Posted originally by Dave Kraft.
As some of you may know, I pick a verse or a short passage to memorize each month for my own personal growth. Some are ministry oriented and others are more life oriented. These verses usually come out of my daily scripture reading.
The verse that I’m praying over, meditating on and applying to my life and ministry this month is Deuteronomy 11:16:
“Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.” (ESV)
The book of Deuteronomy is loaded with encouragement for the Israelites to remember all that the Lord had done for them from the time they left Egypt and to never turn away from him and serve the gods that the nations they were disposing were worshipping.
Idolatry was a problem for them and it is a problem for us today…for Christians in general and for leaders in particular.
It was John Calvin who noted that, “Our hearts are idol factories.”
When I was a fairly young leader in The Navigators, I had it pointed out to me by Tommy Adkins that ministry had replaced Jesus in the center of my affections. As time went on, it was a temptation to allow lots of other things to replace Jesus. Here are a few that I have identified and struggled with:
- Popularity-being well liked and respected
- Production-being fruitful and successful
- Power-letting positional power and authority to go to my head
- Prestige-Reputation, acclaim, applause and accolades
- Position-Having an organizational position with something cool on my business card
If you are a leader you have perhaps discovered, as I have, that it is tempting and easy to make leadership about everything other than Jesus and his kingdom. The biggest mistake of all is to make leadership about me: what I’m accomplishing, how I’m being appreciated, how I’m being rewarded, how I’m being quoted. Well, you get the idea.
The verse that hits me square in the face is 1 John 5:21 in the Living Bible, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” It doesn’t get any plainer/simpler than that. What takes over the central place in my heart has become an idol.
Staying in 1 John for a few more thoughts: chapter 2:15-16 in The Message, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
For me personally, at this point in my life, the world’s ways are more of an idol than the world’s goods. Popularity, production, power, prestige & position are more sinfully appealing to me than more stuff in my office, in my closet, in my garage or a in a storage unit.
I would guess that for each Christian, and each leader, the idols are different…and different at different points along our journey with Jesus.
A few things are the same though, based on Deuteronomy 11:16:
- We need to be very careful and watchful over our hearts
- Our enemy is out to deceive us into believing that we are doing just fine
- We can easily turn aside to both serve and worship these idols
I recall from a study I did a number of years ago on Hebrews 12:1,2 that the word looking, as in “Looking to Jesus,” actually means to intentionally and deliberately turn our eyes/attention from one thing (idol) and fix them on Jesus.
So, what is the antidote to our hearts being idol factories? Trust the grace of our Lord Jesus to keep us looking at him…being continually enthralled and enamored with his love, his beauty, his mercy, his forgiveness, his atoning death and resurrection.
There is a song I learned early on as a Christian.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in his wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of his glory and grace.”
by Scott Lowe
Personal thriving and leading with passion comes when we resource our lives with vision, passion, words and schedule:
- Vision – This is writing down what we are after for a better future. Consider vision statements for our spiritual life, spouse, children, work, finances and leisure.
- Passion – How do you recharge your passion? Bill Hybils described passion as protein. You have to refuel your passion. He says that he refuels his passion by serving the needy. It reminds him of broken things that drives him to see made glorious. How do you refuel your passion.
- Words – What words do you fill your head with? I have read that some of the most thriving leaders are careful with what they digest. Shows, books, podcasts don’t always encourage our hearts. The News, unchecked, will not always lead us into the good, the true and the beautiful. My wife always challenges me to keep the broken things in front. Not to forget. But this is different than feasting on sensationalism. What words do you fill your head with?
- Schedule – What does your week look like? Do you just go through the motion? My personal coach made the point that we have 168 hrs in a week. (Sleep = 56 if you get 8hrs a night) (Work = 45) That leaves roughly 67 hrs. What are you going to do with that time? How will you serve, recharge, play and build relationships with that time?
By Scott Lowe
Scott Thomas said “Ministry leaders tend to be the most underresourced members of the church, often receiving the least amount of support and attention.”
Recently I read that doctors, lawyers, educators, accountants, engineers, and people in a wide variety of professions and businesses participate in professional development to learn and apply new knowledge and skills that will improve their performance on the job.
This is not just a need in jobs, skills and products but this is also true with who we are as individuals. We get older. There are new challenges. There are new circumstances that change us for the good, the bad or the ugly. And then the unthinkable happens: we melt. We fall apart. Not necessarily on the surface but on the inside. We don’t know who we are! And when are there we see that we have never really resourced our insides (heart, passion, dreams and purpose)
Personal, spiritual and strategic development is not just a one time event but it is a life time of pursuit and is one of the most neglected parts of our lives. We just think that we will grow into leaders naturally.
This is really true of ministers. We are constantly reading and prepping for sermons and we can mistake this for knowing ourselves. I read one author that called this “sanctified ignorance.” “Sanctified ignorance” is just saying “I serve God, therefore, things will work out and be find.” I don’t need to plan! Biblical growth is not “letting go and letting God.” God gave us passions and desires. He gave us the ability to cultivate and create. This takes meditation and implementation. This takes vision and goals. This takes a deep understanding of our purpose!
I will confess I have been there. I have sacrificed myself for churning out work and saying “I love God… I will be fine… I will just serve and it will all work out.” This is a farce. In the years that I have served as a senior pastor, I can tell you that I have neglected my heart over and over which as led to frustration, anger and dwindling passion. It was not until I came to a crisis of needing to understand my own heart and needing to define my passions and dreams that I began to thriving. God gives us passions and desires. Sometimes it is for something beautiful and sometimes it is for the broken things around us. We will not thrive in running wildly after those things until we really know ourselves.
Are you underresourced and overwhelmed? Are you on that old “treadmill?” Do you even know your passions and dreams? Finding purpose is not a one time experience. It is a life time pursuit.
Minister friends, it is crucial that you don’t live with “sanctified ignorance.”
Read 4 ways we can “Resource our Lives to Thrive”
Originally posted by Dave Kraft Leadership from the Heart.
It hit hard and it hit home. It opened my mind to a whole new way of thinking about ministry and motives. In the NIV John 5:41 reads, “I do not accept praise from men.” In the NLT it reads, “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me.” I knew the minute I read it that it would have a profound effect on what drives me to do what I do in God’s kingdom. Paul alludes to the same truth in Galatians 1:10, NLT; “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
As I reflected on John 5:41 that morning a few years ago and continue to reflect on it’s truth today, I realize that for me it is a paradigm altering concept for me to get hold of. Who is my audience? Is it God and God alone or is it people, whether few or many? I think most leaders do things with an eye to the approval of some audience or other. I have a renewed desire in my heart to shift my awareness of “audiences” to the point where I live, and minister for an audience of One. I want to experience God in such a way that I can truly say that people’s approval or disapproval means nothing to me.
At times, I still live in fear of what people say and think; whether I am accepted or approved by people in “my audiences.” It is slavery, bondage. Not what God intended when he bought my freedom on the cross.
As I was meditating on that verse in the NLT, I had thoughts like: Wow, that would be a place to be. Oh, to experience more regularly the freedom and joy of not being a yo-yo, constantly up and down as it relates to how people are responding to me. My experience has been that when people approve of me, I tend tofeel elevated and good about myself. On the other hand, when people criticize me, I feel very fearful and question my identity in Christ.
Oh, to be consistently secure in You, Lord Jesus, that I am not moved up or down by people’s perception or comments about me, but receive anything and everything and stay unaffected. Maybe it is wishful thinking due to the fall, my sinful nature and living on this side of heaven, but nonetheless there is something in me that wants to learn how to daily live for an audience of one.
Winston Churchill remarked in 1941 in a speech in the House of Commons, “Nothing is more dangerous than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll—always feeling one’s pulse and taking one’s temperature.”
Churchill describes a nineteenth-century Christian soldier, General Charles Gordon, as, “a man careless alike of the frowns of men or the smiles of women, or life or comfort, wealth or fame.” In describing himself, General Gordon said, “The more one feels, in order to keep from shipwreck, the necessity of steering by the Polar Star, i.e. in a word leave to God alone, and never pay attention to the favors or smiles of man; if He smiles on you, neither the smile or frown of men can affect you.”
After he died, John Bonar, a Scottish friend, wrote to Gordon’s brother, “What at once and always struck me was the way in which his oneness with God ruled all his actions, and his mode of seeing things. I never knew one who seemed so much to ‘endure as seeing Him who is invisible.’ He seemed to live with God and for God.”
That’s it. That is, I believe, exactly what Jesus was getting at in John 5:41 and what made his life and attitude so refreshingly different. This “living for an audience of one” was the secret to the boldness and fearlessness of the first Christ-followers we read about in the book of Acts. I want to get to the place where, before others, I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, and nothing to loose.
As I read of great men and women of God they live as if they had an internal a gyroscope not a Gallup poll that directed them I wonder how far Moses, Abraham, Noah would have gotten if they had taken polls before moving out or speaking out.
Here’s what I’m learning about living for an audience of one:
It is a long process in experiencing change of this magnitude
- I am still insecure and spend too much time worrying about what people think
- I need to experience God’s love and acceptance of me more fully and more consistently
- The key to seeing change is spending more secret time with him and being honest about where I am and what I am thinking and feeling
- It is important for me to immediately confess “audience switching” when I am aware of it
How are you doing? Which “audience” is your focus on most of the time?
Great excerpt by Scotty Smith from his book Reign of Grace (p288)
“WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR STORY? Some of us are alive to neither our story nor God’s Story. With no story to give bearings or boundaries, life is simply a series of unrelated events, moments, people, and experiences. We are in constant need of redefining ourselves and finding new gods to “bless us” and to deliver us from “curses.”
Some of us are alive only to our story. We are committed to personal growth, but within the confining orbit of our own narrative. Life goes well as long as our narrative doesn’t experience planetary collision with some other person vying for the same air space.
Some are alive only to God’s story. We love the promise, beauty, and music of God’s story, but we cannot locate ourselves in his narrative. We love to worship more than we love God. We are more comfortable using “god speak” than engaging in normal conversation with the people in our world.
Others are alive to both stories, but don’t connect the two. We live a dualistic life— in two minds and in two worlds: one sacred and one secular. Whichever identity serves the moment wins the day. We are chameleons on Scotch-plaid, cultural schizophrenics— engaging but confused, confident but ambivalent.
Finally, some of us are alive to both stories, and experience them synergistically. This is where the gospel takes us. In this state, we bring the reign of grace to bear wherever God places us— in relationships and in the culture. We are nostalgic for Eden, engaged in the present, and homesick for heaven. We make people thirsty to know Jesus. May God increase this tribe!
Coming alive in my story and God’s story. 5 things: Gather, Dialogue, Reflect, Integrate, and Share.
- Gather Data
Gather all the information you can about your family of origin and compile as complete a history as possible of every season of your life— from infancy until today, from the mundane to the great pains. Become a genealogical newshound. Look for photographs, letters, diaries— anything you can find that contains information about your life and times.
Commit to learn as much about God’s Story as you possibly can. That Story is faithfully recorded for us in the Bible. Seek to become familiar with the contents of all the books of the Bible. Get to know each book and author as they emerge in the context of the overall story God is developing in history. Begin the discipline of reading the Bible all the way through, over and over.
Talk with significant people from your past and present. Interview those who can tell stories and who are willing to interact with you about your family system, their memories of you, descriptions of your community, the times of crises, transition, and joy. Be bold in your pursuit and attentive as a listener. Expand the conversation to include peers, neighbors, teachers, coaches, extended family, etc.
Like any other story, God’s Story comes alive through rich conversation. Get to know the people in your community who love the Bible and are vitally involved in the fabric of its story Learn from them. Learn with them. There are no dumb questions! But the most important dialogue we can develop is with God himself, and the most vital and powerful context for this dialogue is worship. Every time we gather to worship as the people of God, we are called into a dynamic conversation, not a one-sided monologue. God graciously speaks to us in Word and sacrament, and we respond in confession, faith, adoration, and obedience. Remember, worship is a covenantal conversation— a doxological dialogue between the Creator-Redeemer and his people. Learn to prepare yourself for worship as one coming to give Jesus everything you have and are— as a beloved Bride looking forward to a special time of intimacy with her passionate and present Bridegroom.
Make time for rumination and meditation. Journal as many of your feelings and thoughts as you can. As you reflect upon the information you are gaining, ask yourself these questions: For what and whom are you profoundly grateful? What makes you sad or angry as you remember certain people and places? What are you learning about your heart, longings, fears, and foolishness? How does God fit into your world and story, if at all? How do you wrongfully medicate your pain, instead of dealing with it constructively? What new questions are emerging? Be ruthless and honest and not in a hurry.
There is no way we will be able to come alive and stay alive to God’s story if we do not learn how to reflect upon the glory, beauty, and graceof Jesus. The more we learn about the story of redemption, the more we will begin to see ourselves as a part of the sacred romance— the great love affair between Jesus, the loving Bridegroom, and ourselves, his ill-deserving but beloved Bride. The truth and grace of Jesus are to penetrate into our hearts, deeper and deeper. There is no substitute for significant and focused times of communing with the Lover of our souls.
This is where you begin to connect the past, the present, and the future. To come alive to your story is to participate in an ongoing journey. You aren’t writing a research paper, a third-person novel, or a litany of excuses for why you are such a mess! You’re learning how to live. How will you integrate what you are learning and feeling into this present season of life? What will it cost you to grow? When and where will you get help for your wounded heart? Who can help you sort out the God issues?
It’s at this junction that our participation in God’s Story either heads in the direction of passion or pastime. Will the drama of his Story invade the rhythms our daily life? Will the knowledge of having Jesus as our loving Bridegroom find us living as his faithful, impassioned, submissive Bride? Or will we choose to keep our knowledge of God’s story as devotional bookends to an otherwise self-contained life or as inspirational material for good, conservative morality?
- Share in Community
For this process to become more than a dusty monologue or self-centered soliloquy, you must be part of meaningful community. Who are the people in your life with whom you can share what you are learning about yourself and your life context? From whom are you willing to receive honest feedback and loving accountability? To whom are you committed to share the same costly involvement?
Becoming a committed member and servant-participant in the church, in a local expression of the body of Christ, is vital to coming alive and staying alive to God’s Story. It is “together with all the saints,” as Paul has said, that we come to know “the height, width, breadth, and length of the love of Christ.”
When do you cross the line age-wise where it just makes sense not to want or know about a better life, but more appealing to only exist and wait for the grave? Is it 35, 50, or 70? I’ve had 27-year-olds who are fearful that they’ve missed the window of opportunity for a life well lived. If your dream was to play quarterback in the Super Bowl, that may be true, but for most of us, living out our dreams is not 1 event.
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
― Brené Brown
Originally posted by Sujan Patel Contributor Marketer & Entrepreneur. Co-founder of ContentMarketer.io
Successful communicators don’t just do things differently. They are fundamentally different as a whole, exhibiting confidence, integrity, empathy, and patience, along with the necessary interpersonal, negotiation, and conflict resolution expertise to develop trust and respect with those around them.
Not only are they leaders in business, but they’re true influencers.
“After all – leadership, distilled to its essence, is the pursuit of more productive, higher performance interactions,” says Douglas Conant, Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute. ”Leaders who find the best ways to communicate moment to moment are finding that those moments will translate tangibly to ensuring high performance relationships in the marketplace.”
Whether it’s with an individual or a large group, thebest communicators take a different approach to making a connection. Here are 9 things they do that stand out.
1. They always connect on an individual level
Leaders typically have to work with groups and address them at the same level. Successful communicators develop a sense of intimacy that makes it feel like they’re connecting with each person in the room – as if they’re speaking directly to them.
There’s no special trick, they just know that in order to achieve that connection they have to be emotionally genuine. They evoke the same feelings, energy, and personal attention with a crowd that they would if they were meeting with a single individual. Mastering this at the level of a group makes it that much easier when connecting with a single person.
2. They speak with the intent to engage
A good communicator doesn’t run off at the mouth, trying to say everything that needs to be said. This is an ineffective way to engage people, and it never leads to meaningful dialogue.
While the temptation to drive a point home exists for everyone, great communicators know how to resist that urge.
They can read their audience and the conversation to adjust their message so people will listen. They’re dialed in to what people are ready to hear and how they’re ready to hear it. This is often evident when you see a riveted audience that is asking good follow-up questions. That means the communicator is on the right track.
3. They know when it’s time to be silent
The most effective communicators know that communication is not a one-way street. Any time you’re communicating, you need to provide plenty of opportunity for your audience to speak.
Remaining silent and listening is about more than just giving the other party the chance to speak. It’s about listening to tone, speed, volume, and what is being said. It’s also about recognizing what isn’tbeing said. There are a multitude of cues in every conversation that can be missed with even the slightest distraction.
4. They form relationships on emotional connections
A boss can communicate goals to a team and drive the workflow. A leader can communicate the needs of a company. But a strong communicator knows that the best results come from creating an emotional connection. People work harder, listen more intently, and are driven to achieve success when there’s more personal connection.
A common mistake managers and business owners make is to feel the need to wear an “executive persona.” That prevents a strong connection from being made. Great communicators are transparent and make a great deal of effort to be human. They are driven by their passions, and those who work around them know what they care about and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
You spend so many hours of your waking day immersed in, thinking about, and preparing for work. You should bring passion and drive with you that befits the role it plays in your life. Let it shine through in your communication to connect more closely with those you work with.
Seth Godin says it best: “I think the most productive thing to do during times of change is to be your best self, not the best version of someone else.”
5. They watch and respond to body language
Any successful leader recognizes that being in a position of authority makes it difficult for the people around them to be candid. Even the most effective communicators don’t have the same relationship with employees that those employees have with their peers in terms of how open they are.
That is why they learn to read and respond to body language – the unspoken messages that are passed in conversations. Body language holds the greatest wealth of information as the body communicates nonstop – even subconsciously – and is an abundant source of information.
According to UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, 55% of the messages people convey come from body language.
This is how great communicators appear to be intuitive and in sync with their teams. They know how to read body language to uncover facts and opinions that employees aren’t willing to express directly.
6. They don’t prepare speeches and scripts
I think it’s safe to say that most of us have had mock conversations run through our minds as we prepare to discuss something with another individual or a group. You try to nail the points you want to make and prepare for counter arguments.
Great communicators take a different approach.
They still prepare, but not in a scripted format. They develop an understanding of the focus of a conversation or topic. This way they can craft their message in a way that people will hear it, instead of trying to memorize and regurgitate words.
7. They communicate with brevity, not jargon
The most effective communicators take cues from Seth Godin’s playbook. He is a master of communication, with blog posts coming in regularly at fewer than 200 words. Like Godin, effective communicators say what needs to be said in the most concise and direct manner. The odds of miscommunication are high when you beat around the bush and fluff up a discussion with corporate jargon.
Using jargon just makes you sound insincere.
8. They simplify the complex
Some messages can be complicated, confusing, or completely muddled. The best communicators overcome those barriers and clarify those messages for an audience. Think of it from a teaching perspective: the best teachers can take a complicated topic and present it in a way that an entire classroom of students can digest and understand.
“Communication makes the world go round,” saysRichard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. “It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow and progress. It’s not just about speaking or reading, but understanding what is being said – and in some cases what is not being said.”
Rather than regurgitating information or passing off a message to the next group, an effective communicator treats complexities like puzzles to be solved before handing them off. They take the time to understand the message, restructuring it to match the audience. This ensures that every person who receives that message can take action and execute.
9. They make themselves available
The best communicators don’t hide behind closed doors. They recognize that open doors are how organizations grow and how employees thrive. Great communicators make themselves available. They provide answers and don’t leave employees and peers hanging; they’re never the boss who has no time to explain assignments. The best communicators lead full and complete discussions and try to leave everyone satisfied.
Do you have any tips on being a better communicator? Share in the comments below:
I am the co-founder of Content Marketer & Narrow, content marketing & social media tools. In my 13 years in marketing I’ve helped grow companies like Mint, Salesforce, Linkedin and more.