Category Archives: Leadership

Who Cares How Much Leadership Experience You Have?


Pegs – coloured – concepts  by Ruth LIvingstone


And I mean it!

I recently realized something really simple that I can’t believe it eluded me for so long.

While I have been leading for many years…

While I was a youth pastor with a thriving youth ministry for over a decade…

While I have plenty of skills, understanding, and knowledge about how to lead a church…

While I have read multiple books on leadership…

None of that means that those I lead are at the same leadership level as I am.

So what does this require of me?


I realized that I have constantly expected people to operate at the same level that I am at.  To do the things that I do.  To understand everything I understand.

Notice that inherent in that belief is the thought that I know better than everyone else.


But, even if I do, I cannot expect people to learn overnight what it has taken me years upon years to learn.

This would be nice in a fantasy world, but not in reality.

To see people understand what I understand and do what I can do, it takes…






And, with all of that in mind, I remember this:

We will grow together.

While those I lead are growing under my leadership, I must continue to grow too.  And, much of my growth will come from things that they teach me.

The people I lead don’t care how much leadership knowledge I have.  They care about whether I’ll walk with them in this journey of growth.

I’m ready.

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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in CityLife Church, Leadership, Life, Uncategorized


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Why Do Problems Exist?

I love Words With Friends. If you haven’t played it, you are missing out!

I grew up with Scrabble, so I can’t get enough of this game. And, the cool part is that you can play multiple people all the time.

The key to playing the game well is not simply the types of letters you get, but the placement of those letters on the board.

(The above comment is your free game advice for the day)

There are times where I get stuck. I don’t have the letters or the positioning I want, so I’m not quite sure what to do. There are three things that I’ve discovered to solving the problem of being stuck.

1. Take a break. I have noticed that when I walk away from a game a bit, then return later, I come back with a fresh set of eyes and see things in a way I hadn’t before. Do this with your own problems. Many times it is the lack of perspective or the incorrect perspective that keeps us from solving problems. Step away, then return and look again!

2. Press forward, looking at all the options. I have noticed that sometimes I’m not giving my full attention. I’m distracted by things around me or thoughts inside of me. There are times where instead of walking away, we need to give a problem focused attention. Dig in, press forward, get the ideas going!

3. Do the best you can, then MOVE ON Sometimes, I find myself in a situation that despite my best efforts, there is simply nothing I can do. So, I do my best with what I have, then wait for the next round. Sometimes certain problems are NOT resolved according to our satisfaction. At that point, we must learn to let go and move forward. It would be worse to stay stuck.

These things have helped me get to an average of about 26 points per word. I’m beating everyone on the average, except for my brother Jordan….I guess there’s always someone who is smarter! Thanks a lot brother!!!

So, why do problems exist? They exist to be confronted!

Notice that I didn’t say “solved” or “resolved”. Now, I believe many problems do get resolved. But, the growth that we experience as people is not in the resolution of the problems we face, but in the process of dealing with those problems.

As we confront our problems…

We grow.

We learn.

We depend on others.

We take risks.

We throw fear aside.

This is why it is so important to deal with problems. Our growth as people depends on it!

Go confront something today!

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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Business, Leadership, Life, Love


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Flush the Toilet

6-11-13 Flush the Toilet

So many times I’ve walked into the bathroom only to see some weird substance in there.

Who didn’t flush the toilet?

At that point, being in a rush to use the bathroom, there’s no point in finding out the culprit of this insidious crime.  That would require me going after four children (well, three, since David is still in diapers…but you never know), finding out who did the evil act, all the while trying to…

Well, nevermind.

Let me tell you: Having kids and raising kids are two completely different things.

Here’s the truth: Flushing the toilet immediately once someone has used it is much quicker and more convenient than having to return later.

I’ve noticed the same thing with washing dishes.  On the days that we wash the dishes immediately after eating, the dishes get cleaned easier and quicker than the days where the dishes sit there for a few hours beforehand.

I’ve also noticed it with my car.  When I decide to take out trash that accumulated on one trip once I get home, it will be much easier than having to spend an hour cleaning it up later.

I was reminded of this recently when I needed to clean my car because of a guest who I was hosting, only to realize that I had a bunch of trash sitting around in my car.

This has happened with me with regards to email.  Sometimes I get a message that requires a reply that will take five minutes.  Instead of immediately taking the time to do it, I put it off, apparently hoping that it will take care of itself.

Newsflash: that never happens.

Then, when I come back to it later, the situation is more complicated, or requires more time, etc.

So, I am learning to do things quickly.  To stop waiting.  

It’s time to flush the toilet.

How about you?

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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Leadership, Life, Uncategorized


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The Spotlight


Here is my collection of stories, blogs, and other interesting things that I found this week.  Enjoy!

1. 15 Simple Truths About Selling by Geoffrey James

You may not know it, but we are all selling something.  So, this is a good article for those who are in the selling business, and for those who think they aren’t in the selling business!  He has some great truths packed in there!

2. Principles vs. Methods by Frank Damazio

In this post, pastor Frank Damazio gives one of the most important lessons on how (and why) we actually do what we do as pastors, church leaders, etc.  Many people get confused between what a “principle” is and what a “method” is.  For this reason, many churches face major problems.  Read this post and get understanding about the difference between both of these concepts!

3. 5 Temptations for Successful Preachers by Joe McKeever

If you preach (or communicate) regularly, you need to read this.  Some good insights about how we approach and view what we do, especially in relation to God and people!

4. 7 Bizarre Ways Kids Entertained Themselves Before Video Games

Ok…this is not news and it may not help you become a better person, but I had to put it on here.  There were some interesting games a generation (or generations) ago.  Enjoy!

5. Hoarding Information by Seth Godin

This is a short, yet good read about what we do with information.  I was just having a discussion with someone about this yesterday.  Could this same concept apply to pastors and churches, knowing that there is so much teaching (by good teachers) available online for free?  Something to think about!

6. The Ultimate Church Potluck Menu by Stephen Pepper

Ever wondered what to have at your church potluck?  This situation has now been completely resolved.  Read this post and get ready to laugh!

7. Mind Blowing Facts About People Over 50

Check out this video…it makes you think about how we leverage our resources to engage different groups of people.  We, even in the “church” world, tend to ignore those who are older in favor of those who are younger.  This video might change that perception!

That’s it!

Have a great weekend everybody.


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Accessorizing Christianity

5-28-13 Accessorizing Christianity

When did this happen?

Wristbands.  Tons of them.  Five or six of them.

My son Caleb’s wrist.

Let me repeat: When did this happen?

I don’t remember wearing all those types of things.  In fact, my wife Evelyn has had a hard time just getting me to wear a watch.  Ask her, and you can have a nice discussion about it.

After my kids got out of the pool at grandpa’s house, I was cleaning stuff up and realized how many different accessories I had to pick up.

Then, last night, I noticed something else.

5-28-13 #2 Accessorizing Christianity

Caleb has a bunk bed all to himself.  Sometimes he sleeps on the top.  Sometimes on the bottom.  Last night, he was on the top.  Apparently, he turned the bottom bunk bed into his personal accessory space, laying out perfectly all of his stuff for the next day.

If only he took care of the rest of his stuff that well!

Now, you read the title of my post and are probably thinking…

“I’ve got it!  Look right there in the second picture, there’s a cross also! It wasn’t in the first picture.  I’m an amazing detective.  I learned as a kid from all of those pictures in kid’s books where you had to compare two pictures and notice what was different.  I am highly skilled at this.  And, I also know that Jeff is going to say something about how we put on Christian themed accessories without really living the message that those accessories communicate!”

Great thoughts.  You’re a genius.  And, that is a good point.*

But, it’s not the point of this post.  Feel free to steal the idea that was inspired by my pictures and write your own post about it.  (/sarcasm)

Here was my thought.  The more accessories you have, the longer it takes to get ready.  It takes time to go through each one, putting each one on one at a time, then taking them off later in the day.

These accessories are nice.  They might have value.  But, they’re not essential.

They slow you down.  They become an unnecessary burden.

This is what I have noticed in my own life.  And, in the lives of others.

It becomes so easy to accessorize Christianity.  To add things on.  To add layer after layer of elements and eventually turn it into something it was never meant to be.

We do this in many ways:

We think that worship must be done with a certain music style.

We put models and methods into our churches that obscure the essence of Christianity.

We focus on outward appearance more than the soul.

We wait for our pastors/leaders/mentors to tell us what to do instead of going straight to Jesus and his word.

We try to make our churches look “cooler” so that they can be more popular.

And these are just a few.

Worship style is good.  Models and methods can be helpful.  A good outward appearance is necessary.  Pastors, leaders, and mentors are indispensable.  “Cool” can be good at times.

The point is not that any of these things are bad.

The problem is that sometimes they weigh us down and cause for true Christianity to get obscured.

Why don’t we make a commitment to getting rid of anything that makes it harder for us to connect with Jesus and to connect Jesus to others.  And, at the same time, choose only to use those things that accomplish the same goal.

Check this out.  Hebrews 12:1-2a says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

“weight that slows us down”

“sin that so easily trips us up”

What weights and sins do you need to release?  Remember, some weights are not sins, but they still slow us down!

Let’s run freely!

*By the way, I did have a discussion with Caleb about wearing the cross because he knows what it means, instead of simply wearing it because it looks “cool”.


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Get It Done!

5-23-13 Now Is The Time (Get It Done)

As a leader, have you ever delegated a certain responsibility to someone who was extremely qualified?

I’ve done that multiple times.

With different results.

Sometimes the person who is qualified gets right to it and does an amazing job.  Sometimes they take a little longer to process the responsibility in order to make it great, but when it’s done, it is amazing!  Other times, they don’t do anything.

I had a recent situation where someone had great ideas, but no action.

Do you know how frustrating that is?  And, it’s even worse once your head is filled with all of these amazing ideas of what could be done, only to wait for days, weeks, or months and nothing happens.

Now, sometimes the person’s lack of action could be due to too much responsibility in your organization, so they just don’t have enough hours in a day to make it happen.  If that’s the case, priorities must be rearranged in order to give the person the freedom they need to finish the job.  Or, they may not have the tools necessary to get it done.  If that’s case, give them the tools!

In other cases, it is simply the lack of personal commitment to doing the job.  It might be laziness, disorganization, or any other number of conditions.

In this recent case, I was having a conversation with someone who seemed interested in helping me get the job done.  I spoke to them and within a week they had accomplished what I had been waiting for months to happen.

It reminds me of Andy Stanley’s talk at Catalyst West 2013.  He mentioned that we need to focus more on recruiting those who are doers, instead of thinkers.

This has really struck home for me.  While we don’t want to offend people who have been tasked with a certain job, the reality is that to many of them, it will be a relief to no longer have the responsibility for something they weren’t doing anyways.

Meaning, this can be a GOOD thing!

As a result, I’ve focused my eyes like a laser beam on people who actually get the job done.

Why?  Because the work is too important to be left un-done.

Have you had a similar situation?


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But Samuel

5-22-13 Student of the Month (But Samuel)


The book of Samuel talks about an amazing man who was used by God as the kingdom of Israel was in the midst of huge transition.

Samuel’s mom, in her desire to have a child, made a commitment to give her child up to God after being born.  So, when God blessed her with a little boy, she named him Samuel and took him to the temple to serve with the priest Eli.

In the first of the books on Samuel’s life, we see an interesting distinction.  In chapter 2, verse 12, there is a description of Eli’s own sons, who were absolutely wicked.  They would essentially steal from the sacrifices that were being offered, in order to eat whatever they wanted.

Right after describing their wickedness, in verses 18-21, it says this, “18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest. 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” 21 And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” [bold is mine]

I am not normally one to compare one person to another.  Well, maybe I am.  Just a little.

But, in this story there is a distinction made between Eli’s sons and Samuel.  It starts with “But Samuel”, then goes on to explain what was different about Samuel compared to the others.

Normally, when comparisons are made in today’s society, we compare based off of success, talent, intellect, or any other number of categories.

In the description of Samuel’s life above, it compared him to Eli’s sons based off of a different set of requirements.

When talking about Samuel, 2 things stood out: his faithfulness and his service.

He was a young man who committed himself to “serving the Lord” and he was faithful to stay “in the presence of the Lord”.

When you think about how people perceive you to be (especially in comparison to others), what do you normally think of?

As a pastor, I might want people to compare my church size to others.

As a parent, I might want to compare the success of my kids in school to other parent’s kids.  Isn’t that why we have all of those “Student of the Month” bumper stickers?

As a leader, I might want to compare the success of my organization to others.

As a communicator, I might want to compare my success in speaking to others.

But, when I dig deep down, I think that the description of Samuel is what I should truly be hoping for if I am ever  compared (or not) to others.

When people look at me, I want them to admire my faithfulness and my service.

How about you?  Do you ever deal with the world’s way of comparing, knowing that they are empty comparisons?


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