Monthly Archives: August 2010

Narrow the Focus

One of the philosophies of leadership that NewPointe Community Church has embraced is to narrow the focus. This has also been a person goal of mine as I try to improve my own leadership ability. So why would this be an important way to grow as a leader?

One of the ways a leader can become ineffective is when they become distracted. That happens when a leader is trying to spin too many plates at one time. When you try to lead multiple priorities you become less effective, because your mind must try to bounce from one priority to the next.

It can be the same way in our personal lives. When we are running it too many directions we feel less effective as parents, spouses and friends. The busier we become the more our important relationships suffer.

Paul talks about this in Philippians chapter 3. Paul openly communicated his priorities. All the achievements and culture of his past he counted as rubbish, in order to gain Christ. He wanted to know Christ, experience His power, share in and complete His sufferings, and ultimately be conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10,11). Here is a man on a mission. He narrowed his focus to the essentials. Leaders who change the world have this kind of sharp focus.

So what does it take to gain the focus required to become a truly effective leader? The keys are priorities and concentration. Author John Maxwell says “A leader who knows his priorities but lacks concentration knows what to do, but never gets it done. A leader with concentration but no priorities has excellence without progress.” When a leader can do both of these well he can achieve some great things.

Paul did three things:

  1. He discerned what was holding him back – In other words he learned to let go of some things he once cherished, because they were distracting him from the most important things. Sometimes we need to say no to some really good things in order to do the best things. We also need to look at any bad habits that are holding us back as well.
  2. He discovered what he wanted – Paul’s burning desire was a close relationship with Christ. That became his solitary pursuit. He accomplished some great things with that as his main focus in life. He became a great leader, writer, and visionary communicating the Good News about Jesus to the world.
  3. He determined how to get it – He put together a strategy of narrowing his focus and concentrating on the main thing as much as he possibly could.

So here are some takeaways for all of us to improve our focus:

  1. Work on Yourself – You are your greatest asset, so you need to spend a good bit of your time working on your own growth. Leaders that stop learning and growing don’t make an impact on the world around them. Great leaders have a personal growth plan.
  2. Work on your Priorities – Can you name your top 3 priorities in your life? Does what you say and what you do line up? When was the last time you wrote down the top three priorities in each of the important areas of your life (Family, God, Work, Community, School, Friendship). Great leader know their top priorities and look at them daily.
  3. Work on your Strengths – It is very hard to improve your areas of weakness. That is why it is so important to know your strength and surround yourself with people that are strong in your areas of weakness. Write down your top three strengths and then list three ways you can work on those areas. Great leaders know and work within their areas of strength.
  4. Work with your colleagues – Team leadership is by far more effective than leading on your own. Build the team around you whether at work, home, church or community. When you invest in other people you build relationships that can help you accomplish the important things. Great leaders develop other people.

How can you narrow the focus in your life? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing? What do you need to do more of? What are your priorities? What do you need to concentrate on?

What is Mentoring?

I have been involved in mentoring for a number of years now. I have been mentored by others and I have mentored others. This is a passion of mine because I have benefited from having some key people in my life and pivotal times that have directed me, encouraged me and challenged me.

So what is mentoring? Here are a couple of good definitions that I think describe mentoring well:

  • Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources. – Paul Stanley & Robert Clinton
  • Mentoring is a relationship in which a mentor helps a protege reach his/her God-given potential. – Bob Biehl

A mentor helps a mentee in some specific ways by having the:

  • Ability to readily see potential in a person
  • Tolerance with mistakes, brashness, abrasiveness and the like in order to see that potential developed
  • Flexibility in responding to people and circumstances
  • Patience, knowing that time and experience are needed for development
  • Perspective, having vision and ability to see down the road and suggest the next steps that a mentee needs
  • Gifts and abilities that build up and encourage others
  • Timely words of counsel and insight
  • Resources such as letters, articles, books, websites, etc.

Tim Elmore shares this simple word picture in describing what mentoring is all about. A little boy and his dad were walking down a rocky road one evening. After stumbling and falling to the ground, the boy looked up at his father and said, “Dad, why don’t you watch where I am going?”

Mentoring is about watching where others are going, and I would go a little further and say that it is helping the other person develop to the point that they can watch where they are going on their own and eventually watch where others are going themselves.

A successful mentor is going to be a:

  • Guide
  • Encourager
  • Resource
  • Evaluator
  • Provider
  • Coach

If you have an interest in becoming a mentor, I would encourage you to start praying about it. I believe that many of the experiences you have gone through happen so that you can in turn mentor others through similar experiences. NewPointe Community Church has an active mentoring ministry. Every Monday night at NewPointe mentors are meeting with mentees.

If you would like to join our mentoring team at NewPointe, please send an email me at cstutzman@newpointe.org

If you are interested in being mentored, you can email mentor@newpointe.org or call 330.602.2699 to make an appointment.

How to Grow your Faith, Character & Leadership

My personal mission statement I have tried to follow the last 10 years is “Growing in Faith, Character and Leadership. Most people would probably say they also want to grow in these areas of their lives. What I have learned is that I cannot grow in these areas on my own. I can learn about these areas, but to grow and actually live it out, I can only do that with the help of Christ.

In John Chapter 15 Jesus talks about the vine and the branches. He is the Vine and we are the branches that produce fruit. Jesus talks about remaining or abiding in Him in order to bear fruit. In other words if we stay joined to or close to Christ, He produces fruit in our lives. The key is to stay close to Him, to stay connected to Him.

Abiding or remaining in Christ is just another name for intimacy with Christ. He wants to express His life through us, which comes through your attachment to Him. If our prayer life is just a matter of shooting up an occasional SOS as emergencies come up, we are missing that intimacy or closeness. If we just have our devotions in the morning in order to get it done and check it off our list, we don’t understand abiding.

In order to stay connected or close to Christ we must first understand how much He loves us. That should be our focus, love. Later in this same chapter Jesus says, “Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you.”

Our faith, our character and our leadership can only grow if we stay close to Christ. When we submit to Him and talk to Him on a regular basis. When we regularly read, listen or speak His words from the Bible. When we spend time worshiping Him and soaking up His love, we grow. When we meditate or focus on Jesus some amazing things start to happen in our lives. We have more wisdom, strength, courage, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, righteousness and self-control.

So if you are looking to grow in your faith, character, leadership or other areas of your life, the best thing you can do is focus on Christ and discover how much He loves you. We cannot manufacture Character, Christ produces it when we stay close to Him. We cannot love our spouse unconditionally, but Christ can through us. We cannot lead people as we should, but Christ can direct us and lead through us. We cannot have great faith on our own, but Christ can grow our faith when we stay close to Him. When we are close to Him, we see things more like He sees them and He can do things in us we could never do on our own.

I can’t but He can, should be our prayer every day.

Next Generation Mentoring Group

I will be starting a new mentor group on Saturday September 4th. Here is some info on what it is all about. The deadline to apply is this Wednesday August 18th. I only have a few openings left.

>Our church is embracing a Married Men’s group model called Next Generation Mentoring that pairs high-potential men with a more senior, more mature mentor for 10 months with the goal of pointing them toward a fully integrated Christian Life. The result is the life-on-life application of biblical and scriptural principles as the Mentor shares his experiences, successes, failures, and insights to the group.

What it’s not

NGM isn’t for everyone. This is NOT a Bible study. It’s NOT an accountability group. It’s NOT a community group. This is a Mentor-led small group that involves reading (a book per month), memorization (two scriptures per month), transparency, and a willingness to change.

Vision

The vision is to help younger Christian men live God-centric lives, fulfill their God-given potential, and to become mentors to the next generation.

Topics of Study

Understanding who we are in God’s eyes

Deciphering how we can excel in our work, at home, and in our communities

Establishing priorities, work/ life balance

Dealing with sexual temptation

Making good decisions

Leadership and Godly character

Relating to our wives

Raising children

Knowing what it means to have a vibrant, living relationship with Jesus Christ

Are you interested?

Requirements

  • Married career men ages late 20s- early 40s
  • Hopes of children; or Parent to kids under 12
  • Self-objective people: folks who are willing to take direct, pervasive feedback without being defensive; a willingness to look themselves in the mirror and make changes to improve
  • Broken people: hungry for personal growth
  • Passionate commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Willingness to replicate the process at least once and be a mentor to others in the future
  • Cost: $200.00 fee up front for all books, materials, scripture memory cards, and all other content

Disclaimer: This is not for the overly-committed. We also have some limited scholarships available if money is an issue.

At-A-Glance

Who: 8 guys, 1 Mentor

What: read 1 book/ month, memorize 2 Scripture/ month, fully participate in all meetings and discussions

When: 8 three-hour sessions and 2 retreats over 10 months

Where: NewPointe Community Church Dover campus

Why: growth and maturity

How: apply online here

Cut-off date for applications is August 18th, 2010.

Attendance at Launch day Saturday September 4th at 8am is mandatory. No exceptions.

It will take about 15 minutes to complete the application. You will be asked to indicate your acceptance of the NGM Covenant as part of the on-line application, as will your wife. So it’s important that you talk through the commitment with her before you begin the application. A copy of the covenant is attached for you and your wife to review.

Link to Apply: http://www.nextgenmentoring.com/mentoree_signup.php?cid=30

Questions to Ask Yourself

While I was on my run today some questions kept coming to my mind. Maybe these questions will get you thinking as well.

  • What motivates me the most?
  • What are the three most important people in my life?
  • If I could change one thing about myself, I would change…
  • Have I been totally honest with the people closest to me?
  • Do I have something I feel like I cannot share with anyone?
  • What do I need to do to improve my leadership ability by 5%?
  • Who do I need to spend more time with?
  • Who do I need to spend less time with?
  • In what areas of my life do I feel like I am struggling?
  • Who do I need to confront? Who do I need to apologize to?

When we ask ourselves questions like this it forces us to do an evaluation of where we are and where we want to be. The key to a successful life is that you are growing, learning and changing in a positive way. When you are humble enough to realize you can always improve and get better no matter where you are, then you can achieve amazing things.

I try to do this several times a year. Take a moment and think about these questions and write down some of your thoughts. Put in some action steps and then go and do it.

Are You Stagnate?

I have been thinking about some of the things that have influenced my spiritual growth over the years. I must say that there have been many people, events and experiences that have influenced me on my journey. One that was significant for me was a small group Bible Study that I did called Crown Financial Ministries.

There mission statement is “Teaching people God’s financial principles in order to know Christ more intimately and to be free to serve Him.”

I was a banker at the time and interested in money and what God’s perspective was on money and possessions. I went to some training and came back to NewPointe and started my first Crown small group. I ended up leading many groups through this material and I found that I grew a lot during those years. The principles I learned are still with me today.

The group study forced me to lead by example and one of the requirements was to memorize a Scripture every week for 12 weeks. You also had to have your homework done or you could not participate.

To this day I still have many close friends as a result of this small group experience. Building community with other people and learning about what God has to say about our finances helped me to grow in my faith. Those 12 verses I memorized still jump out at me every time I read them, see them or hear them used in a message. I thought I would share them with you today.

  • If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of worldly wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” Luke 16:11
  • “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
  • “Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2
  • “Just as the rich rule over the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
  • “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but the wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15
  • “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Leviticus 19:11
  • “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
  • “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
  • “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” Proverbs 21:20 and “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
  • “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
  • “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
  • “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

I will soon be starting a new journey with 8 guys in a new Mentoring group I am starting in September. We will be reading a book a month and memorizing 2 Scriptures together for 10 months. Just like the Crown group was an important growth time for me, this mentoring group will also be a growth time for me as I pour into these 8 guys.

Growth doesn’t usually happen by accident. You need to be intentional about it. You also need to step out of your comfort zone by doing some difficult things. Start thinking, praying and planning how you will grow spiritually over the next 12 months.

The Happiness Sucker

“Worry is to joy, what a vacuum cleaner is to dirt; you might as well attach your heart to a happiness sucker and flip the switch.” Max Lucado said that, and it makes sense. Worry is focused negative thinking and it can get the best of us. Before we know it we are consumed with a certain problem or issue. It’s all we can think about and it sucks up our time, our thoughts, our energy and our joy.

Jesus tells us “give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know the One who holds the future.

Have you discovered the difference between problems and facts? Problems are things we can do something about; we can solve problems. Facts are things we can do nothing about; therefore we do well not to worry about them. We should apply energy only to those things we can change. We can feel peace and act with poise, because we no longer beat our heads against an unbreakable wall, when we stop worrying and start trusting. When we stop worrying and focus on how we can change through this hardship.

Whatever you are facing today, know that God has promised to walk with you, to give you strength when you need it, courage and wisdom at just the right time. But that can only happen if we are giving our entire attention to what God is doing. So don’t allow worry to suck all the joy out of your life. Try some focused positive thinking for a change and see what happens.