Tag Archive - success


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


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


5 Articles to Help You Make Vision Real

Thank you for helping make December a great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s fun to be a part of the interaction on social media and hear about how helpful the content has been. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top 5 Posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

#1 “5 Self-Inflicted Wounds That Keep Churches Stuck”

Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons. And while no church I’ve ever worked with has ever set out with the goal of being stuck, most eventually become stuck at some point along the way. Unfortunately the majority of churches that are stuck get that way not because of some insurmountable obstacle that is put in place by the enemy, but rather they become stuck due to self-inflicted wounds.  Bad decisions that seem right in the moment, but lead to the church being stuck. Here are a few common self-inflicted wounds I’ve seen happen to churches:

#2 “Multisite Church Fast Facts”

This past week Jim Tomberlin the founder of MultiSite Solutions stopped by my current Coaching Network to spend some time talking all things Multisite and Mergers. He shared about how the multisite movement that originally began as a “band-aid” solution for megachurches that were out of space has quickly turned into a growth strategy for all kinds and sizes of churches. Below are 15 incredible facts that Jim in partnership with Leadership Network have discovered about the multisite church movement:

#3 “Top Posts of 2013: #1 10 Insider Focused Ministry Names”

This post generated the most traffic on Helping Churches Make Vision Real this year. Mainly because church-people did a Google search for ministry names and stumbled across this post. I sure bet they were surprised. The language we choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time.  And one of the most obvious ways to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.” In helping churches get unstuck and make vision real I’ve run across a number of insider focused ministry names. In fact here’s a link to a post with a free tool that you can use as you begin to evaluate your own ministry names and language you’re using in your church. Remember it’s always more important to be clear than clever. Here’s a quick list of 10 insider focused ministry names to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

#4 “7 Traits of Churches That Experience Repeat Success”

It’s one thing to experience success; it’s another thing altogether to repeat success over, and over, and over again. Many churches experience moments of success, but few experience repeat success. Fewer still, understand why they were successful in the first place and intentionally create behaviors in the organization of the church to make success become the norm. Below are 7 traits of churches that experience repeat success:

#5 “How to Keep Your Team When the Game is Changing”

In any growing church or organization there are going to be moments where the team that got you where you are, will not have the ability to get you where you need to go. This usually becomes an incredibly painful and difficult moment. In fact many churches get stuck here because they refuse to address the issue in an appropriate manner. What do you do when staff members begin to hit a leadership lid? Do you have any other course of action to take besides replacing them? How do you navigate these moments? The options below should help:

Posted in Leadership


7 Traits of Churches that Experience Repeat Success

It’s one thing to experience success; it’s another thing altogether to repeat success over, and over, and over again. Many churches experience moments of success, but few experience repeat success. Fewer still, understand why they were successful in the first place and intentionally create behaviors in the organization of the church to make success become the norm. Below are 7 traits of churches that experience repeat success:

1. Finding the Right People

Successful teams don’t just have talented players on the roster, but the right players that fit the scheme and system the team is trying to run. Find the right players and let them run.

2. Longevity

Sometimes you just need to outlast your critics. Trust is the commodity of leadership, and trust is built up close and over time.

3. Work a System

“Ready-fire-aim” leaders rarely experience long-term success because they don’t allow a system time enough to gain traction, momentum, and produce compounding results.

4. Leaders Lead Leaders

It’s not just about leading followers, but attracting, developing and leading other leaders. If the vision is small enough for you to accomplish on your own, it’s too small.

5. Clear Vision

Lack of clarity is the number one reason churches get stuck. If your people don’t know where you’re going you can be sure they won’t be able to organize and align the systems of the church to get you there.

6. Work Ethic

One of the missing elements among many church staff today is simple work ethic. The ability to tenaciously see projects through to completion and do the hard things, without giving up.

7. Teachability

All great teams possess the ability (and humility) to learn from others outside their circle of influence and industry. In fact they seek it out.

Posted in Leadership


4 Leadership Lessons I was Reminded of by the Birth of my 4th Child

A week ago we welcomed Wyatt Grant into the Alexander family! And I’m not biased or anything, but he’s absolutely incredible! While we’ve gone through this a time or three before I’m still surprised by the depth of amazement, excitement, awe, fear, and loss of control that all collide in my heart at the birth of each of my children. And while we’re playing zone defense and filling up the minivan there are four distinct leadership lessons that this experience has reminded me of…

1. Great Leaders grow accustomed to Loss

At the birth of each of my children I’ve been abruptly reminded about how selfish I really am. When a little one crashes the party you quickly realize how much you still have to grow as you’re confronted with completely rearranging your life and putting the needs of that child above your own. Similarly the best leaders I know love the mission of the church more than themselves. So much so that they’re willing to let go of the past or even the present in order to move towards a preferred future. And letting go always means you’re losing something, that’s why you have to let go of it. There is always loss involved in growth and forward movement, and it usually involves a loss of comfort.

2. The Secret to Success is found in doing the little things daily

It’s amazing how quickly my other kids got so big, literally overnight. I went to the hospital with 3 small children one day and came home with a baby and the other three all of the sudden became giants overnight! While I’ve had some great moments as a parent, my parenting is more characterized by the daily grind of trying to point my children in the right direction. The same is true in leadership. It’s more about having the discipline and courage to do the right thing daily than waiting around for a big moment to shine. Do the little things daily and it will surprise you how it eventually compounds and shows up.

3. Control is an Illusion

Simply put, the delivery room scares me to death. Mostly because I’m completely out of control and I’m trusting the woman I love most and my nearly born child into the hands of people that I’m hoping and praying do a good job. The truth is control is a dangerous illusion that church leaders and pastors slowly creep towards through believing their press clippings and overconfidence. We would do well to remember that at the end of the day this is God’s church not ours. We are simply under-shepherd and stewards. He is building His Church and we are simply honored to be joining Him in the process.

4. Even great Leaders can’t accomplish the Vision Alone

Over the past week I’ve been floored by the generosity of the people around me. Meals have been provided, my other three children were farmed out while we were at the hospital, the dog was taken care of, and there was even a late night run by a friend to bring the boppy up to the hospital (if you don’t know what a boppy is then ask your wife). Leaders, even great leaders, if they’re chasing after a God-sized vision can’t do it alone. It takes a team of multifaceted and talented people. After all if you can do it by yourself…it’s probably not big enough.

Posted in Family, Leadership
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