Who should change?

This morning I was in a prayer time with CPx Students (we kicked off this week with a GREAT group!) and one of the gals prayed a profound prayer.  She prayed:

Lord, grant us the humility to accept others and change ourselves.  And forgive us for trying so hard to change others, while (often blindly) accepting ourselves.

Wow! I had to grab my journal and write that one. And I wanted to share it with you. Isn't it amazing how easily we default to seeing others so clearly and ourselves so dimly. May Jesus continue to grant us that imperative leadership quality of self-awareness.

7 Counterintuitive Keys to Leadership

Keys to LeadershipI was teaching in rural Kenya on a tea plantation late last year when a network leader asked me..."Can you please help our leaders see the need for humility in church planting and that it is not all about them feeling important?" Sure, I thought. This is lesson I have been learning the hard way for the last 4-5 years! I would be happy to. So, I grabbed my notebook and jotted down 7 quick thoughts. Here they are....expanded a bit. 1. You are not the big deal. Jesus is. It is so easy for a leader to begin to think more highly of themselves than he/she ought to. Our task is to make much of Jesus! He loves to use us, but he does not love to share His glory. He is the main event. The chief end. (Colossians 1:17)

2. Come as a child and you'll be a father/mother. In the Kingdom of God things are always standing on their “cultural head". The greatest is the least. The least is the greatest. In leadership, you will gain more authority coming as a child, than in strength as an adult. Childlike faith leads to fatherly authority when it’s lived out in weakness that trusts fully in Jesus. His strength becomes perfect in us and we end up being spiritual parents without having tried by lording it over.

3. Get weak. Not strong. Same deal here. We traditionally think that leadership = strength. And by the world’s standards it does. But as godly leaders, we, like Paul, say that …. His strength is perfect in our weakness. (I Cor. 12:9)

4. It's about who you're following not who you're leading. I used to read every Maxwell book I could find. I used to believe the famous motto: You are only a leader if people are following you. Maybe. Maybe not. I am learning that the true sign of leadership is how much of yourself you can give away to others so they can GO farther and do more than you. So, what actually ends up happening is that you wind up following them. Not them following you. If we are “Apostolic Senders” - we will not be left with a bunch of people behind us. At least, it will not be the sign of success. Actually, it may be just the opposite.

5. Exercise power under people, not power over. True power, strength and impact in leadership comes when I kneel before you and wash your feet (Matt 20:28). It is about the power I have below you in service, not the power I have above you in influence or control. This is Kingdom leadership. There is certainly power. Watch how Jesus led. He changed the world with this type of leadership. Why have we ever abandoned it?

6. It’s about who you send, not who you collect. Bigger is not better in the “great commission business”! Further and deeper and broader is. The mark of a godly leader is found in how many people he has poured himself into and sent out for the purposes of the mission of God. Certainly NOT in how many he or she can gather at once to follow them or listen to them.

7. Pastoring is not the goal. Fathering a movement is. I know many frustrated pastors. And almost every time it is for the same reason. They are not called to be a Pastor/Shepherd. They are called to be an apostle. Or an evangelist. Or a Prophet. But most often, leaders that are dissatisfied are feeling such because there is more that the Lord has made them for. Perhaps they are called to “Father a movement”, not “Pastor a church”! There is a massive difference.

Books I'm Into These Days

I have read more in the last two months than I did in all of 2013! I love reading, but when I lack margin, reading is usually one of the first things to go. So glad that I am making the changes necessary in my life to read again. I come alive. I'm choosing not to give extensive reviews of most of what I am reading right now, but I thought I would give some brief recommendations/reviews.

Finished recently:

"Leading on Empty" by Wayne Cordiero. Whoa!!! Wow!!! What a brilliant book! Packed with wisdom and insight for leaders. But for a very particular group of leaders. If you are any of the following, I highly, highly commend this book to you: Are you tired? Stressed? Worn down? Super busy? Worried that you may not be able to keep this pace for the long haul? Feeling burn out is coming? Lacking margin for health and family? Not enough YOU time? Discontent in your ministry? If any of this is you, read this book. If several or most of these are you, stop right now and buy and read this book in the next two days!

“Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” by John Piper. The opening few pages of this book are enough to make you want to jump up and yell hallelujah! So rich. However, this is classic Piper. I like him. But for me….about 25% of what he writes is too legalistic and rigid for my theology. Same with this book. About half of it is truly excellent. But there are plenty of chapters that I had to just skim. Very traditional, legalistic thinking. That said, the book contains 36 short chapters. So, it is an easy read and easy to skip what you do not want to read. I have a PDF of the first chapter…which is the best. Email me and I will send it to you. Oh, and my eyes were really opened on the chapter about “Not serving God”- It is not a biblical principle to “serve God.” Read it. You will be surprised.

“What Jesus Started” by Steve Addison. I suggested that our training team read this together. We did. It is good. I found the first half to be biblically insightful but somewhat sluggish reading. He gets much more practical in the second half. Good book. Just not blown away by it. Fairly basic stuff floating around everywhere out there.



Below is what I am currently reading. I will share more reflections when I am done with them:

“God’s Will is Always Healing” by Joshua Greeson // Super eye-opening. Super controversial.

“The Permanent Revolution” by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim // Excellent work on Ephesians 4 five fold gifts with focus on the lost apostolic role of the church.

“The Gospel in Ten Words” by Paul Ellis

Also Re-reading “The Making of a Leader” by Robert Clinton // It will mean more to me now than the first time I read it. And the updated version has some new pearls.

Then there are the 85 other books on the runway….got the rest of my life for those...


Counsel for my Friend

Yesterday, a good friend of mine contacted me and asked for counsel. He is a Pastor in America near New York City. His church plant is a few years old and over the last few months, things have begun to decentralize and he senses that the Lord is leading his congregation to transition into many small churches. Well, he reached out to me for wisdom on the topic. He asked me this: "If feel that our church is on the verge of becoming churchES. Would you mind sending me some hurdles, setbacks and cautions of doing church like that?"

So, I did. Just some raw thoughts as they came to me. Then, I thought...."maybe someone else would benefit from this as well." So, here it is....

1. It is dangerous to transition to this as another church growth model or approach because you are tired of the old one. Jesus and his glory spreading further and faster must be your goal! Nothing else will do. You should not transfer an old wine into a new wineskin. Go for a new everything.

2. Many Westerners will not find simple church flashy or fancy enough. They know there are better shows out there that do not require them having to be real and close up with people. So they will call you cheesy and go to a real church.

3. You can quickly become critical of “elephant” churches when you land on the beauty of a simple discipling church model. We must move into this new direction with deep humility and honor for the church of all sizes and styles….holding fast to what God has led YOU to do.

4. Danger in lack of accountability. If you do not set clear vision and strongly disciple key leaders in that vision, many small churches can go many different directions fast and you will not be able to reel it back in to something biblical. There MUST be agreement on who we are and what we will do to protect people and the authority of scripture.

5. Oops, we never multiplied! This is the biggest risk. If you do not START with multiplication in your plan, it will not fit in later. Churches should multiple 1-2 or more times a year. No less.

6. Beware of a Christian Majority. I know this will sound wild, but try to start every church with more non believers than you have believers. 2-3 followers can gather 3-6 of their friends far from God and start a D-group that leads to a church. Do NOT allow a church to exits that does not have non-disciples in it.

7. Finally, make sure that ALL churches are living ALL THREE LOVES and doing so TOGETHER! Loving God together in radical worship and hearing from God together. Loving each other in deep transparent relationships. And loving the lost—reaching out together to those far from God.

Much love as you make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches.