I love to read. Reading is one way that I grow and change every year. Maybe you have heard the saying “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Every year I am very intentional about planning out some of the books I want to read in the coming year. I don’t always get them all read, but it really helps to have a list. I have started using a website called Goodreads to keep track of the books I am currently reading, the ones I want to read and the ones that I have finished.
I have been meeting with a group of guys that have committed to read one book per month for 10 months. Some of these guys were not readers and this has been a struggle, but they have hung in there and made a solid effort to get through the books. I know it is stretching and changing these guys. They will not be the same after these 10 months.
I hope you will consider increasing your reading. It may be reading one book this year or maybe its reading one per month. Set a realistic goal and then start reading. If you spend a little time each day reading, you can finish nearly any book in a month.
Here is my top ten business book list followed by my top ten spiritual book list:
- Tribes: We need you to lead us – by Seth Godin
- 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
- First Break all the Rules: by Marcus Buckingham
- The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
- The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell
- The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn
Spiritual Growth Top Ten:
- The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
- Crazy Love by Fancis Chan
- The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Victory Over Darkness and Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett
- TrueFaced by Bill Thrall
- Deadly Emotions by Don Colbert
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
- Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
There are many more I could add to each list, but these are some of the ones that have influenced me the most over the years. If you want to change in 2011, then make a commitment to read. Schedule it on your calendar if you have to. One last thing, I also read the Bible every year, usually in a different versions. Some of my favorite versions of the Bible are:
- The Message by Eugene Peterson
- New International Version
- Amplified Bible
- New Living Translation
- The Leadership Bible New King James Version
Leaders are readers!
At NewPointe Community Church the way in which we help most people is through mentoring. Whether it is couples looking for help with their marriage, or someone struggling financially or someone struggling with addictions, hangups or broken relationships.
The idea of mentoring has been around for a long time, but it has mostly been associated with children and students and not adults. In the business world there is mentoring of new employee’s, but this is usually not a long-term relationship.
There is a difference between Christian mentoring and the world’s mentoring. Christian mentors do not build a reliance on themselves, but point their mentee’s to God. When we point people to God it puts them in a position to make different choices in their life. Mentoring does not change people or heal broken relationships, only God can do that.
Mentoring takes a longer term view of helping people. Instead of putting a band-aid on the problem, we want to help the person dig down into the problem to see what the root of the problem really is. We also want to help them get closer to God, so that He can bring peace, forgiveness and hope into their life.
God’s leadership is transformational. That is why we do mentoring, to lead people to a transformational, renewed life, the God life. God radically and permanently changes His people from the inside out. God never demands conduct that He does not first empower His followers to achieve. Here are seven things that God does on the inside of us if we allow Him full access to our lives:
- He Liberates us – He frees us from our past (guilt)
- He lifts us up – He encourages us and gives us hope
- He educates us – He gives us wise counsel and direction in life
- He fills our gaps – He fills areas where we are weak or lack competence
- He motivates us – He gives us a new vision for our purpose in life
- He renews us – He helps us do things we could not do on our own
- He pushes us – He encourages us to take action, to make a difference.
Mentoring is all about pointing people to God and the possibility of life change. We cannot fix each other, the harder we try to worse it gets. Husbands and wives are not called to fix each other or improve each other, they are called to love each other. The same thing goes for Christians, we are not called to judge other people or fix other people or change other people. We are called to love other people, care for other people, help other people. So let God do what He does best in your own life and the lives of those around you. Just point the way.
I’ve been thinking about the word pace over the last several days. One of the definitions in the dictionary is “a rate of activity, progress, growth, performance, etc; tempo.” The reason I have been thinking about this word is because I am a runner. Pace is very important when you are running. Your pace depends on how far you are running and what kind of terrain you are running on.
I was on the treadmill this week and decided to run to 45 minutes. I started out at a slower pace and then kept increasing the pace each mile. I averaged a 7.5 minute mile for the 45 minutes, but I was running much faster and harder at certain points than others. As I was running at the fastest pace I noticed a few things.
- My running form started to slip
- My ability to focus was decreased, because I was feeling some pain and was getting tired
- I was watching the clock a lot more instead of focusing on my form.
- I was more likely to get injured because my form was sloppy.
As I thought about this idea of pace, it struck me that many of our lives are just like that. We start out at a steady pace, but often find ourselves in a sprint trying to juggle all of the stuff we are involved in. We can barely keep up and are in danger of taking a serious fall.
My wife and I were eating at a local restaurant and one of the waitresses commented to us how busy her life was right now. We talked about the hectic Christmas schedule and how sometimes we can feel overwhelmed. Then she said that she would love to have a day just for herself, where she could just do what she wanted and slow down the pace. Right after she said that she then said, “that is not going to happen.”
The pace in which we run in our lives is a choice that we make. It often does not feel like we have a choice, but the reason most people are running at a very fast pace, is because of the choices they have made.
I work at a place that runs at a pretty fast pace. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that I need to train to run my leg of the race and not the entire race. Think about it like this; when you are running a marathon, you can train and run it on your own or you can train with a group and run it as a relay. You can run the marathon much faster if you do a relay in which each person runs a portion of the race. That is how I view my role at NewPointe. I need to train for my portion of the race and run that leg as best I can. I can encourage and train with the other staff, but we each have a portion of the race that we are ultimately responsible for.
So here are some take-away ideas for improving your pace of life:
- Determine to say no more than you do right now – What do you need to stop doing? Sometimes you need to say no to some good things in order to enjoy the best things.
- Plan and schedule time for yourself – If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. Self-care is critical and most people don’t take the time to care for themselves emotionally, spiritually and physically. Rest and relaxation are vital. Getting enough rest is hard work, but it is worth it.
- Find some good training partners – Surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference. Having accountability in your life is a key to a healthy life pace.
- Make sure you are running the right race and on the right track – Everyone is here for a reason and a purpose. Are you running in the right direction? Are you on the right path? God has a path for all of us, choosing His path makes all the difference.
- Set aside time to lead yourself – I am the most difficult person in my life to lead. Often times, we are our own worst enemy. Take time to do personal development. The more we grow, learn and change the bigger impact we will have on our journey.
- Invest in others – When you take the time to use the life experience that you have to help someone else you get much more than you give. Investing in people brings new life and energy to your life. People are always more important than things, projects and money.
- Take some time to develop a life plan – A life plan is simply writing down the main areas of your life and then creating some goals and action steps for each of those areas. It then helps to keep you focused and on track throughout the year. For more information on how to develop a life plan go to Michael Hyatt’s Blog.
Think about the pace of your life right now. Are you running at a pace that is causing your form to slip? Are you nearing a severe injury because you are running too hard? Knowing when to speed up your pace and slow down your pace will help you run a successful and enjoyable race.
One of my personal values is to be growing in my character. This has been a lifelong process and I have had my times where I lacked character. In those moments I have tried to learned and grow. I continue to make some of the same mistakes, but the key for me is that I am growing and changing. I have been reading a book on character by Andy Stanley called “Louder than Words”. I also have been listening to messages about character and reading other things about character. Here are some things I have been learning about character.
The Greek word for character is often translated “image”. It means a notch, indentation, a sharpening, scratching, or writing on a stone or a coin. In the same way, character historically meant a distinctive mark impressed or formed on the inside of a person by an outside force. John Maxwell shares some common misconceptions about character:
- Character is not merely how a person acts; some can masquerade poor character.
- Character isn’t just what a person will ideally be in the future; that is called hope.
- Character is not only what others see on the outside; it begins on the inside.
- Character isn’t limited to wisdom in evaluating others behavior; that’s judgment.
- Character isn’t only about discipline; I may be disciplined in one area and not in another.
So basically character is more than just talking the right talk. Anyone can say they have integrity and that they are honest, but action is the real indicator of character. Character is a choice, it will either limit or support you as a leader. Whether you are leading a family, a company, a department, a team, a church or yourself.
In Psalm 15 the writer gives us a word picture of a person growing in character:
- Possesses integrity (v. 2)
- Does what is right (v. 2)
- Is honest and trustworthy (v. 2)
- Does not gossip (v. 3)
- Goes not listen to gossip (v.3)
- Does no harm to others (v. 3)
- Speaks out against wrong (v. 4)
- Honors others who walk in truth (v. 4)
- Keeps their word even when it costs them (v. 4)
- Is not greedy to gain at the expense of others (v. 5)
- Lends money to those in need without interest (v. 5)
- Takes no bribes against anyone (v. 5)
- Is strong and stable (v. 5)
Character is the foundation on which you build your life. Relationships are built on trust, respect and communication. When you are a person of good character, your relationships with people and God are much more solid. People will follow you only as far as they can trust you. Character communicates credibility, harnesses respect, creates consistency, and earns trust.
Character is developed in private, what you do when no one is watching. In those private moments you are deepening your character or destroying your character. I believe that the only way we can truly be men and women of character is by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Through that relationship we have access to character that we cannot have on our own. When we plug into God He builds into us, shaping and molding us into men and women of character.
Lead with character!
I’ve been reading about David in the Bible, the book of Chronicles. It is the story of how he rose to power as King of Israel. The part that is very interesting to me is the mighty men that joined David early on in his story. The mighty men were among the most skilled at what they did, “They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand.” Each man brought a different kind of skill to the team. All of the skills were needed for David to accomplish the vision God had for him.
David had been anointed king for some time, but was not yet in power. David attracted people with the skills he needed in order for God’s vision to happen in His people. God chose David and then people chose David. So how does that happen? When you are walking with God and following Him, how do the right people come along to help you with that journey?
Here are 7 principles I have learned on my journey in leadership:
- The key to leadership is leading yourself well. Most of your leadership time should be spent on growing, learning and changing as a leader. The more you grow, the better leader you become.
- Allow the people around you to lead. Don’t feel like you need to make all the decisions. Trusting people and then backing them up is a great way to develop people. This takes self-confidence and courage, to allow people to make key decisions. Even when they make mistakes, you can use that as a coaching time to help them grow.
- Make sure you are pouring into others. You have to spend time with people in order for them to commit to helping with the vision you are following. As you grow, you can pour into others and build those relationships. Make sure you are allowing others to pour inbto you as well.
- Be likeable. You will get more people to join you and help you if they like you than any other reason. How likeable are you? Do people like to spend time with you? Are you approachable or do you come across as too busy or too distracted?
- Be real. This is a big deal, don’t try to be someone you are not. For many years I did that and found myself with few followers. People soon find out if you are what you say you are when they spend some time around you, they will either buy-in or bow out.
- Admit your mistakes. I learned early on that it is much better to simply admit when you made a mistake, rather than making excuses and trying to cover things up to make yourself look good. Doing this brings credibility to your leadership.
- Be humble, yet persistent. Humility is thinking less about yourself and more about others. It is being confident in who you are and not needed to get all the recognition and credit. When you balance that with a laser focus on the vision and how to get there, people will follow.
Leading well is not about learning a bunch of leadership techniques. It’s about loving and caring about people. If you really care about the people God brings into your life, you will focus on them as real people and not a means to an end. I believe that the way to build a fantastic team is to honor and care for the them. When you do that it builds loyalty and increases the passion of the team to accomplish the vision.
How do you lead through relationships? John Maxwell has been quoted saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Leadership cannot be separated from relationship. In order to accomplish anything of significance it takes people and healthy relationships in order to bring lasting results. By developing good relational skills a leader can get much more done. In Romans 12:9-21 Paul gives us ten instructions on how to build solid relationships:
- Avoid hypocrisy – be sincere and real, walk the talk (v. 9)
- Be loyal – treat others like brothers and sisters (v. 10)
- Give preference to others – honor the desires of others above your own (v.10)
- Be hospitable – look for ways you can serve and meet the needs of others (v. 13)
- Return good for evil – Don’t retaliate when others hurt you, hold your tongue (v.14)
- Identify with others – Celebrate with others, show compassion to others (v.15)
- Be open-minded toward others – Connect with people by being more interested in them than yourself (v. 16)
- Treat everyone with respect – This shows you value them as a person (v. 17)
- Do everything possible to make peace – do your best to resolve conflict (v.18)
- Remove revenge from your life – Let God judge others; you love them (v.19-21)