I once had a young couple come and see me for counseling. They had only been married a few months and were experiencing what they determined to be some major issues. She was upset with him because she felt he was self-centered, only doing the things that made him happy at the exclusion of her needs. He simply did not understand the problem – he saw the things that he wanted to do as a release for him. His new job was stressful, and he needed some things to help him escape. After listening to them, I began to guide them on journey of understanding what it means to actually serve one another. I let them know the first place we must start is to simply go – to move forward and change each other’s lives before changing our own. To me this is the first part of adopting a life of service.

  1. Service is about needs. Servant leaders put the needs of others before their own needs. Great servant leaders always measure joy by the accomplishments of those around them not by what they themselves have accomplished. Robert Greenleaf, the man who coined the term servant leader, suggests asking these questions:
    1. Do those we serve grow as persons?
    2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wise, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
  2. Service is about equity. Great servant leaders create a culture where there is a level playing field and everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Serving others is about empowering, not controlling, and seeing everyone as a collaborative partner. The best servant leaders I have seen are those who give people space to develop and use their talents and gifts.
  3. Service is about self-realization. When we serve, we always serve from our own character base. Servant leaders check their motives, always evaluate their values, and continue to look for opportunities to learn and grow. Greenleaf writes, “Servant leaders create a positive ethical climate for followers by striving to be trusting, insightful, open to new ideas, strong and courageous.”

When we serve, many times, we have to get up and go, not letting bitterness, pain or pride stand in the way. Great servant leaders get up, go, conquer obstacles and change people’s lives. It requires more than showing up or carrying a title… it requires movement toward transformational change.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you work to gain understanding, input, and buy-in from those you lead? What does this process look like for you?
  2. Which of the following do you feel are your strongest attributes in your leadership: trusting, insightful, open to new ideas, strong or courageous? Which are your weakest? How can you get better?

Lead Differently!

Greg

SERVICE: A HIGH CALLING

October 9, 2019 — 2 Comments

When organizations talk about values, an important point to consider is how can the value connect to the heart of the individual and encourage action. Service is the second value of FCA, and it does just that – connects to the heart and encourages action.

In my life, I have had one of the greatest models of earthly service I could ask for. If service really is modeling how Christ served on earth and continues to serve today, then my mom is that person. My mom did not have what would be called the greatest childhood…there was a lot of dysfunction in and around her home. She does, however, love her parents and her siblings unconditionally at all times.

Over her lifetime I have watched my mom truly serve all types of people in all types of situations, but nothing has stood out to me more than how she served within some of the toughest moments of her life. My mom led the charge on service – taking care of the family when her brother’s life was cut short too early, when her mother had Alzheimer’s for too long, and her father’s health failed at the same time. She served her sister, as she slowly died from painful rheumatoid arthritis. She never said no, and she was always there, doing whatever needed be done. She always did and has taken the high road and always put others’ lives before her own. She is a servant leader if there ever was one. It is from her life of service that I have come to my own conclusions of what service actually is, and over the next few weeks, I am going to lay this out in more details but here is a synopsis:

  • Service is about Going. In reality, most of life (at least the parts of life that produce impact) is all about getting up and going, and not letting bitterness, pain or pride stand in the way. Great servant leaders get up, go, conquer obstacles and change the people’s lives.
  • Service is about Guiding. One of the greatest and most impactful things we can do in this world is to help guide people. My good friend Tim Elmore calls great leaders the ones who are “guides on the side.” Great servant leaders walk beside others helping them navigate life.
  • Service is about This goes without saying, but service requires a generous heart. We can give in so many different ways, whether it be our time, our talent, or our treasure. Great servant leaders give up what may be important to them for what is important to others.
  • Service is about Garnering. This may seem like an awkward word to associate with giving, since garner means to gather for oneself, and true servant leaders do not serve because they are looking for something. However, a true leader who serves other does garner respect, credibility and loyalty. People want to listen, be around and follow servant leaders and this gives the servant leader great influence.

Dr. King said; “To serve, you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

I wish I was more like my mom when it comes to service, it seems so easy for her and like so much work for me. I have to work on my servant leadership every day, and sometimes I fail miserably. But I’m very fortunate that Jesus and my mom have provided examples and a roadmap for me to follow. Thank you, Mom!

  1. Who has modeled servant leadership for you?
  2. Who can you serve today?

Lead Differently!

Greg

September: The Month of Integrity

Great Leaders Understand This: Accountability Never Fails 

I recently watched a documentary President Richard Nixon. The documentary primarily focused on the end of his presidency, and the Watergate crimes committed. One of the people interviewed made a statement that could not have been more accurate – he said Nixon’s ultimate undoing was his lack of integrity in believing he was accountable to no one.

This, I have learned, is the most common mistake leaders make, their lack of integrity is rooted in their belief they have no accountability. Much of this is rooted in narcissism – an inflated sense of their own importance. Simply put, the highest integrity requires the highest understanding of the importance of accountability. When speaking on accountability, Henry Evans says, “Accountability is the obligations of an individual to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. “

Great leaders understand how accountability works.

  1. Accountability makes good organizations great, and great organizations unstoppable. When people are accountable for their own actions, when they own their successes and failures, and when they are open to others speaking into that same accountability, there is no stopping their sustainable impact and progress.
  2. Accountability equals immediate credibility. One of the greatest phrases anyone can say in an organization is, “I own this.” When team members own their responsibilities and roles, remain in their lanes without watching and comparing their work, and rise to others, organizations flourish. “Having authority implies accountability. If you reject the blame for failures under your watch, people reject your leadership.” (Rick Warren)
  3. Accountability opens up clear decision making and transformational solutions. When accountability is woven into the fabric of an organization, a greater commitment is forged and as result team members gain clarity on vison and mission; decision making becomes much easier because of the trust and safety that exists. When leaders are making clearer decisions, they make fewer mistakes. When organizations make fewer mistakes, they are achieving impactful and transformational results.

Accountability often gets a bad rap. It’s not as negative as many may believe. Accountability is not encroachment into our leadership – it allows us opportunities to show the highest integrity and frees us up to lead with authenticity and credibility.  Great leaders seek out accountability in all areas of their lives.

  1. Do you have a tendency to bristle at accountability? Why do you feel you do this?
  2. What are 3 things you can do this week to hold yourself more accountable to your team?

Lead Differently!

Greg

THE McPHEE EFFECT

September 27, 2019 — 2 Comments

Years ago, our family stumbled across a couple of movies on TV, called Nanny McPhee. My family will tell you – once I find a movie I like, I will watch it every time it comes on, regardless of who is with me. And now, the Nanny McPhee movies fall into this category.

A brief background on the movies: Nanny McPhee is based on the book series Nurse Matilda written by the British children’s author Christianna Brand. Nanny McPhee is a Mary Poppins-type character who is called upon to help a family in need. There is a deeper lesson on unity, and a focus on helping the children learn and grow. She has a motto for the way she works; “When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.” I love these statements and they really hit home for me on many levels, especially with my relationship with Jesus.

There are two points made in the statement and I want to look at the first one first: When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When I think about my faith, and the times in my life I find myself needing God but wanting to fix everything myself (which honestly is always), God actually does not fight against that. Many times, He actually waits me out. Think about the times where we really need guidance, wisdom, provision or protection… in those times, we search out hundreds of ways to deal with on our own, thinking that we can fix it. It’s really cool that God stays – He does not abandon us as we attempt to go about it without Him. He realizes we need Him, and His hope is that we give up the fight and turn to Him for wisdom and guidance.

The second statement, though on the surface seems contradictory to the first, is an intriguing statement as well; When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. This statement has everything to do with God giving us the room to grow and learn. James writes about this in James 1:3-4:

“Because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I don’t believe for a second God ever departs us, but I do believe He leaves us alone to grow and mature in many circumstances. For me, I realize the trails and tests I have been through have helped me mature and grow. I’ve been tempted to wait on God to “fix” it all, instead of letting perseverance run its course. When He gets me upright, I have to begin to walk, moving forward toward purpose.

My prayer time begins to reflect less a person who is always in need, to a person who takes on the strength and gifts of Christ. A person who moves forward to deal with issues and praises Him in the process.

“Find it pure joy my brother and sisters when you face trails of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

It’s not that we don’t need God, but there is a time when our need to praise Him and find joy in where we are needs to outweigh our desire for Him to fix everything.

7 STEPS TO GREATER AWARENESS

September 17, 2019 — 1 Comment

Steven Covey has been quoted as saying, “Self-Awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions.” I have dedicated September as the month for our journey through the importance of integrity in our leadership. In Fellowship of Christian Athletes, integrity serves as one of our main pillars toward seeing our vision – to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes – successfully implemented. This week I will expand on the importance of awareness in being a leader of integrity.

I can remember the first time I drove a car. There is something about driving for the first time that you become keenly aware of things one never observes as a passenger. I was now aware of names of streets, other cars, buildings, landscapes and people. They had always been there but now my view had changed. This is what self-awareness is… changing the view. How do we change our view in order to become more aware? Emotions, personality and reactions all play a major role in our awareness.

  1. Know your why. When we are confident in why we are where we are, or why we are doing something, it brings loads of clarity to our life. Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” People of the highest integrity know why they do things and lead from this position of strength.
  2. Ask hard questions. A lot of our awareness is built around asking hard questions of ourselves and others. Hard questions force us to think harder and deeper about who we are and what we truly believe. You might ask yourself the following: What is my ideal definition of success? Do I carefully consider other people’s suggestions before I dismiss them?
  3. Answer hard questions. Asking hard questions may be difficult for you, but answering them can prove to be even more difficult. I think it’s best to run answers through a few filters, such as your values, or how others might answer the same question about you. Journaling is always recommended – getting your answers down on paper helps you to process them more effectively.
  4. Notice warning signs. Being aware of the warning signs in regard to your emotions and how you react to situations can help head off any major issues. Does doing certain activities cause you to be angry or stressed? Be aware of the button-pushers in your life and leadership. What is your emotional kryptonite?
  5. Make adjustments. Great awareness allows for a greater ability to make adjustments. Being aware of the traffic around us allows us to adjust when needed. People of high integrity are not people who “dig in their heels,” they are people are aware of adjustments that may need to be made.
  6. Listen better… especially to feedback. Many have argued that feedback is the most important skill a leader need. When someone gives feedback to us, it is a great opportunity to build awareness. Hearing other perspectives helps us grow. Winston Churchill said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
  7. Be a planner. Writing out your goals, plans and priorities helps develop a keen sense of awareness. Step one is to write down what you want to do, and the second step is to develop a way to track the progress. This will bring clarity awareness around the things that really matter.

Paying closer attention to skills, emotional patterns, deeper feelings and our behaviors allow us to live lives of deeper integrity. This awareness will become the foundation of personal growth, success and sustainability over our lifetime.

Lead Differently!

Greg

AWE

September 12, 2019 — 1 Comment

The other day I was spending time with Steve, someone who has become a great friend over the last few years. Steve and I often get into conversations about theology, and primarily discipleship. During our conversation, he mentioned a book he was reading entitled, Awe: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp.

As Steve and I continued to talk, we briefly talked through the impact of the word awe in our Christian faith and life. Awe is defined as: a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder. After leaving Steve’s office I began to think about how awe is so much a part of my life and how much power true awe can have. I am in constant awe of God, finding it hard to grasp what He has created and how He created me to operate with purpose within His creation. Think about this for a second – God created the world and all that we are able to see, touch and enjoy, and within this creation He created you and me. Not only does He want us to enjoy this spectacular world but wants us to play a part in the opportunity to help transform all who live in it with us. To you and me, with all of our pain, mistakes and brokenness, God Himself says, “Let’s go change the world together!” In my opinion that is awe inspiring! When my awe, ultimately lies in the love of God, it does three things to me:

  1. Awe Moves Me Toward Awareness. It’s the things I am in awe/fear of that I become most aware of. I can remember when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, it was truly awe inspiring. I sat there, for what seemed like hours, amazed at what I was looking at and having a hard time coming to terms with it. It’s these types of moments that unfold in front of us where every part of us is affected – our emotions, our minds, our bodies – and the impact is etched into our memories forever. This is God’s desire for us with Him, to be in such awe of Him that his love and presence in our life affects every piece of who we are, how we feel, how we think and how we act.
  2. Awe Moves Me Toward Accountability. Just as being in awe of God affects how we feel, think and act, it can also connect us to that forever. For me it is the awe of God that connects me to Him. Awe always happens when our thoughts and emotions intersect with something. It’s at that intersection where we become connected to it. Ultimately my desire is be connected to God, because when I intersect with God, I am never surprised by what God does. My awe is found in the faith and expectation of God’s greatness. I stumble most when I am in awe of my own created fears or consumed by the untold future of my story – the story I attempt to write about how I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, or whatever chapter I begin to write. This is the worst level of accountability…accountable to a fear-based story that causes me to miss the awe-inspiring love of God.
  3. Awe Moves Me Toward Action. D.L Moody said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts.” Emptiness inspires awe. Awe of God turns the focus from us toward asking this question, “what do people need from me?” In Acts, Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). Awe moved everyone toward action, it restored faith, confirmed strengths and changed lives. Awe has the ability to do just that.

True awe brings about indescribable moments. Louie Giglio writes and speaks about the indescribable moments in our relationship with God. That is what awe is – those moments so big in our life that we cannot describe them, we only know they move us toward action and change.

Ponder these:

  1. When was the last time you were in awe of something? How did you feel?
  2. Take time to write out the indescribable things God has done for you that move you toward awe.

Lead Differently!

In our house, we have always told our kids there are only two rules. Years ago, Monica and I decided that instead of making a long list of rules that would be impossible for our children to obey (much less us enforce), we needed to make the rules simple but impactful. As a result, we decided on only two rules: 1) Honesty always (there is no lying) and 2) Must respect Mom. We both felt (and still feel) these two rules develop the highest level of integrity in our children – honesty and respect. If they can’t learn to respect their mother, then it will be tough to respect anyone else.

I love our vision at FCA: to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes and our mission: to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and his church. I find so much value and fulfillment in what we do and why we do it. We have values that serve as the pillars of both our vision and mission: Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence. Our team is spending the next four months focusing on each of these four values in order for us to stay connected to our why. Hopefully these will be useful for us all.

This month we will focus on Integrity. For us in FCA, integrity means we will value demonstrating Christ-like wholeness – privately and publicly. This is based on the great verse in Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” Ouch! Being leaders of integrity means being leaders focused on the right way to think, speak and ultimately lead.

I love this quote from Brené Brown; “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

What are some ways we can be a leader who practices the value of integrity? I will expand on each of these in the coming weeks.

  1. Being self-aware may be one of the greatest keys to not only being leaders of integrity, but also living a joyful and fruitful life. Every leader needs to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, how they communicate, how they handle conflict, and how all of this works together to influence those around us both positively and negatively.
  2. The best and easiest way to be a leader who practices integrity is to first hold ourselves accountable to Jesus and how we have seen Him lead, and to hold ourselves accountable for what we say and do. Accountability is not easy, but it is necessary. Integrity requires accountability to truthfulness and spending time looking at the truth provided to us by Christ and the impact of our words and actions.
  3. Finally, our attitude toward the ups and downs of life and leadership influence our integrity. Decision making, honesty and living in Christ-like wholeness are many times rooted in our psychological and emotional behavior.

I will expand on these three practices over the next few weeks. In the meantime, spend time this week answering these two assessment questions:

  1. Do you have a tendency to choose what is easy, fun or fast over what is right? Why do you feel you do this?
  2. What are 3 things you can do this week to practice integrity more intentionally in your life?

Lead Differently!

Greg