Confessions of an Arrogant Preacher

Confessions of an Arrogant Preacher

Recently I was asked to do a lecture at a Christian university.  The class was students comprised of men who were training to go into the ministry. As I put the finishing touches on the lecture I opened it up to questions.

The questions were all over the map. Everything from sexual purity, how long does it take to prepare a sermon, to life balance, you get the idea. However, there was one question that stood out and pricked my soul. My prayer is that it also pricked those that were listening then and reading now.

The question was actually simplistic in nature. It was as follows:

“Pastor, how has your preaching changed or what is different about your preaching now since you first started out?”

I looked that young man in the eye and said, “Son, when I first started out I was arrogant and did not even know it. I thought I had to win every battle that came across my desk. I have now learned that I no longer need to win the battle as I am more concerned about the war.”

To be arrogant is to feel superior, to have a need to be right, or put other people’s noses in it. The actual definition is: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. That was me!

You see, I was more interested in my pet doctrines than I was for the lost. I was more interested in speaking than listening. My library of books consisted of those who only thought like me. My circle of friends mirrored my thoughts.

Then I remembered why Jesus came. He came to seek and save the Lost. He came to bear witness to the truth. Jesus was a man on a mission. He loved the sheep. Even the smelly, nippy little sheep. Sheep bite you know!

Faithful Pastors are shepherds, certainly not perfect but they are to care for the flock entrusted to them. John 10:11 tells us, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

I heard Pastor Johnny Hunt say that “Shepherds need to smell like sheep.” And tenure has taught me that you don’t choose your sheep, God does. They come in all sizes and shapes and, believe me buddy, some of them sheep will test you, pull you, and some may even curse you! You are called to love them anyway. I now love my sheep and consider it pure joy to be their Shepherded.

Allow the words of Charles Hodge to help you as it did me. “The doctrines of Grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt a man without inflating him.”

Yes and Amen to that Brother Hodge. I NOW understand what you meant by that!

Social Media Strategy and Expectations for Key Leaders

Social Media Strategy and Expectations for Key Leaders

A famous author once said you can’t hit a target you can’t see. So what is the social media target you want your team to hit? If you don’t know, trust me they are hitting a target, just not likely the one you want them to hit.

You have likely already had to deal with the aftermath of an overzealous leader letting it rip in the Social Media stratosphere. If you haven’t, you will! Assuming, of course, you have no strategy in place.

Friend, you need to cover the topic of Social Media in your training as you would for any other important topic when processing a new employee or volunteer. The reason, to protect the reputation of your church and those who call the church home.  Unfortunately, it only takes one person to create the wrong kind of buzz and stir up the hornets’ nest.

When a team member lets loose on Social Media I think most of us can agree it causes more harm than good. Many times it causes dissension or division, and rarely do we see folks come to a blood stained cross!

So what do you want to see from your key leaders as it pertains to interacting on Social Media?  That is a question you need to ask and then place those thoughts on a sheet of paper.  If you find yourself with writer’s block, ask yourself what you don’t want to see and soon the words will start flowing.

You will quickly come up with your list. Let’s call that list your rough draft.  Get another set of eyeballs on your list. Ask a trusted team member or two what you may have missed. Continue to tweak until you have a written Social Media Strategy for Key Leaders.

Make it simple, for example here is what we want to see:

  • Be seen as a person who is gracious and kind
  • Celebrate what God is doing in your life or the church
  • Promote events; men’s, women’s, singles, guest speakers
  • Bible verses
  • Share resources that are approved by your church
  • Celebrate family moments. Bragging on your kids, wife, etc.
  • Encouraging others
  • Modeling Humility, Care, Love

Here is what we don’t want to see

  • Posting toxic or contentious topics
  • Crude jokes
  • Spilling your dirty laundry
  • Pictures of friends and family in bathing suits
  • Pictures of people partying
  • Responding to posts or going back and forth with others on a volatile subject

The lists are meant to get you thinking. You need to create lists that best serve your church.  The intent here is to have a standard and to have the Social Media conversation. Dealing with it on the front side may save you pain on the back side. Lastly, we are called to honor Christ in all that we do and that includes our conduct with Social Media.

Is that Great Volunteer/Employee Ready to Lead? Part 2

Is that Great Volunteer/Employee Ready to Lead? Part 2

My intent for Part 1 of this blog post was to point out that it does not take much for a volunteer/employee to differentiate themselves from their peers. I suggested that simply showing up for work on time and having a positive attitude may be enough for a volunteer/employee to stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Of course, when this same person begins completing tasks and adding value, we may be inclined to herald from the rooftops, “I think we have a leader amongst us!”

But before we get ahead of ourselves and pronounce that the next Abraham Lincoln is in our midst, let’s slow down a bit and consider doing what I call the self-test. The self-test is a series of small tasks that have deadlines attached to them. For example, I recently identified ten men whom I thought had the potential to lead others.  Each possessed a great attitude and were getting things done within the organization I lead. Clearly they were standing out like that purple cow!

I had my assistant send out an email inviting the ten to join me for what I call Leadership Basics. The date I offered was Thursdays and I even provided two time slots, 5:30AM or 4:30PM. The training would last just three weeks with each of those sessions being 1.5 hours in length.

Here is what I was looking for:

  • Would they show up on time and prepared?
  • How would they enter the meeting? With a great attitude or talking about a bad morning or bad day?
  • How did they engage with others?
  • Were they a listener or a talker?
  • Were they gracious, or like a bull in a china shop?
  • Were they self-motivated (no reward offered for completing the assignment) or were they motivated by gifts (I offered a free dinner and a movie for one assignment)?

Here is what I found

  • Some were late, some were on time.
  • Some did their assignments, some got busy and even shared with me how busy they are (even though the assignments all took less than 10 minutes).
  • Some were prepared, some were not.
  • Some let us know about their personal problems and some did not.
  • Some let me know that they needed to leave early (and even took 10 minutes from the groups’ time to let us know why)!

The Good News

The good news is that two of these men stood out! They were able to demonstrate to me that with coaching, they have the potential to be future all-stars.  As leaders, it is our job to identify the talent within our organization and also to develop talent. Before we entrust more responsibilities to our people, let’s make sure that they can handle it. Remember, if they can’t manage themselves, they will not be able to manage others.

It does not take long to find out if one can manage themselves. Consider a self-test or two for that volunteer/employee that you are considering dispensing more responsibility to. What you find out may surprise you!

Is that Great Volunteer/Employee Ready to Lead?

Is that Great Volunteer/Employee Ready to Lead?

One of the goals of team leaders is to identify the up and coming talent that is already within the walls of the organization. For most of us, they stand out like a purple cow. What is it that makes them so easy to spot?

 Here are four characteristics that stand out:

  1. Positive attitude
  2. Show up/available
  3. Open to learning new things
  4. They get the job done

These are all good things. However, how many times have we had that so called “perfect fit” become a not-so-perfect fit? Perhaps more than we would like to admit! Naturally, we as leaders are drawn to those with great attitudes and those who roll up their sleeves to get the job done.

What is really happening is we are noticing those around us who have differentiated themselves from their peers. This is a good thing! As I was climbing the leadership ladder during my time in corporate America, I had an Executive sit me down. He told me, “Charlie, I have good news and bad news for you today. The bad news is, you have lots of competition. The good news is, they’re not that good!”

He went on to say, “It will NOT be very difficult for you to stand out or to distance yourself from your competition or even those paid by this very firm.” He continued, “If you simply show up for work on time, you will separate yourself from most.” He shared some very practical things that were not taught to me during business school. He said, “Shine your shoes and have a great attitude.”

Of course, these are all practical things as they hardly speak to one’s capacity or lead us to believe one can lead a team. So what’s the point? It does not take much to stand out. Yes, we are to encourage this type of behavior. We certainly want those that serve with us to know we care about them and we want them to know they are appreciated. But the real question is, can this person actually lead? In my next blog, we will look to find if one can lead by performing what I call a simple self-test. Until then…

Lead well and by example!