Leadership Lessons

15 Jun

I recently had the opportunity to make a transition in my professional role from one department to another. With my departure I considered ‘what would my parting remarks be?’ That statement alone has sparked me to evaluate myself, my successes and my failures. Below are some insights that I hope will be helpful in your leadership pursuits.

First, don’t be afraid to be the dissenting opinion. Any team needs a person to question why something is done that way, or why it should be done that way. A couple of cautions:

  1. Don’t dissent just for the sake of dissenting. Make sure that you are picking your opportunities (both format and topic).
  2. If you are dissenting against the popular view, be prepared to defend your position. Remember, the main objective is to ensure that you are collectively employing the most efficient processes, tools, etc. The objective is not to create a battle. Be willing to drop your view without remorse.
  3. If you are dissenting against the popular view, be prepared to provide an alternative. I once had a manager that told me, ‘Don’t bring me an issue unless you also have a solution.’

Second, know when. Know when to act, when to speak, when to remain inactive, when to remain silent, etc. This is a challenge for me as I have a horrible tendency to speak my mind…ALWAYS. I have had scenarios where I should have remained silent, but didn’t. I have had scenarios where I should have remained silent and I did. In the latter, I would occasionally schedule a one-off meeting with the necessary resource to discuss offline. Sometimes it’s not the best format (meeting setting) to address the topic.

Third, respect your leader. This doesn’t mean you always agree, but it means you respect the person and the role. Everyone can have their own opinions on how it should be done, how it should be run, etc, but these conversations should be in the right format with the right resources. The Dave Ramsey organization has a ‘no gossip’ policy. That means that, if you have an issue, you address it with someone higher up (that can address it) versus sharing it with a peer. Per the policy, you get one warning and then they will let you go on a second offense. If you have issues, speak with the person that can do something about it. Respect the chain of command!

Fourth, do the role before you have the role. If you want to be a manager, ask for opportunities to manage projects and the associated resource team. When the position comes available, you will be seen as a logical resource for the position.

Fifth, learn to control your body language. This is a tough one for me. If I am not in agreement or dislike a decision (or scenario), my body tells everyone. As a result, this can appear to b disrespectful to the leader. Learn to have a ‘poker face’ and you can address the issues at a later time in the appropriate manner.

Being a leader is essentially being a really good student. Become a student of yourself and become a student of others as you pursue greater heights of leadership.

Missionality in Small Groups

14 May

Instill a spirit of missionality by having every group develop a mission plan. The focus of the plan is to create a mechanism where:

  1. Jesus is obvious
  2. Needs are met
  3. Relationships are formed (with Jesus and with others).

The plan is unique to the group and the group members. The plan tells what the missional outreach is and how often the group plans to meet missionally (recommended at least once a month). The plan is shared with the Small Group Pastor more as an FYI.

Do’s and Don’ts of Developing In-House Small Group Curriculum (Part 2)

13 Feb

See “Do’s and Don’ts of Developing In-House Small Group Curriculum” for part 1.

DO:

  1. Extra Materials – Provide extra materials to the leaders when tackling the harder topics.(see DON’T: #1 below). Supporting scriptures, commentary input, etc. Provide as much material as a leader might need in the discussion around the topic.
  2. Pick and Choose – Create the guide so that the leaders can pick and choose from the discussion materials and still arrive at the same place.
  3. Main Point – emphasize a central theme that the entire discussion should focus around.
  4. Lots ‘o’ Questions – Provide a larger variety of questions. The more questions the more a leader has to pick from.

DON’T:

  1. Hard Topics – don’t shy away from hard topics (see DO: #1 above)
  2. One Pagers – don’t feel like you have to limit the leader’s discussion guide to 1 page.

What about you?  What are some DO’s and DON’Ts that you have encountered in your in-house curriculum?

So you’re a new Small Group leader…

10 Feb

Being a small group leader is one of the most fun and terrifying things in life. The fun comes when the relationships get bigger than the group and discipleship happens. Terrifying happens when relationships get messy and when questions get bigger.

Here’s a few helpful hints that can hopefully remove some of the ‘terrifying’ and emphasize the fun.

1. Pray, Pray, Pray – pray for the meeting (invite the Holy Spirit), pray for the group members, pray over prayer requests, pray over the discussion materials, etc.  Just pray!!!

2.  Ease into Transparency – the goal is to get the group to open up and begin to share life together. Transparency takes time. It would be a surprise to have someone come week 1 and pour out their lives (it has happened, but it’s not the norm). Slowly easy into transparency as you begin to build relationship.

3. Lead it, Don’t Read it – invest yourself in the discussion materials. Do additional research, craft the questions to your audience, and pray over the materials. As the leader, you are setting the tone for the meeting time, so be prepared. Don’t expect to have every answer, but be prepared and know the material.

4. See Ya Later – I always told my small group leaders that 75% of small group happens outside of the small group meeting.  Be deliberate about building relationship. Go out to dinner together, invite them to birthday parties, call during the week (follow-up on prayer requests), write a personal note, etc. The relationships will grow and connect quicker as you are investing more time.

5. Don’t Take it Personal – sometimes groups fail to launch. It’s not your fault. Sometimes people don’t desire to go from simple community to disciple-forming relationship. It’s not your fault.

6. ASK – Don’t be afraid to ask your coach or small group pastor if you have questions. They are there for you.

I am excited that you have decided to step into small group leadership. Small groups are a crucial piece to growing people towards Christ and you are critical to that process.

Love: Making Jesus Attractive

14 Oct

Philippians 1: 9-11 (NIV)  9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1: 9-11 (MSG)  9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi was that their love would grow and mature for the purpose of God’s glory and praise (NIV) and for the sake of making Jesus Christ attractive to all (MSG). The maturity of love was not (just) for healthy relationships with the saints, but truly as a light to EVERYONE so that Jesus Christ becomes appealing (attractive) to all. While I don’t want to scare anyone by saying “Your love is under a microscope. People are observing your love in order to determine Christ’s love,” I am gonna say it and we all need to hear it. So, start loving and making Jesus Christ attractive to everyone!

Dependency and Involvement

9 Oct

I Corinthians 12: 25-26 (MSG)  

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

Create Ripples

8 May

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Mother Teresa

In addition to small group related reading, my more recent readings have taken me down the ‘missoinal’ road. I have read several books about missional living (and I have 3-5 additional books on my e-shelf). I am finding the readings incredibly challenging and life transforming.

In reading missionally, I am constantly challenged in my actions or more appropriately in my inactivity. I am challenged to take a greater step to impact the kingdom, all along the way missing all of the little ‘ripples’ I could make. Last night I drove by a group of people at a broken down car. Immediately upon passing them, I recognized I had missed my ‘ripple’ opportunity.

Broadening the topic back into small groups, consider how (as a small group) to make ‘ripples’ into people’s lives. Don’t lose sight of the little ripples for the sake of ‘changing the world’ type efforts.

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