Hurry up and Wit

 

“I’m ready.” If you are like me these are two words, spoken quite frequently over the last few weeks. We continue to find ourselves in interesting times, waiting so often for the next report, update and decision about a return to “normal”. I think we can all agree “normal” will forever be different moving forward. As for now, we just seem to be waiting, and impatiently in most cases. We wait for word on schools, going back to work, when church will gather again, going to the movies, back to the gym, watch a sporting event live. As we wait, we want answers now, it is the life of hurry up and wait.

I’ve asked God what’s he up to. It seems we are seeing so many struggles and yet God, for many stays silent. I wonder, if the visual inactivity from God is actually his silence? I believe God is up to something great, inside us and outside in the world. We have to look no further than scripture to prove this is God’s “m.o.”. Jesus says as much in John 5:17; “My father is always at work.” Max Lucado has a great quote; “While we are waiting, God is working.”

Let’s look at the story of Joseph. Joseph, betrayed by so many, finds himself, unjustly so, in prison. He finally catches a break, so he thinks, as Pharaoh’s cupbearer is about to be released. Joseph pleads with him to let Pharaoh know about Joseph and his situation; the cupbearer agrees to do so. However, it never happens, Joseph is betrayed again. God loved Joseph and knew Joseph was innocent God moved and answered Josephs prayer…. 2 years later!! Joseph had to wait two years for relief. Relief from something that was not his fault. But God worked on Pharaoh’s heart over those 2 years so Joseph’s impact and story would have a greater impact. While we wait, God works.

Nehemiah saw his people and his city in ruins. He was worried and knew something had to be done and he needed to do it. He prayed for God to give him favor with the king now, time was of the essence. God loved Nehemiah and considered him a spiritual giant, so he answered his prayer… 4 months later!! While we wait, God works.

Moses and the Israelites escaped Egypt; God had delivered them. But they faced an obstacle, the Red Sea in front and Pharaoh’s men behind. They were dismayed. “Why has God done this to us? We must go back”. God spoke through Moses; “Do not be afraid, stand still and the Lord will fight for you and give you peace.” God’s provision required their stillness. While we wait, God works.

Max Lucado writes; “Joseph’s jail time didn’t devastate his faith, it deepened it.” This is the heart of Psalm 46:10, “Be Still and know I am God.” It’s the promise of Isiah 40:31, “Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength, they soar and don’t grow weary or tired.” This is not a time of inactivity; it can be a time of strength and focus.

I’m ready to regain some of the things I’ve been missing, the things robbed from me during this break. But I want to be careful that my impatience doesn’t stand in the way of what God is doing in me to prepare me for what he will do through me. So, I’ll hurry up and wait, because as I wait, God is working.

Lead Well and Be Encouraged!

 

 

Ascribing-Praise-to-Jesus-Part-1-862x574

My routines have been disturbed, no destroyed. I am a creature of routine. I wake up around the same time, go to the gym at the same time, watch my kids go to school and get home at the same time. I coach practices on the same days and the same times. If you are like me you have routines and these routines are in chaos at this moment. I’m watching the news more than I want to. I am inside more than I need to. I worry more than I have to. The problems we face are beginning to become our new routines and focus.

This is where, I believe, many of us find ourselves today. Our lives have been disrupted. We have gone from predictable routines and plans to uncertainty, fear and confusion. We need a change of perspective, a revolutionary change.

I have found myself hunkered down in 1 Peter 3:3-6. In this passage Peter writes to his audience, in my opinion, on how to change our mindset. He writes our perspectives are created on the foundation of our “new birth of living hope” found in our “imperishable inheritance” through Christ. But the verse order is just as important. Peter begins, in verse 3, proclaiming praise before he proclaims the problem. In verse 6 he writes a fact, we may face suffering, but he begins in verse 3 with giving praise. This is a wonderful lesson for us all, we must filter everything through praise not problems. Our perspective changes when we choose praise before we address the problem.

This is a great lesson to us all. I think most of us, especially in today’s time, see the problem first. We go to news or social media and are flooded with the problem. When, in fact, God is calling us to praise and to base this praise on the fact we are on the cusp of a revolution not just a revival. A person who chooses praise first, is a revolutionary leader who views situations not as problems but opportunities. These opportunities are buoyed by the new birth and inheritance shielded by God’s power. To choose praise is truly revolutionary, causing a dramatic or complete change.

I’m aware our circumstances can overwhelm our praise and magnify our problems. I’m not sure what God is calling us to, many smarter than me seem to have that figured out. What I do know is God has provided us a living hope no matter our circumstances and he did this through the most revolutionary act the world has ever seen, his son, a cross, a grave and a resurrection. To me this deserves a revolutionary leaders. This deserves revolutionary perspectives. This deserves revolutionary praise.

 

 

A TEAM WHO C.A.R.E.s

November 25, 2019 — Leave a comment

A few years ago, I reconnected with a friend who is the founder of a great organization here in Atlanta. Even though we don’t see watch other a lot, I am able to keep up with him (as most of us do) through social media.

One of things that I see him doing as much as anything is caring for his team. His company is spread out across the country, and he spends a lot of his time visiting everyone. Whether it’s at his main office in Atlanta, or their multiple offices across the country, care is something you see from his culture every day; they really seem to care for one another.

They model this in how they treat people who visit as well. When I visited the main office for the first time, I had my own entrance music, confetti, and every employee greeted me at the entrance. I’m not even a customer, and they all cared enough about me to make me feel like a big deal.

That, my friends, is great teamwork.

Great teams show that they care. What does care look like beyond showing up in someone’s life or showing empathy for them? I believe the following words best encapsulate what a team who C.A.R.E.’s look like:

Great teams show Confidence in one another. Howard Shultz has said, “At its core, I believe leadership is about instilling confidence in others.” One of the greatest gifts we can give our team members is to show that we have confidence in them. We can all remember the confidence we gained when someone believed in us for the first time. The greatest teams believe in one another.

Great teams Appreciate one another. If you want to build a team that cares, then you have to build a team that appreciates everyone’s ability to contribute. Everyone may contribute to a team in a different way, with different skills and approaches. Teams that care, appreciate the special ways their teammates contribute. They don’t try and change them, or wish the team member did it their way. Appreciate who each team member is and where they are.

Great teams take the time to Recognize each other. “Successful people use their strength by recognizing, developing, and utilizing the talents of others,” said Zig Ziglar. Recognition does not always have to be about rewards, though those are fun too. Recognition can also be about awareness and being aware of other’s contributions, their value, and their role in the organization’s missional success. 

Great teams learn how to Empower each other. Successful teams build their culture on the ability for everyone to empower one another. John Maxwell has said, “Great leaders become great, not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others.”America was founded and built on great leaders empowering others to lead. A team that cares is a team that looks to download power to each other, believing in each other and helping each other succeed.

Teamwork is about caring, if we don’t care then we don’t win.

  1. How do you care for your teammates?
  2. What can you do today to show that you care?

Lead Differently!

Greg

BEING A MAN OF SUBSTANCE

November 19, 2019 — 1 Comment

In today’s culture, men are becoming the focal point of many debates, divisiveness and controversy. I think we would all agree that men are being called out more and more for the lack of true manhood. Men are failing at many levels of leadership in their families, their offices, and their communities.

I’m not here to make excuses for us as men, or to claim that I have the anecdote to this type of behavior. What I do believe to be true is that as men, we have lost the concept of substance, and WE have to regain true manhood. Someone once said, “The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience, but how he stands at moments of controversy and challenge.”

That’s what being a man of substance is about, standing up to and through the difficult times in life for yourself and others. I believe all men of substance continually focus on the same road map.

Set Priorities. Great men of substance understand priorities. As a general rule, our priorities are set by what we deem to be the most impactful or meaningful for us. However, men of substance set priorities around what is the most impactful and meaningful for others. Focusing on quality time, being a peace maker, encouraging others, and helping others fulfill their dreams are top priorities for great men. The value of a great man is his capacity and desire to serve everyone else.

Learn to Fight. John Wayne defined manhood as, “Men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either.” Fighting is not always done with our fists; in fact, men of substance rarely resort to this type of fighting. Great men fight for the hearts of others, partnering with Christ to protect the hearts of the ones they love. They don’t allow harmful behavior, discouraging rhetoric, or destructive relationships into their home and circle. Men of substance are on the front lines, holding the line, protecting their tribe.

Let Go of the Past. Great men do not let the pain and mistakes of the past write their future. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not the one who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear,” said Nelson Mandela. Men of substance see their past as just that – the past. They learn from it, not lean into it. They don’t allow fear to have power over them, and they use the strength of Christ to plow a trail forward not looking back to see how straight it is.

Do you consider yourself a man of substance? What must be removed from your life that will allow you to flourish?

Tell one man in your life how great he is.

Lead Differently!

Greg

DREAM TEAM(WORK)

November 11, 2019 — 2 Comments

The 1992 men’s Olympic Basketball team has been described by many as the greatest sports team ever assembled. As a result, the team was given the name Dream Team. As a basketball junkie, and a player who grew up with these superstars in the 80’s, I couldn’t wait to watch them play in the Olympics! The team did what many predicted, and handily won every game they played. They defeated every opponent by an average of 44 points; the players on the other teams were not only overwhelmed by their play, but also in awe of these superstar players being on the court at the same time. Since the original Dream Team, no other USA team has really been able to compare.

The Dream Team had exceptional talent at every position, a team made up of the greatest of all time, so talent alone would guarantee their wins. It might look different for us as most of the teams we lead are made up of lots of different types of people, and many that are not all talented in the same way. Despite the discrepancies that may exist in talent and skill, all great teams have a few things in common:

Every great team is united. Hellen Keller is quoted as saying, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Teamwork is about standing on the line together and supporting one another through the highs and lows. Great teams unite around common mission, and help each other execute their roles in the accomplishment of the mission they serve. They don’t allow outside forces to destroy one another, always playing offense together against what comes against them.

Every great team has short memories. If you’ve ever played sports, you know that in order to be successful, you have to have a short memory during games. If you or your teammates make a mistake, you can’t continue to live out the mistake…you have to move on to the next play. Great teams don’t stay too low in the lows, or too high in the highs. They are always learning from and growing to the next opportunity.

Every great team is responsible to not for. This may be the most important quality of great teams. Teamwork is about working together, and the best teams that work together are the teams that understand they are responsible to their team’s success and contributing to it, but not for the success of others. President Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” Every team member should focus on being responsible for what they bring to the team, and not worrying about credit or accolades. The team, working together, is responsible for outcomes.

Every great team is agile. I can be accused of overusing this word, but it is one of my favorite words when talking about leadership. Teams that work great together are agile – able to take on, accept and manage change and obstacles when they come their way. We have to move quickly, lightly, and in a graceful manner together through change or obstacles. Teams that have members who can’t do this tend to clog the effectiveness of the team.

Questions for you:

  1. What qualities make your team successful?
  2. Where does your team need to improve?

Lead Differently!

Greg

GUIDE ON THE SIDE

October 28, 2019 — 1 Comment

A number of years ago, Monica and I took a trip to Italy. We traveled with two other couples and visited Florence, Rome and a few other great cities.

If you have ever traveled anywhere in the world with a rich history, you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing while you are there. As we prepared for this trip, we spent some time reading up on this history as well as some of the most popular sites to see. As great as the books were on information, they could not help us much once we got there… seeing everything in a book is much different than being there in person.

What made this trip come alive for us and provide us with a memorable experience, was servant leadership of one of our friends on the trip. She became our guide and she was great. She guided us through the entire trip, making sure we didn’t miss anything, and introduced us to much more than the book ever could. As our guide, she became a part of the journey and the experience – it simply would not have been the same without her guidance.

This is what servant leaders do for us in our life – they help guide us in the journey. My good friend Tim Elmore calls great leaders the ones who are “guides on the side.” How can we become effective guide on the side servant leaders?

Servant Guiders are Prepared. On our trip to Italy, one of the things that made our friend such a great guide is that she had done a lot of preparation for the trip. She had been there before; she knew where to go and what to avoid. Great servant leaders who help guide others are always more effective when they are growing and learning themselves and can help to serve as guardrails in our life, keeping us from going over the edge.

Servant Guiders Share a Passion. Great guides who serve others are passionate about the same “macro” things we are. For example, they share the same worldview, values, or mission in life. Our friend was passionate about travel and the experiences just as we were, as a result she knew what we would connect with and connect to. That’s what great servant guides do – they connect to each other’s passions.

Servant Guiders are Pushers. Great servant guides push others to see what they may not see in themselves, and thus create experiences they may never have experienced on their own. For us on our trip, we would have been fine staying in Florence and Rome. These two areas were familiar and popular, but our guide pushed us into other towns during day trips – ones that were less popular but created some of our most memorable and magnificent experiences.

Servant Guiders are Pullers. Finally, servant guiders not only push, but many times will pull you in the journey. When we visited Italy, we could have moved at our own pace, which would have been slower, based on our limited knowledge of what there was to experience. Our guide was great at pulling us out of our pace, so we could experience as much as possible in the limited time we had. Great servant guiders have to pull us out of comfort and self-imposed limitations in order for us to flourish.

  1. Are you a great guide on the side? In what ways?
  2. Who are the great guides in your life? Have you told them how much you appreciate their servant guiding?

Lead Differently!

Greg

FIRM

October 23, 2019 — 1 Comment

I came across a word recently in reading, that is not uncommon, but I had never spent much time thinking about. The word firm is a word used in many ways and in many contexts. There is nothing extremely revolutionary about the word’s meaning—to have a solid and unyielding surface. But it’s one of those words that when changed from an adjective to an adverb or verb, it comes to life and can have an extremely transformational result.

We hear the phrase “stand firm” a lot around our values, believes and convictions. Tim Keller writes that stand firm is essentially a military word. We have all stood firm over and around something throughout our lives, whether it was as a child refusing to eat our vegetables, as teenager with a relationship, or as adults in our beliefs.

Tim Keller, in his book Galatians for You, briefly lays out three qualities of firmness I would like to expand on here:

  1. Firmness is about being alert. When we stand firm, we must immediately realize there will come opposition. We must always be alert of not only the opposition, but how our firmness is communicated. We can be firm and still be loving, graceful and accepting. Too many times our firmness blurs the line of stubbornness to others, and so we want to fight a battle that may not be there. It’s like the squirrel that runs around on my roof in the mornings—I don’t like it and I wish he didn’t, but in reality, until he is doing real damage, I’m alert to the fact his main goal is not to irritate me, he is only doing what he knows.
  2. Firmness is about being strong. When we stand firm, it requires strength. It requires a strength that no one or nothing can tear us down. We have always lived in a world where declaration will lead to division…someone out there is always on the other side. When I work out with weights, I realize many times the weights and their movements have the ability to knock me off balance, so I must firmly place my feet on the ground, gripping the foundation and holding strongly to the foundation under me. For me, the foundation is Jesus. I’ve tried other foundations in my life to give me strength, money, relationships, careers and other desires, and none of them worked. My faith has always provided to me the strength I need.
  3. Firmness is about sticking together. We are always stronger when we are together. We always need others to stand with us. I love the community of Jesus followers that stand with me and I with them through all the hard times and the celebrations. When we stick together, we keep each other balanced, help each other up, and push each other forward. When you think about it, sticking together produces a stronger firmness. The journey of faith together is rewarding and transformational for one another, and for the world.

I pray you stand firm and lead differently!

Greg

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 — 4 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 Generosity.  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