Serve to Lead

serve: if serving is below you, leadership is beyond you

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 ESV)

Jesus’ leadership style is different than most business leaders. Leading like Jesus led means giving yourself up like Jesus gave himself up.  He was the greatest among his disciples and he washed all of their  feet.  All of them… even Judas.  Jesus served.  Jesus died.  He surrendered himself for others.  If you desire to lead others in ministry, business, or your home then you have to put their needs first.

To say it simply: “If serving is below you then leadership is beyond you”.  If you can’t serve others then you aren’t qualified to lead them.

  • Men, if you won’t serve then you aren’t ready to be a husband and father.
  • Ministry Professional, don’t complain about people in your church not serving, if you don’t set the example by serving them in tangible ways.
  • Business Professional, if you won’t serve then you won’t be able to practically demonstrate the gospel you believe.
  • Church Planter, if you won’t serve your community then your sapling church won’t thrive and likely won’t survive.

If serving is below you then leadership is beyond you.  However, if you take up the high calling to serve, like Jesus, like his disciples, you will soon be recognized as a leader by those people.

Focus on serving others and soon others will focus on following you

…and you’ll still need to serve them…it’s what we do

Is there a leader that serves you well? What do they do? What can you do to come alongside those whom you lead?

Gospel-Centered Goals: 3 Mindsets to Ground Our Goals in the Gospel

Mindset

3 Mindsets to Ground Our Goals in the Gospel

If you’ve read any of my previous posts (Annual Goal Planning, 5 Keys to Writing Annual Goals, Write Your S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals, Setting Life Changing Goals) you’ll probably see that I really love planning, setting, and achieving goals.  Doing those things are wonderful and every year when completed I have a sense of satisfaction.

However, if I’m not careful an acceptable feeling of satisfaction very quickly morphs into pride.  When brainstorming, writing, and achieving goals it is important to keep the gospel at the center of our goals.

 

 

1.) “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” – (James 4.15)

You can set your goals.  You can make them the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. goals you’ve ever had.  You can create a plan with sub-goals that move you forward and you can carefully and diligently work at them.  But, when all is said and done, the outcome is ALL in the Lord’s hands… it is not in your hands.

 

 

2.) “All things were created through him and for him.” – (Colossians 1.16b)

Everything in heaven and earth and under the earth was made through Jesus.  Everything.  It exists by Him and FOR Him AND that includes me.  That means that my purposes must line up with His purposes.  If my goals don’t line up with His goals then He has the right to change them.  I don’t exist for me. I exist for Him.

 

 

3.) “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” – (1 Corinthians 15.10)

I am proud of my work ethic.  I work really, really hard.  My wife calls me persistent.  Typically, I don’t give up until something has been finished.  This moves me to think that it’s me.  This verse says that it isn’t true.  I work by God’s grace.  God’s grace in me.  God’s grace through me.  Goals aren’t achieved through my hard work, they are achieved through God’s grace.

 

 

These mindsets help me while I’m thinking about my goals and especially as I complete them.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of believing that I’m the cause of my own success.  That’s why I chose the picture that leads this post.  It reminds me of something very important: I am unbelievably small and yet unfathomably loved by someone utterly beyond me.

 

 

How do you remember the gospel while working out your annual, monthly or weekly goals?

Annual Goal Planning: 7 Steps to Begin Your Goal Year

Goal Planning

As I’ve shared in a previous post I deviate from what is typical when it comes to planning my goals.  Similar to how companies and organizations will set a different fiscal year, I set a different “Goal Year” (February 1st – January 31st).  This weekend I’m getting to see the fruition of 4 goals that I set at least a year ago.

That means it’s time to celebrate!

It also means that it is time to work through my process to write new goals. Every year I work through this process as I prepare to get off the ground quickly in my new Goal Year.

1. Examine the previous year’s goals

In January I look back at what I accomplished (and didn’t accomplish) in the previous goal year.  As I’ve gotten better at goal writing and planning I get to see a lot of successes.  This wasn’t the case for the first several years where I would frequently bite off more than I could chew.

At this time of year I look back on my list of goals and the sub-goals I set to get there.  Where I accomplished the goal I want to understand why.  When I failed to achieve the goal I want to see where I tripped up in planning.

It is more fun to look at success, but the most important part of this exercise is to understand what caused you to fall short.  Were there unaccounted for obstacles? Should the goal be a more long range goal than an annual one? Hold yourself accountable and ask why you missed the mark.

2. Look at long range goals (3, 5 and 10 years out)

Your annual goals should align with longer term goals.  In 2016 I completed my doctorate.  That was the completion of a 3 year goal when I started coursework in 2013.  My goals for that doctorate were annualized (i.e. get an ‘A’ in this seminar or write chapter one of my dissertation).  Each of those annualized goals led towards the completion of the doctorate in 2016, but graduation wasn’t the goal for 2013, 2014 or 2015.

3. Consider my contexts

This is something I got from Tim Challies in his book Do More Better.  Everyone has different roles like husband, father, leader, or student.  When writing goals you need to think about accomplishing goals in terms of your context.  I have 5 contexts that I work within:

  • Personal – Typically spiritual and fitness goals.
  • Family – These are things like leading devotions for our kids, financial goals, and have regular date nights with my wife.
  • Church – I lead a church and every year I set a couple big goals for CityView Church.
  • Business – I consult, coach, and speak a little.  I write goals to help keep me on track in these areas.
  • Student – Leaders are learners and this is where I examine how I’m learning whether it is a book list, certification to acquire, or language to learn.

4. Brainstorm where I want to be in a year

This is the fun part.  Ask yourself where you want to be at this time next year.  I LOVE WHITEBOARDS.  I get alone in my office and I write all over my two large whiteboards.  I think about dreams I have.  Everything that comes to mind goes on the board.  Like my second grade teacher told me, “there aren’t bad ideas in brainstorming.”

5. Analyze patterns in the brainstorming

While brainstorming patterns begin to emerge.  Group similar items together. Ask yourself how the items relate to each other. Frequently, during this step I find sub goals that will lead to a larger goal.

6. Decide on no more than 2 annual goals per context.

Too many goals and you’ll quit. Too few and you won’t be challenged.  Typically, when coaching people in goal development the issue isn’t too few goals, but too many. This is my favorite phrase – focus is your friend.  You can achieve a lot in a year… if you focus.
This is my process and it certainly isn’t perfect. I’d love to hear your thoughts or critiques. Do you have a process? What elements matter to you?

 

Focus To Lead: 3 Questions to Refine Vision

vision and focus

In order to lead well you need focus.  I love this quote by Steve Jobs:

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

You, your church, your ministry cannot do everything.  Trying to focus on multiple priorities and initiatives is a recipe for disaster.  You can’t be everything for everyone.  You need to stop getting frustrated by that fact and find empowerment in  it.  Find the vision for what God has called you to do and focus there.

Focusing on God’s vision for you means shedding all the extras that don’t matter.  It means cutting fat, canceling programs, and doing what matters most in accord with your vision.  This doesn’t mean that those programs didn’t serve a purpose at one time. It doesn’t meant that they aren’t important any more.  It just means that they aren’t in line with the vision and they need to be set aside.

Start with these 3 questions to help begin the process of refining vision:

  1. What is the purpose of this ministry/church/church plant?
    • What do you feel God calling you to do?
    • Are there large needs that need?
    • What are hoping to accomplish?
  2. Who is the focus of this ministry/church/church plant?
    • What group of people are you trying to help?
    • Is there a certain demographic you are seeking to serve?
  3. What are the needs the people that this ministry/church/church plant are trying to meet?
    • Get specific. Everyone needs Jesus, that can’t be the specific need you are trying to meet.  Think about the need you can meet to earn the right to speak about Jesus.
    • Where are these people lacking?
    • What are they missing?
    • How are you uniquely made to meet those needs.?

What is your vision? How can you refine it and make it more clear?  What are you trying to do that you need to stop doing?  What do you need to start doing?

A Pastoral Case of the Mondays

4 Reasons Pastors SHOULDN'T Take Mondays Off

Is it Monday already for pastors?

Sundays are work days for pastors.  They are busy from early mornings until late at night.  CityView Church where I lead is a portable church, we meet in an elementary school.  Setup starts at 6:30am and tear down is over at 12:30pm.  Then there are lunches, counseling appointments, and meetings in the afternoon.  Finally, we’ve got Life Group at 5pm.

All of these things are GREAT and necessary and… exhausting…

In the past I’ve made the mistake of taking Mondays off.  That’s right, I said mistake.  I’ve got a friend.  Here are 4 reasons why I think it’s important that pastors shake off their case of the Mondays and go into the office.

4 Motivations for Pastors to work on Monday

  1. Debrief.

    Sunday is fresh in your mind.  You need to debrief.  What went right? What went wrong? Who was there?  Who wasn’t?  On Monday, it’s still on your mind.  If Sunday was a particularly good day (or bad one) you likely haven’t stopped thinking about it.  Consequently, I always prefer to deal with it early so that it doesn’t shade the rest of my week.

  2. Administrate.

    Monday is a great day to deal with numbers. I look at attendance for our services, life groups, and giving.  I look at trending data and try to assess how we are doing.  Emails are returned and notes are written.  I take out my plans for the coming week’s message.  I look at meetings that are coming up that week and prepare.  It’s a good day to plan, pray, and think.  My friend Jeremy Roberts has written on this as well.

  3. Recharge.

    Recharging is really important. Sunday has been draining and it is sometimes hard to worship on Sunday mornings when you are about to preach. I take some time on Monday to write personal notes to volunteers and visitors and listen to some podcasts of preachers I follow.  I need to hear the Word from others.  It brings deep encouragement and good renewal.

  4. Family.

    I spend my weekly day off, usually Friday, with my family.  I take my boys to school, have a breakfast or lunch date with my wife, take a nap in the afternoon, and plan some low impact family time for the evening.  Frankly, I’m not in the mood for any of that on Monday.  I can barely form sentences.  I want to have energy for my family. That’s not me on Monday.

I recently heard Steve Gaines, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speak at a conference.  He said in no uncertain terms that pastors shouldn’t work on Mondays because “you shouldn’t feel that bad on your day off”.

What do you think?  Do you take Mondays off?  Another day?  Why?