Tag: Team


Knowing what you should do as a leader in normal times is hard enough.

As you may have noticed, these aren’t normal times.

Trying to figure out what to do in the midst of a global crisis is so much more complicated.

So how do you cut through the mess and noise to chart a course that leads you into a better future?

Here’s a simple place to begin: start by asking the right questions. After all, the quality of the answers you get as a leader are determined by the quality of the questions you ask.

Ask better questions, you get much better answers and, as a result, a much better future.

The challenge is that it can be difficult to know which questions are the best questions to ask. In addition, you’ve got more agitated and angry voices than ever trying to tell you what to do (for more on that, see Pastors, Here’s Why Everyone’s So Mad At You Right Now).

So to help cut through the noise, here are five questions about the future that in my view, are the most helpful ones to be asking right now.

They’re questions I’m asking, and I think two years from now, they’ll turn out the be questions leaders who are making progress found themselves asking in this season.

1. How Much Of The Current Change Is Permanent?

People in the midst of a revolution often don’t realize they’re in the midst of a revolution.

It’s not like people woke up on November 1st, 1517—the day after Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to a cathedral door—and said “Hey, it’s day 2 of the Reformation.” No one knew the Reformation had started. They didn’t realize a seismic shift was underway that would change the course not just of the church, but of human history.

When carriages and horses first started being replaced by cars, or radio went from Marconi’s curious invention to the launch of KDKA in Pittsburgh in 1920 (America’s first radio station), no one realized this was the cusp of a massive and permanent cultural change. The first cars and first radios seemed like anomalies, until, of course, they weren’t.

Crisis is an accelerator, and many of the ‘temporary’ trends we’re seeing right now are likely more permanent than we realize.

The COVID disruption that started off as a medical disruption is now also accelerating cultural disruption. Work, school, shopping, entertainment and fitness (all of which has become more home-based or morphed in other ways) will never quite be the same again.

Neither will church.

Whether you and I like change or not is kind of irrelevant. Culture never asks permission to change. It just changes.

If you want more on what I see changing, these posts can help.

The Original 2020 is History: 7 New Disruptive Church Trends Every Leader Should Watch

Why Going Back to “Normal” church Seems So Compelling and Can Be So Dangerous

Avoid This Big Mistake: Stepping Back Into the Past When You Step Back Into Your Building

Leaders who see the future have a better chance of seizing it.

2. What Do I Now Have Permission To Stop Doing?

This is a fun question for most leaders.

Remember all those things pre-disruption you wished you weren’t doing but didn’t have the courage or energy to kill? Yep, now’s the time.

If you haven’t gone back to ‘normal’ yet, this is the time to redefine what normal is.

I’ve found that changing one big thing (like say a move to a new facility) can give you permission to change a lot more things.

It’s like moving from one era to another. People expect there will be change, dislocation and new things.

So often when we’ve gone through a big change, we’ll change a lot.

Hint: There’s never been a bigger disruption in our life-time. You’ve already stopped doing so much…only bring back those things are are mission-central as you move into the future.

Remember to focus on the why of change, not just the what and how. But if there was ever a time to change what wasn’t working, this is it.

If you’re wondering how to lead change without blowing up your organization or your own leadership, this might help.

3. What Would I Do If I Was Leading A Start-Up? 

It can be hard to transition an existing church or organization into a new future, but one helpful way to think about it is how you would approach things if you were a start-up.

Old models rarely do well in new eras.

If you were a brand new church plant, opening a new restaurant, launching a new business…how would you approach it?

That kind of thinking can be exceptionally clarifying.

For example, speaking at conferences and events was a big part of my life pre-COVID. Like many people, I haven’t been in a plane since March 2020.

With COVID still surging and mandatory quarantines in place where I live for returning visitors, I don’t know when I’ll be back on a plane again or speaking in person.

If you were launching out as a speaker right now, well, how would you behave?

If you were launching a church right now, what would your strategy be?

Or say you were opening a new restaurant, how much would you focus on indoor dining v. take out, delivery and patio space? Or helping people create their own food experiences?

Once you know the answer to that question, go there.

For me, we’ve written in-person speaking out of our future plans indefinitely, launched a second podcast (which doesn’t, of course, require travel) and done any speaking events I accept digitally instead. At this point, it doesn’t matter when in-person speaking at events will be feasible again. We don’t need it.

Existing organizations who behave like start ups will have a much better future than organizations that don’t.

You can bet the future on things changing, or you can change. The second is a much wiser strategy.

4. Where Are We Seeing Real Momentum?

This is another fun question.

It might feel like you have no momentum anywhere, but that won’t be true for most organizations. (If it is true for you—that you have zero momentum anywhere— the problems are much deeper than a global crisis.)

You likely have momentum somewhere, and chances are it’s happening somewhere different than it did before.

Pay attention.

Example: you might be hyper-focused on getting people back in the building because that’s where you historically had momentum. You can end up being so fixated on trying to manufacture momentum where you used to have it that you completely miss that your YouTube channel is growing quickly and you have a far bigger open rate on your emails than in the past.

And when someone points out that you’re growing your open and subscriber rates, you dismiss them because it’s not where you want to see momentum.

Continue that for long, and you become the c.2003 music industry executive focused on CD sales who keeps ignoring the 20-year-old who are focused on streams that keep growing while your CD sales keep dropping.

Streams aren’t real”  you tell yourself, and make fun of people who don’t want to ‘own’ their music or have a physical copy of it.

Soon, you’re staring out the window watching the future pass you buy.

You probably have momentum somewhere.

Study it. Try to figure it out. Ask yourself why that’s growing and how you can leverage it to reach more people.

If you want to get your mission going, fuel what’s growing, not what’s declining.

5. How Will I Find A Sustainable Pace? 

This one is really close to my heart.

I’m running into so many exhausted leaders right now.  I’ve been there.

One of the best questions (perhaps the best question) you can ask yourself is how you can find a sustainable pace.

As I shared in this post, most leaders look to time off to heal them.

The problem with that strategy is you can never have enough time off to recover from ridiculously stressful, unattainable days.

Time off won’t heal you when the problem is how you spend time on.

A decade into leadership, I went through a season of burnout that was so intense I thought I was finished. By the grace of God, I wasn’t. But I’ll never forget how painful it was. (If it’s helpful, here are 11 signs you might be burning out.)

My heart for leaders is that you find a sustainable pace heading into year two of the crisis that will give you the regular rest and renewal you need.

My formula for staying out of burnout for the last decade a half can be summed up in this phrase: live in a way today that will help you thrive tomorrow. 

Most leaders live in a way that will make them struggle tomorrow: too many hours, not enough sleep, poor diet, too little exercise, and failing to nurture life-giving friendships. Living that way slid me into burnout.

So as you move forward, ask yourself: what changes can you make spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically and even financially (financial stress is stress) that can help you thrive moving forward?

If the crisis is a long term thing, which it appears to be, you need a longer term strategy for personal renewal.

Time off isn’t the solution for an unsustainable pace. A sustainable pace is the solution for an unsustainable pace.

Original article appeared here

Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church. He’s the author of several best-selling books, including his latest, Didn’t See It Coming, and speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change and personal growth.

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast and Carey’s blog at www.CareyNieuwhof.com are accessed by millions of leaders each year.

Looking for a new position? Stop by MinistryJobs.com and have a look at the jobs that are available! Ministry jobs are hard to come by and job hunting is no fun. We help ministry job seekers find their ideal role in their next ministry – for free! More than 6 million search for a job every day. Be found! Looking to list a job or an open position? We help churches and organizations get job openings in front of potential candidates. We have several plans and packages available. Today is the day!

4 Questions I Ask My Team on a Regular Basis

In a survey reported in Forbes magazine, staff members and subordinates were asked what they wished their boss would do better. The number one answer by far:

Communicate with me.”

Here’s the funny thing, I bet those leaders are communicating with their team members. They just aren’t talking about the right things.

If you lead a paid staff or work with large numbers of volunteers who serve in “staff” type roles, you are leading a team.

So what would your team say about your communication with them?

If our only communication with our team is about what WE want to talk about then they probably do complain about us. They don’t just want to hear what we have to say, they want to be able share as well. They don’t want to just talk about “work”, they want to know that you care about them as an individual.

So, let me share with you 4 questions that I ask my team on a regular basis.

1. How Are You Doing in Life: Spiritually, Emotionally, Physically, Intellectually? 

This is more than the trite “how are you doing” that we might ask while passing someone in the hallway. I genuinely want you to unpack for me your current spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual state.

Sometimes their answer is “I’m doing great” and that’s enough. But over time I’ve had the opportunity to help hold them accountable to some physical fitness or dietary goals, recommend a book that would help with an emotional issue they were walking through, or walk them through a season of difficulty.

2. What Do I Need To Know About The Areas That You Lead?

This can include so many things.

Maybe they had a recent “win” that they want to celebrate with me, or maybe there is a volunteer causing trouble and they aren’t sure how to handle it. Perhaps they are considering a change in curriculum or have a budget concern.

No matter what it is, this is my way of keeping a pulse on their area before larger problems arise and I might be caught off-guard.

3. What Are You Working On Right Now?

This is more than a micromanagement question.

I’m not as concerned with if they are returning emails as I am that they are managing their present responsibilities with an eye toward future endeavors that will help us be successful.

Depending on their answer I may be able to redirect their efforts toward things that will serve us better.

4. How Can I Help You? 

Not every leader is comfortable asking this question.

They think it makes them look weak, gives authority to those under them or exposes a flaw in the leadership.

However, the opposite is actually true. It requires strength to admit that you may have made a mistake or overlooked something, or to position yourself as a servant to those you lead.

The answers to these questions help me know my team better. Over time they come to know that I’m genuinely interested in them. They open up to me. They trust me.

What more can I ask for!

Does all of this seem like A LOT?

It actually is a lot. Frankly, it’s too much to do alone. That’s why at CourageToLead we believe, “Every Leader Needs a Coach”…because no leader can do it all alone!

Let’s set up a call with one of our coaches to talk through leading your team and organization through re-entry.

It’s simple, click the button below, schedule a time that works for you, fill out a brief application and show up to your call…we’ll handle the rest!

Original article appeared here

Jeremy Isaacs is a coach at CourageToLead. He serves as Lead Pastor of Generations Church in metro Atlanta. He has been coaching pastors since 2014 and has written 2 books including “Toxic Soul: A Pastor’s Guide to Leading without Losing Heart”. He has a BA in Christian Ministry from Lee University and a MA in Theological Studies from Liberty Baptist Seminary. He goes on #Fri-Dates with his wife Corrie and on Saturdays sits with her on the sidelines of sporting events.

Looking for a new position? Stop by MinistryJobs.com and have a look at the jobs that are available! Ministry jobs are hard to come by and job hunting is no fun. We help ministry job seekers find their ideal role in their next ministry – for free! More than 6 million search for a job every day. Be found! Looking to list a job or an open position? We help churches and organizations get job openings in front of potential candidates. We have several plans and packages available. Today is the day!

Why You Should Lower Your Expectations for 2021 Starting Now

You’re so anxious to get 2020 over with. I get it. I feel that too.

It would be amazing if somebody returned everything to some semblance of normalcy right about now, wouldn’t it?

Sitting here in December 2020 at the end of a long year, it’s tempting to paint 2021 as a relief to all our problems.

Trust me, I feel the urge to do that too. Deeply.

But, that would be a mistake.

For some leaders, it would be a fatal one. Either because it could take you out or your organization down…or both.

Before you dismiss the post, or quickly move on to something else more ‘positive,’ let me drop some promises in (which is actually the point of this post: To help you make it through the end of 2021 and well beyond).

Lowering your expectations for 2021 now will lead to greater joy, a far more resilient organization and a much healthier you later.

As they say, the secret to happiness is low expectations. One of the reasons you’re so frustrated and exhausted right now is because you expected things would be better.

Humans do that. Christmas is disappointing because your picture of how your family will behave is different from how they actually behave.

The frustration you feel with your team emerges from the gap between the ideal person you thought you hired and the real person you actually hired.

Lowering your expectations increases both your resilience and your happiness almost every time.

Here are 5 ways that lowering your expectations for 2021 is a really good idea.

1. The Shut Down Happened Overnight. The Reopening Will Be Far More Gradual And Intermittent.

It’s slowly dawning on most of us that there may not be a reopening ‘day’ or season where everyone floods back in and everything is at it was.

For most organizations, the shut down happened overnight. You were open for business as usual March 9th 2020, and were shut down completely or radically impacted by March 15th.

It’s easy to imagine that the reopening would happen exactly the same way.

There’s incredible news with a vaccine on the way, but both the roll out and its impact on the spread of COVID-19 is going to take a while.

While nobody wants it, we’ll likely have months ahead of the virus surging and retreating, and with that, regulations that move you in and out of degrees of lockdown.

The restrictions themselves will take a while to lift completely.

Government regulations are one thing. Human behaviour is quite another.

It might take a while longer for most people to feel comfortable being in crowded public spaces, and some of the pattern changes people have adopted during COVID will likely be permanent.

I think the metaphor of having green light, yellow light and red light people is sound.

Green light people are those who will rush back and be perfectly comfortable.

Yellow light people will be more cautious for months or maybe longer.

And red light people, made so either by disposition or medical condition, might change how they operate in the public sphere for a much longer time.

Simply realizing that this will be a longer, gradual process will help you plan for a longer, gradual re-entry and make you more effective as a result.

2. Normal Is Being Redefined As We Speak

You long for normal. I long for normal.

I also understand everyone is oh-so-tired of hearing about “the new normal.”

So, what can you actually expect?

Emerging out of the pandemic, in all likelihood, won’t be the return to normal you hope for.

That’s because normal is being redefined as we speak.

The longer the current crisis goes on, the longer temporary habits become permanent ones.

We will eventually settle into some kind of normalcy, and that’s likely to have a strange and unpredictable mix of familiar and new patterns.

So sure, people will return to live events.  Schools, gyms, restaurant and churches will one day be open without restrictions. (Cheer now).

And to be sure, offices will reopen and traffic jams will happen and people will vacation and airplanes and resorts will operate at capacity again.

But don’t miss the nuance underneath all this.

Will company offices return to exactly where they were pre-pandemic? There is zero indication that’s going to happen. Of course, some offices will reopen as they used to be, but most will change their patterns. As this Harvard survey shows,  remote work will, in all likelihood, become much more prevalent than it was pre-COVID. Many companies have already downsized and hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions?) of people have already sold their homes and moved to more remote places now where they can easily work from home.

It will be interesting to see what happens with shopping (more home delivery?), school (more homeschooling?), fitness (fewer gym memberships now that people bought their own Peleton?) entertainment (are direct-to-home movie releases more of the future after 2021?). Will in-person church attendance take months or years to go back to pre-pandemic levels?

So post-pandemic, whenever we get there, will definitely feel more normal than things do today. But normal will have shifted. And even a 10-30% variation in patterns is massive disruption and something every leader needs to plan for starting now.

3. The Biggest Certainty Is Unpredictability

Every leader longs for certainty. I do. But even long before the crisis hit, you didn’t really have certainty.

What you had was some form of predictability.  The crisis, of course, took that away.

The unpredictability and uncertainty are likely to continue for a while longer. Months for sure. Perhaps longer.

A good way to look at 2020 is that it helped build some skills that are essential in unpredictable times: Agility, flexibility and the ability to move fast and change again.

Those will likely be even more important in the future.

The last few decades are filled with companies, organizations and churches that died because things changed and they didn’t.

When the autopsy is done on those organizations, you usually discover they lacked not only the vision to see that change was necessary, but the flexibility and agility needed to change.

You’re developing agility and flexibility as a result of everything you’ve been through. Keep developing them, and don’t let those muscles atrophy.

4. An Unhealthy Rhythm Now Means You Might Not Make It To Then

I recently asked over 75,000 leaders (over email….you can sign up here to join my list) what they’re struggling with. By far, the #1 challenge is exhaustion: Their exhaustion and the fatigue of their teams.

The thing I’m most worried about for leaders who see 2021 as a panacea, or a finish line of sorts, is that they’re not going to make it into 2022. (I explain more on that in point 5, below.)

Imagining that 2021 is going to give you rest is kind of like thinking you’ll be fine after the tornado, only realizing too late that you now have to rebuild everything.

Yes, things will eventually be better. No, we’re not there yet.

Finding a healthy rhythm during the crisis is essential to being okay after the crisis.

In the same way that so many leaders looked to time off to save them during 2020, only to discover that a week or two off didn’t solve anything, looking to 2021 to save you will just be an exercise in disappointment.

Time off won’t save you from an unsustainable pace when the problem is how you spend your time on.

And if 2021 won’t bring instant relief, it’s critical for you to find a sustainable pace now.

I have a lot of free resources on how to manage your time, energy and priorities to stay healthy, and I have a session in the free 2021 Church Leader Toolkit if you want to learn more (non-church leaders are welcome to the Toolkit as well).

Time off isn’t going to heal this one. How you spend your time on is.

5. The Greatest Leaders Confront The Brutal Facts (But Never Lose Hope)

Let’s finish up by going back to what Jim Collins calls Stockdale Paradox, one of the principles that a lot of leaders talked about early on in the crisis.

As you may remember, Jim Stockdale was an American Vise Admiral captured and imprisoned during the Vietnam War. He was held and tortured for seven years.

Stockdale said the first people to die in captivity were the optimists, who kept thinking things would get better quickly and they’d be released. “They died of a broken heart,” Stockdale said.

Instead, Stockdale argued, the key to survival was to combine realism and hope.  In Stockdale’s words:

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end–-which you can never afford to lose–-with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

That, essentially, is your job in crisis leadership. The greatest leaders confront the brutal facts but never lose hope.

And sadly for you and me, the crisis and instability will soon drag into their second year.

You will prevail in the end, but there’s some brutal stuff you and I need to get through before things get better.

Crisis leadership falls apart when leaders embrace the extremes: Pessimists only see the real, and naive optimists only see the ideal.

When you embrace both, you discover true leadership. You’ll also emerge out of the crisis stronger and into a much stronger tomorrow.

Original article appeared here

Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church. He’s the author of several best-selling books, including his latest, Didn’t See It Coming, and speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change and personal growth.

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast and Carey’s blog at www.CareyNieuwhof.com are accessed by millions of leaders each year.

Looking for a new position? Stop by MinistryJobs.com and have a look at the jobs that are available! Ministry jobs are hard to come by and job hunting is no fun. We help ministry job seekers find their ideal role in their next ministry – for free! More than 6 million search for a job every day. Be found! Looking to list a job or an open position? We help churches and organizations get job openings in front of potential candidates. We have several plans and packages available. Today is the day!

Thanksgiving Day and Beyond

What comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving Day? For many of us, it would probably be turkey. After all, it’s the centerpiece of our traditional celebration. As family and friends gather around the table, we generally offer a sincere prayer of gratitude to God for all His blessings before enjoying the food and fellowship. But what comes after dessert? For some people, it’s a football game. Others start planning for Christmas shopping the next day. Although Thanksgiving Day always ends, our expressions of gratitude to God should continue throughout our daily lives.

Gratitude honors God (Ps. 50:23). When we acknowledge the Lord as the source of all our blessings, we are exalting Him by declaring our dependence upon Him. Who hasn’t breathed a prayer of thanks after narrowly escaping a car accident? Appreciation helps us realize that we cannot make it through life without God’s help.

Thankfulness is expressed in a variety of ways. Sometimes we gather in worship services to fellowship together and sing praises to God. But we can also worship the Lord when we’re alone by letting everyday activities—no matter how simple—become reasons to thank Him. Another way to acknowledge the Lord as our provider and express our gratitude is to give Him the first part of our income.

A spirit of thanksgiving is the result of remembering all God has done for us. The Scripture describes many blessings and privileges that result from our salvation and should invoke gratitude in hearts. Here are just a few reasons we can give thanks to God:

  1. God chose us before the foundation of the world.
  2. We are indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  3. We are eternally secure.
  4. We’ve been given gifts of the Spirit.
  5. We have an intimate relationship with the Lord.
  6. We’ve got the peace of God in our hearts.
  7. The Lord loves us unconditionally.
  8. We’re never distant from the presence of God.
  9. The Lord provides for our needs.
  10. We have His divine protection each day.
  11. We’ve got the promise of a bodily resurrection.
  12. The blessing of God’s atonement through Christ and total forgiveness of our sins.
  13. We have an eternal home in heaven and the promise of the resurrection.
  14. We’ve been given the Word of God, the source of all knowledge and understanding.

How can we cultivate a greater spirit of thanksgiving? We can begin by taking note of simple blessings that God provides each day. Having a car to drive, receiving income from employment, or having a family and a home in which to live are all reasons to be thankful. So often we take these things for granted, but they are all provided for us by our loving heavenly Father—the greatest reason we have to be grateful!

Article taken from intouch.orgThis article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Thanksgiving Every Day,” which airs this weekend on TV.

12 leadership books every leader should read (my personal all-time top picks)

So you’re a reader, but which books can give you the unique insight you need to make sure not only that the organization you lead is healthy, but that you and your team stay healthy?

I get asked all the time from leaders what my top leadership books are.

I’ve put together my top picks.

These are the books that I may have read recently or years ago, but who’s ideas have left deep marks on my life and leadership, years or even decades later.

Great books shape how we think, and how we think is who we become and how we lead. So read well.

Three quick notes before we get to the list.

First, I’m not claiming these are the top leadership books of all time. They’re simply the books that have most impacted me personally. So it’s totally subjective and you won’t see some of them on any other list of all-time great books. I know that. But still, these are gems I’d recommend everyone read.

Second, just because a well-known book isn’t on the list doesn’t mean it’s not important or that I haven’t read it. Of course, I haven’t read them all by any means, and there are many key books I have read that aren’t on the list. Again, this list contains the books that have most shaped me and that I would recommend.

Finally, the list is not in order…alphabetical or by priority. These are just 12 great reads.

Oh, and one more thing, no the Bible isn’t on this list. I’m a Christian and it’s by far the most important book I’ve ever read. I’ve read it daily for almost all my adult life and regularly as a child. It just goes without saying that it’s the most important book in my view ever. So (commenters), it’s in a league of its own.

Here we go. The top 12 leadership books and what I love about them:

Great books shape how we think, and how we think is who we become and how we lead.CLICK TO TWEET


This is not Jim Collin’s best-known book, but it’s my favorite book he’s written.

How the Mighty Fall is a study of why once great companies collapse. Collins isolates five stages of decline and doom for once-great companies (including some of his Good to Great companies). The five markers are a chilling reminder of how success goes awry. Collin’s insights into the hubris born of success and the undisciplined pursuit of more are haunting and a great window into the soul and ego of everyone who leads anything.

For anyone who’s leading anything that’s growing or successful, this is a must-read.

Here’s the link.


This is Collin’s best-known book and for good reason. I can’t tell you how many times his concepts work their way into everyday leadership conversations I have with my team.

From “first who” to ‘confront the brutal facts’ to the ‘flywheel principle’ to ‘level 5 leadership’ and the defining role that humility plays in greatness, Collin’s insights have shaped me and the teams I lead deeply.

Here’s the link.


I’ve read pretty much all of Pat’s books, but this is my fave.

If you’re not familiar with Pat’s writings, this is a great place to start because it’s kind of a summary of all his previous work. And being a non-fiction guy, this is one book that doesn’t have a fable (which I appreciate…Pat says everyone else loves the fables...so I’m weird that way.)

I found the section on mission, vision and values to be game-changing.

Here’s the link.

Also, if you’re into podcasts, here’s a fascinating interview I did with Pat for my leadership podcast on why he said no to Steve Jobs, motivating millennials and the three qualities you need to create the ideal team.


This is now a classic from Harvard’s John Kotter that I picked up shortly after its release in 1996. And thank goodness.

I was a young church leader trying to lead some very traditional churches through change, and other than the scriptures, this was my guidebook. Kotter is brilliant on the psychology and dynamics of leading change.

This book was so impactful that I later wrote my own book on change called Leading Change Without Losing It, crediting Kotter and adapting some of his principles to the church/non-profit world.

Here’s the link to Kotter’s classic.


Of course, there had to be a John Maxwell book on the list. Again, this isn’t his best-known work, but it’s an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to understand how influence works.

It’s a fascinating book because you can instantly recognize how you gain and lose influence as a leader, and what the next step is for you in your development. His framework also shows you why you find some people you work with compelling and others not compelling in their leadership.

Here’s the link.


Every once in a while your life flashes before your eyes when you read a book, and this was one of those books.

When I first read Predictable Success, I thought Les McKeown had been in every meeting and conversation I’d been in over the last 20 years.

Les outlines 7 stages of growth and decline that organizations go through, and again, his framework (the fun stage, whitewater stage, treadmill stage)  has worked its way into my everyday leadership vocabulary because it is so incredibly descriptive of the real-world dynamics of leading anything.

Here’s the link.

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Les McKeown twice on my leadership podcast. To hear about the seven stages of the life-cycle of an organization, listen here. For his brilliant work on creating true synergy on a team, listen here.


The first books on this list are leadership books for the organizational side of your leadership.

Now onto some that will shape you as a leader. Probably my fave topic.

So let’s start with Greg McKeown’s Essentialism. I love this little book. It was paradigm shift for me. McKeown deals with the problem of overwhelm in leadership in a very powerful and direct way.

Most leaders are running at 100 mph and McKeown shows you exactly why that’s so dangerous and how to stop leading that way.

My biggest takeaway? If it’s not a 9 out of 10, it’s a zero. It’s a key to the disciplined pursuit of less. Again, we talk about that concept all the time on our team. It’s become part of our decision-making framework. Hard to live by, but so worth it.

Here’s the link.

I am getting into the habit of chasing down my favorite leaders for interviews. Here’s my leadership podcast episode with Greg McKeown if you’re interested.


This perennial best-seller is not overhyped. Read it. Then read it again.

Begin with the end in mind has become axiomatic for a generation of leaders, but it’s still so rare. And read to the end to learn about sharpening the saw. So good.

Here’s the link.


This book was a gamechanger in 1995 when it was released, and it still is today.

It gives penetrating insight into self-awareness and will help you also see why so many people get stuck.

Hiring for EI has become part of the lexicon in leadership because of this book, and indeed, your emotional intelligence is one of the greatest predictors of your success in life and leadership.

Here’s the link.


This underground classic was recommended to me when I was recovering from burnout over a decade ago.

While its analogies are a bit dated, the principles are not. It opened up a new way of thinking for me about rest, self-care and what happens when you create space in your life.

In a world that’s only gotten busier and louder since Swenson wrote Margin, this book is even more essential today.

Here’s the link.


Oh, how I love this little book. Again, not one of his well-known works, The Genesee Diary is just what it suggests, Henri Nouwen’s diary from a six month period in the 1970s.

Nouwen was a professor in NYC whose career was taking off. Caught up in success, ego and the trappings of advancement, he took a sabbatical at a Trappist monastery in Upstate New York to find his soul.

His diaries are refreshingly honest, peculiar and at times mundane, but in them, you see a man wrestling with God and God winning.

In many ways, what you find in this little book is the beginning of the man that would emerge from the struggle, a writer that generations of people who want to get closer to God would go on to love.

Here’s the link.


So apparently I’m pretty good at putting relatively unknown books on my list.

Andy has written many books that have gone onto become widely read best-sellers. This is one most leaders haven’t heard about.

It’s my favorite book Andy’s written. It’s soul surgery.

I talk to leaders all the time who say they can’t really afford counseling. If that’s you, buy the book instead to get started.

It will move you through all the emotions and twisted craziness you feel when you encounter guilt, anger, greed and jealousy. I promise you if you read it and apply it, you will never struggle with those emotions in the same way again.

Game-changing for me.

Here’s the link.

Andy is a friend and I’ve had the chance to interview him twice on my leadership podcast. You can listen to the most recent episode, where he talks about his latest book, Irresistible, here. I also have an interview where Andy talks about his leadership approach here.


My love for learning, leading and reading eventually turned me into a writer.

Of all the books I’ve written, I’m most excited about my latest, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.

In it, I outline 7 issues almost every leader experiences and almost no one expects. They’re the issues that take leaders out or take us under. And even if your struggle with cynicism, pride, burnout or irrelevance doesn’t cause to exit ministry or leadership, not dealing with those issues can still thwart your potential and kill your team culture. A lot of the book is my journey toward health. It’s a long journey…and an imperfect one. I don’t get everything right, but the difference personal and spiritual health makes is astonishing, in both life and leadership.

I wrote it to help you make progress, spiritually, personally and in leadership. Hope it will guide people in the same way my favorite books have guided me.

Check out Didn’t See It Coming for yourself and here.

Article taken from CareyNieuwhof.com and written by Carey Nieuwhof.

30 Ways to Thank Your Team




The work of any church is done by an army of dedicated people. Some are staff, some are volunteers—some are a lonely team of one. It’s often thankless work, so do everything you can to say thank you.

We’ve got a list of 30 ways to show your appreciation and thanks.

You can get the whole list of 30, but let’s start with five:

  • Handwritten note: Seriously, hand write it. Like, with a pen and paper. And say something thoughtful. (If your penmanship is atrocious, get a typewriter.) Send it through the actual mail for bonus points.


  • Gift cards: Pick somewhere the person actually likes. A gift card for a store you never go to is lame. If you’re not sure, pick a local restaurant or coffee shop. If you’re really stuck, go with an Amazon gift card or straight up money gift card.


  • Home-baked goods: You can’t go wrong with homemade food. Cookies, cake, snack mix, etc.


  • Bring treats: And if you can go wrong by trying to bake, then pick up some tasty treats. Spring for the good stuff. Find the best donut/bagel/cookie shop in town, don’t just go to the bakery section of the grocery store and get the stale leftovers.


  • Cover dinner: Or go over the top and make them an entire meal. Serving your team a meal is a great way to provide for them and also spend time together.

Article taken from ChurchMarketingSucks.com and written by Kevin Hendricks. When Kevin isn’t busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere.

7 Elements of a Positive Team Culture in Your Church

A positive team culture doesn’t just happen. If you want to have a good start, begin my implementing an easy (but often overlooked) practice with your team—honestly caring about one another.

For years, people have talked about the need to build a great team atmosphere, especially in the work place. When there is synergy in your teams, people work better together and goals get accomplished that wouldn’t otherwise. A positive team culture doesn’t just happen, though. People are different, and therefore creating the right team atmosphere is different for every church and ministry. In fact, creating a strong team culture always includes trial and error. But, if you want to have a good start, begin by implementing an easy (but often overlooked) practice with your team—honestly caring about one another.

An excellent example of this is a conversation two pastors recently had after attending a seminar on strengthening marriages. The sessions were challenging but one particular seminar struck a chord with the men. Later as they drove home, one turned and asked his friend, “What do you think I could do to make my wife feel more valued?”

His friend thought about it for a moment and replied, “Well, maybe if you started to value her more.” That was an almost shocking answer because the pastor and husband thought he was doing that already. On the surface, he often demonstrated his care for his wife but he had to admit that when it came to him valuing her, he came up short. At the end of a day, he would listen as she ran down the list of all she had done at her own job and then how she had dealt with their kids. He nodded and listened and even offered a smile of encouragement, but his value of her as a very important part of his life was shallow and he knew it.

You see, a person can be an effective leader but not know how to value his or her team members.

Some leaders feel so out of touch with those on their staff that they hope someone else will show up and do the hard work for them, but God doesn’t let us off the hook that easily.

We were created for relationships—first with Him and then with others. If you think about it, the very thing Jesus did the most was to value those who were on His team. He knew their flaws and shortcomings, but He stayed on track with them and provided the right leadership to build a cohesive team.

Don’t become so busy trying to grow your church that you forget to take time to develop those who are on the journey with you.

Jesus made an effort to know His disciples and followers on individual levels. He didn’t call them to follow Him and then go on vacation. He called them and He led them so they would become successful.

Many pastors and church leaders eagerly sign people up to work or volunteer only to leave them floundering on the sidelines. They think their job is done when, in actuality, it’s just started. Individuals who join a team should be brought into the group where they learn to work, play and win as one!

Here are seven crucial elements of building a strong team.

Value others

We all know the old adage that tells us to value others more than ourselves. If you want to build a team that is exciting and loves to come to work, practice valuing your team members over yourself. When you demonstrate sincere interest in their contributions to the task or the goal, you are teaching them how to be successful along with how to respect and value one another. The team that is based on mutual respect usually excels in many different areas.

Leaders can struggle at this point. The challenge is to be willing to be authentic in valuing others. Listen to what your team members are saying while understanding their desires, goals and dreams for the future.

Be a relational and not transactional leader

Bill Hybels observes, “It stands to reason that a leader sometimes seems to be three-fourths steamroller and one-fourth caring and compassionate colleague. When a leader walks into a meeting, he or she usually has only one thing on the brain: mission advancement.”

Every leader loves it when someone shows up with a smile and brings “fresh sight” to their ministry. They are usually welcomed with open arms. If you are a transactional leader, you look beyond the pretty smile and see what team members have to offer. You go straight for the bottom line.

relational leader will consider this same thing but will see team members like a flock of sheep that need to be nurtured at times. The more the sheep feel like they count and have value, the more they will feel secure and will produce even more each year.

Listen with curiosity

Learn to be a listener and not just a talker! Learning to listen well is foundational to every relationship. Listening with a curious intent shows that you are engaged and interested in what the other person is saying. It also demonstrates that you are “tuned in” and genuinely want to know about the person who is working alongside you.

All of us have worked for leaders who call a meeting and then proceed to talk the entire time about themselves. We come away feeling frustrated and like our time was wasted. Listening is a cornerstone to communication. The person who listens and speaks sparingly ends up building a deeper and stronger rapport with co-workers and friends. That person conveys that he or she is caring, trust-worthy and a good communicator.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The only thing better than a good question is a good follow up question. The goal is to genuinely demonstrate you value the other person and you hear what they are saying. With each question you ask, you learn more about the person who is on your team.

Slow down

The pace of our world seems to be fast. We try to squeeze one more project, activity and challenge into our already “crammed to the max” days. At the core of this fast-pace lifestyle is the inability to focus on others and spend one-on-one time with them. People fall into bed at night and tell themselves that they are accomplishing great things for the Lord when that isn’t always the case, especially when the pace leads you away from spending time with Him.

One of the best parts of community at work is the time spent with others in collaboration. Make every effort to slow down, be still and listen. Having a team around you to do the work is one thing. Learning to value that team is the most important step in team leadership.

Don’t be distracted by technology

People know when you are distracted. It shows. You may think that you can hide your technology compulsions by saying things like “I’m listening; I’m just multi-tasking,” but your non-verbal message is clear. The team member or family member doesn’t have your attention, and they will feel the burn of being in second place. Put your smart devices away and refuse to be drawn away by them mentally.

Be engaged

Set a goal each day to check with a team member and spend a few minutes talking about life, work, and things that are important to them. The more engaged you are with your team, the stronger the bond will be. You’ll soon notice your team’s productivity increasing. Another very important thing happens: The team members begin to value one another. Tough challenges become solvable and even fun to achieve!

Show personal care

We live in a culture where verbal attacks and trash talking seem to be the order of the day. We have lost our sense of civility and no person or position is off limits.

When you hold up personal care against the backdrop of our culture, it is radically counter-cultural. Sadly, too often it is even counter to Christian culture. If you want to create an atmosphere where success and excitement thrive, learn to care for others. Deliver a cup of coffee to your co-worker’s desk.

Invite someone to have lunch with you and another team member and even pick up the tab. Take time to laugh with your staff, to talk with them, and learn how to compliment each person. Show you care and that you really mean it when you say that you value those who work with and for you.

The difference is yours to make and when you value others, it will be dramatic!

Article written for ChurchPlants by Joey Tindall. For other articles written by Joey, have a look here

My Pleasure!

I’ve been hanging out at an event this week and I have seen the best and the worst customer service!! I am working with the company that does all of the parking for the event and they have an amazing vision that says they are in the customer service business, and they happen to park cars!! I love that!! Maybe some of you are wondering; “why the emphasis on customer service, it’s just parking cars,” well let me share something with you… it’s your customer service that will always set you apart!! (Hello!!! Just look at Chick-Fil-A!! Aren’t they just selling a chicken sandwich?!?) There’s a lot of strategy and a ton of hours that go into making a parking plan for each lot. Some lots are paved, but most are grass lots where strategy and creativity rule!! Each lot that is run by this company has guests walking away smiling and excited to attend the event!! There’s one lot though that is located at a nearby airport and guests have to interact with the airport parking staff before arriving at the lot where our team is located. Let’s just say the airport parking employees do not have the same vision or philosophy! Like I said above, I have seen the best and the worst!! The airport staff would benefit greatly from first impression training!! No smile, no clear signage, and not speaking clearly or kindly, I drove away from that interaction feeling frustrated and irritated – not a good combo!

As you think about the guest experience at your church, is there an area that leaves your guests feeling frustrated and irritated? Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your key leaders:

  • Do you have a clear vision?
  • Is everyone on the same page with your philosophy on how and why you do what you do?
  • Are you and your key leaders consistently evaluating the weekly guest experience to identify areas that could be better?
    • What’s working?
    • What’s not working?
    • What’s confusing?

As a team, we try to never lose the guest mentality! I even encourage my key leaders to attend other churches in the area so they can know first hand what it feels like to visit a church for the first time! There’s always room for improvement, right?

If you would like a fresh set of eyes that can help you identify growth opportunities, contact us today! We would love to help you create a strategic plan to make your guest experience unforgettable!!

Cheering you on as you create the best guest experience for your church or organization!!

Written by: Stacey Windover

Stacey is the Guest Experience Consultant at Froot Group, a worship staffing & consulting company.

What do you use to encourage your team? Do you tell the speaker that they just preached a great sermon after that early Sunday morning? Do you tell your favorite worship leader that their voice sounds angelic every time they steps on platform? How about the chairs team? Do you thank them for all their hard work and faithfulness to the church, and the ministry that God is using them for? Absolutely. Continue reading