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Tag Archives: Leadership


I finally finished Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Uber blogger, marketer and author Seth Godin. First of all, I love it when an author does not waste the readers time with a bunch of fluff. Tribes is a short book filled with lot’s of great information. Basically Seth lays out the new way of leadership. Not the stoic top-down-approach. Seth really empowers EVERYONE to lead. To me this is a vital switch that is currently taking place in our culture. I would highly recommend this book. 

BTW: I also enjoyed Michael Hyatt’s review here.


Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in. 

Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself. 

Most organizations spend their time marketing to a crowd. Smart organizations assemble a tribe.

Organizations that destroy the status quo win.

Tribes are just waiting to be turned into movements. 

The organizations of the future are filled with smart, fast flexible people on mission. The thing is, that requires leadership. 

Idea’s that spread win. Boring idea;s don’t spread. Boring organizations don’t grow. 

What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism

Leadership is scare because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. 

So great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders don’t water down their message in order to make the tribe a bit bigger. Instead, they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be. 

The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond.  But the hardest thing is to initiate. 

Micro-movement: How to create a movement.

1. Publish Manifesto. 
2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.
3. Make it easy for followers to connect with one another.
4. Realize that money is not the point of the movement.
5. Track your progress.

The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.

Hope without a strategy doesn’t generate leadership. Leadership comes when your hope and your optimism are matched with a concrete vision of the future and a way to get there.


As I continue this long and sometimes painful journey of pioneering a non-profit I’m constantly reminded of the importance of team. So many churches, sports teams and businesses seem to always have a key person as the “face” of the organization.

But great organizations don’t become great because of one person. My theory is quite simple, I’m praying that God will surround me with a team of people who share my passion, but who do things so much better then I do.  Here is what I’m looking for in a team:

1. Passion: If I have to motivate them, then I don’t want them on the team. If someone lacks passion then they become a hindrance to the vision of the organization. Get rid of them asap.

2. Organized: It’s really hard to image someone being truly effective in any aspect in life if they don’t have a sense of organization. I’m not talking about the highly organized individual, I just want someone who can understand the importance of structure and decision-making. We all impact each other.

3. Controlled: I want the team to be passionate. At the same time I don’t want every meeting to drain the life out of the team. We all have to learn when to push buttons and when to relax and move forward.

4. Work-ethic: Again, if someone lacks proper work-ethic, there is a big issue. You want to be around a team that gets things done. If they are passionate, organized and work hard, they are going to produce. If I have to micro-manage productivity, then my life will stink and the culture we create will not be healthy.

5. Attitude: If I can’t do life with the team, if I don’t want to be around them…or they don’t want to be around me, that is not going to suffice. You gotta be able to do life together and enjoy the process.I want my team to be my friends. I want to fight for them and I need to know that they will fight for me.

6. Focused: For dreamers its really easy to have so many dreams and still get so little done. Less is more, especially in the beginning. I struggle with this issue. You have to have people who start something and finish something. This is why a team needs balance. If you have to many dreamers and not enough implementers your organization will have great idea’s but little fruit. I’m a dreamer…I gotta find the implementer. If I start something I want to finish it. Typically implementers will have a higher success rate finishing what the dreamer started.

In my opinion, the implementer is the most important member of the organization. It’s easy to dream, it’s hard to see the dream come alive and produce. Usually pioneers have to be good at both: Dreaming and implementing. You don’t have to be great at both and over the course of time it will be vital to hire the right team-member.

7. Clarity: I have so many ideas that it’s easy to overwhelm people. Just ask my friends. The team has to be clear about the initiatives that they are working on. This is the leaders job. So vital…yet so hard. The team needs to know that they are working on the right things at the right time with the right people.

8. Leadership: Can the team lead when we need them to? Can they make tough decisions? Can the fire when someone needs to be fired? Can they confront when someone is not doing the job right? Can they sacrifice and set an example? When I hire people, I want to hire leaders. No matter what role they fill, I want them to lead.

Questions to ask:

Is the strategy clear? Do you have the right team in place? Is the team cohesive and effective? Did you hire leaders? Or did you hire workers…?

Anything else I should add?

My last post focused on some reasons why I’m not ready to be a great leader.

Today I want to focus on some really practical ways that I think will help me (hopefully you) become a better leader.  Most of these steps will cause me to have a greater sense of focus and discipline. None of this is new. But I think we all need to be reminded over and over.

1. Rise early to pray: Prayer/mediation/silence/solitude has become a lost art. The busyness of culture has created a new way to pray and seek God-which is usually on-the-go. My hopes are to rise every morning @ 6AM to spend 90 mins in prayer, Scripture reading and theological studies. Not because I have to; this is a desire to love and know Jesus.

For me this is vital. Dealing with church leadership issues & global poverty on a daily basis can be overwhelming to be honest. I know If I want to sustain a long-term effort I will need to trust God and cause my soul to slow-down.

2. Exercise: After my morning devotions I want to hit the gym. Usually I listen to a podcast when I workout.  By the time I start my workday, I will be focused on Jesus by reading, praying and listening to another leader challenge me in the things of God. Plus I will physically feel good.

3. Work hard and consistent everyday. When I start something it needs to be finished. When I give my word-I will follow-through. I think most organizations are just a few key decisions away from causing a lot of momentum. Consistent work and focus goes a long way. This is not easy for an A.D.D. generation. Less-is-more. My wife and I have a 3-year mini-life plan, she keeps telling to focus on the big picture. She’s right!

4. Find a mentor: I think having a mentor is vital. I need to find somebody who is AWESOME and who will help me become AWESOME. You can’t lead well if your not be led well. We can never stop learning. This is much harder then it seems.

5. Focus on my strengths: This is quite complex for those of us who are starters/pioneers. In the beginning you have to do everything. But in the long-run I must build a team of passionate people who are better then me at their respected positions. If I do things I’m not good at for a longtime, usually I burn-out and start looking for an exit plan. If you’re not good at delegating; this issue will be front and center in your leadership development.

6. Fun: It’s hard for me to separate work and life. It all seems so intertwined for pastors. But for me to lead well, stay focused and be consistent. I have to have fun. Relaxing is spiritual. I want to enjoy my family and friends and the city of Austin. Plus travel and recoup. I want to spend an insane amount of time with my daughters and enjoy the final few years they have as kids. Also, I’m usually way more creative when I get out of my day-to-day rhythms.

7. Sabbath: Every Friday I will try and spend time doing things that causes me to re-energize. Sleep-in, (for me that is 7 ish) read, drink coffee, hang with friends, learn photography, etc.

Those are seven practical area’s that I think can help me become a better leader. If any of these area’s get out-of-whack. There is a good chance I will struggle immensely.

Any other thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment.

Brandon Hatmaker is a fellow Austin pastor and friend. He posted some thoughts on a talk Jim Collins gave at catalyst last week. Good To Great is one of my all-time favorite books.

I love this quote:

Within every organization or company that is great…you will find a culture of discipline.

My wife asked me the other day what is the one thing that will stop HELP from becoming a great organization. My response was fear. Fear of the unknown, fear that my life will require faith, fear of being in dangerous situations, fear that God will not provide just because the economy is in shambles.

Fear is the constant enemy of faith.

I still  think fear is my foremost enemy. But a close second is discipline. Please don’t misunderstand discipline for work-ethic. Discipline to me is this: Am I doing the right things at the right time with the right people that will create the necessary results that I desire? If I can answer yes to the first question then I have one more question. Can I sustain “it” so the momentum can run it’s course and cause the fruit/results I want to see?

It takes a very disciplined organization to create that scenario. It’s easy to work long-hours, but still get nothing done. It’s easy to live in chaos and lose focus. It’s easy to side-tracked & bogged down by all the issues that every organization has.

An undisciplined culture usually is thwarted by sideways energy. Dreams can be lost in this reality. Time and resources are wasted. And eventually the vision slowly dies.

It takes discipline to focus on the big picture and it takes discipline to sustain it.

At this moment in my life I know I’m not ready to lead a first-class organization that will honor God and make a deep impact in culture. Hopefully, by God’s grace this will change. My next post will focus on some simple ways that I think will make me a better leader.

Here are some of the books I’m currently reading or will read in the next few weeks. Reading is a passion of mine that has been lost these past few months. Not sure why. I don’t agree with everything these authors pen, but I do try and see the gospel through everything. 

Awakening The Entrepreneur Within, Michael E. Gerber: The author wrote the legendary book E-Myth. Title speaks for itself. Seems to be a pretty in-depth work and not self-help induced. 

Mavericks At Work, Why The Most Original Minds In Business Win: Another business book about innovation and leadership. Lot’s of raving fans. Hope it’s good. 

Made To Stick: Another book with lots of fans. We all have great idea’s. But very few stick. Creativity is vital in our information-driven world. How do I cause my dream to stick in other people’s minds/hearts so they will become partners in the dream. 

Tangible Kingdom, Hugh Halter: I love this book. Simple and effective. Creative writing and great storytelling. 

Vintage Jesus, Mark Driscoll: I like Driscoll a lot more as a writer. He’s raw, real and funny. I love his passion for theology, church and culture. Although he can still frustrate me; and that is why I read him. 

Jesus Wants To Save Christians, Rob Bell: Irony I know. I have no party line to toe, I’m not reformed or emergent. (I guess I’m a mix of Reformed-Pentecostal-Emerging). That being said, I think Rob Bell is brilliant and he’s made a difference in my life. One think I hate about Driscoll and Bell is all the cronies that follow these cats. Looking forward to reading this book and allowing it to challenge my thinking. 

What books are you reading.

The word missional has really lost it’s ability to communicate its essence. Missional is robust by nature, it can and should mean a lot of things. The emerging church brought that word back to life earlier this decade. (imho) Since then it’s spread throughout the evangelical landscape-which is good…but it’s also bad–very bad. 

The heart of being a missional church is not a gathering but a sending. It’s a challenge for God’s people to live out their faith together as “sent-people” into our specific domains of society. Missional is not a “come to us on Sunday” but a “go to them everyday” philosophy.

Therefore you can’t define missional if it’s derived from a gathering or even an event. However you can define being missionl if the people who make up your church are becoming missionaries to their domains.  

This is where it gets hairy. For instance, if a church has a “great” gathering on Sunday many leaders think they are missional. Or maybe you have a “great” event with lots of people; again that does not mean your missional. (It’s also not necessarily bad)

So a lot of people “go” on a mission trip (good) but come home and forget about the people (bad).They also don’t live out the gospel in their own cities and neighborhoods and places of work (bad). See how easy it is to assume you’re missional when the reality is you’re not. Not trying to be harsh, but we have to recalibrate the heart of mission.

Mission does not flow through the confines of any formal church events or gatherings (hopefully they propel mission) but through the lives of the people. 

So please let’s gospel each-other by helping one-another determine if we are truly missional. Let’s not hide behind the occasional good-works or or annual mission trip. Let’s look deeper into our hearts and daily rhythms and challenge each on to be on-mission always.

So I continue this series on “If I church planted again.” It’s not as robust as I would like, but I hope it adds some sort of value. 

Vision Is Overrated…

I think vision gets way to much credit in the church world. Lot’s of dreamers with big idea’s. (people like me) Dreams mean nothing if they don’t get some feet and start walking. Vision can become your friend or your enemy. Vision can bear fruit or cause apathy. 

The difference is leadership. It takes a leader to see the vision from scratch to wholeness while a dreamer will continue to “put stuff on paper” but that “stuff” never comes alive in the people of God. A true leader will take the words on the paper document and bring life and fruit from the vision.

The greatest leaders are not the visionary but the implementer. The visionary has to learn how to implement or have people around them who can implement the vision. 

I stink at imlementation. An implementor walks the vision step-by-step. They are the heroes in the Kingdom of God. They usually don’t speak at conferences or write books…But they are the glue to any organization. 

My biggest failure in leadership is not developing the implementer. I’m begging God for that person in my life. They will make me better…They will make the Kingdom better. This person is not my “right hand man.” That statement should be wiped from the face of the earth…It’s belittling in my opinion. 

They are co-partners in the life of the church. They are vital. The visionary can see the fruit but the implementer can grow the fruit-they cultivate. 

One without the other equals lost time, a possible waste of resources and dreams that go to the graveyard. 

The past few months I’ve been a dreamer…But I’ve lacked the grit to see these dreams become tangible. 

If I planted a church again…I would do WHATEVER it took to find the right person who is good at implementing the day-to-day strategy that God has for the church. Every visionary needs the “glue” person.

JR. Woodward took some time yesterday to hang with Austin Area Church Planters Network. We had a great time chatting about church and mission. JR. Shared his story which included moving from Virginia to Hollywood to launch Kairos Church.

Jonathan Dodson took some notes along with Charles Whitmire.Aust

From Dodson blog: 

JR will be releasing a book on this stuff called Re-sketching the Church in 2009. Here is an endorsement of the forthcoming book:

“That we need to recover the lost ministry ethos embedded in Ephesians 4, I have no doubt – the missional effectiveness of the church in our time depends to a large degree on this. JR is a sound, practical, and uncommonly wise, guide on this topic and one with ample practical experience in planting churches and leading ministry with the fivefold gifting in mind. A great study guide.” – Alan Hirsch, Author of The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things to Come.


A few weeks ago after my Sunday sermon I had multiple people harass me because I did not cry while speaking. Now let me make this clear…I never cry-it’s not apart of my emotional make-up. If I cry it’s usually over my girls. I didn’t even cry at my mom’s funeral.

But when I have a mic and I discuss poverty or the cross in front of a crowd…I cry. I hate it and I love it. But I can’t help it.

There is a good chance if you don’t have something that makes you cry you have nothing to live for.

What breaks your heart? When was the last time you wept and sought God?

I want to weep for those who go without…I want to weep for those who are broken…I want to weep for those who are far from God…I want to weep for an apathetic Church. I want to weep for my city and nation.

Last night I was up to the “wee-hours-of-the-morning” thinking and dreaming. There are so many dreams I want to accomplish for God and so many experiences I want to share with my family and friends. There are really two big convictions in my life:

Local expression of the church:

As I dream about HELP I still have this deep passion to see a local body of Christ-followers live out the Kingdom-Way here in Austin. I want to be in the middle of culture living with those who are far from God and letting them see the Kingdom in my life and our local community. 

Austin is a growing city that is becoming influential. The possibilities here are quite amazing and the needs are massive. We need the Church to really step-up and lead and create. 

HELP: I deeply want to create an organization that works and deals with issues of global poverty. Matter-of-fact I think when I love the world and those in extreme poverty I’m reaching local Austinites also. They want to see a church that deeply loves and serves. Not a church that says “come” but a church that “goes” into our city and our world and loves deeply. 

If I’m going to reach Austin I need to be in proper domains. Church Planters have to create time to “do life” with those they are trying to love. If I’m going to raise money and create and organization that fights global poverty I will need to travel and speak. (sounds glorious to some but it’s a pain)

So how do I balance all of this? Here is what I think God told me last night…drum roll please…you ready? PEOPLE. I know sounds so simple, but it’s true. Leaders lead by finding people and empowering them. The only way for me to accomplish my dreams and calling is to do life with people and help empower them (as they empower me) to do what God calls us to do as a community.