Calvary’s Core Values – Growing with Purpose

Today I’m continuing a series of posts on the core values at Calvary.  You can read the previous ones here. This next value is so crucial, but unfortunately often overlooked.  It is the conviction that we “Grow with Purpose.”  Our value is that “Growth is not a matter of chance, but of intention toward God’s purposes in our lives.” What that means is that growth doesn’t happen accidentally or by chance, by only by choice.

What does that practically look like in our church?  It means that we provide people with opportunities to take next steps, not assuming that they’ll just find them, but making them as simple and understandable as possible.  To see growth happen in our team, in our church and in our lives, it requires us to intentionally take the steps to grow.

To provide opportunities for growth we have two primary vehicles for spiritual growth:  LifeGroups and our Overflow Process.  We offer LifeGroups throughout the year on a semester basis.  These groups will meet on 8-12 week semesters, depending on the time of the year, and vary in topics from studies on books of the Bible to studies on how to handle your finances.  Regardless, they provide an easy first step for new believers to get connected and begin the process for growth.

The other avenue of growth is our Overflow Process.  This process consists of three 1.5 hour classes that are offered once a month in successive months.  One month we’ll offer our Experience 1.0 Class, which addresses the topic of Spiritual Health and Commitment.  This class is the only one necessary to become a Catalyst (Member) at Calvary.  The second class is our Embrace 2.0 Class, which deals with Spiritual Growth.  In this class, we discuss the need for spiritual disciplines and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.  The final class is our Express 3.0 Class which deals with Spiritual Gifts.  This class provides the opportunity for individuals to look inside and discover the very gifts God has given them, and how they can be used to serve the church and community.

Through both of these avenues, our goal is not to provide more “stuff” for people to do, but rather to provide clear and easy steps for people to take on their spiritual journey.  Because “Growth is not a matter of chance, but of intention toward God’s purposes in our lives.”

Why Leaders Fail – Lone Ranger and No Tonto

This week, I’m continuing my series on “Why Leaders Fail.”  If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here.  This week, we’re looking at the error of leading without building a team.  What can easily happen is individuals can be placed into leadership roles because they can ‘do’, but not because they can ‘lead.’  It’s a blessing to have someone on your team that can get things done…they’re a doer…they see a task and they accomplish it well.  That is an amazing gift.  The problem that can occur, is that gift of ‘doing’ can often become translated as a gift of ‘leadership.’  And when this happens, we can end up with leaders that are Lone Rangers.  And being a Lone Ranger isn’t something you have to do, it’s really something a leader chooses to do.

There can be a number of reasons Lone Rangers don’t have a team, but here are just a few:

  • No one can do it just like they would do it.
  • No one works as hard as they do.
  • No one understands the vision or purpose for the team as well as they do.
  • It’s easier just do it themselves.

And consequently, they end up as a Lone Ranger with no Tonto.  They are a leader without a team.  Sounds contradictory, but it happens far too often.

Don’t make the error of connecting the ability to get things done with the ability to lead.  While leading yourself is  paramount to leading others, to be an effective leader, you still have to lead others…others being the key word there.  To be a leader, you have to be ready to bring people along with you on your journey of getting things done.  Leaders understand that they can get a lot of things done by themselves right now, but if they are willing to work harder now at getting others to follow, they can get a lot more done in the long run.  The longevity and productivity of your leadership will not be determined by what you accomplish, but by who’s with you when you accomplish it.  

If you battle with this “Lone Ranger” approach, here are a few tips to overcome it:

  • Create a list of tasks you do on a regular basis.  Look at that list and identify what you could delegate to others and who you could delegate to.  This might take some time, but begin to train people on your team to do the very things you’re doing now.
  • Don’t take on more than your team can handle.  For driven leaders, we can often say yes to more than our team can actually handle (we’ll talk more about this next week), and in the end we wear ourselves out by doing what our team couldn’t handle by ourselves.
  • Have someone hold you accountable.  Ask a good friend or a coach to question you every week, and ask who you’re delegating to.
  • Don’t settle for just getting things done.  Redefine success in your mind to equipping others to get things done, not you crossing something off your “To Do List.”

What have you found to be an effective approach to overcoming a “Lone Ranger” approach to leadership?

 

Why Leaders Fail – No Direction. No Service.

I’m not one to focus on the negative, but over the next few weeks. I’m going to be doing a series of posts on “Why Leaders Fail.”  The goal is not to focus on the failure, but rather focus on what we can do to succeed as leaders.  I believe that God gives every person the capacity to lead, but it’s up to each person to steward the gift of leadership that God has given them.  With that said, here are the four posts on “Why Leaders Fail”:

  1. No Direction.  No Service.
  2. The Know-It-All Syndrome
  3. Lone Ranger and No Tonto
  4. The Intoxication of Saying “Yes”

This week, we want to start with “No Direction. No Service.”  The role of a leader is, and always will be, completely tied to vision.  Without one, I would argue you can’t have the other.  Unfortunately, though, people can be given ‘leadership’ titles or roles without vision.  In those situations, people serve in the role of a leader, while not operating in the function of a leader.  Leaders aren’t those that get things done, but rather those that inspire and lead others to do what they couldn’t have done on their own.

To lead without vision, is not to lead at all.  So what does it take to create, cast and pursue vision for your leadership role?  Here are a few helpful things to do:

  1. Pray.  God is the ultimate giver of vision.  To try to create vision apart from his working is to limit the scope of your vision.  In our humanity, we can only see so much – God sees the whole picture.  Tap into his vision and you’ll tap into a world beyond your own understanding.  Ask God to give you a vision, direction and passion for your area of influence/ministry.  What does God want you to do?  And what does he want your ministry to look like?
  2. Plan.  Start to write down what God is speaking to you and what is on your heart.  If you can’t write it down, it’s not clear enough yet to be communicated to others.  You can pray for some great things, but start to put plans to your prayers.  Vision without plans is simply dreaming.  If you truly want to see your vision realized, you have to start to put plans in place to execute it.
  3. Pursue.  Don’t just be a big talker.  Start to build a team (something we’ll look at in a couple weeks) around that vision and begin executing the plans you’ve put in place.  To accomplish your vision (if it’s God-sized), it’s going to take a lot of perseverance in your pursuit.  There may be obstacles, but continue pursuing.

These are a few thoughts on creating vision.  As a leader, here is my challenge:  Don’t just lead people, but lead people toward something.  As you do that, you may be surprised and actually reach the destination you and your team set out toward!

Servant Leadership – Giving Leadership Away

This week we finish the series on Servant Leadership.  In case you missed any of my previous posts in this series, you can read about An Attitude of Selflessness, Using My Gifts for the Benefit of Others, Doing What’s Beneath You, or The Big Picture You’re In.

For this final post, I’d like to look at one of the great lies of leadership.  It’s the lie that leadership is about what you can do.  The reality is leaders that can do things on their own get all the accolades today, but those that give leadership away are celebrated for years to come.  You see, it’s not about what you do today, but rather what you can empower others to do tomorrow.

If you build a culture of leadership or an organization that is built around you, it won’t be there when you’re gone.  And I hate to break this to you like this, but you’re not always going to be there.  Everyone has a lifespan, don’t allow your organization’s lifespan to be built around your lifespan.  Give leadership away, and you’ll have a much better chance at creating lasting change, as opposed to momentary change.

So how do we give leadership away exactly?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Build a sandbox that other leaders can lead within.  This idea of a ‘leadership sandbox’ comes from the book by T.J. Addington called “Leading from the Sandbox.”  The idea is to create four walls of your organization that give leaders a freedom to lead within.  This involves defining your : 1. Mission 2. Guiding Principles 3. Central Ministry Focus 4. Culture.  As you do this, you create the overall direction for your church/organization, and allow leaders to lead within that box and in the same direction.
  • Always communicate the “why” behind a decision to your team.  This allows others to see how your leadership wheels are spinning, and in turn you are showing others how leadership functions, rather than just giving them a cut and dry direction.
  • Include others in big decisions.  When every leader in your organization is making decisions based on “What will ________ think?” you’ve stripped people of the ability to lead.  Instead of leading, others are actually just observing and acting.  Give leadership away and let them lead.
  • Be willing to listen more than you speak.  Don’t just give direction from the top down, but give people the opportunity to speak and share their perspective.  You never know what wisdom and brilliance might be sitting in the room or around the table unless you’re willing to close your mouth and open your ears.
  • Give people permission to fail.  Part of servant leadership is giving people the room to succeed or fail.  And if they do fail, helping them see what they did so they can learn from it and move on.  If you make failure an evil word in your organization, you’ll find that a few other evil words will pop up: “We’ve never done it that way before.”  Give permission to fail, and opportunity to learn.

Now this isn’t exhaustive, but these are just a few tips on giving leadership away.  As you are able to lead with humility and give leadership away, you won’t really find yourself doing less, but you will find others doing more.  This is the essence of what Jesus did.  He led 12 men to a point where he could eventually give his leadership away, and they fortunately in turn, continued to give it away, and established one of the greatest organizations in the world, the Church.  You can continue that cycle if you’re willing to identify quality leaders and be willing to give what you have away!

 

Servant Leadership – The Big Picture You’re In

This week, we continue to look at this important idea of “Servant Leadership.”  I once heard this saying that has stuck with me over the years.  It goes something like this:  “To be a good leader, you have to first be a good follower.”  I remember the first time I heard that, I internally struggled with that idea.  I was young, and I thought, “I’m not meant to just follow someone, but I want to lead!”  Good thought, but the more I’ve lead, the more I’ve realized that in any and every role you lead, you will always be following someone else’s vision.

And this is the point I want to look at when it comes to servant leadership.  That in every role, you are always fitting into someone else’s “Big Picture.”  What I mean by that is, the vision you have has to fit into a larger vision.  For example, if you’re a youth pastor, your vision needs to fit into the larger vision for your church.  If you’re a Lead Pastor, your vision should fit into God’s vision for your church.  If you’re a manager at a corporation, your vision should fit into the larger vision of your company.  The moment that vision starts to contradict the larger vision, that is a sign that you might need to change surroundings, because you no longer fit into the bigger picture.  The reality is that the canvas your vision is painted upon will always fit into a bigger picture.  And along those lines, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the picture your leadership is painting fit into the larger picture of where you are?  If not, where does it fit?
  • How can you lead others to better fit into the larger picture?
  • How does the truth that your vision fits into a larger vision affect how you lead?

Servant Leadership – Doing What’s Beneath You

We are continuing our series on “Servant Leadership”, looking at the idea of “Doing What’s Beneath You.”  Now, this topic presents an interesting tension in leadership.  The ultimate goal of leadership is to empower others.  Leaders aren’t those that get things done, but rather those that can lead others to get things done.  As John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence.”  With that said, it is very easy to often take that idea to the point that there are certain things that “beneath you” as a leader.  Meaning, you have now achieved a certain status, and you no longer have to do certain things.  But this isn’t the approach of the Servant Leader.

You see, while servant leaders aren’t ‘slave leaders’ and simply running around doing what everyone else was empowered to do, that doesn’t mean they stand on a high and lofty pedestal looking down on all of their lowly hirelings.  You see, Servant Leadership isn’t about what you do, but about how you view what you do.  

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a leader that viewed you as simply the workforce to do everything they didn’t want to do.  Chances are good that you didn’t follow that person for long.  But on the flip side, hopefully you’ve had the privilege of following someone that you would go out of your way, even sacrifice your own time and energy, to do whatever that person needed.  What is the difference?  It’s all in how a leader views what they do and don’t do.

If you view certain things as “beneath” you, then those actually doing those things will naturally be “beneath” you.  And the moment those you’re leading are ‘beneath’ you, is the moment you’ve now stopped leading, and instead you are dictating.

Being a Servant Leader- Using My Gifts for the Benefit of Others

This month I’m going through a series on Servant Leadership.  If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here.

Here are the topics we’ll be covering in the coming weeks:

  • Doing What’s Beneath You
  • The Big Picture You’re In
  • Giving Leadership Away

Today, I want to look at the idea of “Using My Gifts for the Benefit of Others.”  One of my favorite things to do as a pastor is to sit back and watch the wide variety of gifts and talents that are often used to expand the kingdom of God.  I get to see one person who loves doing administrative work in the office, and yet another that thrives at creating and designing, and still another that is so gifted with building things with their hands.  It’s amazing to see the amazing variety of abilities that have been handed out by God to his creation.

And with such variety, I sometimes wonder why I wasn’t given certain gifts/abilities?  Have you ever asked that question of God before?  Why can’t I play an instrument, or why can’t I sing like that, or why can’t I do this or do that?  It’s a pretty common question for people to ask.  And the basis for that question is usually, “Why did God make me the way he did?”  And whether your 20 years old or 90 years old, this is a question that we really should all ask ourselves at some point.  Because God has made you the way he did for a purpose…you’re not an accident, and the abilities you posses (or don’t posses) isn’t an accident either!  God has made you a certain way to succeed for a certain purpose…it’s not simply for your benefit and accomplishment, but ultimately to leave your mark on this world.  And here’s the main idea I want to share with you briefly:  God equips you with gifts that are to be given, not kept.

 

As a servant leader, we aren’t meant to hoard the gifts/abilities we’ve been given, but rather they are to be used to benefit others.  It can be easy to forget this, especially when we’re ambitious and trying to achieve certain goals and benchmarks (build a bigger church, move up the career ladder, etc.).  But that’s not the purpose of any gift, abilities or tool that God has placed in your proverbial toolbox.  I strongly believe that God has given you certain abilities, and then in turn placed certain people around you that need those abilities.  That’s because God equips you with gifts that are to be given, not kept.  

Have you ever wondered that maybe, just maybe, God chose to put you in a certain place on the timeline of history because he knows that he gave you the gifts and abilities to make a difference in that place?

The question then isn’t whether or not you have gifts or abilities, because we all do.  The question is: are you exercising those gifts to benefit others, or just to advance yourself?

If you don’t know how to use your gifts or where to use them, my challenge to you is to look up, look around and see the needs in your world.  This is place that your gifts will work the best…when your ability becomes the solution to someone else’s problem.

Being a Servant Leader – An Attitude of Selflessness

Over the next month, each Monday, I’ll posting a brief post on the topic of “Being a Servant Leader.”  In a culture where status and fame have become a priority, what a refreshing approach servant leadership is.  And not only is it refreshing, but it’s biblical.  In fact, Jesus even said, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”  This is the approach that followers of Christ take in leadership roles, whether in the church or outside it.  Here are the 5 topics we’ll be looking at:

  • An Attitude of Selflessness
  • Using Your Gifts for the Benefit of Others
  • Doing What’s Beneath You
  • The Big Picture You’re In
  • Giving Leadership Away

To start off this series, we’re going to look at “An Attitude of Selflessness.”

What I’ve found is oftentimes, the younger a leader is, the harder it can be to recognize there is a world outside themselves.  This isn’t anything against young leaders, but simply that they often haven’t experienced the value of viewing the world through other’s eyes yet.  But to be a follower of Christ and a servant leader it is imperative to see the world, not through selfish eyes, but through selfless eyes.  This means learning how to identify the needs of those around you, and having a willingness to do something about it.

Now, that isn’t an excuse to run yourself ragged solving everyone else’s problems, but rather taking the approach of a servant rather than a ‘savior.’  We may not be able to change the whole world with one word or action, but we can change the world for that one volunteer, that one child, that one leader.  When we come with an attitude to serve, we are able to change the lives of those in front of us.  The collective effort of doing that very thing then becomes exponential.  Viewing the needs around us with selfless eyes allows us to come to serve rather than to be served.

And as leaders, especially in the church, we aren’t called to stand on our high, lofty pedestals, but to be approachable, caring servants.  Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it?  Well, it is, and it was crazy even in the first century when Jesus said, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”  This is one of core components to being a servant leader.  Being a servant leaders isn’t simply about your actions, but your attitude.  If you have a sense of entitlement or an expectation that others are simply there to serve you, you’ll soon find yourself without anyone left to serve.  But those that are willing to take on the selfless attitude of a servant will always have people around them to lead and serve.

Here’s my challenge to you, rather than asking how can I get others to do this or that, start asking:

  • How can I better serve my team?
  • What sacrifices have I made for my team?
  • Are my priorities focused on me and what I want, or around what is best for my team?

The Core of Church Leadership (Part 2)

As a follow-up to last week’s post on the three areas we need to focus on as leaders in the church, I wanted to cover the second area.  If you missed the first one, you can read it here.  The three areas we are looking at and need to focus on are:

  1. Love People
  2. Lead with vision
  3. Live with excellence
Today, I wanted to cover the idea of “Leading with Vision”.  At Calvary, we are constantly looking to improve on what we are doing, which can lend itself to updating/improving things.  All of this can bring about change, and change brings with it the possibility for disaster.
Imagine driving to a familiar store and taking a right turn down a street that you’ve driven down hundreds of times.  However, this time everything is different.  Little did you know, the street was recently changed to a ‘One Way Street’, and now you are driving in the wrong direction.  As you come to find out, the change was made to improve traffic flow in that part of town, but it was never communicated to the public.  That would be pretty frustrating, and could have disastrous results!!  The same is true, if not more so, as we lead change in a church.  Here are a few thoughts as leaders we need to remember when leading change:
  1. Remember leadership is not about ‘doing stuff’, but about taking people on a journey.
  2. Expect people to be frustrated if you take them on a journey, but don’t tell them where you’re going.  Communication is huge!
  3. Before you share the ‘what’ you need to share the ‘why’.  The ‘why’ will make the ‘what’ more understandable.

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