Young Leader: Listen

Listen: The most important skill you can develop is the ability to listen.

Bonhoeffer says in his book on Christian Community called “Life Together”

So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to “offer” something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Life Together

Learn to listen: One of the most difficult lesson to learn as a young leader is knowing when to speak and when to be quite. Listening is a skill that must be learned if you are to be effective as a leader and if you are to reflect the heart of God. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of giving people answers to their problems or what we perceive their problems to be. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to say that you are sorry and that you will pray for them or to say that you don’t have the answer but you know someone who does. Pat answers can produce a shallow simple faith that when tested will always bend and will often break.

What is essential to being a leader?


Love this quote from Kip Tindell CEO of The Container Store

“While I certainly value intellectual intelligence, a capable leader must also possess emotional intelligence. I think that’s the key to being really successful. These individuals keep their egos in check and remain sensitive to the needs of others. Instead of being driven by deep seated insecurities, emotionally intelligent leaders are comfortable surrounding themselves with people who are better than they are in certain areas, and they rank high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where self-esteem, awareness, honesty, and objectivity are concerned. Business is not a zero-sum game. In other words, someone else doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win. The best leaders both understand and embrace that type of thinking.” – Kip Tindell

How can we as leaders be to other people what we wish they were to us?

Directional Leadership – Gospel Leadership


Leading Down challenges your motivation. How do you lead those who follow you. Would those people who are paid to follow you do so if they weren’t paid? What you are building determines how you relate to those you lead.

One of my professors at college used to say that if you are leading but no one is following you are just going for a walk through the woods. If you are a leader it is assumed that you are leading someone. Most people reading this if not everyone reading this is leading someone else. How we lead those who we are leading is significant for them and for us.

How you lead others reveals much more about us than we realize. It reveals what we are building and where we place our trust. The temptation that every leader faces is how will I use the influence that I have been given. Far to many leaders lead in such a way that they are building their own kingdom. I feel the pull toward building my kingdom every day which is why everyday I preach the gospel to myself. I have to continually remind myself that it is what God has done for me in Christ Jesus that empowers me to live and to build. I am continually humbled by the greatness of Jesus and the sinfulness of me.

One of the pet peeves I have is people using the words “gospel” and “grace” who have no idea what they mean. It actually makes me angry and I believe God angry that people abuse grace and the gospel to build monuments to themselves and not lay down their lives for those they are leading. Preaching the gospel of Jesus with your mouth has little effect if you are preaching the gospel of self promotion with your life. If you want to be great be small if you want to lead serve. That’s what Jesus demonstrated to us and what the gospel demands of us.

Leader please stop using people to build a monument to yourself that will one day burn. Invest your life in others preach the gospel and you will have joy true joy. A joy that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Questions to ask yourself as you Lead others.

1. Am I doing this for Jesus or for me?
2. If I do something great and someone else gets the credit am I ok with that?
3. Do I love the people I lead or do I love leading?
4. Is my life hidden in Christ?
5. Am I on a regular basis doing things that don’t make conventional sense?
6. Am I daily preaching the gospel to myself and then with my life?
7. Do I demand from others what I am not willing to give?
8. ls there anything in my life that if I were to lose that thing I would feel as if my world was over?
9. Am I speaking truth to those I lead because I want to be right or because I love them and want them to grow.
10. Am I a good follower?

Directional Leadership.


I believe there are three directions every leader has to lead. Up. Down and Sideways. No matter who you are and where you are on the fabled organizational chart you are influenced by someone, influence others and work alongside others. How you navigate these relationships matters.

Leading Up deals with leading those who lead you. It challenges you to leverage your influence when the final decision is not in your hands. There is a fine line of manipulation and influence you have to walk here.

Leading Down challenges your motivation. How do you lead those who follow you. Would those people who are paid to follow you do so if they weren’t paid? What you are building determines how you relate to those you lead.

Leading sideways – This is perhaps the most difficult and least talked about form of leadership. Leading your peers. This challenges your vision. You can succeed departmentally and fail organizationally. Silo’s are created from a lack of intentional sideways leadership.

For the next couple of days I want to hit each of these directional leadership principles and give some practical suggestions to excel in every direction that your influence flows.

Lifeway Kid Ministry Conference: 5 things every leader has to get right

lifeway kids ministry conference

Here are the notes for my breakout at Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference.

5 Things every leader has to get right

1. Delegation – We don’t delegate because we don’t trust God with the results. We don’t delegate because our default mode is to do. If I do this my pastor will be pleased with me. If I do that God will be pleased with me.

We don’t delegate because we don’t have a half-hearted view of what eternal rewards are. What ultimate beauty is. Lewis address our self focused small minded in his book weight of glory.

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.
“We are far too easily pleased.”  C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

We often don’t delegate because we are building our own kingdom – we are far to concerned with who gets the credit rather than who gets the glory.

What I think is interesting about Gen. 2 when God creates Adam is
1. He gives him meaningful work
2. He gives him clear parameters for that work to take place
3. He gives him something that forces him to reflect his creator.

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

2. Leading under authority – 

We lead under authority when we understand ultimate authority – When you come on staff at a church you have to submit yourself to the pastor you serve. This can only be done to the degree that you have submitted your life completely to Christ.

What does submission to authority look like?
– It’s walking and leading in humility
– It’s trusting Jesus more than your circumstance
– It’s not checking your dreams at the door of the church
– It’s not blindly following your pastor off a cliff
– Submission to authority starts with you submitting your life to Christ ultimately and as a result of that you walk in humility. You speak when you need to and be quite when you need to. Paul talks about our submission to Christ and uses marriage as an example for us.

22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

The power to submit to the authorities God has placed in our life comes from our ability to fully Trust Christ above all else. – Submission to authority is not blind obedience to your pastor it manifests itself in a humility and love for the things

“But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away
”blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality
is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom.
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.
Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

C.S. Lewis

3. Connecting with families – We have to move from atmosphere of co-dependance to an environment of interdependence. –

There has been a huge push for family ministry the past decade and rightly so. Leading into the future we have to value families not as a stated value but as an actual value. The church and families alike need to admit that this co-dependent relationship is broken and doesn’t honor God. We need to move to a model that creates interdependence where families and church are dependent on each other and where they are both fully dependent on Christ alone.

When talking about connecting parents sometimes our creative ideas and the connecting themselves become an end in themselves.

We start with the wrong question. We ask how can we connect parent. We need to ask that but we first need to ask what are we connecting them to? Do the parents we are partnering with value the same things?

4. Measurement – We measure the wrong things. Measurement is a good thing what measure reveals a lot about us.

The thing that is so dangerous about measurement is it can very quickly become the thing in our life that informs every decision we make.

We can find our identity in something other than Christ. – Our tendency is to move off of the things we can’t see and start to measure our self by things we can see. We often find our worth in kids ministry by how many kids come, by what curriculum we use, by what check-in we have or by how well our spaces are themed.

A lot of the dissatisfaction we have in ministry comes from us measuring the wrong things.

We spend our time and energy on the things we measure. What you measure you get more of. What scares me is getting more of something that isn’t Jesus.

What is crazy is that we can so easily use Jesus to get what we want.

5. Priorities – Our priorities are informed by our loves. We make time for the things we love. Where we spend our times shows what is most valuable to us.

Our priorities are determined by our loves. We spend our time, our money and our energy on the things that matter most.

As a leader you will be pulled on by everyone around you if you don’t put guardrails in your life you will dive off a cliff. – What drives us? Our desire to please everyone. We want to make everyone happy. This is a pipe dream and comes from our desire to have others think well of us rather than God.

Luke 6:26
26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Tim Keller on family –

If you manage your time and priorities right, people will be mad at you.
Get used to it.

Conclusion –

One of the scariest things about ministry is that we can so easily make the things of ministry the ultimate desire of our lives. We use Jesus to get the things we really want.

-Revelation 21:5,6
 5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

our life has purpose because of him.