Tag Archive - moral

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Overcoming Leadership Lids of Competency and Character

If you lead long enough, eventually you’re going to hit a leadership lid. It happens when you reach your capacity in a particular area. But what you do next has the potential to make or break your leadership future. Ignore it, deny it, make excuses about it, or refuse to acknowledge and deal with it and you’ll undermine your impact. Face reality and you’ll create a window of opportunity to grow and break through your leadership lid.

Two common leadership lids that leaders run into are the lids of competency and character. To be an effective leader it takes both and if you’re in a growing church or organization at some point you will be seriously challenged by both of these lids. 

Your Competency has the Potential to outpace your Character

  • If you’re highly competent, at some point your competency will lead you to a place where your character is tested. You’ll be tempted to take a short cut or lead out of a skill set instead out of who you are. If you are a church leader, you’ll be tempted to rely on your experience and your gifts instead of the One who gave you those gifts.
  • No amount of competency can compensate for a fatal flaw in character.
  • Competency may get you somewhere, but character will keep you there.
  • This always leads to a spiritually empty, powerless leader who ends up compromising and failing to accomplish what Jesus could have done through them.
  • People will only follow you because of who you are for so long. At some point you have to deliver, you have to lead them somewhere.

When your Character is Challenged

  • Pretending you know something you don’t or you can do something you can’t is a character issue. Pretending is rooted in pride, and God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
  • Your character can be measured by the degree to which your public life (the you everyone sees), personal life (the you only those closest to you see), and private life (the you only you see) align. That’s the real authentic you. The more you can align your public, personal and private life the more authentic leader you will be and the more character you’ll lead with.

Character is no Substitute for Competency

  • People aren’t going to follow you just because you’re a good moral person; and just because you’re a high character person doesn’t mean you’re a leader. They may respect you as a person but they won’t follow you. Those are two different things.
  • You have to actually be really good at what you do. You’ve got to have the ability to, get stuff done, produce results and get people from where they are to where God wants them to be.
  • People didn’t follow Jesus simply because He’s a high character guy, they followed Him because He’s a brilliant leader. He started the greatest movement in history. He was and is leading people somewhere.
  • People will only follow you because you’re good at what you do for so long, if they discover you’re not a person worth following, they’ll bail.

When your Competency is Challenged

  • Don’t be afraid to get the brutal facts and define reality.
  • Listen to new voices outside of your tribe.
  • Get coaching by those ahead of you.
  • Learn new methods, don’t just try harder.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Leading with Authority without Abusing Authority

You don’t have to look very hard in society to find examples of people in authority abusing their authority. Unfortunately in the church where you’d expect things to be different it seems like it rarely is. In a recent conversation with a church leader they asked me if they really had to be a jerk to get things done and be a successful leader in a church? I don’t think they do and I don’t think you do either. It’s possible to lead with authority without abusing authority.

#1 Positional Authority

We follow people who have positional authority in our lives because we have to. They’re in a position of authority in our lives such as a parent, teacher, boss, or ranking officer. We follow these people because if we don’t there are unpleasant consequences that we’re forced to deal with.

#2 Expert Authority

We follow people with expert authority because of the wealth of experience or knowledge that they have. These people have something that we don’t and are recognized as experts in their field, which naturally places them in an authority role. We listen to them because they have something that we want.

#3 Moral Authority

We follow people with moral authority because we want to. These people don’t ask anyone to do anything that they’re not willing to do themselves. They know it’s not wise for them to do every job in the organization while understanding that no job in the organization is beneath them. They serve the organization instead of having the organization serve them. They lead out of who they are and allow people close enough to them to see that they are who they are all the time and in every setting.

Jesus could have led with positional authority after all He is God in the flesh. But He didn’t. Jesus could have led with expert authority after all He created everything that exists and is pretty much the expert on…well everything. But He didn’t. Instead Jesus led with moral authority. He submitted to His Father in the garden saying, “not my will but yours be done.” He said, “If you want to be first you have to be last,” and He put our needs in front of His own. He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me,” and He went to the cross first.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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9 Reasons I’m Still Married after 20 Years

Lisa and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And while sitting on a white sand beach under an umbrella overlooking the ocean (don’t hate) we talked about these 9 reasons why we’re still married, and legitimately enjoying our marriage more than ever, after 20 years. We hope there are a few ideas in here that may help you have a more intimate friendship with your spouse.

#1 We Prioritize Each Other

We decided a long time ago that our friendship is more important than any other friendship we have. We choose to say no to girls or guys weekends away in order to say yes to time together. I’m not saying Lisa never goes out with her girlfriends or I never go fishing with some guys, but what I am saying is our time together comes first.

#2 We Calendar Together

We have four kids. One plays volleyball, one is in orchestra, one plays soccer and one is 3 years old. We’re busy. Not to mention I’m in full time local church ministry, I do consulting with the Unstuck Group, and Lisa is going back to school to change careers. Did I mention we’re busy? But who isn’t? The difference is we calendar on a regular basis and run our calendar instead of allowing our calendar to run us (most of the time). Our friendship is our greatest priority. So we sneak breakfasts together when we can, we spend time on the patio out back after the kids go down, we go on dates…just the two of us, and we drop each other texts throughout the day.

#3 Keep the Lights on in the Bedroom…

Our bedroom life is more enjoyable today than it was 20 years ago. Of course the 20 years of experience doesn’t hurt. Along the way we’ve had to learn to talk about what we are comfortable with and uncomfortable with, what we enjoy and what we don’t, how to serve one another, be vulnerable with each other, and talk honestly with each other. And, yes, there were times that we even had to schedule bedroom time. The bottom line is if you don’t like each other outside of the bedroom, you’re not going to enjoy one another in the bedroom. By the way one small bit of advice: if you don’t like your bedroom life there’s no one to blame but the two of you, because you’re the only ones in there. You may not be able to change what’s been done to you in the past, or what you’ve done in the past and what you’ve brought into your marriage, but you get to choose how you move forward in the future.

#4 Vacations…with NO Kids

We go on vacation every 5 years without the kids (sometimes we sneak a night here or there in between). I’m a bit of a planner and for those who know me, you know that my wallet can be a bit a little tight at times. So we save up for 5 years and then go on a big vacation, just the two of us. It’s a great feeling to go on vacation and do what we want to and not worry about money or a big credit card bill that’s looming out there, because we planned for the vacation! And it prioritizes each other. I like my kids, but I like time alone with my wife.

#5 We Asked for Help when we Needed Help

I’ve written many times about the struggles Lisa and I had early on in our marriage. There’s a reason we didn’t have kids during the first 8 years of our marriage, we didn’t treat each other very well. But we got help. At different points we both demonstrated the embarrassing humility, and courage it takes to be vulnerable, put ourselves out there and ask for help. Which meant spending a lot of money on counseling. We were blessed to have trusted friends and mentors who believed in us, cared for us, and invested in us. It was expensive, it was hard, but it was worth it.

#6 We Don’t have Intimate Friendships with people of the Opposite Sex

This may sound a bit old fashioned and uber conservative but we don’t have serious friendships with people of the opposite sex. For example if I’m out of town and the battery dies on the minivan she doesn’t text the neighbor without including me, or their spouse in the text. Note to self: get used to group texting. We don’t go out to meals with the opposite sex, we don’t ride alone in the car with people of the opposite sex and even at work if I’m meeting with a woman alone at work I’m in a room that has a glass window in it.

#7 We Choose not to Compare our Marriage to Others

Social media has made it easy to play the comparison game when it comes to marriage. It’s easy to become enamored with what things appear to be like in someone’s marriage and become frustrated with your own. Lisa and I often remind ourselves of something our Pastor, Chad Moore said, “Don’t compare the image others are projecting to the reality you are hiding.” Instead we choose to compare ourselves with the standards that the Bible describes for love, friendship, and marriage. It’s no coincidence that when you do things the way God designed life to work how well life works.

#8 We Take Care of our Bodies

Neither one of us will ever be accused of being supermodels. My knees hurt when I run…so I don’t. My wife on the other hand has done the Chicago Marathon, the Air Force Marathon, and a litany of other races. She can run me into the ground, but I exercise on a consistent basis. It’s important that each of us stay in decent shape. We want to look attractive for our spouse. Each person has a different idea of what “attractive” means, and so we talk about what each other likes and do our best to meet those ideas.

#9 We Take Care of our Souls

It’s hard to love someone else well if you don’t love yourself well. That’s not selfish it’s Biblical. Jesus even said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” And so we give room to each other to take care of our souls. That may mean simple things like time alone golfing or fishing, time at the spa, going through a Step Study at Celebrate Recovery, going to church together as a family, encouraging and talking about each others spiritual journey…soul care.


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Testimonial

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7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Church Leaders

It’s much easier to identify poor leadership in others than it is in yourself. We have a tendency to judge our leadership based on our intentions and the leadership of other based on the results.

An old Russian Proverb says it this way, “The eye cannot see the eye.”

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to observe all kinds of different Church Leaders who are leading in different sizes and “flavors,” churches. No matter the size or the flavor of the church I’ve seen the following 7 habits come up over and over again. So in no particular order, here are 7 common bad habits I’ve seen in Church Leaders over the years:

1. Crosstalk and Triangulation

I’ve seen far too many times where the dynamics of the church staff are such that staff talk about one another instead of to one another. Usually this is because it’s allowed and even modeled by the Lead Pastor. Biblically (Matthew 18) the scriptures would teach us that if you have an issue with your brother then you go to them, not someone about them. One path is a leadership path, the other is a political path.

2. Dictatorship

We have a saying at the Unstuck Team: “The Team Outperforms the Individual Every Time!” When the Lead Pastor takes a dictatorial approach to decision making and the direction of the church everyone loses. The young Staff lose out because no one delegates tasks that give them the opportunity to learn to lead, the Sr. Staff lose out because they’re not empowered to make decisions which will ultimately result in losing your best team members, and the whole church loses out because no Lead Pastor is as good alone as they are with a great team, no matter how much of a superstar they are.

3. Unclear Expectations

When expectations are unclear it always leads to frustration, disappointment, and let down. It’s true in our more important relationships and it’s true in leadership. Lead Pastors can set their teams up for success by drawing a clear target on the wall and agreeing to and writing down clear, attainable and measurable goals.

4. Micromanagement

Some Lead Pastors are so insecure that they’re incapable of trusting their teams. They feel as though they have to control every aspect of what’s going on in the church, no matter how small. This kind of leader ends up building a team that is incapable of thinking for themselves, which will become a huge barrier to the movement of the Gospel! The first step in combating micromanagement is delegation and the next is empowerment.

5. Hiring Friends

I’ve seen teams go south because a Lead Pastor hires friends instead of the best-qualified candidate for the role. When the vision is trumped by the convenience of friendship it begins to erode trust on the team and trust is the fuel that leadership runs on.

6. Lack of Moral Authority

Nothing is more demoralizing for a staff team than when the Lead Pastor takes a, “Do as I say not do as I do” approach. A simple example of this is when a Pastor says it’s important for everyone to be in a small group but won’t be in a group themselves.

7. Unresolved Conflict

When the Lead Pastor doesn’t keep short accounts and instead allows unresolved conflict to exist it can lead to serious dysfunction on a team. Small gaps between Sr. Leaders at the top appear as huge chasms the further down you get from the Sr. Leadership Team.

What other habits of ineffective Church Leaders have you observed? What would you add to the list? Leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing