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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A little intimidating

Well, it's one thing to be an interim pastor but quite another to be lead pastor. It's humbling and honoring, but most of all it's intimidating. To think that God would place me in a position of responsibility over His people at FNC. I am more and more realizing just what I do NOT have to offer and how much more grace God provides. I more and more understand Paul's comment that when I am weak I am strong (my paraphrase).

The Holy Spirit is truly doing great things at FNC, and like Paul, we boast in Christ alone lest we think we're actually doing anything other than being obedient. It's been an amazing awareness of His presence in our services and I am praying that we're taking His presence into our homes and places of work.

I am trying to learn to be quiet before the Lord and allow His Holy Spirit to speak. Now I am about ready for Him to stop speaking as the needs seem so great (not really, speak Holy Spirit, lead on). When I look at the things being revealed I shutter because I am simply not capable. But, Jesus never asked me to be capable, He is more than capable through me. He's just looking for a willing servant. So here I am Lord, use me.

Yes, I am honored to be pastoring a wonderful church family. Yes, it is a humbling experience to be in God's will and presence (sometimes a bit overwhelming). But still, it is somewhat intimidating and it is the intimidation factor that I hope I never lose. The intimidation keeps me humble before the Throne of grace and continues my reliance upon Him.

Leading strong in intimidation...

Shawn
Jeremiah 3:15

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

God's Desires - Our Desires

Wow, how things can change in just a couple months time. On April 11th I posted that I had been filling in as interim pastor for our church and that several people had asked me to consider allowing my name to come before the church as full time lead pastor. At that time Rochelle and I had prayed and believed that the Lord was not asking us to do this. I firmly believed that we did indeed pray. However, I think I was too focused on what I believed God wanted versus what He was asking of me.

You see, I knew the position in front of us, but God's real call was to obedience, regardless of the position in front of us. Sometimes following the call of God into obedience makes no sense and has little human logic to it. That's the point I guess. Reckless abandon to God and His call. Oswald Chambers once wrote that "if I will [truly] come to Jesus my actual life will be brought into accordance with my real desires."

Obedience still lead us to allowing my name to come before the church as lead pastor, and on Sunday, June 10 the church indeed voted favorably to call us as their pastor and family. So you might say, what happened from April 11 to June 10 if the outcome was the same. But you see, the outcome was not the same. Leading up to April 11 I had been praying about a position. Leading up to June 10 I had been praying about obedience to a call. Big difference!

It is easy to get our pray life focused on what we determine to be the actualities of our lives versus the desires of our lives and how they line up with God's call, and God does place an individual call in all of our lives when we come to Him.

Has God ever changed your mind? It is a humbling, freeing, overwhelming experience.

Lead Strong...

Shawn

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

johnmaxwellonleadership.com


This is a great blog post from John Maxwell @ johnmaxwellonleadership.com and taken from Your Road Map for Success. I encourage you to read John Maxwell's writings on Leadership as they are foundational for leaders of all organizations and families.
 
May
29

Success: What it isn’t

By
The problem for most people who want to be successful is not that they can’t do it. The main obstacle for them is that they misunderstand success. Maltbie D. Babcock said, “One of the most common mistakes and one of the costliest is thinking that success is due to some genius, some magic, something or other which we do not possess.”
If that’s not right, then what DOES it mean to be a success? What does it look like? First, let’s talk about what it DOESN’T look like:
Many of us have a wrong picture of success. Frankly, the majority of people misunderstand it. They wrongly equate it with achievement of some sort, with arriving at a destination or attaining a goal. Here are several of the most common misconceptions about success:
1. Wealth: Probably the most common misunderstanding about success is that it’s the same as having money. A lot of people believe that if they accumulate wealth, they’ll be successful. But wealth does not bring contentment – or success.
Industrialist John D. Rockefeller, a man so rich that he gave away over $350 million in his lifetime, was once asked how much money it would take to satisfy him. His reply: “Just a little bit more.” King Solomon of ancient Israel, said to be not only the wisest but also the richest man who ever lived, said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”
Even Greek millionaire Aristotle Onassis recognized that money isn’t the same as success. He said, “After you reach a certain point, money becomes unimportant. What matters is success.”
2. A Special Feeling. Another common misconception is that people have achieved success when they feel successful or happy. But trying to feel successful is probably even more difficult than trying to become wealthy.
The continual search for happiness is one of the main reasons that so many people are miserable. If you make happiness your goal, you are almost certainly destined to fail. You will be on a continual roller coaster, changing from “successful” to “unsuccessful” with every mood change. Life is uncertain, and emotions aren’t stable. Happiness simply cannot be relied upon as a measure of success.
3. Possessing Something Specific and Worthwhile. Think back to when you were a kid. Chances are that there was a time when you wanted something really bad, and you believed that if you possessed that thing, it would make a significant difference in your life. When I was nine years old, it was a red and silver Schwinn bicycle. Back then, the thing to do in our neighborhood was to race around on our bikes.
But I was riding an old hand-me-down bicycle, and I had trouble keeping up with the kids on newer bikes. But I figured that if I had that new Schwinn bike, I’d have it made. I’d have the newest, fastest, best-looking bike among all my friends, and I’d make them all eat my dust.
On Christmas morning, I got my wish. And for a while it was great. I loved that bike, and I spent a lot of time riding it. But I eventually discovered that it didn’t bring me the success or long-term contentment that I’d hoped for and expected.
That process has repeated itself in my life. Over the years, I found that success didn’t come as the result of possessing something I’d wanted. Possessions are at best a temporary fix. Success cannot be attained or measured that way.
4.  Power. Charles McElroy once joked, “Power is usually recognized as an excellent short-term anti-depressant.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement, because power often gives the appearance of success, but even then, it’s only temporary.
You’ve probably heard before the quote from English historian, Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Abraham Lincoln echoed that belief when he said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Power really is a test of character. In the hands of a person of integrity, it is of great benefit; in the hands of a tyrant, it causes terrible destruction. By itself, power is neither positive or negative. Nor is it the source of security or success. Besides, all dictators eventually lose power – even benevolent ones.
5.  Achievement. Many people have what I call “destination disease.” They believe that if they can arrive somewhere – attain a position, accomplish a goal, or have a relationship with the right person – they will be successful. At one time, I had a similar view of success: I defined it as the progressive realization of a predetermined worthwhile goal. But over time I realized that definition fell short of the mark.
Simply achieving goals doesn’t guarantee success or contentment. Look at what happened with Michael Jordan. In 1993, he decided to retire from basketball, saying that he had accomplished all the goals he had wanted to achieve. And then he went on to play baseball in the minor leagues – but not for long. He couldn’t stay away from the game of basketball. He played again from 1995 to 1999. Then he retired again – for a couple seasons. He played his final seasons 2001-2003. Playing the game was the thing. Being in the midst of the process. You see, success isn’t a list of goals to be checked off one after another. It’s not reaching a destination. Success is a journey.
Next week, we’ll focus on what I believe is the best definition of success, and how to pursue it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Decisions...

Since February I've had the privilege of filling the pulpit of our church. Our Pastor resigned in January to pursue other opportunities the Lord was presenting him with and I was glad to be of service. Since I pastored for 11 years filling the pulpit has brought back wonderful memories and a feeling of satisfaction in bringing God's Word to his people. However, since I have been away from full time church ministry for 9 years and I did not save previous sermons, or even "recycle" sermons for that reason it has been a learning time as I research, study, and write new sermons.

In this process several people have asked me if I would consider throwing my name into the pool of candidates to be our churches next pastor. I've spent time in prayer and spoken with Rochelle, and although flattered I really do not sense the Lord leading me that way. That was a tough decision, knowing that people want you to do something, and even believe the Lord is leading that way and you do not have that same calling.

Serving the church as an interim is a blessing and I pray He leads my speaking and teaching. I pray that the Lord can use me to lead the church through our time of transition and continue to work through "one of the least of these." Honestly, the decision to follow the Lord and not do what some you trust would want you to do is difficult. But knowing that your decision is in line with God is a wonderful confirmation.

Leaders make difficult decisions every day. I'm grateful the God I serve wants to be a part of my everyday decisions.

Lead Strong...

Shawn

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers

Sometimes we feel like as leaders we have to generate our own "best" ideas when in reality other people are saying some really good things. Other times we buy into others peoples ideas without any thought of our own. Both roads are dangerous. Maybe the most dangerous is waiting too long to act, hoping for total consensus or perfection.

I read this article this morning and thought it worth sharing. The writer reminds us as leaders of some simple truths to remember.

From Inc.; 
You're the boss, but you still spend too much time on the day-to-day. Here's how to become the strategic leader your company needs.

 In the beginning, there was just you and your partners. You did every job. You coded, you met with investors, you emptied the trash and phoned in the midnight pizza. Now you have others to do all that and it's time for you to "be strategic."
Whatever that means.
If you find yourself resisting "being strategic," because it sounds like a fast track to irrelevance, or vaguely like an excuse to slack off, you're not alone. Every leader's temptation is to deal with what's directly in front, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your company at risk. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you'll miss windfall opportunities, not to mention any signals that the road you're on is leading off a cliff.
This is a tough job, make no mistake. "We need strategic leaders!” is a pretty constant refrain at every company, large and small. One reason the job is so tough: no one really understands what it entails. It's hard to be a strategic leader if you don't know what strategic leaders are supposed to do.
After two decades of advising organizations large and small, my colleagues and I have formed a clear idea of what's required of you in this role. Adaptive strategic leaders — the kind who thrive in today’s uncertain environment – do six things well:

Anticipate 

Most of the focus at most companies is on what’s directly ahead. The leaders lack “peripheral vision.” This can leave your company vulnerable to rivals who detect and act on ambiguous signals. To anticipate well, you must:
  • Look for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry
  • Search beyond the current boundaries of your business
  • Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better

Think Critically

“Conventional wisdom” opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. But if you swallow every management fad, herdlike belief, and safe opinion at face value, your company loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To master this skill you must force yourself to:
  • Reframe problems to get to the bottom of things, in terms of root causes
  • Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own
  • Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions

Interpret 

Ambiguity is unsettling. Faced with it, the temptation is to reach for a fast (and potentially wrongheaded) solution.  A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint. To get good at this, you have to:
  • Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously

Decide

Many leaders fall prey to “analysis paralysis.” You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a “good enough” position. To do that well, you have to:
  • Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter
  • Balance speed, rigor, quality and agility. Leave perfection to higher powers
  • Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views

 Align

Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge.  To pull that off, you need to:
  • Understand what drives other people's agendas, including what remains hidden
  • Bring tough issues to the surface, even when it's uncomfortable
  • Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support

Learn

As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by.  You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure--especially failure--are valuable sources of organizational learning.  Here's what you need to do:
  • Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons
  • Shift course quickly if you realize you're off track
  • Celebrate both success and (well-intentioned) failures that provide insight

Do you have what it takes?

Obviously, this is a daunting list of tasks, and frankly, no one is born a black belt in all these different skills. But they can be taught and whatever gaps exist in your skill set can be filled in. But for now, test your own strategic aptitude (or your company's) with the survey at www.decisionstrat.com.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Watch your mouth...

Remember when you were a kid and you said something inappropriate? Your mother would respond immediately, "watch your mouth young man (or young woman)." Yes, I heard that my fair share of times growing up. It seems my mouth was putting me, and sometimes my parents, in bad situations.

It seems God has told us to watch our mouths as well. Psalm 141:3 says, "Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Hmm, it seems our mouths have always been a problem when left unchecked. James mentions this and belays the dangers of an uncontrolled tongue.

The Bible tells us that with one breath we can praise God and with another tear others down. The two simply cannot co-exist and come from the same mouth, somethings got to go.

It amazes me how many people receive little or no positive affirmation in their lives. Lord, set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door to my lips. Let my mouth be an instrument of positive affirmation of others and praise to You.

This is a basic leadership tenet that we tend to leave out of our daily routine if we're not careful. Heed to the words of your mother (and God), "watch your mouth young man (or woman)!" See what a difference you can make in your family, church, business, organizations by simply watching your mouth.

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Meetings, meetings, meetings... If You have to Have Them You Might as Well Make Them Worthwhile


Recently I have been afforded the opportunity to lead a couple initiatives at the college where I work (that's a politically correct way of saying things were dumped in my lap that I didn't know I would be in charge of, ha). Actually, I don't as it provides new opportunities to collaborate with others. But in so doing it involves the dreaded meeting! 

It seems I tend to live from meeting to meeting, and usually I don't mind at all, except when meetings have no value. Then I realized that maybe some of my meetings, especially the meetings connected to the newer initiatives I'm involved with may be just those kind of meetings. 

My Executive Assistant is a fan of Zig Ziglar and receives his emails. She passed on the following survey results concerning meetings. So simple, yet so much to remember about our meetings.

What's the worst thing about meetings?" Over 1,600 people responded.

The most common responses were...
  • No clear purpose or objective.
  • Not organized. No agenda.
  • Too long.
  • Boring. Nothing new or interesting.
  • Not inspiring or motivating.
  • Doesn't start on time, stay on track, or finish on time.
  • Lack of interaction.
  • Allowing attendees to ramble and repeat the same comments and thoughts.
  • Allowing attendees to ramble and repeat the same comments and thoughts (that's supposed to make you laugh). This, by the way, was the number 1 annoyance.
  • Weak presenter (unprepared, not succinct, monotone, overly redundant).
  • Repeating information for late arrivals.
  • No specific action items or walk-away points.
Meetings are an opportunity. They're an important part of how we connect (communicate), how we learn, how we encourage, and how we inspire. 

Zig Ziglar's email was a good reminder of the opportunities created by meetings. If you've got to have them we might as well make them worthwhile and productive. We're all too busy to meet just to say we met. 


Lead Strong...


Shawn

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Building Trust

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Chamber of Commerce banquet in Hereford, TX (beef capitol of the world). Amongst the food and awards the guest speaker was David Horsager; author, speaker, businessman, and illusionist. While promoting his book Trust Edge I was reminded of the simple, yet profound impact of building trust in our lives, families, and organizations. Horsager promotes 8 pillars of trust, pillars worth building into our lives, families, and organizations.

8 Pillars of Trust from Trust Edge : David Horsager
1. Consistency
2. Clarity
3. Compassion (consisting of 3 elements that make up the LAW of compassion)
  L: listen
  A: appreciation
  W: wake up
4. Character (do what's right over what's lazy; be good!)
5. Competency
6. Contribution
7. Connection
8. Commitment
 
Nothing jaw dropping in what Horsager said, but still relevant, simple, profound truth. He made me stop and think about the organisms I'm a part of. More so, he made me question my own leadership and ask myself if I am building trust.
 
Go buy the book Trust Edge, and if you get a chance go listen to Horsager speak. It'll be worth your time, even if just to remind you of the importance of trust. You'll definitely know if your organization has it or not.

Lead Strong,
Shawn

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting Even... Psalm 25:3b

I received an interesting anonymous package yesterday at work which tries to indict an employee as using improper actions to help another employee gain a new position. There are all kinds of ramifications going on here and it all makes me sad, laugh, and become frustrated all at once. I'm working through this as we usher in 2012 (Happy New Year to me, ha) with caution, trying to hold my human preferences at bay and not jump to hasty conclusions or decisions. In so doing I came across Psalm 25:3b in my daily devotional readings today.  
"... shame comes to those who are treacherous without cause."

I am not naive and I am confident of those who may be involved in all this. Trying to get even, or in our own mind get justice, can be a very dangerous thing. Whether legitimately wronged or not, vengeance is not something we're very good at. Maybe that's why the Lord said vengeance belonged to Him? Getting even (vengeance) most often back fires on us and it could very well in this incidence? Sometimes we believe we are just in our actions to get even, but in the larger scheme of things I think we often fall into the category of King David's words, "... without cause."

I wonder how many times we act hastily to our own detriment? What we perceive as just cause in our own minds needs to be held up against God's standard of just cause. Better yet, in most cases it's just better to let it all go and not be put to shame.

I'm not sure of the outcome of this yet, but I am confident that someone will be exposed to shame, if not worse.

Lead Strong in difficult circumstances,

Shawn