The One Business Every Organization’s In

I feel like it is easy for any leader to drift into manager mode as they drift out of leadership mode. We tend to do this because we simply hit cruise control running through our day to day operations and we become more managers of the schedules and the duties than leaders of our people. I understand in any business there are a certain amount tasks that must completed every week, but if forget our number one task which is development of our team and the well being of our people/clients then every area of our organization will suffer.

I don’t care what business you may be in you are first and foremost in the people business. The faster you learn that and the more you focus on that aspect the quicker you will see life and success happening in your organization. You are not selling a product or a service although you may think you are. However, what you are selling is an experience, is relief, and an enrichment to someone’s life.

Coming from a ministry perspective I understand how easy it can be to drift into manager mode and get consumed in the task. You would think that it would be weird that a church could forget about the people, but every week Sunday comes and there is another service we have to pull off. So every week can get lost in the tasks over the experience if you are not careful. You can get lost plugging holes in the scheduling of volunteers instead of elevating the volunteers, you can get so distracted with writing a new message that you forget the audience that you are trying to help, or you can just pick a few random songs that sound good instead of prayerfully crafting a worship experience.

We must wrap our mind around this idea of people first and tasks second because in that we will execute on our tasks in a more impactful way that elevates our entire organization.

1. CHANGE THE LENS THAT YOU VIEW FROM

Lets be honest what becomes normal becomes overlooked and the atmosphere, environments, systems, team members, and structures all become normal to us. Overtime we just don’t notice what is wrong or what could be improved because frankly we don’t really see it. Put on the lens of a guest, new customer, new client, or new team member and try to view your organization from their perspective. Start to think what their 1st impression would be when they encounter your organization, your product, your service, or your staff culture for the first time. A helpful tip is to visit a few other organizations in your realm of business and take in your 1st impression reactions and then with that new mentality view your organization through that lens.

2. KEEP FILLING THE TANK OF HONOR

You can never overfill the tank of honor in your organization because honor leaks overtime. We must build a culture of honor in our organizations because there is nothing better than a reputation of honoring the people that your company interacts with day in and day out. Honor is seen through many ways by delivering on excellence with your service or products, by being generous with your time, talent, and treasure, and by showing and expressing tremendous amounts of gratitude for your team members and customers.

3. ELEVATE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS

Healthy organizations are a product of healthy leaders. We have to be equipping our team members with the tools to succeed. Unfortunately as much as we know this very few leaders follow through with this understanding in their teams. We either allow the busyness of taking care of the day to day functions of the organization to over ride the discipleship aspect or we over complicate developing leaders. What I have found is that leadership development is neither time consuming or difficult and yet is still the most beneficial to your organizations growth. A few simple principles that are extremely helpful to build a culture of leadership development is first read a leadership book together as a team and discuss it a chapter at a time. Neither difficult or time consuming. Second is make sure your team is writing out measurable goals and review the progress with them frequently. Both of these ideas are simple and neither are extremely time consuming yet I promise you if you implement these ideas at first they will give you a HUGE ROI!

4. BUILD CAMARADERIE WITH YOUR TEAM

You must spend time with your team members and build camaraderie. If you don’t like spending time with your team members they don’t need to be on your team because if you don’t spend time with them you will never build the bond that stands the test of trials. Loyalty is built over time, but also you would be surprised how much discipleship takes place that is unplanned when you are spending enough time with your team members.

5. KEEP IMPROVING

We honor our customers, clients, and team members when we show a hunger for growth and continual desire to keep improving. When we keep making our services, our products, or our culture better it is felt by the people are serving. How we impact the people our organizations encounters is the testament of a successful organization and the testament of the fact that we are in the people business. That understanding is always fueled by continually getting better week in and week out!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it,  leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

Excellence Honors God & People

Excellence is not obtained through having more, but by being a steward by what you have already been given!

The Biggest Weakness of Most Leaders (People)

I would venture to say that over the years I’ve found that one of the biggest excuses I hear people tell is “I just don’t have enough time”.  I would say out of all the weaknesses there are, time management is probably the biggest, or pretty close to being the biggest weakness for most leaders or people in general.  The crazy thing is that this is the one commodity that every single person has the same amount given as every other person.  Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Larry Page – the list could go on and on; all had just 24 hours a day just like you and me.

The radical difference between someone who is productive and someone who is not is the way they choose to use this precious commodity of time.  Time is the most precious commodity because once it is gone it is gone forever and too many of us are spending our time instead of investing it in areas that have an ROI.  I heard it best described that we are all given 86,400 seconds in a day, and let’s look at each second like it is a dollar.  So we are given $86,400 a day and told we must use all of it everyday because none of it can roll over, but how we use it is extremely important.  We could spend it on things that have little long term value and once spent is literally gone forever. However, we can invest it in areas that will produce long term gains towards a bigger goal, and we can get the benefit of compound interest in the future because we were wise in how we spent it in the past.  It is easy to waste time because we are “live in the moment” people with little to no cognitive thoughts about where we will be 5 or 10 years from now. But unless we change our perspective, 5 or 10 years will pass and we will still be in the exact same place in life!

So how can we maximize this commodity called time? Well let’s look at 4 ways to get an ROI out of your time:

1. You control your calendar.  Your calendar does not control you.

As driven people in our search for success we can easily become workaholics because we love what we do, but in doing so we destroy the greatest loves in our lives.  When we allow our calendar to control us we are slaves to our work instead of masters of our work.  What I mean when I talk about our calendar controlling us is that our true priorities are taking a back seat to every other activity that is already scheduled.  You MUST schedule your “top priorities” first and there is no compromise in this area.  Listen if you just try to fit in your so called “top priorities” it is expressing to yourself and the people around you that work is actually your “top priority” and everything else is filler.

So how do you discover what is the most important areas or priorities in life?  Well, I ask myself,  “What will impact me in heaven a thousand years from now?”; because that is what should be at the top of my list when it comes to my priorities.  Those two things are my relationship with God and my family.  I can’t take my business, my money, my cars, or my homes with me; but I can take people with me and I will get to spend forever with Jesus.  So those two areas ALWAYS come first in my calendar because I can be the most successful on paper, but if spiritually I am bankrupted and my relationships are strained it is all meaningless!

2. Schedule Everything!

You must put everything in your calendar.  Every meeting, lunch, haircut, appointment, all has to go into a calendar, and what is on the schedule always comes first. (Now a side note: I am not talking about family emergencies). What will throw a schedule completely out of whack is several 20 to 45 unplanned meetings that people need to have with you.  The next thing you know you are running behind and are late to your scheduled appointments, which is extremely rude to the person you are scheduled to meet. If someone needs to meet with you, schedule them in or block out a certain amount of time that is built for random meetings, but either way it is scheduled in your calendar.

3. Maximize empty slots.

Now that you have your priorities in your calendar and you are scheduling every meeting, you will see where you have empty slots in your schedule.  These moments are where we can either invest or spend our time.  We can either hop on Facebook or turn on Netflix or we can start chipping away at our goals.  The choice is yours and you have to have the discipline to choose wisely. If you can develop this discipline you will maximize your progress at a speed that most in this world do not, and this is where you separate yourself from the pack.

4. Wake up early.

I know this one is definitely not sexy and no one likes to wake up early, but I feel it is imperative to success.  On top of the studies that say you work better in the mornings, I do it for a few different reasons beyond that. First, it takes discipline to wake up early.  Secondly, when I wake up early and I have already been productive before the day begins I feel accomplished and that builds momentum into my psyche.  Thirdly, I am more presentable for the day in my appearance and in my attitude.  When we roll out of bed straight to work and we look like we have been run over by a truck, it does not boost confidence or respect from our team.  It also takes time for your brain to wake up and you are losing valuable productive work time.  Fourthly, nothing causes stress or ruins your mood like rushing out the door as you are running late. Lastly, as a married man my wife cares much more about us going to bed together than us waking up together.  There is something meaningful about going to bed at the same time with your spouse instead of working late, going to bed separately, and then sleeping late.

I know life can seem busy and you may be working a job that is not in your future while trying to pursue your dreams, but trust me it is still possible to manage your time so you can be productive moving forward. I am speaking from a first hand experience, and it can be done if you have the discipline to make it happen!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it,  leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

Our Decisions Must Elevate the Vision

As leaders we must make decisions that impact the entire organization not just the select few!

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A Vital Ingredient for an Effective Leader

To be an effective leader you have to have resolve…grit… fortitude or you will give up when it counts the most! As leaders of organizations that are leading the way we will face obstacles that few face. We will face challenges that are far greater than we could have imagined and if we do not have that resolve, that deep inner desire to take action and find the solution to keep our team moving forward, we will crumble to the circumstance.

James said… “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

That we should actually find joy in these crazy circumstances that we face not because it is fun going through stressful moments, but because it is refining ourselves as leaders and our organizations.  That is why he continues with this statement…

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4

That as we develop resolve or steadfastness we become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. That these situations pull out the best in us and we start walking in the fullness of our potential.  When the balls in our hands and there is a few seconds left on the clock we act.  The more we act the more natural those situations become, though still not easy, and the more confident our organization becomes.  If you fear challenges to the point of inaction then you are greatly limiting your potential.

So where does this resolve come from? Well James goes on to explain…

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

Resolve comes from Godly wisdom.  That we serve a God that moves in the practical just as much as He moves in the spiritual yet many of us never seek Godly wisdom.  The Holy Spirit connects with our spirit and gives us wisdom, counsel, knowledge, and understanding if we just ask.  Great leaders are leaders that lead through prayer and understand that God speaks and guides His people.  However, it doesn’t just end in prayer there must be a response of action that follows the guidance.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8

Godly wisdom is only complete when we trust the guidance, will, and promises of God.  If we waiver like the waves in the sea back and forth then we will not receive anything from God.  Resolve is not double-minded in that it does not bounce from trusting God to trusting this rational world.  That this audacious resolve trusts fully the nature, the will, and the promises of God.  That God always has our best intentions at heart and when He tells us to take steps of faith we will respond with obedience. Even when the answer is bigger than ourselves we trust a God that is bigger than our circumstances.

The lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.” Deuteronomy 28:8

Have the confidence that God is guaranteeing success in your life when you are trusting the wisdom He gives you and responding to His promises.  Your storehouses will be filled and blessings will come with every new opportunity. So build the resolve to fight through the temporary to experience your destiny.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS PT. 4 (SERMON)

So we are wrapping up this blog series on “HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS” and you can check out the previous 3 posts on 1st Impressions, Kids, & Worship.  Today we are going to tackle the sermon.  A recent study by Pew Research on the top reasons why someone chooses a church and the #1 pick at 83% of the people was the quality of the sermons.  Now if that doesn’t speak to the importance of being a good communicator I don’t know what will. Today I just want to hit 7 keys to delivering an effective sermon at you church.

1. Speak on Relevant Topics.

This seems like a no brainer right?!? Speak on topics people want to hear, but you would be surprised on how many speakers just speak on whatever they feel like.  Every great communicator knows you are not a great communicator if you ignore the very needs of the people you are speaking to.  Paul said it best in terms of connecting with his audience “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

So how do you know who you are speaking to and to discover their needs?

  • Get your staff involved.  I love bringing my staff into our calendar planning and we discuss what topics are important to our church.  This allows us to expand our reach within our community as each staff member has weekly interactions with so many of our members through serving and Life groups which in return hits a wide demographic.
  • Send out a survey. I also like to get direct feedback from our people and to do so we will have a survey card we ask everyone to fill out once a year.  The survey card actually hits many important ares of our church, but one part of the survey is a list of topics that they would like us to speak on.  This helps us specifically identify the needs in our church.
  • Have a strong prayer life. I feel like every year God speaks a theme into my heart for our church.  2017 the theme is #TheYearofGrowth as we are going to continue to grow physically, but most importantly grow spiritually as our roots get deeper. In 2016 we saw over 600 people give their heart to Jesus and I was really seeking God on developing all these people that are new to the faith in prayer He spoke that theme in my heart.  Seek God and I know he will speak direction into your church.

2. Add a Personal Touch.

Evangelism isn’t telling people what they need to do as much as it is telling them what God has done in you.  You have to share yourself with your people.  Being open with what God has done in your life builds trust with your listener and trust is what drops guards to allow them to receive what you are saying. As much as I wish people came up to me raving about how smart I am as I dropped some Greek or Hebrew knowledge on them it never really happens that way, but every time I share personally how I struggled or doubted and God moved someone is impacted.  Personal stories take it from a far fetched lecture to real experience that can also take place in their lives.

3. Add Humor.

This is probably the hardest thing to build into a message, but it so extremely necessary because laughter allows people to relax and get engaged. Now the better you know your audience the more you feel comfortable in this space.  A few things to think about is first you are not a standup comedian that needs to have an elaborate joke with a punchline so don’t put that pressure on yourself, secondly don’t  take yourself to seriously but be willing to laugh at yourself, thirdly thinking of a funny story or exaggerated examples that goes with your topic truly helps,  and lastly the more comfortable and relaxed you are on stage the funnier you are.

4. Add Applicable Points.

I like to build into every message either a “Take Home” or “Action Steps” which are practical points people can apply to their life.   It is one thing to give someone spiritual goosebumps and get them all amped on your fiery message, but it’s a whole new ball game when they actually start applying what you speak on. Many people want to apply the messages, but we use such broad strokes in our messages that they don’t seam practical.  So what I do is give them something physical to walk out the service to do in the week… Everything from joining a LifeGroup, to going on a date with your spouse, to writing out goals, to setting a specific devotion time, etc… We have to put action towards our faith.

5. Let Your Message Breathe.

Great messages unfold over time.  To many pastors throw their messages together at the last moment and in doing so haven’t given the message enough time to breathe.  I like to have my messaged outlined earlier in the week and finished no later than Thursday.  This gives me several days to tweak the outline and then two whole days to polish the finished message.  You will find humor is easier to develop after you have gone over the message many times, your transitions become smoother as work through them over and over again, and you are able remove material that isn’t really necessary.  Don’t wait to the last minute to write your message, but you have to build into your calendar planning and writing moments for your message every week.

6. Speak with Pace.

Pace is one of the most important factors to keep peoples attention.  Most speakers speak with a slower pace because they don’t truly know their material and so they are constantly going back to their notes.  I am a big advocate of speaking without any notes and I don’t even have a pulpit on stage.  I have confidence monitor set up in front of me that has my main points and scriptures. This allows me to have an effective pace and flow in my messages.  The key is not memorizing your messages, but knowing your message.  When you truly understand the content of each point and have went over your material enough you will be able to deliver what I believe is a more personal message.  No longer is your head down hiding behind a pulpit, but you are out front engaging your audience.

7. End EVERY Message with a Salvation Opportunity.

I have seen so many Pastors deliver powerful messages where you could sense people were ready to commit their lives to Jesus in the room, but the speaker just ends the service with no opportunity to except Jesus.  I am convinced many searching people leave Sundays still searching because as Pastors we didn’t communicate with them their first step. We live in a generation that wasn’t raised in church and to assume people know the sinners prayer is a mistake.  I cannot tell you the amount of people that have attended our church that don’t know what worship is, offerings is, who Matthew Mark Luke or John are let alone accepting Jesus free gift of salvation.  Every Sunday is an opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God and nothing is more energizing to a Church body than knowing they are part of a Great Commission church!

Lets be communicators that speak the life, the truth, and the hope of Jesus in ways that connect with our people week in and week out as we see more people come and then become involved in our church communities!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

YOUR GREATEST MARKETING TOOL

marketing-toolI would probably say that the #1 question most pastors or church planters ask me is “how do I get the word out about our church?” or “how do we get more people to come to our church?” and for good reasons. Marketing your organization or product is a huge priority for any business and that includes for the church because if people don’t know you exist it doesn’t matter how great your services are…They aren’t coming!

We have to spread the word about what we are doing and we should want to because we should be excited about what we are a part of.  The problem is most people go about marketing all the wrong ways and spend WAY TOO MUCH money on advertising that just simply doesn’t have the ROI for the capital it costs.

Nine years ago, the world changed when apple literally took a computer and put it in your pocket in the form of a phone.  Never in a million years did we think it would be possible this soon to have a computer with internet connection carrying around with you where ever you go.  In this moment the death of traditional advertising started to happen.  Advertising and marketing had always been very costly and with this new creation, why spend it on those means anymore?  Radio? What is that— we have Spotify, Pandora, and Podcasts.  Newspapers, ummm, we get our news online…  Billboards, who even looks up from their phones these days?  The world has changed and we must understand this shift or we will be spinning our wheels and watching our organizations continue to plateau and decline.

So where should we sit in this new world of connections and what should be our focus? The answer is easy, but the response is something that takes much more effort.  We live in an ecosystem that no longer wants to be sold, but connected and inspired and this is the beauty of social networks.  They are platforms thats soul purpose is to connect and give you, the organization, the ability say whatever you want.  Now, that can be dangerous or empowering and it is completely up to you which of those paths you take.  You have the ability to connect with people; that would be impossible before. You have that ability to add value to their life in ways that were much more difficult a decade ago. Coming from a Pastors stand point, our job is not to gather large crowds, but to see lives changed for Jesus and that means we should use any tool at our disposal to add value to people.  The great thing is when you connect with people, add value, share your story, and inspire then you also see the growth in your physical location following the growth that is taking place online.

My next posts I want to talk about “HOW” we do social media effectively, but today I just wanted to discuss “WHY” we need to have an online presence.

So some “Next Steps” for you to work on until our next posts…

  1. If you haven’t already, create accounts on the different social networks.  For most churches the two I tell everyone to focus on are Facebook and Instagram.  There are several you can choose from, but I would rather be really effective on a few platforms than “okay” on several platforms.  Also these two platforms have the widest reach for your community.  Build a business Facebook page, not a personal Facebook page for your organization.  Facebook is the largest social media site and hits the most age demographics. Next create an Instagram profile.  Instagram is great for organizations because most people are very visually driven and in doing so we digest the content more. Instagram allows all posts to be seen by its followers unlike the Facebook algorithms.  Instagram also has created features that look a feel like Snapchat in many ways and unlike Snapchat it is much easier to search for profiles which make finding your page much more accessible.
  2. Now you need to make sure your information is up to date on all your platforms.  The right profile pictures, web addresses, physical addresses, and service times.  It is a big turn off when information is not updated or incorrect.
  3. Make sure your branding stays consistent.  Your branding, your design look, needs to be the same at your physical location, on your website, and on all your social sites.  It is extremely confusing when these things do not line up because people question whether it is the same organization, and if it is, then they start wondering why there is no harmony.  I am going to dive into this more on the next posts, but don’t brand yourself online what you are not in person.  BE YOU because if you try to act like you are something online that you are not really in person then when they visit they will immediately have red flags go up and completely miss your heart.
What are your thoughts on how much our culture has changed over the last decade when it comes to Marketing and advertising?

Consistency is EVERYTHING!

Guess what?  Overnight success is a BIG FAT LIE.  It is a myth and does not exist!  Success only happens when we do the right things consistently over an extended period of time… If you have ever read Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great” he calls this the Flywheel concept.  That at first it is extremely difficult to push the lever and get the flywheel moving, but if you keep pushing soon momentum will take over.

I am convinced most people never live their dreams because they don’t have the grit to stay committed to the process.  Commitment without a time limit leads to a Dream without a height limit.  Most people have great ideas and great dreams, but most people never see those ideas and dreams manifest into reality because they don’t have the resolve to see them through.  Dreams and ideas are easy.  Everyone has dreams. Yet very few people actually live their dreams. Why? Because very few people are willing to stay consistent long enough to see results.  A farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then after a week gets mad because they haven’t sprouted immediately so he ignores them and then goes and plants something else.  No he understands it takes time for things to grow and during that process he waters them, fertilizes them, and is constantly removing the weeds so those plants can flourish.  We must do that with our dreams, ideas, and our organizations.

Is it hard? You better believe it is hard.  You have to hustle in those moments of waiting, you have to have faith, and you must be disciplined to stay committed to the process.  Dreams without discipline are just fantasies and too many people are living fantasies when we were intended to turn those dreams into realities.

So how do we stay committed during the process?

1. Know where you want to end up.

It is important to picture what your dream would look like completed.  Picture the end result… If the book was completed what would the cover look like, if the storefront was up and running how would it be laid out with all its products, if the website was running how would it function, what would your logo be, how would your week run if you were working your dream Full Time, design the house you want to build, or what is your perfect clothing size? Whatever your dream is start picturing the dream completed so that you have a target in mind.

2. Set Goals.

Goals are meant to be steps that lead to your dreams.  Now that you know where you are heading start figuring out your first steps and give yourself a deadline to accomplish them.  Create a list of 5 or so goals and give yourself 4 to 8 weeks to accomplish them.  When you start attacking your goals in small chunks and in short spurts of time you become less overwhelmed and you naturally create momentum for yourself.

3. Figure out where you need to grow.

There are certain areas you will need to grow in to see your goals accomplished.  Be honest with yourself and come up with a few things you need to develop to fulfill your goals you just set for yourself.  Maybe you need to develop discipline to stay focused and use your time wisely, maybe you need to recruit a team and you need to work on vision casting, or maybe you need work on being more organized so you can accomplish your tasks with everything else you are working on.  Do an honest assessment of yourself every time you set new goals and watch your goals get accomplished and leadership increase.

4. Do NOT Quit.

Just make the commitment now that you are committed to the process.  Quiting is NOT an option and you ARE going to stay committed to the process.

Do the right things, the right way, consistently, and watch the growth happen in your organization and your life!