Surprised by the Grace of God

Since we have returned from living in Italy there have certainly been days where I have felt upside down.  Those are the days where it has been difficult to get my bearings emotionally, spiritually and even physically.  You know what you have left behind but the road ahead is still curvy and layered with fog.  Stage of life also plays into this for me.  I want to know that everything I am doing counts and flows from a deep center.  Its during these times when life can feel very functional.  You go through the motions but there can be a sense of profound vagueness about the outcome and your contribution.  But today God kindly spoke into my mental haze in two distinct ways.  He reminded me this morning in my study of Revelation that He is the sovereign Creator and Redeemer who is present enough and powerful enough to bring all of life towards His purposes.  And he surprised me with a phone call.

Today, Lewis gave me call from Ohio to reconnect and bless me.  Oh, he didn’t know that his call would be a blessing on this day.  But God did.  Lewis was a student at the very first campus I went to as a 23 year old staff member with Cru. He was a fraternity guy that I stumbled upon one day who became a student leader in our campus ministry and a friend.  I witnessed how God transformed Lewis into a caring, compassionate, devoted follower of Christ who had great influence on all around him.  It was the grace of God then to allow me some measure of fulfillment in mentoring a young man’s life.  Lewis and I had not heard from one another for many years.  But today he called to let me know that he and his family had begun a new chapter of their lives in Ohio and that he was still discipling men.  He was excited about how God was leading he and his wife into some very fruitful times of ministry among coworkers, neighbors and with church communities.  He updated me on some other guys from those days when Lewis was a college student.  It was amazing to hear how several of them are still walking with God and having an impact on the world.  That was 32 years ago.  It seems like yesterday and it seems like forever ago.  I don’t take for granted any more that people will still chase hard after God 32 years later.  We all experience enough bumps and bruises, either through our own choices or through life in a sin wrecked world, that it can’t be a given.  Today I sensed it was only by God’s grace that Lewis and I are both still passionate about Jesus Christ and still want to serve Him in whatever way we can.  And to think I played any role in his life in coming to faith or helping him walk faithfully for 32 years is even a greater dose of grace for me on this day.  And one that God knew I desperately needed.  May you be surprised and encouraged today by the grace of God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 for Leadership (2/21/12)

Here are a fresh five:

What Is The Conversation You Need To Have?  This is a post from Mary Jo Asmus on her blog Leadership Solutions.  The foundation of her post is that relationships matter and therefore difficult conversations are essential.  Mary Jo offers three constructive steps to being intentional about those uncomfortable conversations.

Wondering ‘Am I A Good Leader?’  Take The Sheryl Sandberg Test  Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook.  Scott Eblin writes this post and offers three simple questions based on his studied profile of Sandberg and what makes her a good leader.  Read and see how you stack up.  Be sure to read about how Sandberg has modeled the answers to these same three questions.

Entitlement: The Gimme Generation  This comes from David Murray on his blog Head, Heart, Hand.  This is a fascinating post (both a podcast and a written piece) about the current generation of college students and their sense of entitlement and the implications.  This is a must read for anyone working with Mosaics.

Dangers Leaders Face  This is a very insightful post from Dave Kraft on the Resurgence blog.  Dave offers up two very practical issues that can hit leaders squarely between the eyes and put their leadership in danger.  This is worth your time and contemplation.

The Difference Between Capacity and Calling  This final offering is a five minute video of Pastor Wayne Cordeiro in conversation with Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald over the issue of spiritual leaders and burnout.  There are some helpful insights here about living out and fulfilling what God has truly called us to do.

There are the five for this week-lead well!

Seeing Everyone You Lead As A Volunteer

A friend of mine recently made a comment that he wished all those under his ministry scope would see themselves as employees, not as volunteers.  I knew what he was driving at.  He simply wished that people would willingly follow his lead.  It would be so much easier if people would just salute and obey.  But today, more than ever, people see their time and their commitments as voluntary.  We have to see all those under our ministry scope as volunteers.  A volunteer is defined as a person who chooses willingly to offer their service.  People have multiple options these days as to where they will give their discretionary time.  Even paid employees can vote with their feet if they feel unfulfilled.  So how do you lead volunteers?

1. You must inspire them through a purposeful vision.  People want to aspire to do their best.  But you must inspire them by painting a compelling picture of a desirable future that elicits passion.  A clear and compelling vision will draw people to your leadership because they can see that what you are calling them to really matters.  Be sure that it does-matter.

2. You must solicit their commitment through active involvement.  If your vision does matter then you actually need people’s greatest creativity and best efforts.  You will get there by inviting them into the process of figuring out how your vision will be accomplished.  Commitment naturally flows from involvement.  Ask those around you to contribute in meaningful ways and you will get their heart and soul.

3. You must celebrate them along the way.  If you are chasing something God sized then you are in for some challenges.  There will be some dark moments and some dark days.  The greatest resource you have is dispensing hope to those you lead as they try and sustain the effort.  Celebrate the little milestones as well as the big ones.  Help people see progress.  Point them to Christ as their true source of hope and endurance.  Thank them for their specific efforts in time and by name.

If you will do these few things on a regular basis, you will get people’s best efforts and not just their grudging service.  It really isn’t much of a motivation to hold people to a contract.  But to take them on a journey that is worthy of their lives can make all the difference.

What would you add to my thinking?

5 for Leadership (2/15/12)

After a ten day trip to Italy, I am back with this weeks five.

Personal Coaching For Those In Ministry  This is from Michael Hyatt’s blog and provides some critical information through an interview format for the value and practicality of having a personal coach.  I benefitted greatly from a personal coach a few years ago.  I highly recommend this post-you will also learn about a group called Ministry Coaching International.

Unleadership-A Crisis Of Identity  This is a gem from Mike Myatt on his N2Growth blog.  Here is a quote from the post that will make you want to read the whole-Leadership is more than a title; it’s a privilege and therefore a burden of the highest responsibility. Nothing is more dangerous than a leader who loses sight of their real purpose – to serve something greater than themselves.

Leaders Can Forgive Without Forgetting  This is an interesting read from John Baldoni.  John highlights well the need for leaders to forgive those who have failed.  He doesn’t discount the possible consequences, but does show how forgiveness can be empowering and restorative.

Are You A Team In Name Only?  Three Questions To Help You Find Out  This post is from Jesse Lyn Stoner who is a business consultant, author and executive. She is new to me, but I have really enjoyed her thinking on several topics.  This post is very practical about the purpose and need for teams.  She offers some diagnostics to see if your team is truly on track.  Take a look.

You Cannot Go To The Next Level If . . .   This is a quick, practical read from Perry Noble, the pastor of New Spring Church in South Carolina.  Perry offers 15 points of what may be holding you back from taking your leadership and influence to the next level.

There are the five for this week.  I will be posting some of my own leadership thoughts in the next few days.  I have been thinking through several topics and principles that I am looking forward to sharing and learning from the feedback.  Thanks for taking a look.

5 for Leadership (2/2/12)

Here is a fresh five-I hope they prove effective in helping you lead to the best of your ability.

What I Learned From Steve Jobs-Since Apple is still merrily humming along after the death of it’s founder, I thought it was time to point you to this post from Guy Kawasaki that he wrote back in October.  Guy offers 12 insights from being in the room with Mr. Jobs.  Here is a little teaser towards the end of the post, ” . . . the starting point of changing the world is changing a few minds. This is the greatest lesson of all that I learned from Steve.”

2012’s Top Churches To Watch In America-This comes from the blog Church Relevance.  It is a fascinating look at some of the top churches in the U.S. ranked according to varying categories-such as: church growth, church innovation, church planting, church size, influencing other churches, and an all areas category.

On Leadership And Your Credibility Assets-I found this post in Linked 2 Leadership and was intrigued by the straight forward principles that Lori Gilmore shares concerning credibility.  It all gets back to integrity.

Book Review: Leadership is Dead-I thought it would be a good change of pace to offer a book review this time.  This was found on the Practice of Leadership blog and gives a good glimpse at this new book by Jeremie Kubicek.  The post claims that this book speaks to the heart of leadership and not just the head.  The reviewer also suggests that this is a very timely book-in light of all of the failed leadership we have seen in various parts of our culture in the last few years.  This is a helpful review and highlights some key principles.

Top 10 Servant Leadership Tweeters in 2011-If you are into Twitter-then this may be a good resource for you.  This brief post comes from Ben, the founder of the blog Modern Servant Leader.  This is a good blog and this post will give you some new leaders to follow on Twitter.

There are the five for this week-enjoy!