Month: August 2019

Lead Yourself First-The 30-Day Challenge

Before you can lead others, you must first be able to lead yourself.

I’m going to share one of my favorite lead yourself first hacks. I won’t touch on the what of leading yourself, simply the how. There are plenty of people out there telling you to add this practice to your morning, or to do this one thing daily for instant success. This isn’t that kind of post. I don’t claim to have those kinds of answers.

I am, however, going to share the how with one of my favorite how techniques.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Luke 12:48 (NIV):

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

I don’t take this verse lightly. It’s the fuel to my constant push for personal improvement in the stewardship of all I’ve been entrusted with.

One thing I do to put this in practice is something I call the “30-day challenge”.

The basic idea is to decide on a practice you want to commit to –– whether it’s something you want to start doing or stop doing –– and simply commit to doing it every day for 30 days. That’s it. 30-days.

There are several reasons why I like 30 days.

First off, the commonly shared timeframe of taking 21 days to form a new habit, in my opinion, is far too short. Honestly, 30 days isn’t even long enough for most people, but it’s often long enough to decide if you want to continue the practice.

An important point to remember here is that the point of establishing a new practice or ritual in your life is not to start something for ritual’s sake, but to add a benefit or an improvement to your life. If your new habit or practice doesn’t deliver the desired benefit, stop doing it and try something else!

There’s no sense in doing something if it’s not yielding the benefits you’re after.

It was Albert Einstein who shared the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

If you don’t get the desired result, change your approach. And 30 days is the perfect amount of time to see if your approach is working, or if it’s time for a change.

Additionally, 30 days has a natural rhythm to it in the course of a calendar month. I like starting a new practice each month. I personally don’t even track the days of my challenge this way. I simply know that I started on the first day of the month and therefore know how many days in I am, how many I have left, and what my current “win” streak is as well. The calendar date shows me how far I’ve come and how far I have to go without any external tracking system needed.

So, let me tell you about one of my latest challenges and how it came to be.

I recently took Seth Godin’s altMBA course. It’s an intense, 4-week sprint course for people who want to be effective leaders. When I received my orientation email, the schedule looked something like this:

Tuesday & Thursday evenings from 6-9pm & Sunday’s from 8am-5pm.

Again, this was for four weeks in a row.

Seeing this, I had a “my wife is going to kill me” moment. We have four young kids (Noah, Aiden, Eli, and Adele) and we were in the middle of selling, buying, and moving homes during this same 4-week time period. Being absent for three primetime “dad-timeslots” during the week for four weeks was not going to excite my wife about my altMBA experience (understandably so).

Not wanting to set off the volcano, I looked for an alternative and found out that the London cohort of the course met at the same time, except on London time. Therefore, their 6-9pm slot was 1-4pm New York time and their 8am-5pm Sunday slot was 4am-noon New York time. Perfect I thought, I’m in!

Now a part of the London cohort, I joined 25 other individuals, all from European and Middle Eastern countries.

One of my classmates was Sabastian. Sabastian lives in Germany and worked as a consultant for a number of years. As the consultant lifestyle goes, Sabastian worked 80+ hour weeks and was away from home Monday through Thursday. Each week, he’d return home for the weekend exhausted.

While on a vacation, as is typical for many European cultures, Sabastian’s wife hit him with something two weeks into the trip. She said, “You know Sabastian, you’re really a different person when we get away for a while.”

Not understanding what she exactly meant, Sabastian dug deeper (a true consultant he is).

Through the conversation, his wife shared that he was far more pleasant to be around, now two weeks into the trip, than he was a week ago and certainly than was typical in their everyday lives. He was happier, more joyful, more patient with his children, and a more loving husband.

Sabastian’s hypothesis to this change in his behavior was the additional 2-3 hours of sleep he was getting while on vacation. Rather than his traditional 5-6 hours of sleep per night, he had been averaging 8-9 hours. This piqued Sabastian’s interest in the study of sleep, setting him off on a several-year-long exploration, leading him to be a firm believer in the power of sleep.

Fast forward to my time with Sabastian as a classmate, the topic of sleep emerged.

I shared with my group that for years, I’ve been almost purposefully ignoring the trending topic idea of getting more sleep. I read Adriana Huffington’s “Thrive” years ago and dismissed the concepts as interesting and dreamy, thinking “oh sure, one day I’ll be able to sleep more, but not right now”. I felt the idea of being more productive after getting more sleep was nice in concept, but I don’t have time for that.

Appealing, nice in theory, but not for me. Not right now, at least. After all, I operate pretty well on 6 hours of sleep, right? I never feel tired. I’m happily married, my kids seem to like me, business is going pretty well, why rock the boat?

However, in my typical 30-day challenge style, I told my group I would commit to getting 8 hours of sleep per night for the entire month of August. I’d go to bed when I went to bed and simply set the alarm for 8 hours later. I felt challenged, but overall it was a pretty easy commit.

However, Sabastian fired back. He said, “I want to challenge you further, don’t set an alarm.”

Yikes! That one actually scared me. Don’t set an alarm? What if I sleep the day away (who am I kidding, I have four young kids!). What if I sleep 9 or 10 hours?

Between balancing family time, running a company, buying/selling our home, and taking this course, how am I supposed to risk losing one or two precious hours of the day?

However, the simple fact that the idea of no-alarm did indeed scare me was exactly what I needed to know that it was the right challenge. The fact that I was scared fired me up! So I committed.

Starting August 1, 2018, I completely banished an alarm clock. I left my phone charging in the kitchen at night and always went to bed around 9:30, plus or minus 30 minutes. I tried to always be off my computer by 8:45 and in bed reading by 9pm to give myself 30 minutes of “wind down” time before lights out.

With that, I very consistently woke up 7.5 to 8 hours later, between 5 and 5:30am, without an alarm. I followed this for 30 days, knowing that it may take some time for my body to catch-up and feel truly rested once again.

Reporting back on the 30-day experiment, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the consistency my body has shown in the time it desires to rest each night. My mood has certainly been no worst and I like to think my focus and clarity of thought have been heightened.

With that, I decided to continue the challenge, enjoying the “sleep until I wake” idea.

And now, I encourage you. Find your 30-day challenge. What have you been wanting to do and have been putting off? What is tugging at you to add to your routine? Is it a meal routine? A new morning routine? Working out? Meditation? Sleep? A task system? A family ritual?

Whatever it is for you, give it a try. Set your 30-day challenge and go!

Article written CatalystLeader by Dru Dalton. Dru is the founder/CEO of two companies; Real Thread, a super soft custom t-shirt printer, and Taab, an employee benefit travel program. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Dru is also a husband to his wife Carrie, and father to four wonderful kids –– Noah, Aiden, Eli, and Adele.

How to “Set the Table” in Worship

A couple of years ago on our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, my wife and I got to do a couple of five-mile hikes in the Smoky Mountains. To save money and time, we decided to fill our backpacks with a picnic-style lunch and some snacks (mostly candy).

It was so much fun eating sandwiches and cheap bags of chips picnic-style because there was a beautiful view, no one was around to tell me to get my elbows off the table, and I was eating with my new wife.

Another memorable meal was when I was in grade school. Every Christmas Eve my family would get out our fine china, light some candles, and have a fondue night. We didn’t get out the classy dishware often, mainly because my mom was afraid we would break it, but when we did, we knew that it was something special.

We would fill one dish with cheese, one with butter, and one with chocolate, and among our assorted hors d’oeuvres, we would make the most out of the special experience.

As worship leaders, we set the mood for what is expected for the worship experience for the majority of the congregation.

Obviously, there will always be those who are bold or mature in their faith who we don’t need to bring to the throne because they are already there. But for the lion’s share of the church, we set the table and the layout for what is generally expected during a worship service.

We can be the examples of whether or not it is OK to be expressive worshipers.

I know that a meal with fine china versus a picnic will have two different moods—both fine and enjoyable, but different. In the same way, a campfire devo with an acoustic guitar and cajon has a much different feel than a Sunday morning service with a full band. Both are great and both can be incredibly powerful times of worship, but they are different styles.

We are called to do the prep work through prayer, devotion, study, and thought to find out what message we want to convey to our congregation.

Josh Huckabay, a wise worship leader that I interned under, once told me, “Worship ministry is not about telling people where to go, but about leading them as you go there yourself.”  Every week I try to encourage this mindset in the way our team leads.

Whether the position is deserved or not, if you are onstage or have a role on the worship team, you are seen as a leader.

What you do dictates to the majority of the congregation what is acceptable or inappropriate for the service.

However, as worship leaders, we can’t make the congregation do anything they don’t want to do. Just like a table-setter, I can bring you the finest dishes and cups, light the table with candles, and set out fancy silverware, but I can’t make you eat the food or even like it, and I shouldn’t try to.

If our goal is to lead people to worship and we begin to judge our services based on how many people raise their hands, we will become very effective manipulators.  If we take a close look at Scripture, however, we can see that isn’t our job. In Psalm 23, God Himself does nothing more than prepare a table for David in the presence of his enemies, and it is David’s choice whether or not he will partake in the “meal.”

Table-setting is about giving people the tools to eat the meal. Likewise, it is our job to prepare the setting for worship and then get out of the way.

I imagine that our experiences are often like Moses’s after he came down from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. Moses had a literal mountaintop experience with God and was told to go down and tell the people to prepare themselves for worship. Then on the third day, he led them up on the mountain so they might worship God.

As many worship leaders or “creatives” do, we put a lot of time, prayer, and effort into our weekly services. We map out the flow of the songs so there aren’t any distractions, and we tie them together with the topic or theme we are trying to convey.

As Moses did, we lead people up the mountain. But I highly doubt that Moses would have held the trust of the Israelites had he not first been to the mountain himself and stood before God. You cannot lead someone where you have not been yourself. 

It is easy to gauge a service by how well the band played, how the tech team did, and if the congregation sang loudly or only a few people raised their hands. I fall victim to this mentality quite often, but leading worship is centered around trust in God. 

Craig Groeschel said, “If we blame ourselves when things go poorly, then we will be tempted to credit ourselves when things go right.” 

Table-setting can be scary.

But we can do nothing more than that. So as you plan your service this week, think about what table you are trying to set. We lead our congregation to the table, not by pointing a finger, but by saying, “Come alongside me as we go together.” 

Article written Austin Stone Worship by Creighton Tamerius. Creighton serves as the Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church of Sarcoxie in Southwest, MO. 

5 Ways Your Church Can Have A Major Impact as the New School Year Begins

I have always been weird.

While most of my childhood peers lamented the beginning of a new school year, I looked forward to it with enthusiasm. I loved the opportunity to learn and discover new vistas.

As a pastor, I saw the beginning of a school year as an opportunity to try new approaches and to make a statement about the priorities of our congregation. Over the past three decades, I have been blessed to hear from other church leaders on a multitude of topics. Let me share with you what I have heard about great success stories of churches as a new school year approached. They are basic but profound.

Recommit to becoming a welcoming church. 

September could be the month where you see a greater regular flow of guests. Families often move in the summer, so their children can start in a new school at the beginning of the school year. Take a look at two of my books to help guide you in this recommitment. Becoming a Welcoming Church is pretty much a complete guide for your church leaders and members. We Want You Here is a unique book meant specifically for the guest as a gift. Both books are only $5 when purchased in a case of 20 books. Commercial over.

Dedicate a part of a worship service to praying for students and teachers. 

We recently did that at our church. And we followed the service by writing brief thank you letters to the teachers at one of the schools near us. It had a huge impact on both the teachers and on our members.

Adopt a school. 

Request a meeting with a local school principal. Ask him or her what your church could do to best help the school. If it is within the scope of what the church can do, organize a ministry to meet that very need. Some churches paint classrooms. Some churches clean school grounds. Other churches provide back-to-school resources for students and/or teachers.

Revitalize the groups in your church. 

Regardless of what you call them, community groups, life groups, Sunday school classes, or many other names, these groups are the lifeblood of assimilation, ministry, and stewardship in your church. Do whatever is necessary with a new school year beginning to re-energize and grow your groups.

Re-cast the vision of the church. 

Many church leaders re-cast the vision of the church at the beginning of the calendar year. Consider casting the vision at the beginning of the school year. You will likely have more new members and guests in September than in January. You have a great opportunity to ride the wave of freshness that a new school year brings.

These are five of the most effective back-to-school ideas I have heard from churches all across North America and beyond. But this blog has several million faithful audience members. I know many of you have some great ideas. Please share them with our community.

Article taken from Thom Rainer and written by Thom Rainer. Thom is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, and online community and resource for church leaders.

10 Leadership Tips from the Millennial Generation

As a generation known for lack of long-term commitments, Millennials are poor poster children for proven work and leadership.

However, the tide is turning in churches and culture, with more young adults stepping into the forefront of businesses, arts, ministries, and more.


Those of us identified as Millennials, between the ages of 20 and 35, should just admit the stereotypes are true for good reason. We like doing what we want, avoiding responsibility and hard work, and saving money by living with our parents long after we attain a college degree (the fine art of “mooching”). In other words, we are fellow humans who’ve experienced the same difficult economic recession the same as all the rest. We’ve just embraced the new trend called “delayed adolescence,” while the rest of the world tumbles onward.

We may have prevalent flaws, but that means we need all the more help overcoming them. 

Mentors and leaders are the cheerleaders and gatekeepers of our lives, simultaneously pushing us forward and keeping us back from doing meaningful work. To really accomplish something as our life’s work, we’re going to need assistance as well as responsibility. Just because we’re younger doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be respected or listened to. We may not have much proven worth career-wise at this point in our lives, but it doesn’t grant older generations a free pass to ignore us.

10 Suggestions for Leaders from Millennials
Cast vision. 

Millennials don’t want to be given tasks to accomplish. We want to be part of a story bigger than ourselves. Paint the big picture and remind us where we fit into it.

Be accessible. 

You’re an industry professional we can learn much from. But for us to learn from you, we’ve got to be around you and interact with you.

Be interested. 

One rightly emphasized aspect of the postmodern perspective is relationship over rules. We can easily get lost in the minutiae of tasks, so even a brief, friendly conversation with a boss can lift spirits among the cubicles.

Be patient with us. 

We desperately need work experience and we’re hoping your company is one that can grow us and prepare us for a better future, even if it’s not with you.

Lead with passion. 

No one is drawn to dry, robotic rigidity. We want to see what gets other people motivated to do great work.

Develop talent. 

It’s convenient for a leader to use interns or newbies in the office to fill gaps in the company positions, or frantically meet the demand of each day with an unplanned reordering. But take the time to learn who we are and what skills we can best use to benefit the company. It’s better for everybody long term.

Be honest. 

We don’t need you to sugarcoat the truth. If we suck at something, tell us why and shift us into a role that works off our strengths for the good of the whole team.

Respect our commitments. 

We’ve all got more going on in life outside of our work. Sure, we should put in our full hours and be willing to go the extra mile at times. But don’t abuse our schedules or take our time for granted.

Invite us into the decision-making process. 

You can tell us something, or you can include us in creative problem solving and allow us to craft part of the organization. These kinds of opportunities will help us really buy into the vision of the company.

Believe in us. 

We’ll work ten times harder if we know our leaders have our best interest in mind, not just the company’s profits margin.

A time will come when the current generation has had its final day. Transition will be necessary. A leader can’t keep his position forever. By valuing the Millennials in your organization, you ensure the next generation of leaders will take the helm the best equipped they could ever be. They will be better for it, and your organization will be better for it. Good leadership is about leaving a good legacy, and a legacy worth leaving is rooted in what benefits people.

Give Millennials a chance. It will be our turn eventually, so we’re better prepared if you lead us well in the meantime. We are leaders in the making. Don’t underestimate us. Besides, we might even surprise you.

Article written CatalystLeader by John Weirick. John writes resources and blog articles with NewSpring Church in South Carolina. Find out more here.