Monday, November 28, 2011

Shifts in Leading Staff

My generation been consumed with "leadership" and all the great books that have been published. I even published a book on leadership back in 2007. I believe that leadership is vitally important. I believe that we should learn how to grow as leaders. But we are in a huge transition and shift with leadership styles. There are some very important principles to leading staff, whether volunteer or paid, that go overlooked. Our generation is full of hurting and insecure people. Because of this truth, our approach must shift in order to see staff grow to their fullest potential.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. They Need to be Lavished with Encouragement:
-Go overboard. Text it. Post it. Tweet it. Send cards. Never assume they know. Remember, "What you fail to celebrate will leave your life."

2. They Need Permission to Lead without Fear of Failure:
-Because we are trying to build these "perfect" ministries, we don't allow staff the permission to attempt We scold and punish this because elder boards don't want to "waste" money. I don't know of any idea that works perfectly the first time. If it did, then it was TOO safe.

3. They Need Authentic Relationships:
-Staff need to have a real relationship with you. A virus spreads by proximity. Whatever you are trying to accomplish cannot be done at arms length.

4. They Need a Cheerleader and a Coach, not a General Manager:
-We usually think that staff need a General Manager or Coach. Not really. Put on your Pom poms and do some cheering. They need to be encouraged and constantly reminded that they are making a difference.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hulk Out

My favorite superhero is the Hulk. I loved the 80's tv version with Bill Bixby. I waited in excitement for that point where his eyes turned and he became the Hulk. He was pushed to the point of extreme anger.
I was reading through my one year Bible plan and came across the story of Moses hitting the rock. God told Moses to hit the rock and water would come out. Moses was so frustrated that he struck the rock in anger. The people's complaints drove him to the point that his frustration manifested in anger. God told him that he would not be the one to lead the people into the promise land because of this.
Many leaders have this "frustration point." That point is where frustration turns to anger.
Moses was banned from the promise land. David Banner had to roam from town to town.
We will also limit ourselves when we allow frustration to turn to anger. You can tell when this is happening when:
1. You Resent People's Complaints and Problems
2. You Don't Have a Desire to Develop People
3. You Say Offensive Things to People
4. You Have No Patience for Mistakes
5. "Calmness" is Not How People Around You would Describe You

Before you strike the rock in anger or turn to the Hulk, take a timeout. I do this by first of all practicing thankfulness. Secondly, I take time away. Learn to get away and have fun. Finally, talk and think about ALL the good that is going on. Frustrated leaders cannot lead their people to a place of promise. It takes patience, calmness and peace.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bad Investments

We just finished a series at The Well called, "Healer." It dealt with healing emotionally from past hurts. One message was on insecurity. We are all affected by it. The first symptom of the disease called sin was insecurity. Adam and Eve were ashamed and hid.

Insecurity is a feeling of vulnerabilities, characterized by a low sense of self worth. It manifests in anger, defensiveness and isolation.

As leaders, we must allow God to minister to our own insecurities as we minister to other people's insecurities.

Warning.... When ministering to insecure people realize that: no matter how much time you give them, they feel like it isn't enough. No matter how many "thank you's" they get, they are not appreciated. It is kind of like pouring sand into bags with holes in it. You can also call it, "bad investing." There is very little return on investment.

This may be your story as a leader. You are continually discontent because insecurity has created holes in your emotional tank. You may be dealing with people like this. Whatever the case may be. Don't beat yourself up. Continue to love and reassure them. Finally don't give up, but keep the perspective.

When dealing with insecure people you are only as good as your last ____________ (fill in the blank.)

Remember, Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed, but God clothed them. God has provided a covering that assure us as well. Sin may have birthed insecurity, but the cross provided a covering that creates security.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Cancerous Leader

This is probably the most important lesson I have had to learn as a leader. If we don't get this our ministries and families will be miserable. Needless to say that we, the minister, will be miserable. The reason many may stop reading here is because this deals with our heart instead of creating systems for growth.

I have had the Lord check my heart in a major way lately. I have had spiritual CAT Scans and MRI's done. I felt God really speaking to me that I have "entitlement" issues. Ministry seems so selfless and great, but the truth of the matter is that inside of all us there is a "self-serving" piece of our hearts. We can tell how much of this cancer we have when we face thankless situations time and time again.

I realized that I was upset because people were not giving back as much as I was giving them. I figured that if I poured my heart into them then they would become committed and stable. WRONG. I found discouragement creeping in. It was during this time that I felt the Lord say, "Kevin, as long you feel like people are here for your pleasure you will always feel that way. You are here for THEIR purpose, they are not here for yours."
I realized that God will allow us to be put in seeminlgy thankless, obscure and emotionally draining situations to show us what is really in our hearts. Are we leading because we need the people to approve and we need them?

Here are some observations on this issue:
1. People will never give back as much as you put in.
I put in like 8 hours on one situation a few weeks ago. I am not sure how your time looks, but for me that is a lot of time. None of the folks that took up those hours showed up to our worship experience. You have to be selfless when ministering. You don't put in to get back. You put in because you are being faithful.

2. Entitled People Get Easily Offended AND Frustrated
If you are the least bit entitled then you will find yourself perpetually frustrated. If you have the "deserving" mentality then you will never find fulfillment. The ability and call to lead is a privilege. It is an honor. It is a blessing. The opportunity to be hurt and abandoned in the process is also an honor, privilege and blessing. The only thing we are entitled to is to share in His sufferings.

3. The Pity Party Leader Never Throws Parties
The pity party leader is like the donkey, Eor, from Winnie the Pooh. You are like, "Hey bro, how is it going?" They are like, "Well, no one cares. Half the people did not show up this week. I did not get anything for Pastor Appreciation. If I jump off a bridge, no one will notice."
This mentality is also a cancer. It hinders us from being able to have fun, be free and enjoy the ride. No matter how many people you have or at what stage you are at---- you will always "need" more. You will need more attention, more people, more offerings, more influence and more love. Learn to be content and throw parties. Celebrate and be grateful for every small thing that comes to your life. Throw parties!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Self-Imposed Pink Slip

(I wrote this blog originally for my friend's Pastor Ben and Jessica Miller from Redemption World Outreach Center in Asheville, NC)

Yep. Every pastor and leader goes through it.....You deliver yourself the PINK SLIP.

Something happens on Sunday. There is anticipation and anxiety on delivering a great Sunday Worship Experience in which people are transformed. We pray all week. We prepare messages, worship sets and ministries for this impact. Somehow, no matter how good Sundays are you still have this “hangover.” I believe it is a combination of the anointing and adrenaline. It also is when expectation marries reality.
I quit every Monday. Really. I go through the “holy hangover.”

You may or may not be a pastor, but you have these hangovers too. Whenever expectation and reality collide, you will have a hangover emotionally. This may be true of your marriage, job or perhaps ministry. You probably had or still have lofty expectations of all of the above. The problem comes when we allow discouragement to linger and learning to have “right” expectations. I have lofty expectations. That is my downfall. I am too hard on myself and expect too much of myself. This causes my crash most times.

Here are my daily reminders about Discouragement:
1. Discouragement is a matter of perspective.
Get advice from people who have a better perspective. Have people who are “God in skin.” Allow mentors and trusted friends to speak into your life. The greatest perspective is God’s perspective. As you are reading His Word, take time to listen and journal what you feel God saying.

2. Discouraging times are part of natural seasons of life. There is no one who ever avoided discouragement. However, you cannot let discouragement debilitate you. I had a mentor who told me you can go through discouragement, but don’t be discouraged. One is a passing season while the other is a state of mind/being. Prepare mentally for discouraging situations. This may sound weird, but you cannot be blindsided. That is the test of maturity. Don’t be na├»ve and think you are the exception. This form of arrogance allows discouragement to feed.

3. Discouragement is deadly when combined with exhaustion. I love the Snickers commercial that says, “You are not you when you are hungry.” I believe the same can be compared to discouragement. You are not yourself when you are exhausted. I remember this young, arrogant guy at college that told me, “Day off? Dude, we are so busy doing Kingdom work that we can’t take a day off.” I responded, “Wow, you guys are doing it much different than Jesus and God Himself. They both took days off. I am glad you are not on my staff. You would take a day off or turn in resignations.” Needless to say, we are not Facebook friends. And that church does not exist today. Pastor Tracy Reynolds often says, “Come apart (and rest) or you will come apart.”

Don’t let unreal expectations come in and cause discouragement. This has been the biggest lesson in church planting I have learned. I am called to be faithful and prepare the best worship experience I can. God brings people. I cannot control people. And…. people are people. The one key I use to fight discouragement is to look upon the providence and sovereignty of God. Remember, God is ultimately in charge of all the results. You can gain encouragement when you thank Him for the results He has produced. You can gain encouragement when you pause and say, “Our Father who is in the heavens….” He is your loving Father and He is in the heavens. He is seated on the throne. As Ron Carpenter jr., has said before, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God?”
Yep. I quit every Monday. I just have to start back every Tuesday.