For the past 15 years I have been focused on growing myself and others in faith, character and leadership. Those three areas of my life are guiding lights for how I approach life. I have made a lot of mistakes over those years, yet I keep coming back to those three things.
As I reflect on leadership here are three things I believe we must be committed to in order to lead well. Whether you are a parent, spouse, employee, employer, student, teacher, athlete, coach, artist, musician, or just a friend, you are a leader. If you have influence with anyone else then you are a leader.
Leading is not easy, because in order to lead you need to have influence. In order to have influence you need to have a vision of where you want to go or the way you want things to be. If you want to increase your influence and leadership in this next year then these are some things you will need to do:
The best leaders do all of this with humility and persistence.
So what are you doing to get uncomfortable? What are you dissatisfied about? What do you need to disrupt in your life or the lives of those you lead? That is how Jesus leads us. When he wants us to grow he brings discomfort, dissatisfaction and disruption. Jesus is the greatest leader ever, so let’s follow his example. If you don’t believe me just read about him in the Bible. Lead On.
My first job was pumping gas, servicing cars and repairing tires at a local gas station. That’s were I learned how to make change without a cash register and how to fix a flat tire. My second job was at a local meat packing company. I was the clean up guy and had to dismantle and clean all the machines they used to process meat. That is where I learned how to have a system and follow a process in cleaning the plant. I also learned how to work alone and to not cut corners. I learned that people were counting on me to do my job so that they can do their job when they showed up in the morning.
My next job was at a local cheese manufacturing and retail business. I learned a lot working there, things like retail sales strategies, inventory control and customer service. I learned how to cut cheese samples and set up displays. I even got into some construction by helping to remodel an apartment for one of the children of the owner. During that time I got to interact with subcontractors and did work like drywall, floor tile, and general construction. I learned about working hard and doing it right the first time.
Soon after that I went to college and then started my career in banking. I started as an internal auditor for a Savings & Loan in Wooster Ohio. That was my first exposure to corporate America. I learned to pay attention to detail as I had to audit every area of the company and make sure everything added up. I also learned how to set goals and work on projects and be a team player. I learned how to manage my time and finish what I started. I also learned how to cut costs and work within a budget. I learned how to show respect to my boss and follow direction.
My next job was at a local community bank as a loan officer. I was in my early 20’s and this was my first job where I got to directly interact with customers. I learned a lot about finances, balance sheets, financial statements and tax returns. I learned about risk and how to manage that. I learned how to read people and their character. I learned about customer service and how to win over potential new customers. I learned how to serve customers and make them want to continue to do business with us. I was promoted quickly to a branch manager and did all kinds of lending. I continued to learn about management, customer service, lending, community service and economic development. I developed a passion for developing leadership skills in myself and others.
After 12 years in the banking industry I transitioned into the accounting world with a regional accounting firm. They created a new department for me to run which focused on enhancing profits and adding value to their clients. I did a lot of training in customer service, leadership, management and strategic planning. I learned how to interact with business owners and CEO’s. I learned how to win friends and influence people. I learned how to lead groups of business people and do public speaking and presentations. I got even more involved in community organizations and public relations. I learned about marketing and sales and what it takes to run a business.
Then I took all that I had had learned in all of those jobs and went to work at a local church. Those experiences have helped to shape me into the leader I am today. The things I learned in the workplace have helped me to lead the local church and continue to influence people and impact our community. Here are some of the things I believe are vital to leading with excellence no matter where you are:
Leadership is all about influence and we are either gaining or declining in our influence. There are a lot of things that are out of our control, but the way in which you work and lead is within your control. So no matter where you are working, what are you learning and how are you growing.
Last week I attended a Night of Worship at the Dover campus of NewPointe Community Church. I am a pastor at one of the other campuses, so it was nice for me to just be a regular guy attending and worshiping. I have to admit I went to see if I could get some ideas on how to make our worship event better the following week. As I got there and walked in I connected with a few people I know, but was pretty anonymous and slipped into a seat about a third of the way up. As the music started I sang, prayed and even raised my hands throughout the evening. I was also critiquing some of what was happening, making note of things I would do differently and things that I liked.
Then God did something unexpected. I don’t remember the exact time during the service or what song we were singing, but I heard God say “Don’t Eat!” I have to admit I was a little startled and confused. I asked God if that was from Him and if I heard him right. I heard it again “Don’t Eat!” That same morning in the church service I sat in on at my campus our senior pastor had mentioned the idea of Fasting as a spiritual discipline. I have fasted before with other people and by myself. I have given up TV, sports, coffee, food, meat and movies. Yet this time was different because God was telling me not to eat.
So I didn’t eat any food for the next three days. Each day I talked to God and when I asked if I could eat I heard “not yet”. During those three days, I was hungry and even felt some hunger pains. Yet each time I thought about being hungry I immediately connected with God and talked to Him. I felt such an inner peace and strength that seemed to get stronger each day. This three day fast reminded me how much I take food for granted. I don’t have to wonder where or when my next meal will come from. I can eat anytime I want and eat anything I want. Yet I am not all that grateful for what I have.
It’s the same way spiritually. God is with us all the time, we can talk to him anytime and ask for anything. Yet too often we take that for granted and only turn to him when things go wrong or we need something. Those three days of eating reminded me that I need God 24/7. That when I am connected to him the temptations are less powerful, the way I respond to things is much better and I make better decisions.
Psalm 63:1 says “God you are my God. I search for you. I thirst for you like someone in a dry, empty land where there is no water.” When I read that I had to admit that I do not pursue God like I would pursue water if I had none. Am I really hungry for God, desperate to know him more and more?
Jesus said this in Mathew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
When push comes to shove, what is most important to me? What takes priority?
God doesn’t need people to evangelize the earth, do missions projects or give away millions of dollars. He looks for people who will worship him in spirit and truth. Not just on Sunday mornings or whenever our day of rest is. God wants people who will worship him in the way they live. God made us to worship and every day we worship something.
When I hunger and thirst for God and seek him with all my heart, I get a glimpse of how much he loves me. As I grow, I understand a little bit better the depth of that love. God’s love for me never changes, yet as I change and grow, I get a clearer perspective of God, the world around me and the people in it.
That all came as a result of hearing two words from God and then obeying him. What would happen if we would listen to God all the time and really trust him with everything? What would happen if we did what he told us to do? What if we would follow his commands and live our lives fully surrendered to him?
On Thursday morning I woke up and knew I could eat again. The granola with Almond milk tasted better than ever before. I was grateful for the food I had in the house and once again my mind turned to God and his provision and care for me. I had a good day with my wife and got some time to rest and relax.
Then on Saturday something happened that I almost missed. It’s easy to just write things off as weird or a coincidence. I was bored and was flipping through the television, looking to escape into a movie or something entertaining before the Buckeyes came on that evening. We all know that there are lots of unwholesome things on television and I can get drawn into movies or shows that have too much sex, violence and bad language in them them. As I was searching, the smoke detector in the room beside be would beep from time to time. I thought that was odd, but dismissed it because I figured it just needed new batteries. I ended up watching a movie that was not the best choice.
I told my wife afterward about the smoke detector and as I was telling her I realized the smoke detector is hard wired and does not use batteries. It has not beeped since then. Then it hit me, was God warning me, trying to get my attention and help me avoid temptations. Then this verse came to my mind in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
I wish I had that power I felt when I was fasting all the time. If only I had paid closer attention to that warning, I could have fed my mind with something much better. I don’t always turn to God even when he is right in front of me. I guess that is the human side of us, yet God’s love never changes and he sees me as his beloved son even when I miss the way he gives me to escape temptations.
I am excited about what God is doing in me and who he wants me to become. The more I seek him and hunger after him the more he can use me to impact and influence other people. The more I listen and pay attention and then obey what he is telling me the more fruitful my life will become. We are all in process and when we allow God to drive and we trust him amazing things can happen.
Relationships can be messy, difficult and yet incredibly rewarding.
There are many things that go into a healthy, vibrant relationship like marriage. But I believe there is one vital ingredient to a long-lasting, healthy relationship: Patience.
In Galatians 5:22 – as part of the fruit of the Spirit we find patience: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.
Then in 1 Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient…” The author Paul is talking about the true meaning of loving someone well and he starts with patience. In Galatians he is talking about evidence in our lives that we are growing spiritually, and right in the middle is patience.
So let’s take a closer look at patience:
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering, without getting angry or upset.
Wow, that is impossible, but incredibly powerful. Imagine if you could do that on a consistent basis. Your life would be less stressful, you would be healthier and your influence with other people would go up. So how do you do that?
The Benefits of Developing Patience
Tips on How to Develop Patience
None of this is possible on a consistent basis without including God. On our own we will fall short every time, yet we can plug into the power of God. So in those moments when you do not want to be patient, a quick prayer asking for help can change everything.
One last thing, when someone is mistreating you or abusing you, patience should only apply with how you respond. Not responding in a way that fuels the fire. You should never simply take abuse. Setting boundaries and consequences is important in those situations. If your in an abusive relationship go get help and set clear boundaries.
Here are four ways develop your character:
Developing your character takes courage to face your strongholds, habits and hang-ups. It’s hard to do but the rewards are huge. Lead on.
Did you know the word prejudice means “prejudging” or “making an estimate of others without knowing the facts?” I came across an article by Billy Graham about this topic and thought I would share some of his insight into this topic. I found this challenging and encouraging.
Graham says this about prejudice:
Prejudice stalks many countries. At times it is prejudice against a racial or religious minority within its boundaries. At times it is prejudice against people from other nations. At times it was prejudice or resentment against those who were wealthier or those who were poorer than the average. But prejudice is a universal problem. Why? One reason is because prejudice has its roots in pride-and pride is at the heart of sin. Just as sin is universal, so prejudice is universal as long as our hearts are untouched by God’s retreating power.
Prejudice is a mark of weakness, not strength; it is a tool of the bigot, but never a device of the true Christian. One of our great problems in this complex age continues to grow since modern man has forsaken the pathway of Christian mercy and understanding-and has chosen to walk the road of intolerance and intrigue.
All of us have personal biases and prejudices. Despite our improved educational system, our prejudices have grown in the past few years-so we can conclude that education is not the cure for all prejudice.
There is only one way we can get rid of prejudice: by the process of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ. Only then do we discover Gods love for all humanity, and only then will we begin to look at others through the eyes of God and see them as He sees them. Only then does Gods love begin to take root in our hearts, pushing out the hate and indifference and selfishness that have resided there. In myself I do not have the capacity to love others as I should, but “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Yes, Christ can give us a love for others we would never have otherwise, “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
Billy Graham has a way of describing this that makes sense. Left to ourselves we will never love other people as God intended. We are quick to judge or at least make conclusions about someone before we get to know them. When our hearts start to transform as a result of following Jesus, we begin to think and see differently. Our actions follow and we begin to break the old patterns of prejudice, selfishness and resentment.
Jesus has this to say about this topic: ” Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.” He goes on to say this: “why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friends eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, ‘let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye’? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will se clearly to take the dust out of your friends eye.”
So it’s important to take a closer look at ourselves and work on our own issues before trying to work on someone else or prejudge someone else. It really starts with our own heart being set right before we can try to reach others. When our hearts are right we see others completely different and therefore how we go about helping others is completely different.
For the past six years NewPointe Community Church has shut down regular church services on a Sunday morning and went out into the community to be the church by serving others. One of the core values at NewPointe is Serving Others, so it’s important to put into practice what we value.
Once a year all of the campuses of NewPointe find projects in their local communities and people volunteer to give of their time, talent and energy to serve our schools, villages, nursing homes, non-profit organizations and individuals that are in need.
This year we had nearly 1,900 people serving in four different counties in Northeast Ohio. I serve as Campus Pastor at our Millersburg location and we had over 250 people serving on 29 projects throughout Holmes County.
One of the projects this year was with the Humane Society in the Glenmont area. Their property was run down and in need of repair and over 20 volunteers spent 4-5 hours working on cleaning, painting, weeding and fixing things. There is still some work to do, but that team made a huge dent in what needed to be done.
Another project was for a lady that had a kidney transplant that rejected, so she is back to doing dialysis. She has not been able to take care of her property, so a team of volunteers stained her deck, landscaped her property and did multiple other projects to improve her home. It was a total transformation of her property.
We also had three team go to local nursing homes to visit with residents and to provide two church services to residents. I was able to visit with two elderly gentlemen and the one man talked with me for several minutes and then I asked him if I could pray for him. He said yes and I prayed for him and his health and his family. When I finished I noticed he had tears in his eyes. He said that he doesn’t normally cry but that had been happening more lately. I asked him if he and his wife have a church home. He said they do not go to church. I told him he is welcome anytime when he is feeling better. I left information about the church and my name so he could talk to his wife. Who knows what God is going to do with that.
There are so many more stories that happened on Sunday. We don’t want this to be just a onetime event, so we are planning to have local serving opportunities throughout the year. As we find people and organizations that we can help, we will spread the word and organize work days to help out our community. We are calling it the Helping Hands Team. If you want to be on the email list to be notified of projects, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no better feeling than when you serve someone else. Let’s be known as the church that serves.
I finished reading Dwight Mason’s book Only God – Change your Story, Change the World. I happen to know Dwight and have worked with him over the last 15 years. I loved reading about the stories of his early years as a pastor and the many challenges he faced. I remember some of those difficult times and some of the big break throughs along the way in building NewPointe Community Church.
Dwight is both humble and persistent and that came through in this book. The leadership principles he shares are vital to any leader that wants to make a difference in this world.
The book is about how important our story is and how it fits into God’s bigger story. We are all writing a story and have some control over how that story reads moving forward.
I particularly liked the way he talked about embracing change and the enemies of change. Life is filled with changes and challenges and how we handle those changes determines much of our story. There is a lot of action steps after each chapter that helps you put into action what you just read.
Every parent should read the chapter on Helping Your Children Write A Great Story. It is packed with practical wisdom on how to raise children in a healthy way.
This is a leadership book and yet it is much more than that. It’s a book about life and living it with an eternal perspective. Invest in your future by reading this book. To order your copy today click here
I was recently at a meeting with a group of pastors from my community. To open the meeting the leader asked us to all read John 2:1-11. This is the story about Jesus at a wedding where he turns water into wine. It’s the launching pad for his ministry and it’s his first miracle. He asked us to read through this and then give feedback on what we noticed. Part of his motivation was because he was preaching on that Scripture and wanted more ideas. It was also a great way for us to have some discussion to build some community.
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited tot he wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “they have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said. “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
I never noticed this before, but this entire story is about the servants and Jesus’ disciples. His mother must have been helping with the food and drink for her to know they were out of wine. She may have been helping prepare and serve people or she knew others who were serving. She knew this could be a disaster and asked her son for help. She told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. I can see her approaching Jesus with his followers around him and explaining the problem. He did not want to get involved, but he saw an opportunity.
Jesus knew that his disciples did not really know him and what he could do. He saw this as an opportunity to develop the men that would be critical in leading this movement. He also saw an opportunity to launch his ministry with the servants that where. No one at the wedding knew that Jesus did this miracle except the servants and his disciples. How powerful that moment had to be when they drew out the water and saw that it was wine. Can you imagine the sense of awe and wonder that they had when they realized what Jesus did?
Here are some lessons I took away from reading this amazing story:
Can you imagine the conversations that happened after this wedding? The servants, telling their friends and families about this amazing thing that happened. In a close community like that the word had the spread fast and I am sure it raised a lot of questions.
When the servants and his disciples saw Jesus’ miracle, they believed. The miracle showed his power over nature and revealed the way he would go about his ministry. He came to serve and help people, He spoke with authority, and He was in personal touch with people. Jesus continues to do this today, using ordinary people to do the extraordinary and changing lives one person at a time.
The Geek Squad is a team of people or geeks that have a high tech IQ. They work for Best Buy and can fix nearly any electronic device. I have not had the pleasure of working with one of the geeks, but I have heard good things. They wear uniforms and drive VW Bugs to the clients homes or businesses. I came across their Geek Squad Promises and just had to share it.
- I will never violate the trust of my clients or disrespect their property.
- I will never say, ‘I don’t know’. Instead, say ‘I’ll find out’.
- I will always understand that my clients’ time is more valuable than my own.
- I will assume every problem is my fault, unless proven otherwise.
- I will consider my job done only when my client is completely overwhelmed with joy. And instead of assuming they are happy, I’ll ask them.
- I will keep every promise I make, including this one.
Those are some incredible promises and if followed lead to great customer service and lasting good impressions. No matter where you work, this kind of a mindset will make you a more valuable team player. You can even apply this one to your marriage. So go out and be a Geek!