Undaunted Life: A 21-Day Journey!

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I want to invite you to join me on a 21-day Bible reading journey. Sometimes reading the Bible alone and touching on what I need is really good. Other times I think it's a unique thing to read along with others and to learn from them what God is doing in their lives also. Here are some of the details.

When: Start Tuesday, April 10th - Finish Monday, April 30th

Where: Undaunted plan can be found here. If you want to be added onto my reading list to join me on YouVersion, add me as a friend here. You can also follow along on your own.

Sign Up: Fill out the form here so that I can match your name to your YouVersion friend request. You need to do both!

Everyday through the 21 days I will post a short video sharing some of what I heard and learned through it. You will be able to post comments and engage with the discussion. I will post short blog updates. I will include some of my thoughts in my weekly Field Notes. On the last day, Monday, April 30th, I will go on Facebook Live that evening and we'll have a discussion about the journey and we can all hang out and chat about it together. 

I hope you'll join me as I walk through these 21 days. Share with a friend in ministry and let's walk through it together.

Read more about Undaunted Life on their website.

Avoid the Post-Easter Crash!

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We have all had "high" moments and experiences in life. Times we were really looking forward to and projects we were working on. Those days or moments arrive and we are sky-high. Our emotions are running away with us. We are so pumped up and feel like we will never be the same again. But then the project is over, that moment in time is now in the past and things are back to the way they were. Where does that leave us? Usually, it leaves us in a wreck, crashing back down from an emotional high. At least that's how it works for me. And that is how Easter is for many in ministry.

My senior year of high school was a good year for me. It was spring of my senior year and I had worked hard at my football craft. It paid off when I was invited to the Central Illinois All-Star Football Game. I played wide receiver but split time with players from all over the region. It was one of the highlights of my entire high school career. But when I woke up the next day and realized my football career was over and that I would probably never play another football game my entire life, I came crashing down emotionally.

You know the feeling, right? You felt it when you got your first car and you couldn’t be brought down. Until your parents started having you run all their errands. You felt it when your first child was born. The euphoria from being a first-time parent was crazy. Your emotions were all over the place. Gifts came rolling in. Family and friends visited. There were balloons and streamers. Figuring out how to work a car seat was fun. Driving home with your week-old child in the back seat for the first time and you were the most defensive driver on the planet and you yelled at everyone else for their bad driving all the way home. Or was that just me? Maybe it was me.

But then your newborn doesn’t sleep. Maybe they have colic. Everything seems to suffer and as much as you love your baby, you come crashing down thinking to yourself, “What in the world did we just do?”

We have all rushed into the high feeling and loved every minute of it. But inevitably on the other side there’s almost always a crash. That was Easter. This past Sunday. You rode the high. You worked so hard for weeks or months, to get ready for one day. And now it’s over. It’s in the rear view mirror. And the tendency for us is to crash. We think of all the things that went wrong. Everything outside or inside our control that we would change. We put a weight on our shoulders that we aren’t meant to carry and it can crush us.

So here are 4 things you can do to avoid that post-Easter crash and stay spiritually healthy for the next season.

Sabbath!

Take a day this week and set it apart for God. The focus here should be, “God, I can’t do anymore. I did what I could on Sunday. I trust you with the results. And no matter what they are, I will be faithful.” Give God a day the week after Easter to simply walk away from ministry stuff. This is a great time to go on a hike, hit the local park, visit a museum or find a cabin outside of town. Spend the day resting with your family and trusting God. *side note: honoring the Sabbath is also a great way to help your spouse and kids not grow to hate the church because of the time it takes away from them.

You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. [Exodus 31:15 NLT]

Collect!

Ask your staff and teams how they saw God at work. What was God doing beyond anything that you could see or plan for. As you collect those stories, be content to say, “I planted. I watered. God will grow it.” When you as a pastor can trust God to that degree, I guarantee that crash after Easter will be far less painful and traumatic. I’m willing to be this shift in perspective will help remove the crash entirely. And these “God stories” will fire you up to go into the next week ready to reach people, not depressed and ready to quit.

Remember!

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is Joshua leading the people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. He tells them to set up 12 stones as an altar, one stone for each tribe of Israel. He tells the people our children will ask us about this altar. It’s here to remind us what God has done in this place. That God showed up and stopped the flowing Jordan River so that we could cross. There’s something powerful about remembering what God has done in the past. Look back to last Easter. Remember your crash? Remember how you had to try and pull yourself back up after that? Remember how you had to crawl your way back to the office? To write that next sermon? But despite all that, God used you and grew you. He did things in people’s lives despite you. Remember? Yeah, that! It’s not about you. It’s about what God is doing and has done in the past. So if you want to avoid the post-Easter crash, take some time to reflect and remember how God has been working in the past.

These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever. [Joshua 4:7 NLT]

Worship!

Everyone worships a little differently so this is not about best practices for true worship. However, it is about surrender. The biblical concept of worship is to surrender something to God. What is it in your life that you should give up one day or for the week? What sin do you need to confess and surrender? Maybe that sin of believing Easter was really all about you and your sermon and that the Holy Spirit of God was reliant on you and your awesomeness to do any work. No? Again just me then, huh?

Maybe as you spend time in prayer or listening to worship music, there’s something coming to mind that you need to surrender to God. Now is the time. Stop relying on your own strength. Stop putting it on your shoulders. Surrender it to our loving Father. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If you’re feeling the weight, you’re not doing it right. God doesn’t want you to crash to prove how loyal you are to the cause. He wants you surrender so that people see His glory and how good He is. What can you surrender this week?

Sabbath. Collect. Remember. Worship.

Top Two Things I Am Investing Time in Before Easter!

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It's a crazy time this season right before Easter. There's such a buzz of excitement for the church and what it means in the lives of people. And there's also spiritual warfare that can bring us to our knees. I have personally experienced both this week, but am looking forward to the excitement that comes from being with like-minded believers on Easter morning.

If you are reading this on Good Friday, you only have two more days to get ready. You know what I mean by ready. Ready for Easter. The Big Show! March Madness for the Church! (Side note: We need a bracket for preachers. I'm rolling with Matt Chandler to win it all.) Knowing that here are the TOP TWO things that I would invest my time doing with those precious hours and minutes.

1) Pray! I underestimate the power of prayer. I underestimate the power of bold, specific prayers. The generic, "God be with the day," stuff has to go. That bores me to tears and I'm pretty sure God isn't too awful wound up by them either. But as I only have a couple of days left before Easter, I'm investing them in bold, specific prayer. I invited and challenged my prayer team to the same. 

I'm praying for my neighbor by name. My Hindu neighbor. The one who I walked over to and invited to join me for Easter Sunday this week. The one who needs Jesus. I'm praying boldly by name for Raj. What bold, specific prayers will you pray and who will you be praying for?

2) Vision! Now is the time to share vision with your teams and remind them of the Kingdom mission we are all about to engage in. Your greeters aren't just greeters. They are the smile and welcome that will soften the hearts of men and women who need the Gospel. They are the ones who without maybe ever knowing it, will make an eternal difference. A simple, "Good morning. Welcome to _____________ Church," could echo into eternity in the souls of people.

Your prayer team needs a vision for bold prayers. They aren't just sideline players, they are on the frontline of spiritual warfare for you, your teams, your newcomers and your church. Don't leave them out of the vision for Kingdom-minded mission.

Your band isn't just a band. They are bringing people to the very foot of the cross to surrender and worship. They are creating the environment for life transformation.

Your hospitality team isn't just putting out cupcakes. They are setting the stage to remove all distractions for families so that they can hear clearly from God.

Your children's ministry aren't just babysitting. They are sharing the Gospel with children so that families are all united and aligned in hearing the Gospel message on Easter Sunday. They are also creating the environment where mom and dad can listen to the message without interruption.

I would spend my final hours and minutes over the course of two days, investing in prayer and my teams. Building them up. Preparing them. And sending them out. 

My list of last-minute things to do isn't very big, but they are important. Pray & Vision cast. Hoping and praying your Easter is amazing and that you have had time to reflect on Jesus for your own soul, not just in prep to feed someone else's soul.

It's Deeper Than That!

WARNING: This post contains explicit content.

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Across the nation students walked out on their classes in a form of peaceful protest. They are tired of politicians doing little about their safety other than offering "thoughts and prayers." Walkouts happened at both of my son's schools. One of them was on a field trip and wasn't there even if he wanted to participate. The other chose not to. Other students are saying this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it's a safety issue. And to that I would agree. 

My thoughts on this topic and in this post have nothing to do with a student's right to protest or free speech. They can speak to the issue all they want. If they want to organize and stage peaceful protests in a way that's meaningful to them, that's fine with me. The purpose of this post is simply to dive a little deeper to try and get to the root cause. Because no matter which way I slice it this topic is about so much more than simply gun control, school safety or mental health. It's deeper than that.

One of the reasons is simply the lack of fathers in the home. A social experiment that has had tragic consequences. You can read some of those consequences here and here. There is a very strong connection to those who commit mass shootings and the fact that there isn't a strong father presence in the home. I think this writer shows his integrity right away by republishing after making an error. It's worth the read.

Another reason is quite honestly the rise of mental health issues. Whether they be genetic, or we're simply more aware of mental health issues than before or if they have some link to what we teach our children, ultimately it's a mix of all of them to some degree. And mental health is a topic that has taken center stage. Someone with mental health issues, depression and anxiety, especially mixed in with teenage hormones and missing frontal lobe development, shouldn't be able to get their hands on a gun. We need to do better there.

These are just a couple of the layers. But I want to point something out that happened during the National School Walkout. My wife was on a field trip with my 13 year old son who is in middle school. He didn't participate in the walkout because he wasn't there to participate. It wasn't the walkout that prompted me to write this post, it was the ride home on the bus my wife and son experienced.

All across the nation students were protesting safety in schools. They were making their voices heard. And while they were protesting safety in their schools, this is what my wife and son were experiencing in the bus on the way home. Lyrics to songs that included...

Do your job, give me head.
50 shades of gray, beat that p**** like Hulk Hogan.
Touch my gang we gonna turn this s*** to Columbine.

I want to point out this was a Signet field trip. These are the gifted kids, the brightest at my son's middle school. My wife was completely floored and overwhelmed with emotion all day thinking about this situation. She asked my son if this is how it is everyday and he said, "Yep. Now you get a taste of what I deal with all the time." 

How ironic. While schools across the nation are walking out to protest safety, kids in the bus are glorifying school shootings through the music they listen to. The insanity is obvious. Any step we take forward as a society that doesn't address root causes is simply an exercise in futility. It's like putting a bandaid on a shrapnel wound that is threatening your life. The issue of school shootings and other heinous acts around our society and world are merely the behaviors and consequences that we see on a surface level. But they are symptoms of a much deeper issue that plagues us.

We are morally bankrupt. We pretend there is no right or wrong. Children rule the scene and it's all about them and making sure they are happy. We cater to their every need. We hand them phones, connect a credit card and they purchase all kinds of disgusting and disturbing material without even a watchful eye. There are no truths. You just make your own truth as you go. Our society is bleeding out. The moral fabric has been shredded. 

Benjamin Franklin said it like this,

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they need more masters.

We will continue to give up our rights and freedoms for the sake of safety. Not because safety isn't important, but because we are not a virtuous people. So as we become more corrupt and vicious at every level, we need more rules, laws and reforms to try and keep people in line. People are no longer choosing to live moral lives because it's the right thing to do. They are choosing to live how they please because they are choosing their own truth. And the result…we are bleeding out morally. And we shouldn't expect to see an end to it any time soon.

To be honest, we have seen this before. It isn't new. It's the history of humanity. At the onset of a time in Israel's history when their nation became more and more corrupt, the Bible actually tells us the root of the problem. It's not a secret. There's no surprise. The last verse of the book of Judges says this,

'In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.' Judges 21:25

They had no king. No leader. No moral authority or guide. Who was supposed to be in that role? God was supposed to be but they chose not to live by His standard. They gave up on God as their moral authority and chose to do whatever seemed right in their own eyes. And it lead them to absolute chaos and destruction. 

We are not better than Israel. We should not be so ethnocentric. We have much to learn from our past. And our past is screaming at us that experimenting outside of God's authority is going to lead us down a very dark path. 

I am not against keeping kids safe in schools. I am not against opening up the door to whatever conversations need to be had. I am not against a student's voice or right to protest. I am not against any of those things. What I am saying however is this, it's deeper than that. I believe the root cause has to do with our rejection of God and His authority in our lives. That we have superseded Him as king on the throne. We will choose what is right and what is truth. And as long as we continue that belief we are simply putting a bandaid on the problems we face while internally we bleed out.

Top 10 Podcasts of 2017!

 Happy New Year from my family to yours!

Happy New Year from my family to yours!

For a while there I thought 2017 would never end. But wouldn't you know it, it's about to. We are mere days away from 2018 and with it the opportunity for a fresh start in every area of life. I was thinking back on 2017 and how blessed I am that so many of you have chosen to listen to my podcast and to be a part of this little community I call the Stan Rodda Podcast. 

People have accessed the podcast from Ukraine, Russia, Thailand, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the United States. I am blown away by this. Thank you all for being a part. The podcast will be kicking off again on January 15, 2018. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. You can subscribe here

With all that said, here are the top 10 podcast episodes from 2017!

  1. 042 - Honoring Your Host Location
  2. 043 - Storytelling and the Generation Gap
  3. 037 - Bite-Sized Leadership
  4. 027 - Thriving Theater Churches
  5. 033 - Ministry That Lasts
  6. 041 - Celebrating Baptisms
  7. 045 - LIVE from Exponential West 2017
  8. 025 - Engaging Your Community
  9. BONUS Episode 001
  10. 046 - First-Rate First Impressions

To access every podcast episode and to subscribe, click here

Don't forget, the Stan Rodda Podcast kicks back off on Monday, January 15th. It would mean a lot to me if you would help spread the word to someone you think might benefit from the practical conversations. Simply share this blog post with them and encourage them to subscribe. Let's start of 2018 in a BIG way. Can't wait to connect with all of you again.

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You can access my FREE eBook, "The Art of Self-Leadership," simply by subscribing to my weekly email. Every Friday I send out free content from ministry leaders all over the country. Subscribe at stanrodda.com and automatically receive a link to download your FREE copy of my book. Read more about it on the website.

 

 

C'mon Men!

There is no celebration in another man biting the dust. It's not something to be snarky or giddy about. There are victims involved. People whose lives are permanently changed because some man couldn't be, well, a man.

Matt Lauer was fired from NBC this past week. He is being accused by multiple co-workers of sexual misconduct. The stories coming from those accusations are not good. Before I go any further, I want to say that I believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But let's be real, men have been getting away with a lot of this nonsense for years, decades, centuries. Heck, they've been getting away with, "boys will be boys," and "locker room talk," since the dawn of time. This is simply not okay and if you are a follower of Christ, you should be absolutely disgusted by this kind of behavior.

The list of men accused of sexual misconduct issues is quickly growing. From Billy Cosby to former President H.W. Bush, the list just keeps growing.

  • Harvey Weinstein
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Ben Affleck
  • Roy Moore
  • Anthony Weiner
  • Bill O'Reilly
  • Roy Price
  • Louis C.K.

The purpose of this post is not to cast blame or declare a verdict. The purpose of this post is to offer a few practical things to men must do to right this ship.

1. Joseph is a verb!

When Joseph was a stud-muffin in Egypt, another dude's wife had the hots for him. Big time. She wanted him desperately. Every day when her husband went to work, she went after Joseph.

One day she pulls him into her room and tries to seduce him. He pulls a crazy ninja move, slips out of his robe and Usain Bolts out the door. This is called "Josephing." He's a verb.

Here's my point. This isn't even about right and wrong. This isn't about consensual anything. This is about knowing what's right before God and having the integrity to do the right thing no matter the consequences. Joseph will serve some time in prison after being falsely accused of rape. But that's not the point of the story. The point is that God honors his integrity by eventually giving him the second most powerful seat in Egypt which allows him to save the nation of Israel.

No Joseph. No nation of Israel. No Jesus.

How many opportunities are missed and lives ruined because men can't see the long picture? They give it all up for a few minutes of fun or by trying to hide things from people around them.

Men, do more Josephing.

2. Stop looking at porn!

Back in history some 4000 years or so, there wasn't "porn" like we think of it today. But there were still attractive women and men who consumed them. So this is really more about controlling your eyes. Every woman who walks down the street, comes into your gym, works at your office, sips coffee at your local watering hole, is not yours to consume with your eyes. Get a grip, men.

I love how Job handles this from thousands of years ago.

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. Job 31:1 NLT

He's saying, I am in control of my eyes and I will not use them to consume women. And do you want to know something Job would never be accused of? Sexual misconduct or assault. Why? Because he would never be in that position in the first place because he was in control of his eyes. So he never viewed another woman as his to use for his own pleasure. Which brings me back to my original point.

Men, stop looking at porn! No, seriously. Here's the cycle; a little bit of soft porn turns to "real" porn, turns to hard porn turns to acting out because you exhaust your pleasure staring at a screen. If we want to see transformation in our society about how men view and treat women, we need to stop objectifying them in porn. I'm willing to bet porn is a huge factor in the lives of men who are accused and found guilty of sexual harassment, misconduct, etc.

If you need to some help with accountability when it comes to pornography, you can get started with the people over at XXX Church. They have incredible resources for fighting back against porn. Every man needs it. And to be honest, it's a bigger issue among women than we might care to admit.

3. Fall back in love with your wife!

In many ways, it's really that simple. If you head over heels in love with your wife at home, it helps to focus your mind and eyes away from other women. Will you see other women in the world who are attractive? Yep. Does that mean they are yours to consume either mentally or physically? Nope. 

This is what I love about Ephesians 5:25-27. It's all about the husband working so hard to love his wife, so much so that it feels like death. To love her well is to die to yourself. That's what it means. And husbands do this to the point where your wife is presented to you without spot, wrinkle or blemish.

She. Is. Perfect.

This is how Jesus sees the church, His people, men and women. He literally died for them because of His love for them. And now we are seen as perfect before God as a result. 

In the human sense, husbands, if you will love your wives the way Christ loved the church, there will NEVER be another woman on this planet who compares. And definitely not one worth losing your life over.

So if your wife is a flower kind of person. Go buy her flowers. Right now. No, seriously. I'm not the important one here. Go do something for her.

If your wife is a words of affirmation kind of person, go home and shower her with praise. Quit whining about everything you don't have. You're not that big of a deal anyway.

Leave her notes on the bathroom mirror or in her car again. Invest in her. Sacrifice for her. Die to yourself for her. Go fall in love with your wife again.

Men, I want to challenge you in this area. Women are not here for us to consume. They are not objects for us to take advantage of. They are fellow human beings, image bearers of God, children of the King and for those who follow Christ, heirs with Christ, sisters in faith. This comes down to family. They are family. Even the ones you don't know you pass by on the street. It is not your role to consume her with your eyes or hands or worse. It is your job to see her as a precious daughter in the eyes of God and to treat her as such.

Reflections on Sutherland Springs!

Another day. Another mass shooting. Here's my reflection on what happened this past Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas at a small Baptist church.

When I first heard the news about the shooting, it was in a text message. I was already busy on a Sunday morning like most pastors. My initial reaction was not much of a reaction. I just read it as if it was another day in our world. Another day. Another mass shooting. It wasn't until I was able to slow down and process what was happening that I really began to think more about it. Here's where I'm landing.

I don't have the answer.

I don't know why this keeps happening. I don't know why innocent blood is constantly shed. I don't know why it seems to be happening with greater and greater frequency and intensity. I don't know why Columbine isn't even in the Top 10 for worst mass shootings in our country anymore. I don't know.

Let me clarify. I have the answer. The answer is sin and evil. There's an entire theological component to this. There's a moral component to this. I have the answer. What I don't have is an answer that satisfies. The intellectual, theological answer to an emotional question simply doesn't satisfy.

A weeping family member cries out, "Why God? Why did this happen?" 

Am I really supposed to respond intellectually? "Well, you see, back in the Garden of Eden..."

Or, "Well, we just don't have good gun control like Japan or Canada."

Or, "Well, if everyone was armed and could protect themselves."

Or, "We have to have free will or there is no love."

Do those answers really satisfy the anguish of a grieving mother who has just lost her 5 year old? Does it really help for the families who remain to pick up the pieces of their shattered community? Maybe for some who have some background in thinking down those paths. But for the person without it, I don't think those answers satisfy in this moment.

I simply don't have the answer.

But here is what I do know. I must repent. I must take ownership of my own evil thoughts and practices. I am a pastor. I am not a perfect person. I am flawed and broken. I'm capable of yelling at my kids and scarring them for life. I'm capable of not caring for my wife the way that I should. I'm capable of allowing bitterness and hatred to grow in my own heart and soul. I'm capable of becoming cynical of others and not letting them in to my world. I'm capable of being a hypocrite when it comes to life; praising an air strike that takes out a Muslim terrorist, even though innocent Muslim people may have been killed in the process. But I mourn for innocent Christian people who are killed by domestic terrorists. I'm capable of hypocrisy and darkness. I'm capable of not seeing ALL of humanity as being created in the image of God. I'm capable of only seeing those who are like me as of worth. I'm capable of that. I'm capable of that evil.

Would you take a moment and reflect on your own heart? Are you at a place of perfect integrity before God on this topic?

Rather than jump to knee jerk, quick reaction answers, I must do some hard work. Some soul searching. I must take the log out of my own eye before I try removing the speck from someone else's eye. It's easy to point the finger at a shooter and cry, "Evil. Hatred. Jerk. Idiot. Loser. I'm glad he's dead." It's a lot harder to look inside of myself and see all of those things. To see the times I have called people those names. To see the times I have treated people as if they were those things. To see the times I have contributed to the lake of sin and evil that we all drink from. To see the times I have avoided people on the street because they don't look worthy of my time or a few dollars to buy a warm drink. I am not innocent in this. I contribute to the sin problem daily.

So what's my reflection on what happened in a small town in Texas, on a Sunday morning at a little Baptist church? 

I am no better than that shooter. I am filled with evil just the same. I need Jesus more than anyone else. My heart is desperately wicked and in need of restoration and healing. I must take responsibility for the fact that when given the opportunity, I haven't given the cup of cold water in Jesus' name. I haven't been to the prison to visit the prisoner. I haven't given warm bread to the neighbor in need.

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" [Jeremiah 17:9 NLT]

I must resist the urge to tweet, post or comment. I must resist using my authority on a Sunday behind the pulpit to fulfill my own personal political leanings on a subject as difficult as this one. I must resist the urge to act as if I am above it all. As if I have all the answers. As if I have it all figured out. I don't. The answer isn't as easy as...

More gun control. More guns in good guy's hands. Republicans suck. It's a Democrat ideology. He was a Muslim. Antifa. Atheist. Mental health.

Those things are easy to say. It's easy to comment. It's easy to call people online you don't know a "fool" because they see something differently than you do. But these answers just don't satisfy. These are not the answers of life. These are not the answers of living water. These are easy things to say that make us feel better initially, as if we have done something to help the problem.

But they aren't really driving at the root. The root problem is my heart. And yours. It's a lot harder to look at myself in the mirror as a follower of Christ and say, "I am that same evil monster on the inside." The difference is that Jesus died to restore me. To heal what is broken inside of me. To love a sinner filled with evil and cynicism.

Make no mistake about it, the answer is ultimately Jesus. It is Jesus who brings life. It is Jesus who brings healing and salvation. It is Jesus who restores us to the Father. It is Jesus who is living water. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the answer. Jesus was the answer before God said, "Let there be light." Make no mistake about it. Jesus is the answer!

But before I can offer the answer. Before I post on social media. Before I condemn others for thinking differently than me. Before I condemn and hate a man like the shooter in this situation. Before I can do any of that...

I must repent.

I must look in the mirror.

I must realize I'm capable of evil.

And I must turn my heart back toward God.

My heart must be guarded and brought into alignment with the perfect will of God.

I must be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

Every. Single. Day.

Followers of Christ - I urge you to do the same.

"Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord." [Acts 3:19, 20 NLT]

5 Ways to Create a Healthy Church Culture!

My friend, Tom Pounder, invited me to be a part of his Summer Ministry Vlog Week! I was honored and chose to share on a topic that is really important to me in this season of my ministry.

I would venture a guess and say that every leader wants to create a healthy culture in their environment. Whether they are in the ministry or church world, or they come from a business background. I don't know any leaders who say, "Yeah, I want an unhealthy culture in my organization." The reality is that we want a healthy culture, but sometimes we may not know exactly how to get there. Well here are five simple ways I believe you can do to begin creating a healthy church or ministry culture.

Get Yourself Healthy!

Every leader needs a coach or mentor. Every leader needs some counseling also. If you aren't being coached by someone who is further down the ministry or business road than you are, I want to encourage you to stop what you are doing and go and find that person. Offer to buy them lunch or coffee. Pick their brain for an hour. Do whatever you have to do to build a relationship with someone who can help you get healthy as a leader and person.

Identify & Eliminate Culture Cancers!

Look around at your current culture and identify the parts that you simply can't stand. The stuff that is going to destroy your church or ministry if left untreated. That may be a specific person who is unhealthy on the team and they must be addressed. Or it could simply be a mindset or mentality, such as people showing up late all the time.

Once you have identified the culture cancer, it's time to eliminate it. Former Navy Seal, Leif Babin, said, "It's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate." Your organization or ministry can be sunk or deeply damaged if you tolerate and allow unhealthy things to continue. Culture trumps vision.

Model the Right Behavior!

All leaders know leadership 101 is to identify the path, align your team on the path and then to model the right behavior. You can begin moving down this path of a healthy church or ministry culture, but if you aren't modeling what it looks like, it won't stick. If you want an organization that values honoring people's time, then you need to be on time for things. You also need to end on time. If you aren't modeling how to honor people well, it won't stick and won't become a part of your culture. 

What Gets Celebrated Gets Repeated!

Look around your organization or ministry and find people who embody your church's culture. Find the people who are doing things well, the people who are doing the things you want everyone on your team to look like. Then highlight them publicly. Share their story with your team. Create a video that tells their story and share it publicly on a Sunday morning. You need to celebrate the attitudes, behaviors and mentalities that you want everyone to be living out. 

Use Fresh, Memorable Language!

Your team needs to be able to quickly identify and share simple principles that help create your culture. One that I use is "1% improvements." How are our teams getting 1% better every single week. What went wrong last week that we need to eliminate? What went well that we need to build on and make even better? Our team finds momentum when everyone is speaking the same language and focusing on 1% improvements.

No matter what language you are using, make sure it's simple, clear and memorable. Then repeat it often until it comes a part of the DNA of your culture. 

Find more about Tom Pounder here...

http://ymsidekick.com

Podcast

Extreme Ownership

4 Stages of Adult Development

Recently I had a conversation with my friend, Jody Corbet, about the four stages of adult development. Jody has been bringing his wisdom and insight from strategic thinking to our staff at New Life. Here are the basics of that conversation. You can listen to the podcast here. 

These stages of development are different from personality traits. People can also move back and forth into different stages. Most people will land in one stage as their primary comfort zone, but depending on the situation and their desire for growth, can move into new stages.  Here are the four stages and some of the characteristics that come with them.

Opportunist

Opportunists are typically the teenagers of the group. They are very much in it for themselves. "Why should I empty the trash? What's in it for me? Will you give me $5?" This makes them somewhat manipulative and distrustful of people. Because they are in it for themselves, the assumption on their part is that everyone else is also, including their peers. They ignore long-term consequences and aren't big fans of policies.

The positive side is that they are self-directed. While they may not be great on teams, they love to get after very specific work for a short period of time. You might say, "I need you to do 'X' job and here's what you will get out of it." This is one way to approach teens in your student ministry. "You should come serve at the shelter with us. Here's what it would mean for you…" Only around 5% of leaders in the world are opportunists.

Diplomat

Diplomats have grown to realize that the group is stronger than the individual. They move from an "I" focus into a "We" focus. As a teenager grows up, they realize they want to be in the group to some degree. Many adults will stay in the stage and have tendencies toward being people-pleasers. They follow rules, norms and procedures. They want to avoid conflict within their team or sphere of influence. If there is conflict with someone outside of the group, they are okay with that, but within the group they want to maintain peace.

Diplomats may be a challenge because feedback is difficult for them. They don't want to make hard decisions because it might rock the boat for the group. This can also tend to slow them when it comes to improving their own performance. They don't want it to create any issues with the rest of the group, team or organization. Unfortunately, diplomats don't make strong leaders. In fact, only about 10% of the leaders in our world are diplomats.

Expert

Experts seek to be original and superior in their craft. They have grown in their role and believe there is one "right way" to do everything. They resent feedback from outside of their group, especially from someone they don't view as an expert also in their field. They aren't great team players and often view collaboration is a waste of time. Why? Because they already know the right answer. 

Some positives that come from being an expert as simply that they are good contributors. Because they are experts in their field, they have answers and are willing to share them. They follow procedures and policies well because they have become an expert in that environment. Changing the rules or culture can create tension for them since they aren't experts in this "new way" of doing something. Around 45% of leaders are experts.

Achiever

Achievers focus on the plan that will lead to a specific outcome. They have a single purpose they are focused on. They are not afraid of change, but any change has to convince them that they will achieve the goal in a smarter or better way. They are open to feedback as long as it achieves the goal. A positive work environment usually follows an achiever. Again, they want to deliver a goal, a result, and a positive work environment contributes to that.

Some challenges that come with achievers are simply that they can inhibit "outside the box" thinking. They aren't open to it if they don't see how it achieves the goal. So they can be quick to squash ideas. And if there are experts in the room, there can be clashes between the two. Around 30% of leaders are achievers.

Understanding these stages of development can be extremely helpful in a ministry context. It can help you navigate conversations with people who always have ideas. The knowledge can help you lead through meetings more effectively. And it can also help you understand who is working for you on your teams and how to navigate those relationships. There are some great positives to understanding these stages of development. 

What questions come to mind for you as you read through these stages? Any questions about a specific situation you would like input on? Listen to episode 026 of my podcast to learn more or head over to my Contact page to share your question. I am planning to have Jody back on as a guest soon to answer your specific questions.