Leadership Development…what’s it all about?

29 03 2012

one of the benefits of being in church planting and participating in church planting networks is there is a focus on leadership development. i mean, we generally understand that we can’t do this all ourselves, and there is a need to build up additional leaders to help in growing the ministry. so i often find myself in discussions and sessions focused on leadership development…but for all the talk and literature out there, last night was the first time i appreciated the semi-cynicism of a speaker tasked with giving his 2 cents on leadership. so he delivered his “10 semi-proven principles of leadership”…yeah, that’s right: semi-proven. hah! i like that. these aren’t laws or 5 steps to developing leaders. nope. just semi-proven principles he has drawn from his life experience…which includes 20 years of pastoral ministry of significantly large churches, lots of reading, and a notable education. so he does have a platform to speak from. the most entertaining “semi-proven principle” is this: leadership is a lot less complicated than the experts and books make it sound. that is just great! if you’ve done any reading on leadership, then you are probably familiar with the key term: INFLUENCE. while a great summary term, there is some unpacking to do here. a modifier i think is necessary is SUSTAINED…leadership is about sustained influence not just a one-time occurrence. And influence is quite different from popularity or notoriety. those are passing fads often associated with position or situation.

so these are helpful in understanding what leadership is or what leaders are, but what about leadership development? well, really i’m just impressed with a quote from Nancy Ortberg and wanted to share it because i think this idea is far too often missed when thinking and conversing about leadership development. i would critique leadership development in many environments as the idea of taking a molded person and polish them up. uh, that’d be nice…and easy. and there may be some people for which this is the case. however, i think of leadership development more along the lines of finding a raw material and turning into an energy source that is self sustaining. well, here is the quote that says it much more eloquently than i…

we need to keep our eyes open for [these] leadership qualities [in emerging leaders]: energy, dissatisfaction, new ideas, mistakes, and perhaps even a bit of cynicism. these are the raw materials in the making of a leaders, not the finished product. leadership development does not necessarily start with strong leadership qualities like discipleship, maturity and wisdom. those are the end products. we need to be looking for the drive without the experience, the vision before the patience, the energy minus the discipline. these are the building blocks, the clues that tell us there is a leader here, but so much still needs to be done.

— Nancy Ortberg, “Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands”

do you know what i think about that list ?? i think, from a leadership perspective, that it is scary, time consuming, and costly. scary…because new ideas might challenge the existing status quo; because mistakes will probably make me look bad. time consuming…because raw energy needs to be guided and groomed and I have to do that; because drive and vision need to be groomed as well; because energy minus discipline means that I probably have to bring the discipline. costly…because sometimes raw materials never produce “clean” energy and it might be my time invested that returns no results, at least for me; because dissatisfaction and cynicism might cut me.

but hey…i’m in!


actually writing something!

22 03 2012

so the problem with me and the blog is that i have plenty of ideas that flit across my mind in the normal routine of life…but i can’t just throw those into a blog post. no. i have to think about them, write a little bit, be unhappy with how incomplete the thoughts are, wrestle with the perfect way to say everything, make sure i think about the thoughts from all possible angles to make sure i cover every basis, grow tired with the laboriousness of sharing a few simple thoughts, give up. and that is how months and months go by with no new blog posts. hmmm. bummer.

that’s it. i’m done. (look, i did it!)

suffering…its for HIS glory

6 12 2011
**ideas/excerpts from “The Centrality of the Gospel” — an essay by Tim Keller**


Moralism says “I must be bad to be suffering,” but under the guilt there is anger towards God. Why? Because you have been so moral, you feel you don’t really deserve suffering.

Relavism/Pragmatism says that suffering should be avoided at all costs…lying, cheating, and broken promises. But if suffering comes, fault is again attributed to God, because He must be either unjust or impotent.

The Cross says…

that God redeemed us through suffering. That he suffered not that we might not suffer (emphasis added), but that in our suffering we could become like him.

John 9:3

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

church planting essentials

29 11 2011

Ok…here we go. Focus. Speed. I am speed.

For any endeavour there is the need for focus. Even Lightning McQueen got that! A clear vision with leadership. A willingness to slough off the unnecessary but attractive. A determination that outlasts even the most severe critic.

So it goes with church planting. The question continually before us is simple: what is essential? Yet I wonder if the question will ever fully be answered…We are asking the question almost daily. Others that are a few steps further down the path are still asking the question. Some who have journeyed so far that they don’t even remember not being established still ask the same question. In one sense perhaps the  essential is asking the essential question about what is essential…hmmm.

A couple of things were passed along to me and are worth the 2 minutes they take to read. First is a blog post about the need to define the essentials (here). The author points to Acts 2:42-47 as the bare bones of what a church is. Great job! The second is a code, or values, of a church (here). I absolutely love the language used!! One of the statements caught my eye, particularly the tag line:

We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ.
To reach people no one is reaching, we’ll have to do things no one is doing.

I identify with the tag line as we are in the beginning stages of launching a church. There are things/behaviors/appearances/whatever that will not look like many established churches. This is not our attempt to degrade other churches or movements. It is simply that we don’t want to empty the seats of one church to fill another (ours). We want to reach the peeps that are not in these other churches! To accomplish this, there are many churchy things that we will “slough off.” Please don’t be offended 🙂

I am…

11 11 2011

…a Harmonizer.

…an Achiever.

…a Persister.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
—  Oscar Wilde

The fire crackled softly as it fought off the chill in the air, the sunlight shining fully through the large windows to the great room. Five guys sat in cracked and faded leather chairs, worn from years upon years of use, enjoying the rustic feel of the historic inn restored for use. The setting was comfy, the fire inviting, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee invigorating.

The day was set aside to know each other. To understand how each of us is wired and motivated in order to build up the team.

For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
— Psalm 139:13-14

We celebrated each other, encouraged each other, and affirmed each other. It is not just about skills and experience, it is about the unique way God has wired each of us and the blessing that each one is to the team. And we celebrated God. He made each of us, gifted us, and brought us together as a team to serve the Church. It is nearly a week later and the team still feels valued, loved, and affirmed in who each of us is.

If you know someone well enough, affirm them today in who God made them…it does wonders for the spirit!! For some fun, take a guess at what my dominant lens is from the three listed: harmonizer, achiever, persister. These are representative of our group, though the secondary lenses not listed add much more variety 🙂

Mission vs Family…the never-ending tension

26 10 2011

You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world…therefore go and make disciples of all nations…
They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship…every day they continued to gather together…




Soooo…what is the focus of the church? Are we to draw in and encourage, instruct, and grow each other? Or, are we to push out and be light and salt? Both-and. From the very beginning, God chose a people to be set apart unto Himself, that they might be testimony-givers to the world through their lives and a channel of blessing. Yet, what was the rebuke that Israel received from her God??

I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. Israel was set apart to the Lord; there were like the first fruits of a harvest to him.
-Jer 2

The rebuke is continued in the gospels when Jesus condemns the religious leaders of the day, not only for their hypocrisy, but for excluding the Gentiles from the blessings of God. In addition, though, the New Testament is full of instruction on gathering together for teaching and spiritual growth. Believers too are holy and chosen, set apart from the world through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The challenge, then, is to always be on mission and grow as family. If the focus is too heavy on family…which tends to be the norm for most…then we become exclusive and are not gospel-proclaimers to the world. But likewise, if the focus is too heavy on mission, then we become anemic and fail to be good gospel-proclaimers to the community of faith. Both are dangers, so we acknowledge the tension, press into it and intentionally engage and build family while also pushing each other out to be on mission…together!

What can you do this week to engage and build church family while also engaging on mission?

Reminder: Disobedience Can Look Quite Righteous

15 10 2011

Do you think much of Saul from the Old Testament? I usually don’t, and if I do, it is usually with thoughts of condemnation because he screwed up, royally (hah! couldn’t resist). If you trace his character development through the book of Samuel, it is not pretty. If I were writing a screenplay, Saul would start out as the handsome, ruddy guy as described in 1 Samuel 9, but by the end he would be this shriveled, ugly guy, his outward appearance reflecting to the audience the inner wickedness that enveloped him. But, I found myself sympathizing with Saul this week as I read through 1 Samuel. I sympathized with him because I recognized myself in his actions. I wish it were not so…

Check out this rebuke when Samuel laid into Saul:

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.
— 1 Sam 15:22-3 

Now, what would the Lord have against sacrifices and burnt offerings?? Weren’t these required for the Israelites? Seems that Saul was being righteous in doing these…except that prior to this rebuke, Samuel delivered these instructions to Saul from the Lord:

Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
— 1 Sam 15:3

So what went wrong?

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them.
—  1 Sam 15:9a

Saul’s response? “Hey, I did the mission given me, but the people took some of that stuff that should have been destroyed. But it’s okay, we’re gonna sacrifice it to the Lord :)”

Do you ever find yourself “obeying” the Lord, at least the parts of His instruction that you want to do, then making some “righteous” effort to hide the rest? I do. And you know what, this is still DISOBEDIENCE…even when it looks quite righteous!

O Lord, in your mercy and grace, transform our hearts to carry out fully your instructions.