Personal Growth

Thursday Quote: 7 Practices – Replace Yourself


My Thursday Quote this week is by Andy Stanley from his book, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. At Elim Gospel Church this book is required reading for all of our leaders and new pastoral staff. The ‘seven practices’ have become benchmarks for how we think about ministry. The following quote is taken from the leadership practice, “Replace Yourself”.

“Several years ago John Maxwell introduced our staff to the concept of ‘leadership lids.’ A lid is anything that keeps a leader from growing. Maxwell explained that there are certain aspects of your personality that can prevent you from achieving your full potential; therefore, it is important for leaders to identify their lids and do whatever they can to lift them. An organization will have a difficult time rising higher than the lid of its leader.

We’ve discovered that organizations also have ‘leadership walls’ that prevent others from achieving their potential. Whereas a leadership lid can stunt your personal growth as a leader and may indirectly affect the rest of your organization, a leadership wall can directly stunt the growth of those on your team and, ultimately, create a leadership gap in your organization. Lids may stop leaders from growing up, but walls keep leaders out. They form a barrier that blocks the development of future leaders in your organization.”

If you haven’t yet read this book, I urge you to do so and also to
consider purchasing it through my Amazon Affiliate Store right here.

To learn about other books I am reading or recommend, check out my Transforming Leader Store.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

be weak


My pastor shared an awesome message last Sunday that I felt would be relevant and an encouragement to you this month. We started a series called the ‘be series‘ and the first week of the year was an exhortation to ‘be weak’.

I urge you to take some time this month and watch/listen to this clip. I believe you will personally be strengthened. Blessings!

If you can’t see this video in your email or rss, try clicking this link instead.


Robert Morris Tackles Gluttony Head On!

2012 has arrived (well, almost). New Year resolutions may not be as popular as perhaps years ago, but they are still relevant. The new year is a great time to recommit ourselves to our personal goals. Of course, many new year resolutions will revolve around exercise and diet. Have you noticed how many programs on the networks focus on food, eating, dieting and exercise? Healthy living is one of this culture’s greatest challenges.

What can be mildly disconcerting is how little us pastors actually talk about it. The topic of healthy living is right up there with sex and money. Uncomfortably absent in many pulpits.

So imagine my surprise when my wife and I tuned in to an online service at Gateway Church and heard an outstanding and very personal message by Pastor Robert Morris about this very thing. He didn’t beat around the bush either. I was challenged and convicted so much, I thought I’d spread the wealth.

Pastors and church leaders – I would love it if you would listen to this message this week and ask the Lord how it applies to you. I know the topic won’t necessary be relevant to everyone (I know of some very healthy pastors), but it will certainly be a challenge to many.

A ‘Thankful’ Thought

I have been overwhelmed this week how often the Bible exhorts us to be thankful. It seems like every time I flip (or swipe) a page in my Bible the Lord is prompting me to give thanks to Him. For example:

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20

In this passage, Paul is saying that we should always give thanks. Taken literally, always means, well always. That’s a lot of times that we are supposed to be thankful. And then he also says to be thankful for everything. Well, it would have been easier if he had said “most things” or “some things”. Everything doesn’t give us very much wiggle room.

So I’m being personally challenged to apply this in my life, always and in everything. How about you. Are your words, actions, attitudes ones that reflect a thankful heart?

The Tunnel of Chaos

“When you did that, it really hurt me. I’ve been mad at you ever since.” That sentence is the culmination of a conversation a friend had with me a while back. It was over breakfast – one that he initiated. I was totally floored. I had no idea that I had said something that hurt my friend. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know he was mad at me.

That conversation marked an important point in our friendship. I could have chosen to make a joke and take the event lightly. I could have gotten defensive and attacked my friend – pointing out that it was really his fault, not mine. I could have gotten mad back at him. OR, I could have spent time understanding what happened, acknowledging my mistake, and working towards building a deeper understanding about how I could ensure I don’t hurt my friend again.

To his credit, my friend took the first, more difficult step. He chose to talk to me about it. I am so thankful for that. I know many would have just pushed it under the rug, leaving a big bulge, and spent weeks, months, or even years walking over it every day.

The Tunnel of Chaos is that tunnel that leads from artificial to authentic relationships. It is a key to building trust with your family, friends, and coworkers. It is a critical component to your leadership team’s success and health. It is a foundational element of fostering and keeping a culture of trust.

You enter the tunnel when you choose to engage in crucial confrontations with a solid commitment to hold steady until you’ve reached a positive resolution and a deeper friendship.

Bill Hybels coined this phrase in his book, Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs – a book I highly recommend. You can read this very short excerpt from the book from the Willow Creek Global Summit website right here.

When was the last time you entered the tunnel with an individual or your team?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How You Can Get Smarter This Year


Watch this 4 minute interview with Seth Godin. Chik-Fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy, asks Seth just a few simple questions. As always, Seth comes back with some profound and helpful insights. I’ve highlighted my favorite quote below.

I began blogging more than a year and a half ago. What I’ve discovered is that writing has forced me to think harder and be smarter. Just the act of putting thoughts, values, and beliefs into print stimulates the brain and clarifies thinking. Seth Godin put it this way:

“Having to say intelligent things about what you notice in the world makes you smarter.” Seth Godin

I wonder. Is it time for you to begin writing? Should you start a blog or a journal? Perhaps you don’t consider yourself much of a writer. That’s OK. Nobody said you have to publish. Just write it down. Get those thoughts, musings and ideas out of the ethereal and untouchable recesses of your mind and down on paper or your computer. Give it a try! What have you got to lose?

Image compliments of graur razvan ionut at

What the Church Can Learn from Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir

I ran across this video clip on Michael Hyatt’s blog. I must say, it deeply impacted me.  I’ll share a few reasons why after you’ve watched it too. It’s about 15 minutes long, but well worth it. Be sure to watch to the very end as composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, shows the first 3 minutes of hisVirtual Choir performing “Sleep”. Wow.

Why Is This So Powerful?
Here are a few suggestions as to why I found myself in tears during this presentation.

  • Unity.
    Hundreds and hundreds of people came together for one cause despite the overwhelming differences in age, culture, beliefs, financial status, and lifestyle. None of the singers ever questioned whether they were willing to sing based on who else would be singing with them. The result was a unified choir that could quite possibly be the largest and most unsegregated, unbiased choir to ever perform together in history. In many ways, Christians all over the world share a similar unity through our mutual faith in Jesus Christ. 
  • Unique.
    Each voice was completely unique, one of a kind. No two voices were exactly the same. Each one represented a unique person and contributor. It is so discouraging to me when people live their lives believing they have no contribution to make in the world. God told Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart’. It’s so important for us to remember that we are each and every one uniquely created and extremely valuable to God.
  • Alone.
    Every video was created with one person in front of a webcam. There is nobody in the background cheering them on or providing moral support. In fact, most of the singers were likely completely alone during their individual recording. Although there are many things we do together, our contribution to God’s purposes start within ourselves. God has given us the unique responsibility to decide to live for and follow Him. Nobody else can make that decision – or carry it out – for us.
  • Real Life.
    The ‘normal’ venue for a choir of this magnitude would have been performed in a special building, with lights, cameras, sound systems, coordinated clothes, etc. It’s fascinating to see everyone’s living rooms, bedrooms, etc. in the background while the singers perform. This is how our Christian faith will really be lived out. In real life every day of the week . . . not on Sunday mornings during the church service.
  • Confidence.
    The self-confidence each singer exhibited to record and submit their solo was inspiring. I suspect many people battled self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity – but they pressed through to the end. I particularly appreciated the story of the wife who submitted her recording despite her husband’s negative attitude. We will fulfill God’s purposes in our lives and ministries one day, hour, and moment at a time. Often His goals are accomplished because we choose to press through the internal attacks of the enemy and find victory by believing in what God’s word says instead of listening to what our mind and experiences have to say.
  • Conviction.
    Each singer had a conviction that this project was important and worth dedicating themselves to. The hours spent behind the scenes is a testimony to that fact. It’s OK for us to try, fail, learn and adjust (See ‘The Rhythm of Failure‘). It’s appropriate for that cycle to take place 2, 14, 78, or hundreds and hundreds of times before we get it right. If it’s what God has called us to do, or be, then we will do whatever necessary to get there.
  • Leadership.
    I am very impressed with Mr. Whitacre’s leadership. He shows courage, passion, excellence, and initiative. He recruited over two thousand people to participate in his choir – and didn’t pay any of them. As church leaders, we can learn a lot from this example. How many willing and ready volunteers and leaders do we have sitting in our churches and community, just waiting for a cause to move them off their seats and into God’s purposes?
Here is the entire presentation of “Sleep” in case you’d like to watch it to the end. Make sure you watch it in full screen!

The Blame Game


This weekend I walked into the kitchen to find a bag of pretzels spilled and strewn all across the floor. I called in my son, Derek, and asked him “What happened?” His answer – “Eliot did it.”

I don’t expect my 4 year old to understand this, but my question wasn’t about who was to blame. That would be interesting information, but it wasn’t really my question. The question “What happened?” was meant to draw out a story of how the event happened. How did a bag of pretzels get almost evenly distributed across the entire kitchen floor? I still don’t know for sure.

My little boy highlights how the blame game works though. We all want to assign ‘blame’ somewhere for the various unfortunate events we experience. Here are our options:

  • Blame yourself.
    “Nobody seemed to understand my message today. I guess I’m not a very good communicator and preacher.”
  • Blame someone else.
    “The worship leader didn’t do a very good job leading the congregation in worship. If he had, I bet they would have been more receptive to my message.”
  • Blame human nature.
    “It’s too much to expect people to get something out of my morning messages when they are all so tired and overwhelmed in life.”
  • Blame a system.
    “My system for preparing Sunday morning messages needs to be adjusted so I have more time to prepare, rehearse, and get feedback before I preach each week.”
It is true that all of the above are sometimes at fault, but only one is worth spending time and energy on. Can you guess which one? If not, perhaps it would be meaningful to read this post and this post today as well.

Four Things the Church Can Learn From Ben Watson

Whether you are a fan of the New England Patriots or not, you’ve got to admire Ben Watson in this outstanding play against the Bronco’s last year. Check out this run and then read on.

Four things the local church can learn from Watson’s great effort:

  • Don’t Look at the Odds
    Everyone was amazed that Ben made that play. I think most were awed that he even tried. He wasn’t interested in finding out if it was wise to go for it, he just did. How many times do we give up before even trying, simply because the odds look too far against us. What would the Bible read like if that’s what the hero’s of our faith did? David & Goliath. Moses & Pharoah. Esther & Haman. Mary. Peter. Paul. Stephen. Dare I say . . . Jesus. Don’t hold back. The ‘odds’ are man made, but we’re living for God.
  • Give Your All
    Watson gave his all in that run. He didn’t hesitate, stumble, or falter. If he had, he wouldn’t have made it. His ‘all’ was everything needed to get the job done. I wonder what would happen if we put that same unrelenting effort towards the ministry? Perhaps our very best effort is exactly the amount needed to fulfill God’s purposes in our church. Is it possible we short-change the work of God simply because it’s easier to run than sprint?
  • Resist the Urge to Compare
    What if Ben Watson saw how fast everyone else was running and used that as a benchmark for what he should expect of himself? Not good. What benchmark do you measure your ministry by? Is it the church you grew up in? The church down the road or one you watch online? None of those should reflect who you are or what you could do in your unique venue.
  • Don’t Give Up
    At some point in that run, Watson had a choice to make. He could keep running or give up. Most of us would have given up. He didn’t. He pressed through the mental wall or ‘dip’ and kept going until the end. The biggest battle we face is inside. We’re regularly faced with people challenges, financial difficulties, and failed attempts to build positive momentum in the church. It’s so tempting to just slow down and go back to the drawing board before the play has even finished. 

Remember Paul’s words today and take heart.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Telling Yourself Stories

Whether you are a public speaker or not, you ARE a storyteller.In fact, you are such a good storyteller that your primary audience is almost always convinced of the reality and truth of your stories, even though they are sometimes not true. You are your primary audience and you tell yourself stories every day.

  • When you’re mother-in-law gives you ‘that look’ you tell yourself a story about what she is saying to herself about you.
    EXAMPLE: “There she goes again. She’s judging me. She never accepts me for who I am. She thinks I’m fat, lazy and a bad dad.”  REALITY: Something you said reminded her that she forgot to return an important phone call at work yesterday. The ‘look’ had nothing to do with you.
  • When the lady on the phone seems rude, you tell yourself a story about her competence and professionalism.
    EXAMPLE: “How could this company hire someone like this lady! Why is she being so defensive? I just want them to return my money and pay the shipping fees. Doesn’t she know the customer is always right?” REALITY: She just found out last night that her husband has been having an affair and she doesn’t have the authority to return your money, even though she agrees and wants to.
  • When a leader in the church sends an email expressing frustration about what happened this Sunday in church, you tell yourself a story about his attitude and loyalty to you and the church.
    EXAMPLE: “What does he mean that he’s ‘disappointed’? Who does he think he is, my boss or something? I thought he was committed to this church and one of my trusted leaders. He’s really borken my trust.” REALITY: The man was genuinely offended by something someone said from the pulpit and took it personally. He’s committed to the church but would like to understand why it was said publicly.
Check out these two articles by Michael Hyatt and Seth Godin. These are great reminders to combat what we tell ourselves about others every day.

What Story Are You Telling Yourself? By Michael Hyatt

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