Saturday, November 24, 2007

Craig Groeschel on Ministry "Fatigue Creep"

Craig Groeschel gets it. understands "church edge."  They might even define it. But living on the edge can take a toll on leaders.  Here's Craig's recent posting about fatigue in ministry:

Fatigue Creep

I’ve recently endured one of those “grueling seasons” of ministry. If you’ve been in ministry for long, you know what I’m talking about. Some seasons are relatively easy. Others are more strenuous. Some are almost too much.

One of the grossest sins of ministers (in my opinion) is a blatant neglect for the Sabbath. Because a pastor’s rhythms and schedules are so erratic, a full day off can be a rarity.

It’s easy to do more than we should. Before long, we’ve wasted an evening doing email. We’ve burned half our day off chatting on our cell phone. We’ve lost an hour looking at blogs. We lose our day off to a funeral.

Our commitments can continue to creep until we realize that it’s been weeks since we’ve had a legitimate day off.

(Some of you even brag about not having a day off. I used to. This generally reflects our insecurities or sick desire to please God with a works-righteousness attitude.)

If you don’t take adequate time to rest, you will burn out. My counselor explained to me that my workaholic tendencies are really due to a “lack of faith.”

Here are the areas where I’m weak:

I wrongly think I’m more necessary than I am.
I wrongly believe that God is less involved than He really is.
Are you pushing it too hard? Do you lack faith? You’ll never do all that God wants you to if you won’t do what He’s already told you to do… Rest.

Do you know how to rest? And do you actually do it?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's what a top-rated coach asks CEOs

Graham Alexander has been an executive coach for more than 25 years coaching hundreds of CEOs. Graham has pinpointed 10 crucial questions that leaders must ask themselves if they are to achieve and, most importantly, maintain their success:

1. What's life all about for you?
2. Who are you, and who do others say you are?
3. What's the point for you and your people?
4. What would happen if you did less?
5. What can only you do?
6. Would you do anything differently if you knew you only had a year to live?
7. If people are your biggest asset, why don't they know who you are?
8. Who pays your salary, and why are you ignoring them?
9. Are you running your business, or is it running you?
10. So now how will you live your life differently ... or is it business as usual?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Inspirational Leadership

The Seven Secrets of Inspiring Leaders
By Carmine Gallo

American business professionals are uninspired. Only 10% of employees look forward to going to work and most point to a lack of leadership as the reason why, according to a recent Martitz Research poll. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All business leaders have the power to inspire, motivate, and positively influence the people in their professional lives.

For the past year, I have been interviewing renowned leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators who have an extraordinary ability to sell their vision, values, and themselves. I researched their communications secrets for my new book, Fire Them Up!: 7 Simple Secrets to Inspire Your Colleagues, Customers and Clients.

What I discovered along the way were seven techniques that you can easily adopt in your own professional communications with your employees, clients, and investors to motivate and inspire.

1. Demonstrate Enthusiasm - Constantly.

Inspiring leaders have an abundance of passion for what they do. You cannot inspire unless you’re inspired yourself. Period. Passion is something I can’t teach. In fact, no one can. You either have passion for your message or you don’t.

Once you discover your passion, make sure it’s apparent to everyone within your professional circle. Richard Tait, for example, sketched an idea on a napkin during a cross-country flight. It was an idea to bring joyful moments to families and friends. His enthusiasm was so infectious that he convinced partners, employees, and investors to join him. He created a toy and game company called Cranium. Walk into its Seattle headquarters and you are instantly hit with a wave of fun, excitement, and engagement the likes of which is rarely seen in corporate life. It all started with one man’s passion.

2. Articulate a Compelling Course of Action.

Inspiring leaders craft and deliver a specific, consistent, and memorable vision. A goal such as "we intend to double our sales by this time next year," is not inspiring. Neither is a long, convoluted mission statement destined to be tucked away and forgotten in a desk somewhere.

A vision is a short (usually 10 words or less), vivid description of what the world will look like if your product or service succeeds. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer once said that shortly after he joined the company, he was having second thoughts. Bill Gates and Gates’ father took Ballmer out to dinner and said he had it all wrong. They said Ballmer saw his role as that of a bean counter for a startup. They had a vision of putting a computer on every desk, in every home. That vision - a computer on every desk, in every home - remains consistent to this day. The power of a vision set everything in motion.

3. Sell the Benefit.

Always remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. In my first class at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, I was taught to answer the question, "Why should my readers care?" That’s the same thing you need to ask yourself constantly throughout a presentation, meeting, pitch, or any situation where persuasion takes place. Your listeners are asking themselves, what’s in this for me? Answer it. Don’t make them guess.

4. Tell More Stories.

Inspiring leaders tell memorable stories. Few business leaders appreciate the power of stories to connect with their audiences.

A few weeks ago I was working with one of the largest producers of organic food in the country. I can’t recall most, if any, of the data they used to prove organic is better. But I remember a story a farmer told. He said when he worked for a conventional grower, his kids could not hug him at the end of the day when he got home. His clothes had to be removed and disinfected. Now, his kids can hug him as soon as he walks off the field.

No amount of data can replace that story. And now guess what I think about when I see the organic section in my local grocery store? You got it. The farmer’s story. Stories connect with people on an emotional level. Tell more of them.

5. Invite Participation.

Inspiring leaders bring employees, customers, and colleagues into the process of building the company or service. This is especially important when trying to motivate young people.

The command and control way of managing is over. Instead, today’s managers solicit input, listen for feedback, and actively incorporate what they hear. Employees want more than a paycheck. They want to know that their work is adding up to something meaningful.

6. Reinforce an Optimistic Outlook.

Inspiring leaders speak of a better future. Robert Noyce, the co-founder of Intel, said "Optimism is an essential ingredient of innovation. How else can the individual favor change over security?"

Extraordinary leaders throughout history have been more optimistic than the average person. Winston Churchill exuded hope and confidence in the darkest days of World War II. Colin Powell said that optimism was the secret behind Ronald Reagan’s charisma. Powell also said that optimism is a force multiplier, meaning it has a ripple effect throughout an organization.

Speak in positive, optimistic language. Be a beacon of hope.

7. Encourage Potential.

Inspiring leaders praise people and invest in them emotionally. Richard Branson has said that when you praise people they flourish; criticize them and they shrivel up. Praise is the easiest way to connect with people. When people receive genuine praise, their doubt diminishes and their spirits soar. Encourage people and they’ll walk through walls for you.

By inspiring your listeners, you become the kind of person people want to be around. Customers will want to do business with you, employees will want to work with you, and investors will want to back you. It all starts with mastering the language of motivation.

Carmine Gallo is a communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. His book, Fire Them Up! contains insights from top business leaders who inspire through the language of motivation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One Good Reason "Not" to be a Hindu

Man in India marries dog as atonement

Tue Nov 13, 7:34 AM ET

A man in southern India married a female dog in a traditional Hindu ceremony as an attempt to atone for stoning two other dogs to death — an act he believes cursed him — a newspaper reported Tuesday.

P. Selvakumar married the sari-draped former stray named Selvi, chosen by family members and then bathed and clothed for the ceremony Sunday at a Hindu temple in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Hindustan Times newspaper said.

Selvakumar, 33, told the paper he had been suffering since he stoned two dogs to death and hung their bodies from a tree 15 years ago.

"After that my legs and hands got paralyzed and I lost hearing in one ear," he said in the report.

The paper said an astrologer had told Selvakumar the wedding was the only way he could cure the maladies. It did not say whether his situation had improved.

Deeply superstitious people in rural India sometimes organize weddings to dogs and other animals, believing it can ward off certain curses.

The paper showed a picture of Selvakumar sitting next to the dog, which was wearing an orange sari and a flower garland.

The paper said the groom and his family then had a feast, while the dog got a bun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Church Sells Building, Commits $1.55 Million to Church Planting

SAN JOSE, CA (November 12, 2007) - New Life Covenant Church, one of the oldest congregations in the Evangelical Covenant Church, will donate $1.55 million toward church planting efforts in the Pacific Southwest Conference.

The church’s plan was announced this week, following the sale of the congregation’s longtime home at 790 Coe Avenue. It marked another step in the revitalization of this historic congregation, formerly known as First Covenant church.

Like many small, older churches, First Covenant was facing daunting questions and an uncertain future. Founded in 1892, the church reached a high point in the 1960s, attracting 450 people to worship on Sunday mornings. By 2004, that number had shrunk to 90 and was continuing to decline with no possibility of change in sight.

For a while, says pastor Kevin Budd, the church asked, “How do we survive?” But when the congregation began to ask, “What can we do for the kingdom?”—things began to change.

Over the past year, the church changed its name, moved from its former facility, and began meeting in a nearby public school. When their building was sold, the church netted more than $3 million, after all of its debts were paid. About $300,000 will be donated to compassion ministries, and another $1.55 million will be set aside for a future construction project. The rest—nearly 45 percent of the total—will fund new church plants.

The funds will help pay for new plants around San Jose and around the conference.

In keeping with the Covenant policy, the money will not be given to the Pacific Southwest Conference all at once but will be designated for specific projects, Budd says.

Gary Walter, executive minister of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, expressed thanks for New Life Covenant’s gift to the denomination. “This is a church looking at the totality of its assets and options and taking bold steps,” Walter says. “They would have been more comfortable to do nothing, but complacency never gets mission moving forward.”

Conference Superintendent Evelyn Johnson also thanked New Life Covenant for its generosity. “I affirm the church,” she said, “for reinventing itself to minister more effectively in the changing context and being intentional about multiplication in this process.”

Budd says that New Life has already seen signs of renewal. A significant contributor to the decline was a lack of parking as more and more people drove to church, Budd says. The 40 parking spaces were inadequate for the 24,000-square-foot building. By moving their services to the school two miles away, the congregation has started to attract new attenders. Budd says he hopes the congregation’s decision will inspire others to support church planting.

Steve Dawson, president of National Covenant Properties, is excited about the church’s decision. “This is a church that recognized they wanted to start a new vision for the future but also had a broader view of the kingdom of God.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Over the edge?

If you're really doing ministry on the edge, you're constantly running the risk of going too far. I have a great group of friends, heroes really, who are planting churches in West Michigan. One of them took a huge risk this week...and even he acknowledges that he went over the edge. But here's hoping and praying that he won't stop believing and trying and risking in the cause the counts!

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” – T.S. Eliot

“If no one ever took risks, Michaelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.” – Neil Simon

“It’s nice to at least once a year have a near-death experience.” – Mark Allen

“That which does not destroy me makes me stronger.” – Neitzche

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert Kennedy

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” – Soren Kierkegaard

“We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” - Romans 5:35

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Disturb Us, O Lord

Sir Francis Drake was a 16th century adventurer and, for much of his life, a "legal" pirate.

He set sail in 1577 from Portsmouth, England aboard the "Golden Hind" with a commission to interrupt the Spanish gold routes along the west coast of South America. Drake explored at least as far north as the non-Spanish parts of California, claiming it as "New Albion" [New England] before returning to England and his Queen Elizabeth via a "short-cut" (by crossing the Pacific and rounding Cape Horn, thus becoming the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe).

In return for the bounty he captured (more than half million pounds sterling), Drake was knighted and continued in service to his country until his death in 1596. This is the prayer that Drake is believed to have written as he set sail on his great adventure:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Sir Francis Drake