Some Leaders Only Grow in the Blood and the Mud

I am learning that each of us have an environment where we are molded into the leaders God is calling us to be. 

I learn best when the situation is dire or when the stakes are great. That’s when I can really shine. (Although many times I fail.) It’s not always pleasant, but if I am honest it’s in the blood and the mud when my strengths and weaknesses as a leader are most apparent. With this clarity, I know what I need to do to grow.Kenneth Branagh and Brian Blessed in Henry V copyright Coventry Telegraph

The hard experiences have always challenged me to grow as a leader.

My parents were divorced when I was young and so I was more interested in surviving than I was leading anything. When I was an adolescent I rebelled against anything that smacked of leadership. In college, I said yes to leadership opportunities, but none of them were catalytic to my development.

It was while I was in the Army that I realized I could lead. The intense culture and hierarchical structure of the military gave me clarity about leadership. I learned the difference between positional leadership and leadership through influence.  Because others saw potential in me, I was given opportunities to lead above my rank. It was hard, but I grew.

When I transitioned into the business world, I welcomed any opportunity to lead. I was fortunate enough to meet great leaders who mentored  and challenged me. Again, it was hard and I was in over my head. But I found a way to lead.

As I found my way back to God I encountered incredible leaders in the local church who helped me grow even more. It wasn’t always easy, but their investment in me helped me to take my leadership to the next level.

I went to Kansas City with a team to plant churches. While church planting, I went through a season when I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  Yet, in that tough time, I learned about my weaknesses and my assets and what it would take for me to grow. Once again, I was only able to grow in the blood and the mud.

Now, as the Director of NewThing, I once find myself in the blood and mud. I am being challenged to grow as a leader in new ways. It’s too soon in the journey to know whether I have what it takes to lead at this level. Others have told me they see potential in me. I’ll just have to trust them for now.

Some people are born leaders. I’ve met them. They make it look easy. They’re something about them that compels you to want to follow them. It’s that ‘special something they have and you know it when you see it.

We need those leaders.

But most of us need seasons in the blood and mud to grow. It’s where we learn our best leadership lessons.

I know you might be in the blood and the mud this season. Hang in there. Keep fighting. Because its times like these that are going to help you grow into the leader you were created to be.

I’d love to hear more about your leadership journey. Leave me a comment.

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4 Places to Find Confirmation

A friend is in a season of discernment. He is trying to hear from God about specific steps he believe’s God is calling him to take. discernment

“How will I know this is God’s will for me,” he asked me?

Hard to be sure. Each circumstance is different of course. But when I’ve needed to understand where God is leading me, it has in been in all four of these areas:

  1. Scripture: What is God saying to you through scripture? Unless you are spending time reading scripture every day it will be difficult for you to hear from God.
  2. Community: What are the people around you telling you about the opportunity? Are you giving them a real opportunity to offer you feedback? The community around you should both confirm and affirm what God is telling you.
  3. Prayer: You should be spending lots of time in prayer and being honest with God about knowing His will. It may same obvious but it’s also critical.
  4. Circumstances: The circumstances around will confirm that this is the right next step for you.

If you are only hearing from God in one or two areas, I suggest you wait. Be patient until you are hearing Him in all four areas.

What about you? How do you find confirmation?

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Some Thoughts on Resting and Sabbath

How well are you resting? chair time

…Because it’s about to get all crazy up in here…

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re headed into the holiday season and that means that most of us will over-work; over-schedule burn ourselves out. We’ll try to do it all–and fail–and exhaust ourselves in the process.

For church planters, this season can be especially brutal. The inevitable rush to Christmas, the closing of a year, the preparations for a new year have all begun. And that means you’re probably already tired.

It’s important—no like really important— to be mindful of rest and sabbath during this season. While I believe that, I am hardly even close to figuring it out in my own life.

So how well are you resting? If you’ve got some room for improvement, may I suggest some of the following to help:

  • Plan your rest. Be intentional and schedule your time off. We do what we schedule.
  • Rest every day. Don’t wait for the weekend or the end of the month.
  • Rest every week. Ensure you have a good balance of down-time every week.
  • Rest with your family. Invite your family into the conversation about your rest. After all, your family dynamic may require you to adjust your plan for rest and Sabbath. Create a culture of rest in your family dynamic.
  • Understand the command to rest. Study the scriptures and bring your place to a truer understanding of what God intended by creating the sabbath. Sabbath is holy time. It’s marked and commanded by God. This deserves our attention. Start in Exodus 20:8-10.
  • Learn to create your own boundaries. Resting is your responsibility. You need to know when to shut off the media and not be sucked into an email exchange 5 minutes before you go to bed.
  • Practice resting. Don’t try and do it all at once. What will it take for you to make resting into a habit.
  • Take a vacation. Seriously, none of us are that important.
  • Go on a retreat once a quarter. This could be to a monastery or it could be to your closet. It could be for half a day or it could be two days. It doesn’t matter. The point is to be intentional about spending extended time with God.

I’ve written about rest here. (Yes, it’s something I am still learning!)

What have I missed? What other ways are you practicing rest and sabbath? What coaching would you have for those of us trying to rest well but find it hard?

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Sources of Fundraising for Church Planters: 1,2,3

If you are raising funds for a church plant, conduct at “RCA” exercise to ensure you’ve identified all of the source of fundraising. 123

No doubt about it, one of the challenges of starting a church is raising enough funds. Planters often tell me that they feel overwhelmed and intimated by it. And most confess they don’t know where to start. Because of this, they start launching willy-nilly into a fundraising campaign without a clear strategy. This can lead to frustration for the planter and a wasted opportunity for the donor to participate in a life-changing Kingdom endeavor.

The RCA Exercise can help. It’s based on…

  • Your RELATIONAL connection to the donor.
  • The CAPACITY of the donor to give to your project.
  • The AFFINITY between you and the potential donor.

The goal of the “RCA Exercise” is to generate an exhaustive list of potential donors for your project that are most likely to bear fruit for your project.

Step 1: Relationships. Start by making a list of all your relationships with individuals and organizations. Don’t worry about filtering the list—just write them down. The goal here is to generate an extensive list that we’ll filter in a moment. Once you have the list, rank each name/organization with a 1,2, or 3 with 1 being your closest relationships and 3 being your fliers.

This list might include…

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Work colleagues (past and present)
  • Churches
  • Church groups
  • Small groups and missional communities
  • College friends and organizations
  • Ministry organizations
  • Church planting organizations
  • Denominational boards
  • Para-church organizations
  • business men and woman in your network
  • Mission organizations
  • Networks of professional
  • Others…

Step 2: Capacity. Next, make another column on your list and rank the CAPACITY of these people/organizations to give to your project. Use 1 for those with high-capacity, 2 for those who may have capacity, and 3 for those who you either are unsure or don’t have capacity.

Step 3: Affinity. Make a third column on your list and for your AFFINITY with the person or organization. This is your opportunity to honest about your relational influence to raise funds from this source. Those organizations or persons that you have strong relational influence, rank as 1. Mark 2 for those you have some affinity, and rank the remainder as 3.

Now sort the list and start making your way through it. Those relationships that receive all 1s are you primary sources of funding and you must pursue them with prayer and creativity. The other sources are important to pursue but you must be resourceful in how much time and energy you invest in cultivating each of them.

Generating an RCA list of donors will help you see the potential sources of funds for your project AND how likely they are to contribute. This should help you leverage your time wisely and minimize the disappointment you experience when donors pass on the opportunity to support your project.

What about you? Are you raising funds for a church plant? Is this helpful? What are you learning about fundraising that might help the rest of us?

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A Prayer for Veteran’s Day 2013

Not to us is the glory, O Lord! Not to us the glory.poppy

The nation we call “the land of the free and the home of the brave” has been your gift to us. If it depended upon our own abilities, we would no longer be free, and we often are not brave.

You know only too well the sins of our nation and our inherent weakness. You have looked into our hearts and seen the self-centeredness. You have seen the shame that blights our land because of the sin that taints the hearts of everyone.

Yet you have not forsaken us. You have protected us.

There is a song about our nation that contains the words: “God shed his grace on thee.” And this is the only reason for our safety and security. Your love, which we do not deserve, this is our strength.

This is our only hope.

Continue to shield us with your faithful love. Continue to build up our faith in Jesus who has defeated the dominion of the devil and won the victory for us over death.

Lord, we thank and praise you for preserving and sustaining our nation for generations.

We thank you for the faithful efforts of those who have served our country. We pray that you will continue to send forth people of courage and skill to be the tools in your hands for our protection. As our troops stand guard for us in distant and dangerous places, let them call upon you to be their guard. Then, please bring them home safely.

This we pray in the name of Jesus, the Lord of life and glory.

Amen.

–Anonymous