathan Merritt’s recent interview with Eugene Peterson is vintage Peterson. Merritt asked Peterson what advice he might give people who are preparing for ministry. I think Peterson’s response is perfect:
“I’d tell them that pastoring is not a very glamorous job. It’s a very taking-out-the-laundry and changing-the-diapers kind of job. And I think I would try to disabuse them of any romantic ideas of what it is. As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are.”
The one thing I think is at the root of a lot of pastors’ restlessness and dissatisfaction is impatience. They think if they get the right system, the right programs, the right place, the right location, the right demographics, it’ll be a snap. And for some people it is: if you’re a good actor, if you have a big smile, if you are an extrovert. In some ways, a religious crowd is the easiest crowd to gather in the world. Our country’s full of examples of that. But for most, pastoring is a very ordinary way to live. And it is difficult in many ways because your time is not your own, for the most part, and the whole culture is against you. This consumer culture, people grow up determining what they want to do by what they can consume. And the Christian gospel is just quite the opposite of that. And people don’t know that. And pastors don’t know that when they start out. We’ve got a whole culture that is programmed to please people, telling them what they want.  And if you do that, you might end up with a big church, but you won’t be a pastor.

Go to the smallest church

I'm reading Eugene Peterson this week... and it is challenging. Here is his advice to young Christians.

“Go to the nearest smallest church and commit yourself to being there for 6 months. If it doesn’t work out, find somewhere else. But don’t look for programs, don’t look for entertainment, and don’t look for a great preacher. A Christian congregation is not a glamorous place, not a romantic place. That’s what I always told people. If people were leaving my congregation to go to another place of work, I’d say, “The smallest church, the closest church, and stay there for 6 months.” Sometimes it doesn’t work. Some pastors are just incompetent. And some are flat out bad. So I don’t think that’s the answer to everything, but it’s a better place to start than going to the one with all the programs, the glitz, all that stuff.”

Monday, July 7, 2014


(From GRACELETS by Bill Faris, MPC)

The harm in your hands

"When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10: 19)

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Let me get right to the point:
do not use texting for anything beyond "reporting" information.  A "good" text is "I'll be picking dinner up on the way home". A "bad" text is "You never listen to me. I feel so hurt by your indifference.  I'm sick of you putting up your walls".

Dear Readers: NEVER use texts to share your opinions.  And, for goodness sake, please do not use texting to express your feelings. And any text which has to be scrolled to be read is probably an unwise and problematic one.  And any text which you would be embarrassed for your spouse, pastor, parent, or best friend to read or view is suspect, too.

I know, I know --  many will ignore this advice. They will get into a deeply-felt and intense texting exchange with a friend, spouse, "ex", son, daughter, or co-worker. It will seem necessary. It will seem urgent. It will seem expedient.

As they text, their blood is pumping. Adrenaline is coursing through their system. They are engaged, aroused, "all in". In their own mind they can "hear the words" they are texting. Their inner voice has nuance, emphasis, tone, emotional complexity. Inside their own heart they can "hear" the rise and fall of their voice as their fingers fly to punch out a long stream of digital content.

They think they are communicating what is in their heart and mind just like they "hear it" in their head.  Plus, they can do so VERY rapidly in a gushing torrent of unedited stream-of-consciousness output that is reminiscent of an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.

This is a fools game. "Communicating" important emotional or complex content in this manner WILL cost them. Things will be misunderstood.  Words will be shared that cannot be taken back (indeed, they can be saved, cross-referenced, referred back to, and used as "proof positive" in any number of ways).  Straight up: texting of this kind is DUMB. It often hurts, messes things up, and doesn't help.  Just stop it.

The Problem With Texting

Texting is fine as a way to communicate "unloaded", non-controversial, and emotionally neutral data.  But to utilize texting beyond this is to ignore everything we know about the important elements of truly effective communication.

You see, every conversation is really THREE concurrent conversations. There is the exchange of raw data.  That's one. Then there is the emotional conversation with the other. That's two. Then there is the emotional conversation with one's self. That's three.

All three are happening concurrently in every conversation.  That's why the most effective and complete conversations are face-to-face.  Face-to-face interactions allow each of these three levels of communication to be discerned at a higher level. Also, face-to-face conversations allow the non-verbal aspects of communication to play their essential role.

Texting, by its nature, is not up to the task of carrying non-verbal, emotional, nuanced aspects of communication. It is not capable of being delicate, exacting, or sophisticated. It is like doing surgery with a chain saw. Or, as the speaker in the video below quips: "it is like communicating through a straw".

Unedited = Unwise

To argue via text is the worse possible use of the medium. When passions are high and tempers are hot, it is human nature to want to spill out one's feelings without
editing.  Writing a letter or even an email at least makes us slow down, craft, pause, re-think, and sculpt our words and thoughts into what we hope will be an effective communication.

One of the problems is the presence of adrenaline in our systems. When we are aroused, defensive, or on the attack our system automatically injects a shot of adrenaline into our system.  We don't have to think about this.  It is auto-response. Adrenaline serves an important purpose to our most primal instincts - the so-called "fight of flee" mechanism.

If we are "fight" oriented, adrenaline raises our alertness, causes us to strike harder, and move quicker. It helps us bypass the
editing and processing centers of the brain. We will flash our claws, release our roar, and unsheathe our sharpest swords. Make no mistake.  We can do all of this digitally if we whip out our handy communication device and start pushing buttons inspired by adrenaline.

If, on the other hand, we are in "flee" mode, adrenaline helps us run away faster and raises our defensive instincts to a premium level.  We automatically shift into a hyper-alert state.  We will perceive anything that has even the slightest sense of being a threat as an ICBM headed straight to our soul and we will go into super-defensive mode.

Therefore, when those with whom we are intensively texting send their message back to us, let's just say we are not likely to be great at the interpretive, nuanced, and complex parts of good human communication.

Now, take note: either response will last about fifteen minutes. That is -- unless we keep the arousal of our primal instincts going. (By the way: this includes the sexual instincts which helps to account for the unbelievably regrettable instances of "sexting" that ruin people's lives and reputations every day).

If we keep firing new shots of adrenaline into our system we can crank on for a long, long time and the damage, misunderstanding, and regrets can stack u[ like cord wood without our having to think about it.

Just stop it.  At least for fifteen minutes. Here's how.

1. STOP and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to write a thoughtful email, dial into a Spirit-led phone call, or set up an important face-to-face meeting.

2. STOP and settle down for at least fifteen minutes. Start writing your thoughts down in an email or on paper. EDIT your words. SETTLE your heart.  FOCUS your mind. Then, communicate back from your wisest, deepest place.

3. STOP and ask yourself: "What am I sending that will BE SAVED FOREVER on someone else's handy-dandy communication device"?  Then ask yourself: "do I want these words to be recorded in this form - when I have shot them out this fast - FOREVER"?

4. STOP and consider whether you need to re-read, re-think, re-interpret, and spend time with the communications you are getting from others before you can say you really "get" where they are coming from.

If you are responding before fifteen minutes have passed (if it is an emotionally intense exchange) you can almost be CERTAIN YOU ARE NOT "HEARING" them properly. You are almost certainly REACTING.

I hope you will join me in making a covenant with your fingers, computer, smart phone, and The Lord to only use texts for reporting purposes and not for arguing, inappropriate sexual messages, emotionally intense communications and the like.  Okay?  Okay.
: )

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