I’m preparing my points for the seminar tonight, and ended up typing up my first two points in full. For those who can’t attend, I thought I’d post them here for you. And for those who are able to attend, this gives you a bit of a flavor of some of the things I’ll be talking about:
[Why I'm Talking About Leadership and Not Productivity Per Se]
When Bethlehem first contacted me about leading this seminar, they asked if I would talk about productivity in relation to short-term missions teams. My response, though, was to ask if I could talk about leadership instead. They said, that’s fine.
But here’s the question: when they asked me to talk about productivity, and I said let’s talk about leadership, was I taking things off in a totally different direction? Are you not going to learning anything about productivity as a result?
The answer is no. Here’s why.
Recently a friend of mine who pastors down in Iowa emailed me, asking for the top book on productivity I would recommend to a busy pastor. I responded to him with a book on leadership, not productivity. Here’s what I said in the email to him explaining why:
For a busy pastor, with just one book that I can recommend, I would actually recommend a book on leadership, because even if you get productivity down well, your efforts only scale widely through leadership. Personal productivity is necessary to make one’s leadership as effective as it should be, but personal productivity hits a dead end without leadership.
That’s why the title of this seminar is multiplying our productivity through biblical leadership. Productivity is important. But if you want to have the maximum impact, you need to not only be personally productive. You have to lead. Leadership multiplies your productivity.
[By the way, the book on leadership I recommended for him was The Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley. Stanley “gets it” when it comes to leadership, and as a pastor he has a biblical point of view that explicitly informs his thinking. And, like everything else Andy Stanley writes, it’s an enjoyable read.]
Who Should Lead?
Now, the first question we need to ask is simple and basic, but the answer is not obvious. The question is: who can lead? Or, perhaps better, who should lead?
Mark Sanborn is another good leadership author that I’ve benefited from greatly. I like Mark’s work a lot because he emphasizes that the role of the leader is first of all to serve others, not advance himself or herself. He really underscores the point that the aim of leadership is to promote the good of others, which I think is radically biblical and central to the nature of not only good leadership, but effective leadership.
Now, Mark has a book called You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, and that’s the first point I want to make about who can lead.
The first and most important thing to know is that leadership is not first about your formal title or role. It’s not first about being told that you are charged with a formal position of leadership. Rather, you can lead from wherever you are. Further, not only can you lead from wherever you are; you should lead from wherever you are. This is because leadership is, first of all, influence. That needs to be nuanced a bit, and I will do so later in this seminar, but in the first place, leadership is positive influence, and we are all to be a positive influence for good.
If you take a formal leadership class, they will also talk about this. Standard leadership theory today points out that there are different types of authority. One such type is formal authority—the authority of your position. But this is not the only type of authority. In fact, it is actually the weakest type.
Don’t get me wrong: having a formal position of leadership is a good and important thing, and a critical responsibility to steward well. But it is not the only type of authority, it is not the only type of leadership. There is also authority that comes from your expertise, which can exist fully independent of any formal role, and the authority that comes from having made a positive difference in the lives of others.
There are other types of authority as well, but the point is: you don’t need a formal title to be a leader. Further, even if you do have a formal title, the essence of leadership is that people follow you because they want to, not because they have to. I would go so far as to say that you can actually have a formal title of “leader” and yet not be a leader if you aren’t stewarding your position well and if people are only following you because they have to—because they are afraid they will lose their jobs, for example, or suffer other consequences—rather than out of respect and esteem and confidence that you are leading and the right direction, seeking to do them good, and competent to do so.
So, regardless of your particular role or position, you can lead. You don’t need a title to be a leader.
For anyone who is going to be in or around the Twin Cities this weekend, you’re invited to attend a leadership seminar I’ll be teaching at my church, Bethlehem Baptist, this Friday night and Saturday morning.
The title of the seminar is Multiplying Our Productivity Through Effective Biblical Leadership. There will be a special emphasis for those leading Short Term Mission trips this year.
- Why we need to care—greatly—about leadership in the church
- Can there even be a Christian view on leadership? Or, how do you keep from infecting the church with the “managerial model?”
- What is the essence of effective biblical leadership? Or, what are the two core principles at the heart of good leadership?
- How do you lead well? 8 things you can start doing right now
- Leadership and global missions
Location: Bethlehem Baptist Church, Downtown, Rm 203
Date & Time: Friday January 27 7:00–9:00pm, Saturday January 28 9:00am–Noon
All are welcome! If you plan to attend, you can RSVP to Tina Lowe at email@example.com
The reason is that spiritual poverty, in a certain sense, is not a good thing at all.
To be spiritually poor, in the first dimension of the word, is to be a sinner. This is not a good thing. Jesus isn’t talking merely about humble people here; he is talking about sinners.
But we know that being a sinner in itself is not at all something blessed. So there is certainly more going on here. This is the second dimension of spiritual poverty — namely, recognizing and acknowledging that you are a sinner.
The church in Laodicea had this first dimension of spiritual poverty, but not the second: “You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). They were spiritual poor in the objective sense (they were sinners), but not in the subjective sense (they didn’t recognize their spiritual poverty, but instead thought their material wealth made them rich and independent). That is not blessed.
When Jesus says, then, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” he means: “blessed are those who subjectively recognize what is objectively true about themselves — namely, that they are spiritually bankrupt and sinful apart from My grace.”
This state is blessed, because this is precisely the reason came: not to call the “righteous,” but to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). And if we do not recognize that we are sinful — if we do not acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy in ourselves — we cannot heed his call to repent and come to him to receive true spiritual riches.
This is a guest post by Jon Gordon. Jon is the bestselling author of a number of books including The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy, and his latest, The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work.
One Simple Rule is Having a Big Impact.
I didn’t invent the rule. I discovered it—at a small, fast growing, highly successful company that implements simple practices with extraordinary results.
One day I was having lunch with Dwight Cooper, a tall, thin, mild-mannered former basketball player and coach who had spent the last 10 years building and growing a company he co-founded into one of the leading nurse staffing companies in the world. Dwight’s company, PPR, was named one of Inc. Magazines Fastest Growing Companies several times but on this day it was named one of the best companies to work for in Florida and Dwight was sharing a few reasons why.
Dwight told me of a book he read about dealing with jerks and energy vampires in the work place. But after reading and reflecting on the book he realized that when it comes to building a positive, high performing work environment there was a much more subtle and far more dangerous problem than jerks. It was complaining and more subtle forms of negativity and he knew he needed a solution.
Dwight compared jerks to a kind of topical skin cancer. They don’t hide. They stand right in front of you and say, “here I am.” As a result you can easily and quickly remove them. Far more dangerous is the kind of cancer that is subtle and inside your body. It grows hidden beneath the surface, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but either way if not caught, it eventually spreads to the point where it can and will destroy the body. Complaining and negativity is this kind of cancer to an organization and Dwight had seen it ruin far too many. He was determined not to become another statistic and The No Complaining Rule was born.
The fact is every leader and business will face negativity, energy vampires and obstacles to define themselves and their team’s success. That is why one of the most important things we can do in business and life is to stay positive with strategies that turn negative energy into positive solutions. Thus the goal is not to eliminate all complaining; just mindless, chronic complaining. And the bigger goal is to turn justified complaints into positive solutions. After all, every complaint represents an opportunity to turn something negative into a positive. We can utilize customer complaints to improve our service. Employee complaints can serve as a catalyst for innovation and new processes. Our own complaints can serve as a signal letting us know what we don’t want so we can focus on what we do want. And we can use The No Complaining Rule to develop a positive culture at work.
About Jon Gordon:
This post is a guest post by Jon Gordon. Jon is the bestselling author of a number of books including The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy, and his latest, The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work. Learn more at www.JonGordon.com. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonGordon11 or Facebook www.facebook.com/jongordonpage .
It can sometimes be hard to see how God’s war against evil and Satan is a “real war,” given that evil is clearly outmatched (since God is omnipotent). It’s like when I wrestle with my two-year-old: there’s no way he can win.
And, of course, there is indeed no way evil can win. But it’s still a real war. And here’s why:
Satan cheats, and God doesn’t.
In terms of power, there is no comparison between God and Satan. God is infinitely more powerful. But Satan lies, cheats, steals, and uses all manner of under-handed tactics against God. And yet God still wins.
This displays the extent of God’s wisdom and the beauty of his character in his victory over Satan.
The war, in other words, is about much more than power. It’s about whether righteousness can succeed on its own terms, on the basis of unflinching character and justice. And God shows decisively that the answer is yes.
There are lots of reasons, but here’s a highly significant – and counterintuitive — one from Marcus Buckingham’s First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently:
Our research yielded many discoveries, but the most powerful was this: Talented employees need great managers.
The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.
If you have 1Password and haven’t set it up to sync through Dropbox already, it is well worth doing. Instead of having to remember to sync your iPhone and iPad versions of 1Password with your Mac manually through WiFi, you can move your data file into Dropbox so that all your devices stay in sync automatically.
Here’s a very simple, easy-to-follow guide for setting it up.
My friend Owen Strachan has a great article in the Atlantic this week on whether God cares if Tim Tebow wins on Saturday.
The gist: This question is answered by the doctrine of providence. Yes, God does care. God cares about and governs everything, even the death of a sparrow.
But does this mean that God is always going to cause Tim Tebow to win? No. This life is about more than victories and successes, and football games are not the most important thing. God has promised that his children will also suffer — and the extent to which you suffer (or, just lose a football game; I know it’s a lot less significant than what we mean by suffering most of the time!) is no indication that God loves you less or is not for you. In fact, it is a mark of his love (Hebrews 12:3-11).
Thus, when there are Christians on both teams, we can fully and completely say that God is “for” all of them — he’s for them in the sense that he is fully devoted to their eternal good and will not withhold any good thing from them ultimately (Romans 8:32).
Who wins a football game is a secondary issue — though it is a lot of fun. And win or lose, God will work the game (yes, even something as not “life or death” as a football game) for the good of Tim Tebow, any other Christians on the Broncos, any Christians playing for the Patriots, and all Christians everywhere.
Not because football games in themselves are a big deal, but because Christ rules everything for the sake of the church (Ephesians 1:22) and God works all things – large and small, weighty or light, significant and insignificant — for the good of his people (Romans 8:28). Always.
(By the way: I love Tebow, but I’m a huge Patriots fan and want to see them win another Super Bowl — and then two more after that. So, I’ll be torn on Saturday.)
This is a guest post by Dr. Paul White, business consultant, psychologist, and coauthor of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman
Now that we are fully into the New Year and venturing into the dreary days of January and February filled with cold weather and few days off from work, ministry leaders need to take a hard look at how we are going to support and encourage our team members. This is the time of year (especially for those who like sunlight) for people to just drag themselves through the day.
As a psychologist who trains leaders and colleagues how to effectively communicate appreciation in the workplace, let me offer some suggestions.
Understand the nature of discouragement and burnout
Discouragement and burnout, over the long haul, come from a combination of weariness and lack of hope. We have just emerged from the holiday season with many extra activities, and now we face the daily grind of doing our normal work. A lot of people are emotionally tired. Add to this a potential lack of vision (“Remind me again, why are we doing this?”) and a lack of hope (“My contribution really isn’t going to make a difference…”) and you have the perfect recipe for team members either going through the motions or giving up completely.
Give your team what they need: vision, hope, appreciation and encouragement
This is where leaders can make a tremendous difference with their team members – by providing vision (where you are going and how doing x, y, and z fits into the overall plan), communicating hope (helping them see how what they are doing does matter), and communicating appreciation and encouragement along the way.
Communicate your appreciation in ways that work
One challenge in effectively encouraging your team members is that not everyone’s “language of appreciation” is the same. Therefore, some attempts at appreciation may not really impact them. Most people think of appreciation as being verbal—saying “thanks” or writing a note —but in reality, studies show at least 40% of people really don’t value words in terms of feeling affirmed and appreciated. For another 25%, a gift card to the local Christian bookstore will not convey the intended appreciation. Some people feel appreciated when you spend personal time with them; others just want help getting tasks done.
In our research for appreciation in work and ministry contexts, Dr. Gary Chapman and I have found that for people to truly feel valued, four conditions need to be present. Appreciation needs to be communicated:
a) individually (rather than a blanket thank-you to all involved),
b) in the language that the individual values (see our online inventory to identify each person’s preferred appreciation language),
c) regularly (not just at their annual review or at the end of a big project); and
d) in a manner that the individual perceives as being genuine (versus forced or contrived).
To be honest, it takes some time and effort to communicate appreciation effectively. But it is worth it when you “hit the mark” with a team member, and you watch as they start to glow (or become teary-eyed) and their commitment to you and the ministry deepens dramatically. And you will be able to help them endure the long, dark days of winter – they may even smile occasionally and report enjoying their work!
* * * * *
Author Bio: Dr. Paul White is a business consultant and psychologist, and is the coauthor of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman. For more information, go to www.appreciationatwork.com .
About the Book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace applies the “love language” concept of New York Times bestseller, The 5 Love Languages, to the workplace. This book helps supervisors and managers effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their employees, resulting in higher levels of job satisfaction, healthier relationships between managers and employees, and decreased cases of burnout. Ideal for both the profit and non-profit sectors, the principles presented in this book have a proven history of success in businesses, schools, medical offices, churches, and industry. Each book contains an access code for the reader to take a comprehensive online MBA Inventory (Motivating By Appreciation) – a $20 value.
Here’s one way to state the essence of my book, in the words of Spurgeon:
Be diligent in action. Put all your irons into the fire. Use every faculty for Jesus. Be wide-awake to watch opportunities, and quick to seize upon them.
That’s what I’m trying to help you do, and that’s why I wrote my book.
I spend the first part fleshing out what productivity really is from a Christian perspective and why it matters (namely, so you can maximally steward all your gifts and opportunities and faculties for the glory of Jesus); then in the rest of the book, I lay out practical strategies for actually getting things done in the midst of all the opportunities and distractions that constantly multiply around us.
The biggest influences on my book include, from the old days:
- William Wilberforce
- Jonathan Edwards
- Martin Luther
- John Calvin
- William Carey
- Charles Spurgeon
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- Jim Elliot (though I don’t quote him)
- John Wesley
- The Macadonian Christians in 2 Corinthians 8
- The apostle Paul
- Many others
And from the current days:
- Tim Keller
- John Piper
- JI Packer
- Wayne Grudem
- Peter Drucker
- Tim Sanders
- Keith Ferrazzi
- David Allen
- Stephen Covey
- Seth Godin
- Daniel Pink
- Scott Belsky
- Chip and Dan Heath
- Marcus Buckingham
- Many of my friends
- Christians I’ve met around the world, both online and in person
- Many others
What does someone like the 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards have to say about productivity in the 21st Century? A lot. You’ll see when you get into the book. I think, perhaps, this conjunction of the old and the new, along with utilizing the best secular thinking within a robust Christian framework, might make it unlike any book you’ve read (in a good sense!). We’ll see.
In terms of the status of the book: we are still finishing revisions, but we do have a publication date which I’ll share with you when I have the time.
I just wanted to write this post up because I came across that Spurgeon quote again during the revisions, and wanted to share it with you.
Have a great weekend!
A commenter on Challies’ blog recently raised that question, and Tim gave me a shot at answering. You can read my thoughts on his blog.
And, if you read the post, you’ll learn a bonus fact on why it’s not necessarily wrong for me to have ended that sentence with a preposition.
(One other note of interest: Though it’s not as engaging, I used the term “wordsmithing” in the title of this post because I don’t like the term “wordsmithy” that Wilson uses in the title of his book! But that’s a small thing, and probably something Doug would find humorous in light of the subject.)
This is a very insightful TED talk by David Damberger. Here’s the summary:
International aid groups make the same mistakes over and over again. At TEDxYYC David Damberger uses his own engineering failure in India to call for the development sector to publicly admit, analyze, and learn from their missteps.
One of the most significant points is a few minutes in when he talks about the out-of-sync power structure in much development work. With businesses, if a business doesn’t serve people well, customers go somewhere else. There is a self-correcting mechanism in place. With government there is as well (though it is much slower!): if those in power fail to uphold their responsibilities, the people can vote them out.
But with development agencies, the beneficiaries of the work do not have this type of influence. Rather, the donors do — and they cannot know directly whether things are working well, as customers do with a business and citizens do (more or less) with their government. Hence, ineffective methods can be perpetuated for a long time.
Hence, the importance of non-profits paying close attention to what works and what doesn’t, and sharing that information. The result is more innovation and better solutions.
This is an important post from Seth Godin last week:
One of my favorite restaurants is a little Mexican place in Utah called El Chubasco. I’ve often eaten there twice in a day, and once (it’s true) ate there three times.
It’s always crowded. Sometimes people wait outside, in the cold, even though there are plenty of alternatives within walking distance. So, what’s the secret? Why is it worth a drive and a wait?
No specific reason. The energy of owners Jill and Craig is certainly part of it, but most customers never encounter them. I think it’s the hand-fitted gestalt of thousands of little decisions made by caring management out to make a difference. Usually, when a business like this gets bigger or turns into a chain, marketers make what feel like smart compromises. The MBAs collide with the mystical, and the place gets boring. “Why do we need 14 free salsas when we can get away with six?” or “Perhaps we ought to stop handing out huge tumblers of water for free–our bottled water sales will go up.”
This turns out to be the secret of just about every really successful enterprise. Sure, you can copy one or two or even three of their competitive advantages and unique remarkable attributes, but no, it’s going to be really difficult to recreate the magic of countless little decisions. The scarcity happens because so many businesses don’t care enough or are too scared to invest the energy in so many seemingly meaningless little bits of being extraordinary.
Here’s the main thing to focus on: much of the time, the things that appear to create more work or be less “economical” are what actually create the magic.
That’s why a cost-cutting focus, while having an appearance of wisdom, is actually deadly.
Tom Peters makes the same point in his landmark book In Search of Excellence. There is this notion to think that good business sense (and bringing good business sense to the world of ministry) means optimizing and creating efficiencies.
But that’s wrong. Good business sense is about making a great product or service — something people will love, rather than just put up with. Efficiency only becomes important after that, and as a result of it.
There might be a reason to have only six versions of salsa instead of 14. But that reason needs to be based in the fact that fewer options will somehow serve people better (Apple exemplifies this in many ways), rather than in the fact that it will be less work for you or “save money.”
Patrick Lencioni’s latest book is available for pre-order, and it looks fantastic: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business. I’ve found everything Lencioni has written to be incredibly enlightening and, best of all, wise. Lencioni writes from a foundation of virtue and character — which is what sets his books apart from so many others.
Here’s the short description of The Advantage:
In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are, and more to do with how healthy they are.
And here’s the longer description from Amazon:
There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are. In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides.
Simply put, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified. Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave. Lencioni’s first non-fiction book provides leaders with a groundbreaking, approachable model for achieving organizational health—complete with stories, tips and anecdotes from his experiences consulting to some of the nation’s leading organizations. In this age of informational ubiquity and nano-second change, it is no longer enough to build a competitive advantage based on intelligence alone. The Advantage provides a foundational construct for conducting business in a new way—one that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.
Last fall, Collin Hansen of The Gospel Coalition interviewed me on the Christian doctrine of work. It’s now posted at their site. Here’s the video, with Collin’s intro:
What gets you out of bed on Monday morning to go to work? What motivates you to persevere in a job you don’t enjoy, that doesn’t reward you adequately?
I posed these questions to Matt Perman, blogger and author of the forthcoming What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Changes the Way You Get Things Done. We discussed how jobs afford us opportunities to love our neighbors, and how we each multitasked during repetitive work to learn about God and concentrate on his Word.
Especially if you’re struggling at work, you’ll want to hear Perman explain the doctrine of vocation, which invests everything we do with meaning, because we’re living out a God-giving calling. Whether a pastor or plumber, we work in faith as unto God himself (Colossians 3:23-24). Perman explains how even garbage collectors can apply this doctrine to make their work more interesting, challenging, and fulfilling.